I've been thinking a bit lately about the indie pattern companies that were around when I first started sewing in 2007, and a few immediately spring to mind that are no longer around or actively releasing patterns.
Gone or MIA
- Betsy Ross Patterns: Before Colette and other hold-your-hand-while-sewing vintage-inspired indies arose, there were Betsy Ross Patterns. (I think I learned about them via Bust Magazine.)
At the time, they were the only indie that I could recall that was targeting younger sewists. Most indies at that time seemed geared more towards art-to-wear or a much more mature aesthetic than mine, so Betsy Ross intrigued me.
I never sewed any of their patterns, however. Even though I was much thinner back then, their largest size still topped out at a 41" bust and a 45" hip. My bust was slightly larger and hips were smaller than that, and I just figured that I was out of luck with their patterns. They closed up shop a few years ago, and now you can't even find a link to their website via google.
Betsy Ross - cropped jacket
- Go Patterns: Not to be confused with current kids' pattern company Go To Patterns, Go Patterns was an indie that produced sewing patterns focusing on couture techniques. The had a Little Black Dress sheath dress pattern that was all the rage on Pattern Review for a while. Then they released a second pattern (a cape), and then...nothing.
Go Patterns sleeveless dress
Their patterns were above my skill level, but I liked their sophisticated designs and liked that they targeted more advanced sewists (for when I was ready for that).
- Jalie Patterns: While still definitely an active pattern company, Jalie released its last batch of patterns in May of this past year. However, their last two releases before that were in March 2013 and October 2011. I love the large size ranges of their patterns (covering both my two-year-old daughter and my plus sized self), but wow, they go a long time between releases. Their solid drafting and instructions has earned them a loyal following, so I doubt they're in any danger of disappearing.
- Knipmode Magazine: In my early days of sewing, the big pattern magazines for women were Burda Fashion (before being rebranded as BurdaStyle), Ottobre Woman, and Knipmode, a Dutch magazine whose garments often had interesting draping and seaming details. They had several online distributors where you could easily order single issues in the US, and a steady stream of reviews on Pattern Review. A few years ago, though, they had a few management changes and their magazines became difficult to obtain in the US. On top of that, their designs got a lot more basic and a lot less original. You just don't see them mentioned much any more, although I guess you can buy a lot of their patterns as PDF downloads now.
The Current Crop of IndiesOf the current crop of indies, I wonder if we're already starting to see some yellow flags. Cake Patterns had a very public (and very unprofessional) social media meltdown last year and has barely been heard from since. By Hand London stopped all sales of PDF patterns, possibly because those PDF sales were cutting into the sales of their overstock of print patterns. I've read posts from other bloggers where a designer got snippy with them on their blog because of a less-than-glowing review. I have to wonder what the business plans are for these companies, given some of this head-scratching behavior.
The other thing that really stands out to me now that I've been paying a lot closer attention to pattern releases is that beyond slight differences in online personalities, I can't really differentiate between a lot of the newer indies. In a crowded market space, smaller companies have to find a strong niche to thrive, and I really wonder what the niche is for some of these designers. What makes you different from one hundred or so other indie designers out there, and why should I buy your pattern? Especially when so many of your patterns look like other patterns out there? And why does it seem like so many indie designers are targeting a beginner sewing market? With a few exceptions, where are my indie patterns for fly-front trousers, jeans, jackets, and coats?