Do you have patterns for sale?

Angela reminds me of yet another project I’ve wanted to do but need help with:

Did you and Sally ever go forward with the idea of making blocks for DE’s to purchase? Let me know–we are considering adding bridesmaid dresses to our collection and I’m considering buying adult female blocks rather than draft/fit/tweak them myself. I’m interested in knowing more about this service if it is available.

I wrote about this idea before. Saving you a click, I said:

We’re thinking of starting an industrial pattern product line that DEs could buy to jump start their product lines. The advantages would be great quality patterns that sew up correctly, fit real people (with real sizes), no licensing or royalty fees and they’re designed to be sewn with industrial methods having the correct seam allowances and markings. Similarly, DEs could use these patterns as the basis of product development, in other words, block patterns. Likewise, any industrial pattern maker could participate in the project since we all specialize in different kinds of products and markets anyway; I’d just set up the central pattern library through which all the patterns would be sold (if you’re an industrial pattern maker and would be interested in selling patterns, email me). By the way, all patterns will be vetted and tested through sampling so we’ll eliminate patterns that won’t walk together to eliminate bogus sewing ease you see masquerading as “couture fit” typical of home sewing patterns…Accordingly, these would sew up a lot faster too.

The operative condition here is “any industrial pattern maker could participate in the project since we all specialize in different kinds of products and markets anyway”. So my question is, are any pattern makers out there interested? I can start some kind of a mall or central referral system for a reasonable fee. And yes, I know that many of you have patterns that you can’t use because they belong to customers (designers are surprised at how few patterns we actually own the rights to). We don’t want those but you can use patterns if the client never paid you for them. Do you have any that you own and would like to sell copies of? If so, you’ll have to sew up a sample (my snag at the moment), work out allocation and list sizing attributes for them. Also, a word to those of you who’d buy them; it is unlikely the patterns would come with sewing instructions. We’d be giving you the basic package we’d be giving a contractor. Or, if you did want instructions, that would probably be separate if available at all. Regardless, our version of instructions would not be similar to what you see in home sewing patterns. More than likely, it’d be a list of text instructions with few or no illustrations.

I’m thinking we can partner up with Patternworks to have the patterns graded and shipped out or handle it as you will but having them on file could mean having the files sent to the closest Kinkos for printing. Also, we haven’t figured a cost for these but I’m thinking in the neighborhood of $100-$250 with prices negotiable for an exclusive if that is possible. Any takers? Email me if interested or post in comments as you will.

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  1. Todd Hudson says:

    “Download blocks now using PayPal!”

    This is sure to be a hit. I predict that a standard will be set by the high quality of the patterns available. The fixed price structure will create a transparent market for patterns. All the other pattern services out there will have to contend with you because of your credibility and popularity on the web. They’ll really have to do well at provideing all the other things you can’t provide on the web.

  2. Marie says:

    Just my two cents…I think this would work really well and I would be interested once I’m ready to launch. Would you also post pictures of the samples just to get a better idea of cut/fit? I can understand why instructions wouldn’t come standard but if they could be purchased separately that would be great for DE’s like myself who are trying to “unlearn” home sewing techniques.
    Kathleen, maybe I missed this in the post but would you or Sally check all final patterns to make sure they are of a certain standard?

  3. Kathleen says:

    The fixed price structure will create a transparent market for patterns. All the other pattern services out there will have to contend with you because of your credibility and popularity on the web. They’ll really have to do well at provideing all the other things you can’t provide on the web.

    Actually, I’d hope that DEs would take these purchased blocks and have them customized to their specific purposes. For example knits, others are plaids. A contractor would need the match points of the latter and the marker made accordingly and as for the former, stretch and shrinkage would have to factored as well. The block pattern program would simply be a jumping off point altho if they worked as is, that’d be fabulous too. Still, the goal is cost reduction and this should address that well.

  4. Rachel T. says:

    This sounds like a great idea! I am in the process of creating my business plan while concurrently reading your book. I just read the section on blocks this weekend and was wondering how best to get started since I don’t have any blocks! Excellent timing. Please keep us posted on details.

  5. Trish says:

    I would love to work on this patternmaking project. I have been wishing I had two of me, one to teach at the college and another to run a sample house and patternmaking/marking/grading service.

    Since I do not have time to run a second business, I would love to participate in this pattern clearning house!!

  6. Angela says:

    Sounds like there’s a demand for this service. I love the “pattern mall” idea. I don’t know if I need a graded set, I think I would need about 3-4 bases sizes to cover the range that I need and I’d grade them myself. I’d definitely prefer a digital download over hard patterns.

    For my purposes I’d need what I’d call the “Vogue” fitting shell set: fitted waist length bodice, fitted hip length block, straight knee length skirt, and a straight sleeve. Could they be offered in A, B, C and D cup version of the different base sizes? I have to flesh out my sizes yet but off the top of my head, I think I’d need a size 6 and 16 (A, B, C cup) in the misses range and a 20 (C and D cup) in the plus size range. The height for the base sizes would preferably be for a 5’6″/7″ female. I can grade the talls and petites off myself.

    I hope something comes of this idea…

  7. Noel Alvarez says:

    This is a fabulous idea Kathleen! I make all my own patterns – specifically gowns/dresses/tops/skirts, but what I am always struggling with is the fitted jacket. In particular, I would like a notched or flat collar, a nice fit suitable for casual/dressy, with a nice two piece sleeve and princess seams or combination darts/CB seam to give a nice fit, whether it be made in lightweight faux fur (I’m an animal print lover!), brocade, or dupioni.

    I know (judging from your book:) that you are a coat/jacket/vest specialist and I would love to supplement my line (as imaginary as it might be right now) with your professional jacket block/pattern.

    Like the other post mentioned – it would be great to see pictures of how a block fits – I will stay tuned for updates – let me know when to send the check! :)

  8. I have been a lurker on your Fashion Incubator list for a year or so. It has been an eye opener! I am a weaver and have been trying to develop patterns for my handwoven fabric for several years. I was using and tweaking (and tweaking and tweaking) commercially available patterns, trying to get them to work. It wasn’t until reading your book and the FI website, I realized why I was totally unhappy with my results. I had abandoned the idea of ever making jackets with my fabric, since I had no blocks and believed I was unable to afford (I think) a pattern maker at this time. Sooo…. yes, I am interested in buying patterns!
    I am interested in very basic women’s jackets, with few design details, in order to show off my hand dyed, hand woven fabric. My customer demographic is women over 40, so would need blocks specifically for older bodies, also plus sizes.
    Thanks so much for all you do!

  9. victoria kathrein says:

    Fantastic Idea! I would definitely be interested in the following blocks: girls dress age 7, top, pants, coat, knit pants, knit top. Please keep me on one of your lists.

    PS. your write up on Patternworks was great.

  10. Janyce Engan says:

    I would love to be a part of this as well – since I have a terrible time finding blocks that work well for updating historical fashions.

    I also have digitizing and printing capablities, and would be willing to donate some time and energy to get this project off the ground.

    Janyce Engan
    Vintage Pattern
    Lending Library

  11. Siobhan O Brien says:

    Hi Kathleen

    This is something that I do in Ireland at the mo,it is working out really well, as well as offering a pattern and grading service I mentioned to you before. I have not put it on the web yet so I show my clients sketches and if there is a style they like I send in a twoile.
    I got the idea from a french company that used to come to one of the first fashion houses I worked in house with, nearly 14 years ago.As they say in Fashion Industry it always makes its way back around.

  12. Avatar photo

    There was some off blog discussion of it but it got mired in specifics, to institute some uniformity (of presentation, format etc) among prospective providers. There would also be some costs involved beyond hosting, site design & shopping cart -for example, digitizing hand patterns, grading them, cleaning them up, to say nothing of delivery options (plots or plot downloads) etc- and potential costs amounted to such that (at least in my mind) it could have been interpreted that that would have been my profit center rather than sale of the patterns themselves. There was also discussion about the costs of patterns. Naively perhaps, some prospective purchasers imagined the pattern costs would be similar to the cost of home patterns and that just isn’t reasonable. Who can say what I will do? I’m feeling rather poor right now, looking at the costs to illustrate and produce my sewing book so the pattern project may be an option for underwriting those costs.

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