The ghosts of past pattern purchases


I can't seem to get quite so excited about new sewing patterns these days.  I get caught up thinking something like, "Oh, cute blouse pattern.  Would I use this?  Well, I already have 3 blouse patterns that I haven't used, so I guess not."  I am being weighed down by past pattern purchases.  A fabric stash is a joy, but an underutilised pattern stash is just wasted money.

Take, for example, the HotPatterns Artful Dodger Prudence Blouse.  It is dated 2005, and I think I bought it pretty close to its release date.  It was expensive, but there was a 3-for-2 offer, so I justified the shipping cost and clicked on the "pay now" button.  Then only 2 of the patterns arrived, so more expensive than I calculated.  My emails about the missing pattern went unanswered.  The Prudence Blouse got bad reviews.  This all put me off, but I could not get the promises of the sophisticated fashion illustration out of my mind.  It has stayed there, niggling at me, for 7 years now (a testament to the fashion illustrator and the marketing of HotPatterns). 

7 years is a long time.  So I have decided to either throw out the patterns that are holding me up, sew them or sew them up and then throw them out.  Starting with the Prudence Blouse.

I made a few alterations, including shortening the hem, reducing some of the width and playing around with the pleats as they were not drafted correctly.

The fabric is a silk that my mother bought for me in Turkey.  When I washed it, it took on a summery seer-sucker quality.

I'm so pleased that I have finally made it.  Do I like it?  Some days.  Other days it reminds me of a bed jacket.  The design lines are not quite as they appear in the exaggerated drawing, but the overall shape is cute enough.  I like the pleating details.  I need to play around with accessories and what to wear it with (but I haven't unpacked all that stuff yet!).  The sleeves are more binding than is comfortable.  So I will throw the pattern out and move on, but I am pleased that I made it up...don't want to die wondering and all that!

I have been organising my patterns.  I found these boxes at OfficeWorks that seem to be the perfect size for patterns.  (They are also available at Howard's storage world, but they cost more there).

I have also used them to store my magazine patterns.  I put each magazine, with its patterns and any that I traced off in a plastic sleeve.  I have also stored some of my pattern books in the boxes with the magazines, to keep them all together.  Not that I have anywhere to store the boxes yet, but they should fit neatly in deep drawers or on shelves.

I originally bought them for my Jalie patterns, but the Jalies don't actually fit.  So the Jalies are in a magazine holder for now, but I'm not sure that this is the perfect solution yet.  I also have not sorted the Vogue designer patterns yet.  I have found a box that fits them, but it is not the same style box as these, and I am trying to be ordered and neat...I will keep looking for a while.

In sorting the patterns, I have learnt a little about the patterns not made up.  They tend to be
- the patterns I bought to minimise shipping-per-pattern costs.  False economy there.
- patterns that require a lot of yardage.  Should read backs of pattern envelopes before I buy.  I am very unlikely to hold more than 2 m of a fabric in stash and some of these patterns ask for 5 and 6 m!
- patterns that need to be traced off.  Should acknowledge my own laziness and only buy magazines if I am particularly excited by the designs.
- patterns that don't suit my lifestyle.  I have no need for a business suit.  Ever. 

  Now I just need to pull out the ones that I was excited about, but never got around to, and get on with it.


  1. You are so organized! I only think to weed through my patterns when I'm moving apartments. Good on you to stay on top of things and try out something that's been in your stash for so long.

  2. Even more proof in my eyes that pattern drawings LIE. We all know it's true... but sometimes it's hard to believe it when looking at a pretty picture. The number of times I've stared down a pattern drawing trying to visualise the lines on myself... that said, kudos to your new organised pattern stash. And great idea about chucking it if it's not being used!
    Your blouse looks perfect for hot weather (maybe it's because I'm sweltering atm) and I love the seersucker texture of your silk :)

  3. I organise my patterns in shoeboxes. The only problem is that you can only store so many shoeboxes in the cupboard! I've never used a Hot Pattern, but the reviews are certainly mixed.

  4. I like your boxes from Officeworks.

    I know what you mean about the pattern stash. I de-stashed over the Christmas break which meant going through all my patterns. It was a great motivator for actually using some of these past pattern purchases. As you say it feels good to finally try a pattern and either toss it or know for sure it's a keeper.

  5. I quite like the way the blouse looks - but if the sleeves are binding then it probably won't get much love. Anything that's uncomfortable doesn't usually last long.

    I'm really enjoying all your sewing room organising (something I really need to get on to). My pattern stash is growing but I'm starting to recognise that some of my purchases don't suit my lifestyle, that's OK if it's a deliberate decision, but usually it's not:)

  6. You are speaking my language. The false economy of sewing rears it's ugly head too often in my house. I love your boxes.

  7. Must feel nice to have finally finished that thread of an idea. It's amazing how many new ideas come in before old ones get fully explored.

    I am happy with the one Hot Pattern I tried (the bowling bag) but I know that while I love the styling of that pattern company their generous fit are unlikely to flatter me.

    I don't buy patterns at all these days, only magazines. I have so little time that one magazine delivers so many ideas that I couldn't possibly go down the magazine and pattern line - it has to be just one, and magazines are a little edgier.

  8. Well, I think it looks lovely. Are the sleeves really that binding? They look kind of loose enough in the pictures. The colour of your fabric is quite dreamy and gorgeous too...

  9. It is a pretty blouse, with lovely fabric. It has a sort of 1912 vibe to me.
    I am very pleased with myself when I sew something I have been thinking of for a while.
    It is good to recognize false economy in buying habits, but are patterns that you don't sew always a waste of money? I have deliberately bought designer patterns that I know I will never sew so as to look at how a particular design detail is sewn up. It is rather self indulgent, but hobbies are generally like that!

  10. I love the Downton Abbey vibe of your blouse. It's really pretty and I am now contemplating looking for that HP pattern. ! I am with you on holding onto patterns that one is not apt to make up. They weigh on me, and stop my energy. I am trying to give up some older patterns I picked up when I started sewing. I may offer them on my blog. They are nice-I just won't wear them.

  11. You have a hit a note with a lot of sewists. I am really feeling the false economy of purchasing patterns when they are never used. I have had a bit of a destash when I moved into my new sewing space and may have another soon. I am going to have a look and see if I can find those boxes at OW.

  12. Oh I know what you mean by pattern purchases! I keep buying patterns (most are 2nd hand) but I will never have the time to sew them all! I am giving some away to my friend that just started sewing and planning on some giveaways. I love those tubs and will be off to office works to get some! Thanks for the heads up! Oh i do like that top.