Writing reviews for new pattern releases used to be one of my favorite parts of posting to this blog. I know a lot of people would read specifically because of those reviews, but at a certain point it got to be too much for me. It was a combination of several things; burnout, for sure, but also a reconsideration of who and what gets promoted in the sewing space, and what I want to be promoting on my blog. Plus, with everything else going on in 2020, looking at pattern releases really wasn’t a priority. I haven’t written about the regular pattern releases in over a year now, and I have to admit I really don’t miss it. I’d like to say that I’ve missed out on talking about a lot of interesting patterns, but, honestly, I haven’t. I still follow the brands out of curiosity, and I’ve taken a look at a lot of the new releases, but I really don’t feel inspired by the pattern companies like I used to. I know the pandemic has shaken up a lot of industries, and I’m sure the pattern making industry is no different, but it after taking a break from this line of thinking over the last several months (and piquing my interest in the paper pattern industry by
As far as pattern magazines go, I just have to ask – Burda, are you ok? The magazine has done a nice job of styling in the past few issues (some of the photography in the October issue is just stunning), but I’m pretty sure the past several months they have been re-printing (with slight modification) a majority of their magazine patterns. I’d gotten used to seeing reprints between the magazines and the envelope patterns, the regular monthly issues and the special Burda Plus or Burda Easy editions, some styles being graded up or down, and even the special vintage reprint patterns making their way to several different formats. But I can’t remember a time where nearly every pattern of note in the regular monthly issue was a reprint from a former monthly issue, and
I do understand that with the pandemic, there have been a lot of disruptions. Notably, the paper quality in the magazines has dropped dramatically. It’s hard to say if this has more to do with cutting costs or supply chain issues, but regardless it’s a bit sad to see really vibrant photography on such dim paper. It’s hard to know if the issues of the pandemic have also impacted the ability to draft new patterns. I’m sort of willing to hope that Burda has just had a lot of delays and issues regarding creating new patterns, but if this trend of reprints continues well into 2022, I’m going to start to be really concerned. As a tangential point of interest, I did a bit of investigation to see if it looked like Burda was having any sort of major employment turnover, and it does appear they are hiring for the Burda International financial department. At least they seem to be doing well enough to be hiring? It’s a situation to continue monitoring though; I’m sure there will be more to say on this matter as we start to get more magazines and patterns as data points.
As a complete contrast to this, somehow Patrones seems to be making the best of things? I have to admit I actually really enjoy their phone app – you can preview the line drawings before buying an issue, it’s easy to purchase, quick to download, the photos are gorgeous and zoom-in-able, I don’t have to worry about water damage to the pattern sheets as it travels halfway around the world. And it’s only $4 for 40 patterns (which is significantly less than the $15-20 I paid for print issues to be shipped to me). Plus, you get the full Pattern Magazine ExperienceTM because they still use overlapping pattern pieces on the PDF printouts. No matter how big your garment is, you only need to print and tape 9 pieces of paper together. But you don’t have to deal with the overlap of 5 other pattern’s pieces, just the one you want to sew. It’s really the best (or worst?) of both worlds; you still have to do minimal PDF taping and you have to trace, but the taping is significantly reduced and the tracing is significantly easier. So if you, like me, really hate taping PDFs because *gag*, I can confirm it’s not so bad. And if you hate tracing patterns because of all the crazy overlapping lines and colors, it is much, much easier where there’s only one pattern of overlapping lines and colors. Anyway, I have to say that I think Patrones went digital at the right time, and I have to admit that their recent patterns have been pretty fantastic.
Other Magazine Brands
I’m not much of a
This isn’t so much of a health check up, but just a side note of RIP Manequim. It was challenging to get ahold of the Brazilian fashion magazine, but they had a fantastic sense of style that none of the other magazine brands even comes close to replicating. I didn’t buy many issues because of the cost, but I am really happy with the few I have managed to get ahold of via EBay.
My take on the Indie pattern landscape is also probably not so observant since I wasn’t that into indie brands pre-pandemic. I haven’t heard of any of the major brands shutting down, and most seem to be producing new styles or updated size ranges without too much disruption during the pandemic. Granted, these brands do tend work at a slower pace than the Big4 or Burda. In general, collections are typically smaller, or more spaced out, or one new pattern is released at a time to a certain amount of fanfare. Although I’m sure some of the larger indie brands have larger teams working for them, even those companies (like Jalie, for example) have been producing new patterns lately. Perhaps one benefit for many of these smaller businesses is that the shift to “work from home” wasn’t much of a shift at all.
Overall the status of the paper pattern industry feels very in flux right now. Of course, I think the pandemic has had a massive impact on fashion in general, and I’m sure we are seeing some of the effect of that in the paper pattern industry. It was not uncommon that many of the designs were typically inspired by styles that were popular in the mainstream, were showcased on runways, or had some sort of celebrity influence. But with the world largely in a holding pattern, 2020 didn’t really provide a lot of inspiration, and 2021 has really felt like this weird extension of 2020. It should be very interesting to see how things progress into 2022 though. Of course, the current state of the pandemic won’t magically change with the calendar, and 2021 has been sort of a weird year all around, and probably is a very transitional year for a lot of companies deciding how to move forward from the pandemic. Regardless, things definitely feel like they are changing in this industry, and it should be interesting to see how things progress over the next year.