Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Top Tips For Sewing with the Big Four Pattern Companies!

There's something about the big four pattern companies that strikes fear in the hearts of many sewers! I'm not incredibly sure why? I think maybe because so much of the old style of learning to sew has been lost now that people find the lack of instructions and sizing to be a huge problem with the patterns. The internet says that the big four are Simplicity, Vogue, Butterrick and McCalls, but I think you can also include Burda and Newlook in there!

Anyway I quite like them, Yes they put stupid amounts of ease in and the instructions are crappy to say the least but! They have pretty much every style known to man , they don't need tracing and they are pretty cheap compared to most indie patterns!

So here's my top tips for having a pain free sewing experience with the BIG FOUR sewing pattern companies! 

1. Measure yourself, Be accurate, be honest! Wear the pants your planning to wear and don't breathe in!!!!

2. Find your pattern size on the chart, check whether that's a finished garment measurement or not. 

3. Now measure the pattern pieces that correspond to your size [before you've cut them out] does that correspond with other patterns you've made that fit you well? 

4. Google it. We live in an era of having information at our finger tips, and there are so many sewing bloggers out there that if you google your pattern name and number there's a huge chance that someone out there has already made it and encountered any issues the pattern might have. Seriously technology is AWESOME!!!!!  

5. Toile the pattern, Yes I know its basically a boring waste of precious sewing time but its worth it!!!!!

6. Apply your own sewing knowledge! Repeat after me "I am a strong independent sewing bad ass!!! I know what I am doing" The blunt truth is indie patterns do a lot of hand holding! But trust me you can do this! Stay stitch your necklines, apply interfacing even if the pattern doesn't ask you to, BASTE!!!! You know this stuff!!!!

7. Read the instructions, read the envelope, read the paper that the instructions come one, read the tissue pattern. You've read it? Read it again, then once more with feeling. Whilst Indie pattern companies hold your hand , the big four assume you don't have hands. The information is their but its all mashed up and all over the place!

8. Ask for help! There is a huge sewing community on Facebook, Instagram and twitter! Ask your question, hashtag to your hearts content and watch the lovely sewing folks come to your rescue!

9. Keep everything together, yes the envelope is the size of a postage stamp and the tissue pattern feels like trying to fit a double duvet into a teabag but do your best, or alternatively stick it all in a bigger envelope! Just make sure you keep the instructions!!!!

10. Finish your make bask in your own glory and get searing for your next pattern! Seriously guys, the big four have covered every single shape, style and silhouette you can imagine! If you want to make it they have a pattern for it!!!

So what are your top tips for sewing with the big for?





  1. Fab tips, I have made a few big 4 (I've never understood why not 6???) and always make a muslin out of charity shop duvet covers, I've just cut one out that looks like jigsaw puzzle so hoping the instructions give me a clue, I did a quick Pinterest check and no makes come up so reading this made think of trying Mr Google. Loving your description of a double duvet in a teabag, I've spent longer trying to get it back the packet than sewing it!! :) x

    1. I think sometimes just cutting it out can help you work out where things need to go! hope you can get your head around it!!! x

  2. Mine is, Burda are a german company so the patterns are always way too tall for me Maybe a German frame is taller I don't know. (I have to take 4 inches out of my jeans length pattern every time) So I don't usually buy Burda but I like Simplicity vintage patterns best. Jo x

    1. Im not a huge fan of burda mainly becasue you have to add the seam allowences!!! I mean WHO DOES THAT!!! so much effort!!!!


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