Sewing with Knits and a commercial pattern

A little history.  1860’s was the beginning of tissue patterns in different sizes – made for the home seamstress. Through the years there have been many changes, initially there was no need to include instructions, everyone who was going to use these patterns knew how to sew.  Look at vintage patterns from the 1940’s and sewing instructions are minimal. By the 70’s – 80’s the pattern companies realized that more detailed instruction was necessary, but I’m sure they limited themselves – so as not to make the patterns too cost prohibitive.

It takes a good six months from concept until the pattern is in the stores. The Big Four (McCall’s, Butterick, Vogue and Simplicity) are trying to find that sweet spot between – high fashion and classic form. They don’t want their patterns to be like H&M Stores – full of trendy clothes that change every month.

They do have more leeway than the independents. First of all, a much larger client base and distribution network. So although they do carry basic standard patterns, they can afford to offer more specialized patterns.

Case in point this pattern I made last year.
McCall's 6754A pattern for either a knit top with peplum, or simply lengthened – a dress. How does this differ from the Moneta pattern I just made?  Look closely,  the front bodice is made from 4 pieces, not one – so if you want to work with stripes – you can create the wonderful graphic design you see in example C.

Look at the skirt, not a simple rectangle that is gathered at the waist – rather a circle skirt that has a completely different drape and flair.  Here is my version, a simple red and white stripe,  working hard to match the stripes, I now have a dress you won’t find in the stores. That kind of matching simply isn’t worth it for a simple knit dress.striped knit dressRTW stripped shirtHere is a RTW (ready to wear – store bought) shirt.  At first glance you may say, it’s the same.  But it isn’t. The side section stripes do not match up. The center is one piece with horizontal stripes, not the chevron I achieved.  The one thing that is exactly the same is the circle peplum.P1020460Even the back has the chevron, created by using two pattern pieces. If you look very closely you can see that I didn’t match them perfectly – so don’t stare at it for long!P1020459This fabric is heavier weight as well, it’s amazing the variety of cotton knit jersey fabric out there.

As to the instructions, no they are not as detailed as the Moneta, which is fine. I’m a good enough seamstress and anyone who sews for a while quickly gets to the same level of proficiency. Another wonderful thing is the internet, there are so many You Tube  sewing tutorials available for free. As well as Craftsy classes, Threads Magazine, other publications, books and live sewing classes in stores or adult community centers.

I am very happy to see good independent sewing patterns out there. But I am not willing to criticize the Big Four or dismiss them. As a sewer and knitter, I don’t want to create my own patterns, I am thrilled that others will do that work for me. I will tweak, or change, I know that I am putting my own individual stamp on my handmade clothes, without the need to create a pattern from scratch.

I’m thrilled that the Big Four recognize that putting out complicated difficult patterns is worth their while. I’m sure the simple pattens pay for the cost of these, which is why I don’t feel bad about having a very large collection their patterns and I’m always willing to buy more.

Leah

5 thoughts on “Sewing with Knits and a commercial pattern”

  1. I love your explanations here and the details of the differences that might it be apparent to the layman at first glance. You are such an inspiration and the dress you made is just delightful!

  2. Wonderful post Leah! Funny I have a dress almost identical to the striped RTW shirt that you shared here that I’m going to turn into a peplum top (the dress is too long to be a shirt but too short to be a dress.) and this helped me immensely!

  3. Great thoughts, Leah. I especially like this paragraph:

    “I am very happy to see good independent sewing patterns out there. But I am not willing to criticize the Big Four or dismiss them. As a sewer and knitter, I don’t want to create my own patterns, I am thrilled that others will do that work for me. I will tweak, or change, I know that I am putting my own individual stamp on my handmade clothes, without the need to create a pattern from scratch.”

    While I love the variety of the indies and the surge of sewing enthusiasm, I also wonder what will happen when the customer base moves beyond beginner/adv beginner status.

    1. Thank you, I must say I was so thrilled when Gertie Hersch became a pattern maker for Butterick – that girl knows how to design complicated clothes.

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