Back in the day (as far back as 1860), sewing pattern companies traditionally sold their wares in paper form. However, many communities today no longer have fabric stores or easy access to sewing patterns. With the reach of the internet, all of the pattern companies (indies and the big 4 – Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity, Vogue) are now offering their patterns online in the form of a printing file. This means you have the satisfaction of having the pattern pretty well immediately, especially if you can print it off at home.
On a multitude of 8″x11″ pieces of paper.
That have to be taped together.
While printing a pattern at home is popular with many sewists, my previous experience (see blog post on the Summit Peak Hoodie ) led me to prefer the accuracy of having the pattern printed on large format copy shop paper. No taping required. Figuring that colour printing would be more expensive, I have always had my patterns printed in black and white at our local copy shop, Island Blue Print. (I either print the instructions at home or read the instructions off my computer.) Pretty well all of these black and white printed patterns have cost me anywhere from $10-$15. Printing cost is determined by the number of square feet of paper it requires so a long dress pattern will cost more than a short sleeved top.
I receive the newsletters from Style Arc, a pattern company based in Australia. They were having a sale recently which led me to browse their patterns online. I was looking for a coat pattern for the pink polyester coating fabric that I had picked up in a dead stock sale from a local manufacturer. While not heavy in weight, this fabric has some thickness so I was looking for a simple design with possibly an oversized fit.
I found the Petra Coat fit my requirements. It is described as:
- Slightly over sized
- Revere front
- Knee length
- Wide sleeves
- Statement pockets
- Slight back cocoon shape
- Angled side seams with vents
- Optional fastenings
Fabric suggestions are boiled wool, wool, linen or a ponte knit. Perfect! (I also added to my shopping cart the Maisie Designer Dress for a future project.)
Now what size do I choose? I could have picked the single size of 14 (bust of 40″ or 100cm) for $15.59 CDN but I wasn’t sure if the size would be too big. How oversized was this coat going to be? To hedge my bets, I chose to purchase the multi size pattern (sizes 4-16) for $18.35 CDN.
So how does this tally to a $90 pattern? The story continues.
If you haven’t had any experience with Style Arc patterns, this company includes both cutting lines and stitching lines on their patterns. This is important as their seam allowances change from 3/8″ (1cm) for most of the garment to 1/4″ (6mm) for seams where you would trim down such as the neck seams. (My personal preference is to have the same seam allowance throughout but that’s another story.) So, each size has 2 lines (stitching and cutting lines) and the multi pattern includes 7 sizes. That’s a lot of lines crisscrossing the paper! It sounded like a receipe for disaster. So I sent the file to Island Blue with the request that the pattern be printed in colour. (I requested the Maisie Designer Dress be printed in black and white)
Next day, I received a message that my patterns were ready for pick up. Yay! I was already dreaming of my completed garments. That is until I got to the check out and the teller told me my total.
“That will be $91.86 please.”
“Excuse me, what??”
“$91.86. It’s because you got colour.”
Sure enough, the black and white copy of Maisie was about $10. But the colour copy of Petra was just over $70! While I was expecting maybe $30 or even $40, I wasn’t expecting SEVENTY DOLLARS!
So the pattern file was nearly $20 plus the printing cost of $70 equals a $90 pattern.
But what about the design?
I like the jacket. And yes, I did make it out of the pink polyester coating. Style Arc suggests leaving the coat open although they do provide markings for some kind of front closure. I added snaps to mine.
A couple of things I would note in the construction if you decide to try it.
- Pay attention to the seam allowances. As I mentioned before, this pattern company has different seam allowances depending on if the seam will be trimmed. Why do they do this? I believe garment manufacturers have the varied seam allowances since trimming the seams increases labour costs and wastes fabric.
- I found using the clapper on my seams with the pink polyester fabric helped with flattening the seams. If I just used my iron (with a press cloth), the seams didn’t lay flat.
- If you are needing to sew a corner with a heavy fabric, instead of sewing a right angle, sew about 3 or 4 stitches across. This allows more room for the fabric to turn out.
- I am undecided about the cuff on the sleeves. There is a lot of fabric around the hip area with the pockets, the large sleeves and the cuffs. On the next rendition, I will try without the cuffs. Unless I feel like unpicking the cuffs off this coat. I will also try making smaller/narrower sleeves.
Success with the jacket with some minor modifications. It is a lovely, cozy jacket. Like a blanket wrapped around me. But for a $90 pattern, I will be making a couple more coats!
PS: My sister suggested asking for a quote from another printer. I did send the files to Westside Insta Print and they quoted me $50 for colour printing of the Petra Coat. So it pays to shop around!