Would You Could You Copycat? #1

More Irises from my garden

I have to start this post with a question. How much would you pay for a pattern? Hell, how much would you pay for fabric? Because I’m actually curious about this. Everyone seems to have different standards on what is cheap and what is expensive in the world of sewing. Gertie, of Gertie’s Blog For Better Sewing, admits her “champagne tastes” and pays more for fabric then I’ve ever dreamed. However, Gertie is a master sewer, she’s even writing a book (which I am TOTALLY BUYING) and regularly works with silk and lace and drapes her own gorgeous patterns (like this and this, my lord!). The point is, she’s in a whole other league, her experience is vast and her skills innumerable, so if she wants to throw down for silk charmeuse , well, the woman knows what she’s about, as they say. I feel like there is an argument for waiting until you know you aren’t going to waste time and money on luxury fabric before buying it. That’s a major reason why I’m not delving into the box of fabric my Grandmother brought from Iran, because I don’t want anything to happen to these lovely pieces of cloth before I have complete confidence in my abilities to make something amazing with them. Karen of Did You Make That recently discussed buying cheap fabric in a post and I have to say, there is a woman after my own heart. There is such a freedom with lower priced fabrics, I feel like I’m more daring and more comfortable taking chances, drafting my own free form patterns, trying patterns I think might be too tough for me, just in general not feeling any pressure because hey, you fail, you fail, but you didn’t waste your savings doing so.

Moreover, Gertie lives in New York. I recently had a discussion with a lovely young woman who works at my precious Spool Sewing and I asked her where she gets fabric, and she was like, online, and I go to New York. And I was frankly flabbergasted, because while I know the garment district in New York is frankly amazing, you can find amazing things here in Philadelphia too, and for a fraction of the price. For example, at Jack B. Fabric’s you can find silk charmeuse in a huge variety of colors for 14 dollars a yard. Which I think is a lot, but it’s nothing compared to the prices charged at Mood or other New York stores, or even online, which you will see if you click that link above. The amazing deep purple 100% wool I used for my “who are you calling easy” dress? was 10 dollars a yard. And I almost didn’t buy it, because it seemed too pricey. And sure, sometimes you have to dig, but you have to dig in the huge shops in New York as well, and at least this way you can support local businesses. So if you are sewing in Philadelphia, seriously, wander over to fabric row and grab yourself some low priced fabric, because there really is a lot out there, if you look for it.

Anyway, my point is, obviously, that I clearly don’t enjoy spending very much on fabric. Or, for that matter, to get back to the original question, on patterns. I suppose BurdaStyle has spoiled me. After all, my first real clothing project was the Coffee Date Dress, a FREE PATTERN! and amazing one, which I made with the help of Grosgrain’s frock by friday series. Come me-made-June I might pull this first struggle of a dress out to wear so you can see it. Since then, most of the patterns I’ve bought have been from BurdaStyle, whose patterns top out at the exorbitant 5.40 a pop. I have bought some Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick and New Look, but all of them have been strategically purchased A. On Sale and B. In bulk to group the shipping charges. Now, if the nearest Joann’s Fabric wasn’t a full 40 minutes and two toll stops away, I might consider their addictive 1.99 pattern sales as my mecca, but sadly the tolls can sometimes cancel out the discount, so I have to plan said trips with care. And that brings us to Colette Patterns. First of all, I adore Colette Patterns. I love the design, I love the shapes and the website, I LOVE the photo shoots and I just adore the blog, I check it almost every day. I love what other people have done with the patterns too. I’ve already raved about Tilly’s Beignets (ironic, because in real life I hate beignets, they are just glorified funnel cake and I resent their French flavored pretension) but check out her Sencha blouse or her Ceylon Dress! Or Sunni’s (once the Cupcake Goddess, now A Fashionable Stitch, go with it) Ginger! Or Mina’s Crepe! Or Gertie’s Crepe! Or Sarah’s Macaroon! It’s all so delicious, don’t you think? Yes, I love Colette Patterns. But I’ve never bought or used a single one.

I know that’s going to give some people heart palpitations. But the truth is, the patterns are on the pricier side, and while I’ve seen discount codes come and go I just can seem to bite the bullet and do it. And I know that’s silly because I’m sure I would make some of these patterns over and over again, but I just can’t seem to justify spending the money. However, I was on the verge of breaking down and buying this precious pattern, the Sencha, to fulfill all of my 1940’s/50’s fantasies:

From Colette Patterns Website

When I found this, haunting the site of one of my favorite etsy sellers, Frangolina (seriously, check her out, she has amazing patterns and fabric, excellent finds!:

And while I know the cover art doesn’t look exactly like the model in the Colette version, check out the drawing. Doesn’t that look extremely similar, especially to the first view of the Colette pattern? Because I feel like what the Colette pattern is doing is trying to mimic vintage patterns, right? We all love Colette’s retro feel, everyone comments upon it. So I had a dilemma here, did I go for the imitation (Colette) or the real deal (the vintage). Of course, you could also switch those two in title, since I saw the Colette first and then went hunting for a cheaper choice. So which came first, the Colette or the Vintage Butterick? And which to buy?

I bought the vintage. Don’t boo. I know Colette patterns are amazing, and Violet, I’m coming for you, as soon as I work up the nerve. But I loved the vintage pattern, loved the zipper, as opposed to buttons (and I could totally alter this to make buttons happen, if I’m so inclined) loved the v-neck option and the long sleeves option and the side darts and the fact that even with shipping, this puppy was only 10 dollars. What can I say? At this point in my life, I’m all about the Benjamins.

Right, boys?



Filed under Butterick Patterns, Colette Patterns, Fabric, Inspiration, Sewing, Vintage

8 responses to “Would You Could You Copycat? #1

  1. Being thrifty is admirable. I suspect you’re going to get a wide variety of responses to this because people have dramatically different budgets based on income, cost of living in their hometown, etc. I find it difficult to find good quality lower-priced fabrics. You have to be willing to search out those gems. I’d rather not spend my hard-earned money on most of the fabric at Joann’s, for instance, because much of it is polyester–or, if a natural fiber, thin, scratchy or just icky (not always true). I try to save up for the nicer stuff. As for the cost of patterns, I won’t sniff at a lovely free pattern like the coffee date dress; however, I have bought some of the nice Colette patterns, because they’re special designs, not something you’d find on Burdastyle or in a Simplicity catalog. I wouldn’t spend $15 on a common item like an A-line skirt, though.

    • That’s totally fair, Amy, and I agree that quality is worth saving for, I suppose I just want quality and price to align. I also want calorie free delicious ice cream and perfect jeans at all times, so I recognize my dreams to be impossible ones. I think the trick with patterns, especially Colette’s lovely patterns, because they are special and anthropologie-style and I’m sure quite worth it, is how many times would you make them? Would you make them more then once? Would you make any pattern more then once? (This is, of course, the editorial “you”, I’m not asking you personally to address this!). I guess my mentality is if I would only make it once then I don’t know that it’s worth it.

      • Ooh, yes, calorie-free ice cream and perfect jeans! Now that’s something to dream about.

        I probably do a lot more frivolous spending on my sewing hobby than I should. Your guidelines of when to spend and when not to spend sound totally reasonable to me. Actually, I should probably take a page out of your book 🙂

        As for the Colette patterns, most of them would be one-offs for me; however, my goal isn’t to have tons of clothes in my closet, but a small set of really special ones.

        Good questions!

  2. I agree with your sentiments here. I’m still a beginning sewer, so I really don’t want to waste my money on beautiful fabric when there is still a high probability that I will ruin it. And to be quite honest, I actually feel more proud of using $1.99/yard cotton shirting to make a totally cute dress (like this one ) than I would if the dress cost me 5 times more. The fact that I can make a great dress that fits me perfectly for less than $10 total cost is half the fun of sewing! I could see myself paying more for really awesome fabric, however, if I was making my own version of a fancy designer gown. Not that I have the skills yet, but someday in the future. So I guess it’s less about the absolute cost for me ($10 versus $50) and more about the relative cost (20% of the RTW price). It just so happens that I rarely spend more than $50 on a RTW item anyway…

    As far as patterns go, I buy the Big 4 when they’re on sale for $1.99 or $0.99. I did buy a Colette pattern, but the style wasn’t flattering to me, I don’t wear the dress, and I’m not sure I would make another version. Maybe I will, but then again maybe I won’t. And that was my most expensive sewing project so far (pattern + fabric), which is a real bummer! So I’ll stick with my “cheap” patterns for now (and cheap fabric), because if I hate the finished product, at least I’m only out a few bucks. Maybe in time I’ll get better at realizing beforehand which patterns will be flattering and which ones won’t.

  3. Whoops, sorry for the monster link there. I forgot to close it off! Here’s what it should have been.

  4. I could drop a boat load of cash on really nice fabric but I’m super stingy when it comes to patterns. I’ll usually only buy them when they’re on super sale and rather than buying vintage patterns or other patterns I’ll just make my own version of a pattern based on other patterns I already have. I’ll pretty much only buy a pattern that’s not on sale or is vintage if I *know* I can’t figure out how to make it on my own.

    That butterick pattern is a great alternative to the colette one and you could even make minor adjustments to it to make it look even more like the colette pattern!

    • That’s that I was thinking! I want to try to do a keyhole neckline, but I know that will be a bit of trial and error. It just came in the mail today and I love it, I love how all the edges are finished with seam binding, I can’t wait to make it. I have to do a cotton tester before moving up to something nicer because I need to scale the pattern up a size (scary! first time!). What a tragedy, to have multiple versions of a shirt I adore, life is so hard….

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