Sunday, 22 June 2014

Notionally Speaking: "Indie" - Jo, The Amazing Adventures of Taracat

The latest instalment of Notionally Speaking is from Jo at The Amazing Adventures of Taracat. Jo randomly picked "Indie" as her word from my list of sewing related words, and it was the perfect match. Along with pictures of Jo dancing in her recent makes, she is also known for her love of Indie patterns. Read on to find out why.

Notionally Speaking
Yay! I am so happy to get the chance to contribute to Notionally Speaking. I picked number four and was delighted to get 'Indie' as my word. Indie can be applied to sewing shops, fabric designers, in fact anything related to sewing that doesn't come from big companies, but when I think of Indie I think of patterns. I am not alone in my love for independent patterns. May was Sewing Indie Month, organised by Mari of Seamster Patterns, with loads of participants, while June is Indie pattern month over at the Monthly Stitch. 

A quick scan of my me-made wardrobe showed that over eighty per cent of my makes are from Indie patterns. Among these that get the most wear are my Deer and Doe Belladone, my Colette Laurel dresses, my Seamster Patterns Dandelion dresses and my Christine Haynes Nautical Emery. 

Clockwise from top left: Seamster Dandelion; Sewaholic Cambi/BHL Elisalex pattern hack; BHL Flora; Grainline Scout Woven Tee; Christine Haynes Emery; Deer and Doe Belladone; BHL Anna; Colette Laurel. Centre: Seamster Patterns Dandelion. 

I am drawn to Indie patterns for a number of reasons:

1. Attention to detail

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While this is a generalisation, I find that Indie patterns do have more of those little touches that lift a pattern from 'meh' to 'mmmm'. Details like the vertical tucks on Tilly's Mathilde blouse, the piping o Colette's Rooibos dress or the shoulder gathers on Deer and Doe's Reglisse (pictured). There is more than a bit of inspiration from vintage eras when those extra details were more common, but unlike vintage patterns the Indies actually explain how to do it too. Which brings me to number two.

2. Instructions

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Apart from a couple of disastrous textiles lessons at secondary school, I am pretty much self taught, so comprehensive well laid out instructions with pictures are a must. The first garments I ever made were from free downloadable Burdastyle patterns. I loved the styles and I got there in the end but those instructions nearly put me off sewing for life. So when I attempted my first Indie pattern. Colette's Rooibos, it was a revelation. A little book of instructions, explanations of techniques, and like many Indies they even had a Sewalong on their blog with photos for each step. Colette are not along in offering this kind of help. If you get really stuck I have found Indie designers more than happy to answer questions through their blogs, email or Twitter. I don't know if you would get that kind of support from the big pattern companies, actually it has never occurred to me to approach them.

3. Supporting real people

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Yes, I know the big companies are made up of real people too but there is something really gratifying about knowing you are helping someone to build their business and realise their dreams. And every time I have had contact with the people behind these patterns I have been blown away by how nice, helpful and supportive they are. They make the effort to meet their customers and find out what we want, at meets up for example, and you do feel like you can approach them without them rolling their eyes and thinking 'God, what now?' Of course they might be thinking that but I didn't get that impression. 

4. Packaging and presentation

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The rustle of tissue paper, that new smell, the artwork...I get a real buzz when I get a new Indie pattern through the post. Care has been taken over everything from the design to the materials used, and you can tell. Deer and Doe, for example, use proper recycles paper instead of easy to rip tissue, while BHL patterns even include a label to sew into your finished garment. Little details that make a new Indie pattern a real treat and a pleasure to work with.

At the other end of the spectrum, Indie patterns are more likely to be available as instant downloads to print, stick together and make immediately. I know some people hat e this way of doing it but I love it. In fact, my last few Colette patterns were bought as tile and stick downloads because I am impatient and couldn't wait to get started on them straight away. 

5. Fit and Fitting

Some people have bodies that fit certain patterns straight off. Most people do not. Then again, that also applies to ready to wear clothes. I find that Indie patterns fit my shape better but I do sometimes need to make adjustments. In fact the only pattern I have ever found that fit me pretty much straight out of the packet is Christine Haynes' Emery dress. 

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However,if it hadn't fitted perfectly I would have been able to go to the Sewalong round up for how to do an FBA, a narrow shoulder adjustment or any other help I needed with fitting. Most of the Indie patterns I have made have had accompanying sewalongs or posts on how to make adjustments, and the designers are usually pretty approachable if you need extra help. Again I haven't seen that kind of support from the bigger pattern companies. 

If you need any more evidence of my love of Indie here is a small selection of the Indie patterns I own and plan to make or remake soon. Should be enough to keep me going for a while:

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For a list of Indie pattern companies, check out Sew Independent's list or Fiona's comprehensive list

And thank you Claire for inviting me, it's been really fun. 

Thank you, Jo! I agree with many of your points here and it's no wonder the majority of my patterns are Indie's too. Do you share Jo's love of Indies for the same reasons? 


  1. Thanks again Claire for inviting me to do this. I had so much fun, writing this reminded me of loads of patterns I have been meaning to make and has actually motivated me to cut out another Indie project tonight, cheers!

  2. I too prefer Indie every time. Nothing better than helping small businesses especially when the product is so high quality. Fun to see how others interpret these patterns and love the patern hacks and frankenpatterns around the net.


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