Friday, May 24, 2013

An Open Letter to Vogue Patterns


I came soooo close to writing this blog post about a month ago. But for some reason, I held off. Largely due to sheer laziness, I imagine, because a post like this takes a lot of thought and energy to write. But there have been rumors of a recent change in the leadership at Vogue Patterns (which actually flies under the McCalls banner, and they also own Butterick and Kwik Sew, but I mostly sew Vogue) and some of my sewing friends were talking about their satisfaction (or lack thereof) with the current Vogue product line. It got me thinking about this letter, which I had largely composed in my head weeks ago, so here goes.

Dear Vogue Patterns,

First, let me say that, after having used your patterns for my sewing life of over 40 years, I have loved your products. But it feels that, in recent years, you have lost your way. So, as a longtime customer who represents one segment of your market, let me tell you why I think that is.

Not that you asked. This is my gift to you. :)

You seem to have forgotten your customer and what she (or he) wants. I apologize, in advance, for the length of this letter. I had more to say, but I ran out of steam.

  • Fit is everything.

    Let me just say it again. Fit.Is.Everything. I can't tell you how many sewists I have met who tell me they have given up on sewing clothing for themselves because they can't get the clothes to fit. So they sew quilts, or purses, or baby clothes, or home dec items, with maybe the occasional pajama bottom.

    The basic block (or sloper) you use in your patterns is atrocious. When was the last time you updated this? You use far too much ease in most of your patterns (which are not consistent, by the way). Your shoulder is too wide for most of us - I often have to narrow it by 1-1/2" to 2". You have too much ease through the upper bodice area. Your bust point is ridiculously high - I usually have to lower it by 2". Your hips are too wide and your waist is too small, but I admit that these latter two are my own figure peculiarities. (But please keep in mind that some of us are not pear shaped.) Your crotch curve works for almost no one. No. one.

    When a poor, unsuspecting sewist has chosen to sew with one of your patterns, she is starting off at a huge disadvantage, fit wise. Are you familiar with the Australian pattern company, Style Arc? The success of that company is largely due to the RTW fit of the designs and the excellent pattern drafting. The same can be said of the Canadian company, Jalie.

    And before I leave the topic of fit, could you consider offering more fit options for pants? Maybe have a few designs that features your "classic" fit with the J-shaped crotch curve, so you don't alienate your existing base of satisfied pant sewists (if they exist). Then maybe offer a few designs with the European L-shaped crotch curve. I, for one, would really welcome a pant designed for women with no derriere, which happens to many of us in middle age.

    It would make pants fitting so much easier, if one could start with a pattern that had some of the fit issues worked out. I would find this feature to be much more valuable than built-in cup sizes, as you never offer a size large enough for my bust, and the bust point is always in the wrong place, so it's easier for me to start from scratch and do my own full bust alteration.

  • Enough with the Very Easy patterns, already.

    We are being flooded with Very Easy patterns. You seem to judge the difficulty of a pattern largely by how many pattern pieces it uses. This is often a false equivalency. In the process of reducing the number of pattern pieces, you eliminate facings, and simplify other aspects of the design, often to the point where it's not worth the effort of making it - you've lost the essence of what made the design appealing.

    When someone from the "Very Easy" target customer base (ie. a beginning sewist) chooses one of your patterns and sews it up, what usually results is a poorly fitting, boxy, shapeless, mess of a garment and good money down the drain. How about cutting back on the number of Very Easy offerings and make sure that they are stellar designs with a good fit?

  • Challenge and excite us.

    Gone are the days, at least for most of us, of sewing to save money. It has become almost impossible to sew clothing cheaper than what you can buy, thanks to the mass market globalization of clothing production. Most of us sew for two reasons (these are the reasons I sew):

    • To achieve a good fit.
    • As a way of creative expression.

    Therefore, we want to be challenged and excited by the pattern offerings available to us. While I am a member of the BMV club, and do enjoy buying Vogue patterns for $3 in those sales, I (and many of my sewing friends) are finding less and less that we want to buy.

    First, you recently dropped from offering new patterns 6 times a year to 4 times a year. This was a Bad Sign. But even worse, the patterns you offer are so repetitive. The silhouettes, the details... it reminds me of Dorothy Parker's famous quote about Katherine Hepburn: "she delivered a striking performance that ran the gamut of emotions, from A to B."

    Sewists are willing to spend money on an excellent product, as witnessed by our increased frequenting of independent pattern companies, which can't compete with your pricing, and still we buy. How about offering more variety? There is a strong niche of retro sewists, and you seem to have tapped into that market somewhat, but more of that would be welcome, I'm sure. The retro sewists are an enthusiastic bunch who really commit to their passion.

    There are many sewists interested in Lagenlook designs. You have offered some, in the past, but they were often rated "Very Easy" and didn't capture the best essence of Lagenlook in the fun details. They often were a bit "off" in the fit/style and were never shown, to advantage, on the pattern envelope. And you seem to be getting away from this look entirely, with fewer and fewer offerings. Personally, I pine for the great Lagenlook pants patterns that used to be offered by Marcy Tilton and others, but are (mostly) no longer to be found in your catalog.

    What about the plus sized sewist? She wants to be fashionable too. She doesn't want more patterns of sac dresses with ill fitting shoulders. She often has a waist and always wants to show her figure to its best advantage in stylish clothing, including career wear.

    Bring back juniors. When my daughters were in that tween stage, it was almost impossible to find stylish patterns to sew for them. I, myself, am no longer able to sew most of your pants patterns as I am now measuring into a size 4. Please bring back junior styles and sizing!

    I don't sew for a guy, but if I did, I would *hate* it. Where are the interesting patterns for men and boys?

    And why, oh WHY, do you offer endless dress patterns to the exclusion of better separates? I know we are currently in a "dress era", but really! Many of us live in separates and want fun options there, too. A wider variety of pants, please. (Did I mention I love pants?)

  • Offer more designer patterns.

    Please enlist new designers and offer us new, exciting patterns. Give us a wider range of options, and do a better job representing what is available in RTW, particularly in terms of details, and in a timely way. Don't underestimate our skills, or our desire to be challenged. Surprise us.

    And, before I leave the subject of Designer patterns: I understand that you receive the garment from the designer, and then draft the pattern using your own fitting block. You then write the instructions, using your own methods of construction, rather than the methods that may have been used by the designer. OK. But then you photograph the *original garment* for the pattern envelope. This can be rather misleading. How about having someone sew the pattern up and then photograph that garment? It would be a more honest representation of the product.

  • Details, details, details.

    Details are everything. (I know, I said "Fit is Everything", but it's both, really.) I really will buy a pattern just to get a great pocket, or a great collar or sleeve, or some other detail, but that happens so rarely these days because you just aren't offering much variety in these areas. I know sewists who buy patterns just to see how a technique is achieved, or how a pattern is drafted, especially if it's someone unconventional like Issey Miyake. Cooks will take a cookbook to bed to read. Sewists will take a pile of patterns. (That can't just be me.)

    We.love.this.stuff. Please respect us enough to up the ante. In return, we will flock to buy it.

P.S. If you want to talk, let me know. I'm open. :)

157 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Far, and welcome to my blog!

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  2. oy. Your mouth to g*d's ears! i've been sewing with vogue patterns since around 1972, just as long as you have :) I could have written this letter in 1992, the part about the wonky, inconsistent fit has always been an issue in my experience (and i never had the cash to be stocking up on lots of patterns, so that tells you something!). although about 8 years ago when i was DESPERATE for a pattern for an interesting casual dress, it was nothin' but separates and or course evening/cocktail dresses.

    i wonder about the expectation created by the price points, as well. The listed retail price is around $20-25 and up, but it seems like the vast bulk of their patterns must sell at the $4 JoAnn's and Club BMV sales. So we're expecting a $20 value product - after all it says so on the package, and they try to position themselves as very quality and couture - but really, it's a $4 pattern. You'd expect they make it up in volume (and experience!) though.

    I don't see my sewing as a form of creative expression. I want clothes that fit, are practical for my lifestyle, and that will be flattering and stylish. How i would love a greater variety of styles in patterns! And i'm not quite sure what is meant by "Ready To Wear fit", but ..... nothing fits me off the rack, ever! If you're referring to the Saharan expanses of ease Vogue patterns is compelled to draft into even the most close-fitting of attire - i've been wondering about that these long decades, as well. ;)

    Well put as usual!!!! Thank you for performing a service for all of us by getting this off of our collective chests! Happy Friday! steph

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    1. LOL. "Saharan sizing" - yes, that is what I mean. See, I DO think you dress with a lot of creative expression. I think you fall into that category more than you realize.

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  3. Wonderful! I sometimes look at Vogue patterns but never buy, any more, because of the fit problems. European crotch curves, yes! Frankly, at the prices Vogue charges per pattern, the thing should require minimal alteration. If I had wanted to spend 5 hours altering a pattern, I would have drawn my own directly onto the fabric.

    You left out my complaint about Vogue, which is that painstaking instructions are offered for things that need no instruction, and less than half a line of instruction and no illustration is offered for the new. Yes, eventually I can figure it out. But having paid a premium for a pattern, I want value for money.

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    1. Yes, others have complained vociferously about the instructions. I admit that I don't always look too carefully at the instructions, so it is less of an issue for me. But it is a *very* valid comment.

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  4. Well said and very well written. I used Vogue from the time I began sewing about 50+ years ago and always learned something from their pattern instructions. Now, I very seldom see anything that catches my eye and most of their patterns just don't suit folks of my age, 72 and fairly conservative. As for fit - no consistency. I've yet to try Style Arc, but do have a list started. I hope you send your letter.

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    1. Thanks, Mrs K. I hope they read my letter. :)

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  5. Bravo!! I haven't even been sewing for myself that long (only a few years), but comparing a vintage Vogue - even one from the 70s-80s (that isn't REALLY vintage, is it???) to the current offerings is like night and day. Here's hoping someone at BMV is ready to listen...

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  6. Thank you, Shams! Well said. And you definitely aren't the only one who reads patterns in bed. :-)

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    1. Thanks! (I knew it couldn't be just me...)

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  7. You are going to find yourself in Robin Denning's position: offered a job....that is impossible to fulfill satisfactorily.

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    1. lol. I somehow doubt it, but thanks for the vote of confidence. :)

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    2. Carole, I was thinking the exact same thing....

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  8. Brava! I am so glad that you wrote this letter. It expresses everything I feel about Vogue these days. I have bought the easy patterns never to make them up because they are so shapeless and I'd need to do too many alterations to make them wearable. I avoid them like the plague these days. I too am willing to spend good money on Hot Patterns or Style Arc because of the design and fit. I learned to sew with Vogue patterns and for years I sewed the designer patterns almost exclusively. Many years before the cheap sales I gladly paid full price for them. I would again for some really great French designers. Remember those days? I've been sewing for more than 40 years and I make fewer and fewer Vogue patterns. I never buy Butterick or McCalls.
    Yes, I am tired of all the dresses too. They do not fit my lifestyle. I want some great separates!
    Hopefully they will read this and think.

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    1. We are on the same page, Nancy! Thanks!

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  9. Aww, Shams, I love your blog but I can't agree on everything you have said. I buy and sew Vogue patterns because I love the fit. And you're right, fit is everything. So, for me the Vogue's fit is perfect. I am a pear shaped, over a century year old with a derriere. Not all of Vogue's patterns are made for my shape but I just chalk it up to the 60s Mad Men shift dress aesthetic. I do like that Vogue has adapted the figure flattery chart, that I find helpful in choosing a pattern. But you are right, more creative and challenging patterns please! I love Vogue for carrying such designer patterns as Katherine and Marcy Tilton, AKO, Lynn Mizono and Issey Miyake. I might not love all of their patterns (also agree with the Very Easy pattern comment), but there is something that I seem to keep me coming back for more.

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    1. Graca, I am glad to hear they fit you! It's nice to know they fit someone. :)

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    2. oops, I just realized I called myself over a century old... yikes! That's only how I feel today... i meant to type 1/2 century.

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    3. I wondered!! (and was quite impressed) :)

      I also love that they carry the designer patterns that they do, but would like to see more patterns with interesting design/details, even if not "designer".

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  10. Not to rain on your parade, here, shams, but I do disagree with a few of your points. Fit - I TOTALLY agree that they should at least be CONSISTENT and that the ease should be within the realms of the possible, but -- I disagree that they should alter the sizes. I don't think it matters what the block is, as long as it's what they SAY it is. I personally have a waist that is smaller and hips that are larger than the measurements. Sandra Betzina patterns (by Vogue) offer a different sizing with larger waist and hips. And there have been new designers - Pamela Roland, Rachel Comey for example (in the wearable category) and Chado Ralph Rucci and Claire Shaeffer (not to mention Koos) on the "details" level.

    But WAY too many dresses, yes.

    And you mention men's patterns and juniors - but what about kids' patterns? I could do with some patterns that aren't all about smocking. Good thing I have Ottobre.

    But THE MOST IMPORTANT THING (that you have absolutely right) IS THE TERRIBLE FIT. My goodness can't they put a reasonable amount of ease on the stated measurements and call it a day? I had a semi-fitted dress with six inches of ease at the waist. Hello? Fine if it's design ease and you can see it on the pattern but really it's NOT OK to just add extra inches in here and there. And the shoulders as you say.

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    1. You know, it's interesting. Even Sandra Betzina's patterns don't fit me without a lot of altering. But they seem to be fairly consistent within the Today's Fit designation.

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  11. I too have grown up sewing hundreds of Vogue patterns over 55 years and, sadly, have to agree with everything you said. Thank you for this letter and I hope it makes an impression with the owners of McCalls. I also read patterns in bed.

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  12. OK. I've only been using Vogue for 35 years - but still Shams I'm with you all the way. And I read patterns in bed too- sad?? but very well prepared!
    I must admit that a Vogue 14 is practically precision made for me and I now know where to nip and tuck - so please don't make too many waves

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    1. lol! Another happy sewist. My mother, who passed away in the 80s, was a perfect size 10 in Vogue, with very minor alterations. I'm not sure if that would still be true, given the changes they've undergone since then. Sewing was much easier for her, because of it.

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    2. I couldn't have said it better myself, so I'm so glad you said it so well!!! I've resorted to pattern software because fit is so difficult to achieve through the big 4. I was watching a craftsy class on fit and the amount of alterations was ridiculous!! I'm tall, busty but proportioned. The current offerings are for short, weirdly proportioned people.

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  13. I would have never written so well as you did. Dang, you really spoke for a variety of us! I have sewn Vogue for about as long as you have and still buy many and have many disappointments! I am working and working and working on a easy Vogue dress pattern now that just ain't so easy! I will finish I hope this weekend.

    Again well written letter!

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    1. Thanks, Linda. Good luck with your "easy" Vogue!

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  14. You can't see me but imagine me running around the house hands in the air - score score score. Back to the lounge to type this up..

    You speak for me and I know for many others. I am still a beginner - after sewing for a year and a half - but the easy patters are - well - BORING!

    I don't know how many times I looked with eagerness at a new pattern release and thought - NEW ? ? ? Where is the new.

    I recently had a rant on my blog about shape and fit for plus size - to the point I have launched my own self imposed Busting Butterick challenge.

    And yes - when I get nice patterns - I take them to bed and dream about fabric matches and imagine myself in beautiful sewn by me outfits.

    Thanks Shams.

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    1. Thanks so much, BeaJay! I thought you had been sewing for much longer!

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  15. Brava! I love to look at vintage catalogs to see the details and style available to "everyday" sewists of the thirties and forties. You make me want to splurge on Style Arc, despite the Australia to NJ postage.

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    1. Exactly, Judith! Style details were so wonderful back then, even for home sewists.

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  16. Amen, sister! Bravo, and ditto, ditto, ditto!

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  17. Strange--I was thinking that Vogue was going downhill in the late 80's/early 90's, for this same list of reasons.

    Vogue has always had great pattern illustrations and design details, but you're right on the money as far as inconsistent wearing ease, and mismatch between the garment illustrated and the pattern provided.

    For me, pattern shopping (from any company) is like buying a lottery ticket--sometimes I pick a winner, but more often, it doesn't pay off. I confine myself to a few patterns I've fitted and refitted, and change the styles by altering for fashion (which is a lot more fun than altering for fit).

    On the plus side, if you don't buy patterns often, and you shop fabric sales carefully, you can still save a few bucks by sewing your own stuff. Of course, I'm less fashion-adventurous than you!

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    1. Yes, you *can* save money, particularly if you live near a jobber and can get fabric at greatly discounted rates. Good for you to be so economical!

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  18. very interesting post Shams. I will come down on the side of being OK with the sizing and I do make a lot of the designer patterns which seem to fit reasonably well. However I do make my standard adjustments so there is that. But as for the selection, there I agree with you completely. I do like dresses and make a lot of Vogue dresses but if they had more interesting blouses, tops, jackets, etc I would make those as well. Many times I have searched for an interesting jacket pattern and not found anything new or interesting (or well designed) And as an experienced sewist I can see that so many of their patterns are total recycling, no new design and sometimes virtually the same as something they showed previously. As for the various cup sizes in the patterns, i do sew a lot of Simplicity patterns as well and they do the multi-figure size in one envelope soooo much better, their Amazing fit patterns are very useful and functional. Lots to think about with this topic and as a pattern junkie I am glad you opened this conversation.

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    1. lol. Beth, you and I certainly have very different sizing issues. I completely agree on the lack of interesting/recycled designs.

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  19. Bravo!! Exactly and in a nutshell. Well said. Also the pattern direction leave much to be desired. Most patterns that I sew end up having some confused moment when I try to figure out what they are wanting me to do...and when I get all done with it I wonder why they did it in such a complicated way. And then there's typos. How hard is it, really, to double check all of it? I no longer sew from commercial patterns as I have to do so many alterations (and I'm plus sized) that I might as well draft it myself. Now that's sad. I want to be able to see a great outfit, buy the pattern, and make it up. No wonder sewing is going away...Vogue and their whole pattern group are the nails in the coffin.

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    1. Thanks, Ginger! But I don't think that sewing is dying. Thanks to shows like Project Runway, and young DIY bloggers who are into refashioning/upcycling, and new independent pattern lines, like Colette, Cake, and Sewaholic, and shows like Mad Men that are fueling the love of retro, I think sewing is experiencing a re-resurgence. I hope Vogue can keep up.

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  20. Great post Shams but I disagree on some points.
    There is no such thing as too many dresses (but their choice of separates is, I agree, woeful).
    Fit is a huge issue and they do need updated and age-related blocks but
    Style matters just as much and they are lagging far behind.

    Remember the amazing green silk dress Keira Knightly wore in Atonement? It took 2-3 years to hit the books then was touted as the latest thing. It all takes too long.

    Style Arc had the Pippa bridesmaid dress long before any of the big 4. No wonder we are all looking elsewhere much of the time.
    I hope they read your post!

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    1. LOL. Ok, I won't quibble on the number dresses so long as other areas are well represented. I do agree that the turn around on the publishing process is ridiculously long. I almost addressed that in my post. Style Arc came to my attention because they had the Pippa dress out within a WEEK of the wedding. It was insanely fast.

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  21. Provocative post and I love it! I will disagree a bit. I have been using Vogues for nearly 40 years now.

    I do lament the loss of the French couturiers in their designer patterns today. There were many in their stable back in the day.

    I think V.Easy V. Vogues are a waste of paper and very uninspiring.

    As far as fit, I woould prefer it not to change. I perform the same adjustments on every pattern and equally to each of the Big Four. I don't find Vogue and better or worse than the other three. If I do the proper adjustments, I'm there. I will never wear a garment straight out of the envelope. I am just too short. I don't expect that from any pattern maker that is mass produced, including Burda. Fitting IS sewing and that will never change.

    Yes, there are lots of dresses but we have returned to the age of dresses. Should we blame Caroline? (wink)

    I love that Vogue offers traditional patterns for children. I have made many over and over through the years and been very pleased with them all. I think I have all their heirloom patterns for the last 15 years and then some. I can get all the trendy kids patterns elsewhere but it is hard to get heirloom clothing from the Big Four.

    While distantly related, I just want to say that Vogue Pattern Magazine is wonderful and has improved tremendously over the past couple of years. There is some real substance in this mag, not just fashion illustrations and photos. Watch out, Threads.

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    1. LOL. Yes, Caroline is certainly on trend as a dress lover. ;)

      I DO AGREE that Vogue Pattern Magazine has improved in recent years. I do subscribe to it. Thanks for pointing that out.

      I also agree that Vogue is no worse that the other in the Big 4. But I single Vogue out because I mostly sew Vogue.

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  22. What a well-thought out letter.

    Fit should be consistent within a company. Even if it's not a perfect fit, at least we would know how to adjust the patterns and the same way each time.

    Here's a tongue-in-cheek P.S. you could have added: quit with the stupid model poses in the photos.

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    1. LOL, Glorm. Actually, they've gotten a bit better with the poses, and I've ribbed them about that before. But, I agree, they could use a better stylist for those pictures.

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    3. Let me try again without typos... I especially disliked the model crouching in a window poses.

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  23. Put me in the room with all those who really hope that TPTB at Vogue reads (and HEARS) this! Even though I'm only just recently adding dresses to my closet, all I see when I look at the dress patterns is repeats - I look at the design details from the vintage eras and drool - I don't really wear vintage styles, but those design details! What used to be standard is few and far between now, yet Vogue SHOULD be that standard! It's no wonder the indy companies are being born...and thriving!

    And FIT, and EASE - please. Bodies come in so many shapes and sizes, but consistency from the pattern company would be SO helpful in not having the reinvent the fit wheel with every single pattern! If I have start with a base size of anywhere from 6 to 12 within the same company, then something is terribly amiss.

    Thanks for writing this shams :) Vogue? Anyone? Vogue? Hello?

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    1. YES YES YES. Thanks, Jillian.

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    2. Oh, forgot to say - I bring patterns with me to bed for nighttime reading too lol! Sad, perhaps, but true.....

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    3. Well, we are all equally weird!

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    4. Why is it weird to read patterns in bed when my DH reads DVD inserts in bed? He sometimes enters (and wins) movie trivia contests. When are we going to run pattern trivia contests?

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  24. Great post shams, and your insights are far more detailed than I'd be able to provide. The reason for that is because I so rarely buy Vogue patterns. I will never understand why the fit - especially the pants - is so different from clothing purchased in a store. RTW doesn't fit me well either and that's why I sew. But it is so much closer than the fit of the Big 4 pattern companies. The easiest way for me to have a pattern is to knock off RTW and make fitting adjustments to it, but that results in the same shirt over and over and over, and the same simple pants over and over and over.
    The Sandra Betzina cut is a whole lot better for me, but her style isn't for me.
    Fit, fit, fit!! I realize we all have different bodies and we all have to make adjustments, but why have commercial sewing patterns drifted so far away from manufacturer's fit standards? I bet it is because they can be ;azy and get away with it. Manufacturers have to keep up with consumer demand or go out of business.

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    1. YES. I don't get it, either. I wish Vogue would hire some pattern drafters who have experience in RTW. It's as if they have hired their pattern drafters right out of college and they don't have the benefit of RTW experience. RTW often uses poor construction and poor materials, but they usually are better at basic fit. (Which isn't to say that RTW clothing fits everyone, it doesn't, but it's a lot closer to most normal bodies than envelope patterns.)

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    2. Yes! People at work know that I sew, and you know what they always tell me? "I tried to sew once, but I am no good at it." When I ask more questions, they tell me that the garment fit terrible. They blamed themselves for being 'bad at sewing'. If they'd had a well drafted pattern with a modern cut, they would have succeeded well enough to keep going with it. Such a shame.

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    3. Yes, that is the story I hear, over and over. It's sad.

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  25. A-Freaking-MEN!
    Hopefully Frank Rizzo and whomever he brings in when he builds his team will rethink the deplorable direction the company has taken in the last several years. And oh, please give us back photo shoots that are not trying to be "artsy" and putting the models in bizarre poses that obscure design details.

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  26. Thanks for your succinct, thorough and thoughtful letter, Shams. I've been sewing with Vogue for 60 years; the patterns had no printing; differently shaped holes were the marks. Even then, as a pre-teen, I had to lower the bust 1 inch, and still do to this day. If Vogue were to respond to the challenges stated here, I could see them having brain-storming sessions and eventually devising a radically new home sewing model.

    Regarding "easy to sew" patterns, many designers include in their lines extremely simple garments. The shaping, fit and use of luxurious fabrics elevate them.

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    1. Thanks, Carol. You are the first person to call my post "succinct". LOL. Yes, I am not opposed to easy patterns at all, but they need to be well designed and well drafted. As you say, it's the fabrics and finishes that elevate them.

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  27. Nodding so much I think I burned some calories!

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  28. Your post took the words right out of my mouth and I hope into the ears and eyes of McCall's / Vogue / Butterick. I, too, have been sewing with Vogue patterns for a long time. Instead of reading a book in bed I'll read the pattern instructions or review my fabric stash after my latest pattern purchase. I buy very few patterns these days and seek other sources for patterns and ideas, ie ShapeShape 1 and 2. The lack of [good] sewing instructions has made me figure things out myself. Many times when I'm driving to work, I visualize how I'm going to construct a garment or finish a seam, etc. Does anyone else do this? And I've resigned myself to making a muslin for almost every garment, even after making my usual fitting adjustments on the pattern. Many thanks for this post and your blog.

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    1. Thanks so much, Wabi Sabi! YES YES. I picture the steps of construction in my head ALL OF THE TIME. And I often copy details from RTW. I try to avoid making muslins, but sometimes you just have to.

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  29. Are you listening BMV? Sharon, you said it most eloquently and I couldn't agree more.

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  30. Yes. And please stop using photos of garments so dark (this means you, black) that all details are INVISIBLE.

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    1. Another excellent point, Monabel! In general, they could use some help when it comes to photography.

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  31. I'm voting for consistency because I use the bust point as is and am definitely a pear shaped body. My method is to compare each pattern to my basic shell and adjust from there so it doesn't matter as much if the original is too big or too small, I'm going to adjust it for both length and width to match me. Since there are so many body shapes and sizes, consistency would help us all. I agree with the comment that fit is sewing.

    A size 4 ? ? ? ? Way to go Shams. Congratulations. When is the posting telling us how you're doing that?

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    Replies
    1. I agree, that would go a long way to help things. That post is coming, in a few weeks, I expect.

      Delete
    2. A size 4???? In the measurement charts of in fit? Even my 12 yo can't fit into a size 4. She has my hips.

      When I was 16 and a competitive athlete training 20-30 hrs/wk, I had 39" hips. Now that I am sedentary and middle-aged, they have atrophied to 38". A 31.5" hip on someone my height boggles my mind.

      Delete
  32. Yep, I read those patterns in bed, too!

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  33. Wow, what a provocative and well-thought-out letter! You speak for so many of us...I have been looking for the last few weeks for a "special" pattern to make my MOB jacket for DD's October wedding...I have found nothing that rocks my boat. I have been looking at vintage patterns, specifically vintage Vogue (not the VV they have on the site). So many of the patterns from the 60's, 70's and 80's were well-thought-out, specially the "wardrobe" patterns for the working woman, which I was, in those days...there was such a choice. Paris Originals, American Designer Originals,
    there were complex and au courant patterns from top designers, and some of those patterns are still being used, 30 or 40 years later. The newer patterns, on the other hand, are "retired" after 3 or 6 months, as they are "dumbed down" and not worthy of the (slight) effort to make them. Wow, did you press MY buttons! Brava, Sharon, thank you for speaking out!

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    1. Such good points, Margy. I feel your pain and agree that finding that special pattern for a special occasion is getting harder and harder.

      Delete
  34. Excellent post and so very well written. Thank you. ♥

    Please add my complaint to the list, I would like to see the clothes on models that appear to have eaten an entire meal in the last week. The last batch of models could appear in public service announcements for anorexia and bulimia.

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    1. Thanks, Elle. Another good point!

      Delete
  35. Wonderful post Shams. Although there will never be a pattern that will fit everyone, surely they could start from a more common base - as StyleARC clearly does. And keep things STANDARD! So that we know what the ease is like, we know what standard alterations we need to make for our body and style preferences, and can have consistent success with our sewing. And as for the instructions...especially those for knit fabrics...they really need to get with the game there!
    And I might just head upstairs and sew another StyleARC garment...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Thornberry. Consistency really is key. This weekend I'm working on a Jalie.

      Delete
  36. Oh, I read patterns in bed too...

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  37. I will be interested to hear is Vogue replies to your letter, shams. I too find the Very Easy Vogues to be unappealing, and not a good way to invite new sewers into the fold. Contrast these "designs" with the challenges presented by the designer patterns from the 60s and 70s...what a difference! If they want to attract new customers, they will need to maintain their quality while adding in scaffolding to help beginners achieve good results. They could start by writing GOOD instructions, and by adding some info on sizing to their web site.

    As for the fit, I am a Vogue devotee-these patterns fit me pretty well. I have learned that I need to "walk" any pattern and adjust my expectation of what size I should cut. I am currently sewing a Butterick pattern and I cut an extra small (I usually cut a 10-12).

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    Replies
    1. Very well put, Mary! I was also thinking that they could develop a web presence with tutorials and the like. But it might be too far outside their comfort zone. Baby steps. ;)

      Delete
  38. Well-put, Shams. I agree with you that they need to work on their fit--especially when it comes to consistency.

    But, they have a difficult challenge. You and I are opposite figures. I find that the upper chest is a bit too tight and the upper back too loose when the shoulders fit. I also have to either take in the waist or let out the hip. You do the opposite.

    So, perhaps, the sizing is correct if we both have to adjust a little bit in opposite directions.

    My beef is that the sizing is so inconsistent between different patterns. They need to keep the pattern makers in house and tight controls on the block and pattern grades between sizes.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi Shams. We met this week at Britex (I'm Rebecca). Yes, almost two years ago, I simply wanted to make a new blouse, but couldn't bring myself to buy a pattern, having become so discouraged by the limited choices and growing awareness that I could not get the fit I wanted without lots of modifications. Over the years, I almost always went with Vogue patterns because they seemed more sophisticated -- my first serious project was a Vogue dress for my 7th grade dance in the mid-sixties, sewn on an 1890's treadle machine. I've sewn countless vogue pattern garments since then, and many of them required minimal adjustment for acceptable fit. The day came, though, when I simply did not want to buy Vogue or any other pattern ever again. I switched to designing my own patterns. Now I make any style with any combination of features I want, all with impeccable fit. If Vogue had been offering a more satisfying product with better variety all along, I would never have considered this option. I am now incredibly happy with my new way of creating garments, especially because it looks like Vogue's offerings are worse now than before. Vogue has lost my business forever.

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  40. Fabulous letter, Shams. I couldn't agree more, and the reasons you listed above are the exact reasons why I love Marfy patterns so much. Superbly well drafted, interesting and unusual design features and draping - although they do lack in the pants-offering arena. I hope Vogue reads this!

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  41. And I thought that it was just me - dissatisfied and uninspired. Thank-you for taking the time to put words to the aggravation of many.

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  42. So eloquently stated, Shams. I thought maybe I was just getting in a funk - not feeling the love for the newer patterns. And boy so I second that comment on "flat butts." I know we don't all have the same fitting issues, but like you stated, they certainly could give us a better starting point. Thus, why I have so many StyleArc patterns - high postage and all.

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  43. BRAVO!!! I hadn't purchased any patterns for several years. Last year, however, I caught a BMV sale and bought about 10 patterns. Had to alter my Vogue patterns to the point where working with them was a drudge, not the fun experience I had expected. To be honest, I went back to using my old tried and true patterns and haven't even touched two of my newer patterns.

    Thanks for voicing my sentiments and those of countless others.

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  44. I read this before bed last night, and my subconscious must have been stewing about it all night, as I woke up thinking about it still... How enlightening! I am just coming back to sewing after years of sewing only for my daughter (no curves, love it!) and mending stuff. Things I have made for myself just have not fit right. I blamed it on my figure :-( and gave up. However, this time I am determined to suceed, armed with a dress form that is customized for me and lots of new knowledge thanks to blogs such as yours (FBA - wahoo!!!). While I have known I cannot do a straight size from a pattern, your comments have struck a nerve - maybe my figure isn't as much to blame as I previously thought! I can blame the patterns :-)

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  45. I can't help to wade in....I started sewing in a significant way in my 20's. I was and still am a Burda fan. ( perfect fitting pants for a body in their 20's!) I started sewing up a storm after a long break. I have never sewed a Vogue pattern. I have bought several in the last sale. So hard to resist. Thank you for the heads up! I am definitely going to look at the other pattern companies. I had great success with the Renfrew pattern by Sewaholic. On my sewing table is a Burda....Fit is the most important!

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  46. I agree about the fit. Absolutely crazy. I stopped buying the big 4. THe amount of ease is just too crazy. The arm holes and upper chest area typically very problematic and the necklines often too low or too wide. I can barely muster a 33 inch bust so that is where I am coming from. WHen I read a review from someone that wears a 10-12 in RTW has to cut small, why bother??? If style arc can get so many different body types to be happy than vogue can too. And style arc only gives you one size to boot!
    AS far as the style aesthetic goes, well, they mostly miss my mark as well. However I find myself at odds with most of what I see in the sewing world. I do not care for vintage style at all, nor overly arty flowy looks or what I would call too classic looks either. I have been using a few of the style arc patterns and Grainline Studios.

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  47. I agree with you 100%, especially about the fit. I am so close to giving up altogether but I really love to sew for myself. It is just so hard to get the right fit anymore . . .

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  48. So well said. Back in the 80's I discovered Vogue patterns, they were horrendously expensive in Europe at that time (and still are) but wow, the designer patterns. I especially loved Claude Montana patterns and had as much as I could afford (my style must have changed a bit since then ;)).
    The big revelation at that time were the extreme good instructions, I learned so much from those patterns. My mother taught me how to sew but these patterns opened a new world to me. After sewing very little for myself when my children were young I came back to sewing and also started using Vogue again, often with a lot of disappointment. Consistency of fit is a major issue for me, and all the dresses recently: not reflecting my lifestyle either. I'm using Burda a lot again, they do have consistency of sizing and I know what to alter for myself, starting with a specific size. I've ventured into a lot of independent pattern companies of which I love Jalie and StyleArc especially. Expensive but good. From what the Americans call the Big 4 Vogue is even the best in sizing (which says something!). I stay completely away from McCalls and Butterick nowadays.
    I know it's easy for me, having magazines in Europe and having grown up with tracing patterns and now seam allowances, but yes, I definitely would buy more Vogue patterns if they were more consistent and special in details.

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  49. Shams, I support your comments. and wonder if V has thought about why many of us pay $20 for independent patterns repeatedly. We love the details. Fit is another issue, and I no longer have a problem with this -- just measure, tissue fit, and alter ala Pati Palmer. But interesting designs are harder to find. I found the last batch of V's very uninspiring, with exception of Marcy's wiggle dress.

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  50. Your post is long, but composed of lean muscle. Maybe your new health regimen is toning up more than your body. You were to the point, did not let them off the hook, yet you were gracious and funny to boot. Amen. 2 things resonated most in the moment- Mens Vogue Patterns and reading patterns in bed. Ha, what a combo! 1st- Vogue has 15 basics for men. OK, 1 anorak and 1 shirt with fit lines in the back and a stand only collar. What a void in the market for current menswear. As in some details please- pockets, flaps, zippers, velcro, hardware. A smart cookies could dive in and have the pattern field all to him/herself. And men are obviously on my mind, mostly darling husband, however, I love to read patterns in bed. Mostly on a weekend morning. Probably more thoughts will bubble up later, great post, thanks.

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  51. My letter to Vogue would be quite different than yours, since I have a very different shape, lifestyle, and style preference than you. And those seem to be the criteria behind your suggestions. I have sewn Vogue patterns for years. They are my favorite and come the closest to fitting me. Their fit is consistent, but I do have to pay special attention to the pattern fit description on the back of the pattern envelope. When they say loose fitting, it is loose. And when my measurements increase, well wouldn’t you know it, I have to use a pattern in a larger size. I would never expect a pattern based on a standard block to fit everyone in a population that ranges from young girls to mature women, all with the same bust, waist and hip measurements. Not sure what you mean by RTW sizing. The arbitrary numbers used to indicate increasing garment size? Or the garment shaping and style which is designed to fit the biggest variety of shapes and sizes with the least amount of sewing required. Can we say T shirt? Gee, so a Vogue sewer has to be honest about her measurements and compare them to a table on the back of a pattern envelope. Where does this conceit come from? The idea that one’s body shape and proportions are the “norm”. Maybe the word conceit is a big strong, how about wishful thinking. Could the “fit all RTW sizing” be a contributor? I would suggest to Vogue that they put a disclaimer on their patterns saying "Pattern Sewing Instructions are basic. For more advanced or alternate techniques, consult these sources.... And one of the sources could be an online version of their wonderful Vogue sewing book. Of course these days no one wants to read anything or they can't understand basic direction or pictures so that may not even work either. Jalie patterns are all for knits. They do fit a wide range of sizes and shapes, but because of the fabric, not some magic “fit all” block. Style Arc styles are available in other pattern lines, but they don't have the same "marketing” or newness behind them, the allure of the perfect fit with no alterations. Vogue is part of the McCalls Pattern Company, a private company that owns and sells patterns under these brand names and categories; McCall's (contemporary), Butterick (classic), and Vogue (couture). The categories are not mine, but are from an online description of the company. Couture for me does not include most menswear, juniors, floppy fit art to wear garments or even very easy patterns. And it assumes a certain level of sewing expertise and knowledge. Hmmm. Vogue’s current offering seems to match their target category. Isn’t it great that there are many new and exciting alternate sources of sewing patterns these days for us to explore.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Audrey! Yes, it is great that there are so many exciting, talented new pattern designers out there today and even better that new technologies make it possible for us to find out about them and support them.

      Your passion about Vogue patterns and your commitment to high levels of quality and craftsmanship in your sewing endeavours is very apparent. However, your criticisms of this blog's author, shams, are completely undeserved.

      If you had taken the time to read through even a handful of shams' large number of excellently written, thoughtfully organized, and heavily researched online articles i am sure you agree that accusing our blog hostess of a lackadaisical approach to sewing, or even of stating that she possesses anything resembling a 'normal/average figure' is laughable.

      I can only assume you are venting about some people you have run across in other arenas. Happy Sewing All!! steph

      Delete
  52. Touched a nerve didn't you?

    Consistency. I've made two Vogue tops recently in the same size, both said fitted, yet they ease was very different.
    How can (nearly) every pattern flatter every shape?
    Why do Vogue's, McCall's and Butteric's men's patterns all look a like?

    Thanks, Sham

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  53. I REALLY hope you sent this to them! You should have had all of your readers sign the letter as well, as you said so very well exactly what we all think.

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  54. Such a great letter and interesting comments! You go, girl. Hope Vogue is listening.

    I totally get that no pattern company's offerings are going to fit me out of the envelope. My body is a true original! :) After years of frustration, my recent return to sewing has been fueled by a new understanding of how to adjust patterns and even to draft the more simple shapes from scratch. Instead of complaining that my body is somehow at fault, I finally feel free to make whatever changes necessary to get what I want. It's so empowering! I now have a basic bodice sloper that I know fits well and can use that to help with the complicated shoulder/neck/armhole fixes. It also helps me decide which pattern sizes to start with - definitely not the ones I would have chosen if I used the sizing chart! This helps eliminate the "saharan" ease problem too. I just don't trust the numbers given so I measure. Everything. Yes, it takes time. I think it's worth it though. Of course I wouldn't complain if the patterns companies changed their drafting blocks to at least come closer to how more women are actually shaped! I'm not holding my breath on that one however.

    As for the styles, I've been disappointed in the rehashed basic shapes and gazillion similar dresses. I really love interesting details and am not afraid of a challenge. Like you, Shams, I want a somewhat arty funky lagenlook-ish thing going but with a little shape - not too baggy and flowing. (The Tiltons have it pegged pretty well.) I've been sewing for nearly 50 years so unless there is something unfamiliar in the design, I rarely follow the instructions given. I do read through them though! Just not in bed...

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  55. Amen!
    Hallelujah!!
    and: Can I get a "Hell, yeah!!"???

    I, too, am a formerly-die-hard-loyal Vogue Patterns sewist of 40+ years. I sewed with Vogue patterns in High School, when the designer patterns sometimes cost [gasp!] $5.00. That represented 10 hours of baby-sitting to me, then.
    Today, only the Tiltons' and Miyake designs intrigue me enough to buy Vogue.
    Design is everything.
    Details are a close second.
    Excite me. Challenge me. Make the effort to sew worth my while, else The Sewing Workshop, LJ Designs, La Fred and their ilk are getting my pattern dollars.

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  56. I take sewing patterns AND cookbooks to read in bed. LOL.

    Lisa from BABES

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  57. Eloquently put! I didn't agree with all of your opinions of course, but definitely a few spoke to me! I've never had a problem with the fit, but then I'm pretty experienced with fitting; and that's NOT to say I don't have to make alterations with Vogue, I do! I will say that I think Burda has really nailed the fit issue better than any other pattern company. I heartily agree with the point on too many very easy vogues... BORING! and please please please bring back a big variety of designer patterns, for all different garment types; separates, coats jackets, EVERYTHING.
    My prayers would be answered if they re-released the entire range of 80's-90's Issey MIyake patterns, for one.
    I will also add that patterns for lingerie, like bras and knickers etc, and bathers (swimwear) are completely missing from the Vogue repertoire. COMPLETELY MISSING! What the heck is with that????

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  58. Since my last Vogue pattern purchase 1343 I will never buy another Vogue pattern again I feel the fit is very suspect of late, and yet a small company like Style Arc seem to get it right, so after a lifetime (40 years) of sewing with Vogue I have switched companies, since my experience with V1343 I am just so disappointed and at £14 each I am not prepared to take another risk.I agree wholeheartedly with Shams well said

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  59. Way to go Shams!
    If you are short or petite, Vogues just don't work. They take out the length,only in some spots, but they don't adjust the ease or the details. Even when I was my heaviest, I would swim in Vogues. They need to realize that petite is not just height.
    I don't mind all the dresses because i like choice. But can we have more dresses with sleeves? Sleeveless is only for women who work out like our First Lady. I would love some choices with short and long sleeves.
    I have passed up many $3 sales and dropped my BMV membership because there just isn't that much to chose from. I am collecting Jalie and some independents. And I am saving up for an order from Style Arc.
    Thanks for speaking up for all of us so eloquently.

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  60. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!
    The BMVK cut is all wrong and old fashioned!
    Example _ I am making leggings for DD just what loginc says if the hip measurement goes up 2" the ankle goes up by 1" so that a size 20-22 end up with 14" ankles. NO! NO! NO!
    Everything must be big and baggy so you can get into them and feel comfortable.
    Children's clothes are even worse!
    I've been sewing with V for nearly 40 years but maybe not much longer.
    Confessing to reading patterns on the way home on the bus.

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  61. An exceptionally well written letter, Shams. As others have said, I, too, thought that it was my lack of skill at times that caused me fitting problems. I am short, average weight, with no extraordinary figure problems and would like to feel that I didn't have to make a muslin of almost every Vogue I make...or at least a partial muslin. I would like to see the return of Finished garment measurements. The information provided on the back of the envelopes is just disappering. I will be waiting to hear Vogue's response. If it is minimal, I will be quite disappointed.

    Fran G

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  62. I'd like to thank you for speaking for the lack of "ease" in the "easy to sew" category.

    I have a couple of simple patterns from the 70s/early 80s. They are truly simple patterns - one is for an A line skirt (three different hem widths) and the other is for a handkerchief-sleeve summer dress. They're both *very* simple... and they have good instructions. Instructions that my modern patterns lack - like, "interface the zipper area".

    I pull out a modern pattern and puzzle over the instructions. Stare at the pictures. Think about committing hari-kari with my shears over the fitting problems. All for an allegedly simple product.

    The big four need to take a serious look at the work being done in fitting by Cake and Sewaholic, the styling done by Burda ... and generally get their heads out of the sand.

    Although yes, I appreciate the 99c/1.99 pattern sales at Joannes. Well, I wouldn't want to pay $15 for one of these things, that's certain. :p

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  63. Interesting letter Shams and hopefully read by those at Vogue. I am of the group who finds that Vogue fits really well - however I flat pattern measure as the ease can prove problematic. But I agree with you about the lack of variety and design in Vogue. When I began sewing they were the pinnacle of design -chic and stylish and very expensive (only to be bought for that very special dress or outfit) Unfortunately this has changed over time (now they are just expensive, New Zealand does not have the specials that are available in US) I would be interested in seeing some new designers.

    As always love reading your posts and congrats on all your hard body work you look amazing.

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  64. way to go, Shams. I'm so tall I don't expect patterns to fit lengthwise, but width wise, I do expect that. For the past 10 years I have been so disappointed in Vogue, which I have been sewing for over 40 years. I am really impressed with the commentary you have generated.

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  65. Very well said! The only Vogue patterns I consider buying are the Tiltons. I don't even open the books of the other pattern companies. I became so discouraged with sewing. The only fabric available to me is by mail order. I have some beautiful fabrics in my stash that I decided needed to be made now and enjoyed or else they would wind up in an estate sale some day. I have signed up to take sewing lessons from a prominent teacher in the Bay area. I am hopping this will spark my interest once again. Also, the old Vogue designer patterns are selling like crazy on ebay for very good prices.

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  66. Superbly drafted letter, and I hope you really ARE sending it to Vogue Patterns. You speak so well for all of us. Thanks, Annette.

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  67. Sham, you just made my day.

    I am a beginner with sewing and have only tried three patterns from Vogue and McCalls. All three were a disaster at the end.

    Well, I thought it was my fault, because I try to learn sewing on my own. Just me, the machine and a good pattern. So after three disasters I stopped sewing and started reading sewing blocks only. I always thought the bad clothing I had sewn were my mistake. Never ever would have mind it was a bad pattern construction or a mistake by the pattern creator.

    Greetings from Germany and I will start sewing again with Burda..:-)

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  68. Please do send your letter. They need to know.

    I made a similar comment on one of the Burda collections. Super basic, boxy unflattering styles, NO interesting details whatsoever.

    It's almost like they are competing with super-cheap RTW. I can buy cheap crap that has no detail and fits poorly. Why would I spend the time to sew it???

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  69. I am new to sewing but I can certainly agree with your letter!

    Especially about styles for guys/men and juniors. My kids are teens. The ONLY thing I have a hope of sewing for them are sweatshirts and pj's. There are no other patterns that interest them. Maybe a button down shirt...but then for my daughter, who is a 2 in RTW, I'd have to make so many adjustments to get it to fit her long, slim figure that I don't.

    And, *THAT* is why the finished item doesn't match the pattern envelope, eh? I didn't know they did that with designer patterns...that stinks. I have sewed two pair of pants where I'm not happy with the fit of the leg/leg opening but now that makes sense to me.

    And (HA!) I have two plus-sized friends that I wouldn't mind sewing for if they asked, but I've warned them that I am a 14-18 in patterns (at a RTW 10) so good luck finding anything flattering. Maybe a maxi - maybe. But there just aren't enough GOOD patterns from the Big 4 that aren't rectangles. So many plus sized women have ridiculously amazing curves and don't want to wear a box!

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    1. Mrs Smith-for young 'uns I would strongly suggest Ottobre (has english instructions) and Knipmode kids (knippie-dutch only but anyone with even a little experience can wing it). Fashion forward, and the fit is like RTW (with a bit more ease in the shoulders and hips as I assume Northern Europeans are lot more active and outdoorsy than everyone else.. =)

      Delete
  70. Lady-just-24 salutes. With guns and everything. Seriously. Just-nothing to say because you've said it all here. Setup a petition on whatever channel and I'll come sign it. BTW I do not currently sew bigfour. For all the reasons you've listed above.

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  71. Another thumbs up for your great letter, Shams. After thirty-five years of sewing with Vogue, they've lost most of my business, too, in favour of independents and Simplicity, who have really upped their game in terms of fit and style. (Simplicity seems to have addressed complaints about excess ease, overly-wide shoulders and uninspiring styles that used to plague them, perhaps magically transferring them to Vogue.)
    I love Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit patterns, and have used many of them. She nailed my body-type and size; they fit me with very few alterations. What I hate is that Vogue seems to be anxious to present the ugliest possible versions of Sandra's styles, re-making them when they could/should use Sandra's original versions.
    I totally agree with the negative comments about the photography, styling and models poses. It looks to me like McCall's uses one stylist for all three lines so that Vogue now looks just like McCall's patterns: very middle-of-the-road rather than upscale. Fabric choices are often pedestrian and details frequently lost in busy fabrics and obfuscating poses.
    The over-simplification/over-standardization of instructions irritates me, too, as is the dropping of finished garment measurements on the back of the pattern (and please add the bust measurement!). Homogenization to the lowest common denominator does not serve the customer. Do they really think we don't notice, especially at Vogue's supposed price point?
    I agree that VPM has improved over the past two years and recently re-subbed.
    How would you feel about blog readers forwarding a link to your letter to Vogue? I'm not sure why you haven't done it yourself but I'm sure up for it :)

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    Replies
    1. I dropped my subscription because I was tired of reading about how to make a corset!

      Delete
  72. You've written a very well thought out letter.
    I agree that fit is important and I want to be excited by new patterns to keep sewing.
    What I continue to do are my basic adjustments no matter what pattern company I use. And I love sewing for others so they can see how much better a well fitted piece of clothing really feels compared to RTW.
    What I do enjoy is finding independent pattern companies, seeing their point of view and their response to me - a little fish in a huge sewing pond. That's the impressive bit that keeps me motivated to find indie companies who give me current styles to sew for myself and my family.

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  73. Many thanks, Shams. You speak for many of us out here dying to sew quality patterns.

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  74. This is truly a wonderful letter with so many excellent points! Thank you for putting it down on “paper.”

    While my fit issues are quite different than yours, and the small waist/large hip works quite well for me, I wholeheartedly agree with the lack of interesting details. I want challenging patterns that I would never dream of drafting myself!

    The ease issue drives me bonkers. If they would actually put finished garment measurements on the pattern envelope that matter (like waist, hip, and bust) I could live with the inconsistency.

    And thank you for the vintage shout-out. I believe I have every single repro from the last seven or eight years and cannot wait to see what comes next!

    I suppose one company is never going to please everyone, but it seems like a large portion of their customer base is getting frustrated with their offerings. Here’s hoping they start listening!

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  75. I'm trying to hit the 'like' button but it seems to be missing. Maybe I just need to say that I LOVE this letter instead. Very well said and let's hope vogue will listen!

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  76. I know I'm late but please PLEASE PLEAAAASE tell me you sent this gold nugget to vogue I'll pay for postage. Oooo post on facebook. Thousands of sewiest can like it and then and maybe then vouge will get the point. This blog post scanned my emotions/ frustrations to a T. And as a beginning sewist I can testify about that easy crap vogue pukes out. Thank you

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  77. I know I'm late but please PLEASE PLEAAAASE tell me you sent this gold nugget to vogue I'll pay for postage. Oooo post on facebook. Thousands of sewiest can like it and then and maybe then vouge will get the point. This blog post scanned my emotions/ frustrations to a T. And as a beginning sewist I can testify about that easy crap vogue pukes out. Thank you

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  78. Just ran across this while looking for reviews of the new Vogue fall patterns. YES, YES, YES to everything. I'm so tired of dresses, and I miss the designer patterns.

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  79. A few months have gone by since you wrote this letter. Have you received any genuine response?

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  80. Wow. How disappointing. Not even an acknowledgment .

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  81. Just found this. AMEN!!!! I'm sorry, though not the least bit surprised, that you got no response.

    I hope they take heed before they lose all their customers.

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  82. Just found this. TOTALLY AGREE!!!!
    I'm sorry, though not surprised, you got no answer.

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  83. Just found this post. Did you forward this directly to Vogue patterns? I am looking on-line for who the head of design at Vogue patterns is. This is a private company, so the only name I could find is Jelena Bogavac listed on linked-in as Senior Vice President, Creative Director, Publisher of Vogue Patterns Magazine at The McCall Pattern Company. Is this who we we would send our letters to in NY? thanks.

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    1. Hi Beverly! I hear that Jelena is no longer with McCalls/Vogue. The new president is Frank Rizzo. You can address letters to him.

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  84. This is so well stated! Thank you for taking the time to express what many of us scream to our sewing machines - THANK YOU!

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  85. Hello, we here at Vogue Patterns are very interested in talking to you, unfortunately we did not see this post until last week. please contact me @ consumerservice@mccallpattern.com attention Kathleen W

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  86. Kathleen, you are barking up the right tree! Shams speaks clearly for so many of us!

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  87. Do send the letter please. I recently bought my first vogue pattern a men's waistcoat pattern. It was unbalanced and the instuctions were vague to the point of ridiculous. Even a waistcoat maker at my partners work who's made waistcoats for 30 years couldn't figure the thing out. It's so bad I've resorted to getting an old waistcoat of my partners taking it apart and taking a pattern from that then altering the fit. Safe to say I won't be going to vogue for patterns again.

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  88. Finally I understand why all VOGUE projects end up looking like droopy, baggy hand-me-downs even though I invested in top top fabric.

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  89. AMEN! I have very different fitting issues than you, but thank you for the well written letter. I am so glad that they have listened to you. We need size and ease standardization, and also lines of patterns for specialty fitting.

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  90. Thank you for an excellent letter. I too have been sewing for over forty years and have been mystified and hugely disappointed by the disappearance of Designer, Couturier and other non-easy Vogue patterns, I intend to add my voice and write to Kathleen at consumerservice@mccallpattern.com. I hope that others commenting here will do the same.

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  91. What an absolutely wonderful letter. Maybe you should print off and send Vogue all of the comments attesting to our agreement with all the points you made. Back in the late 60s and very early 70s, I sewed with Vogue patterns exclusively and could make a size 12 exactly as it was in the envelope and it fit perfectly. It has been a long time since I have felt their patterns fit perfectly. I once wrote them asking for patterns for some late 60s type garments - the classic, Jackie O kind of clothing that I love still and I was told there was no interest, but my request would be passed on to someone. (?) I wonder if the someone would be the nearest trash can? It makes me very, very sad that they don't listen. I have never bought a pattern from an independent because generally, they do not come in plus sizes. Since I have to wear natural fiber clothing (darn these everlasting hot flashes), there is really nothing in my price bracket in those fibers so sewing is the answer - IF I could find patterns I like.

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  92. Oh may gosh, how did I miss this? Yes, you said many of the things I have felt about these patterns for years, and yes I stopped buying them in favor of the independents and vintage patterns. Add me to the sewing for 40+ years and fed up with "The Big 4" club. I too remember when Vogue Patterns were coveted, drool-worthy, on trend, unique, but OH SO EXPENSIVE.

    Then they tanked, just like you said.

    I not only stopped buying these patterns but stopped my Club BMV membership too, because I was so fed up. Emailing THE McCall's Pattern Company (as well as calling) was a complete waste of time. It garnered no helpful responses (when I did get a response). I applaud your well thought out and written missive.

    (I found this post from the follow-up meeting with TPTB. But I am not ready to sign back up with then again yet. The J. Crew inspired models are very, very off putting to me, as well as the lame pattern designs. They still have not found their "voice" again, to my eye.)

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  93. Was there ever any follow up to this?

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    1. Yes, indeed, SewLynn! I posted several blog posts about it, but here is one: http://communingwithfabric.blogspot.com/2014/03/my-meeting-with-vogue-patterns.html

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