Thursday, August 18, 2011

Get The Most From Your Sewing Pattern Dollar: Part Two

 Now - the shopping part! We've had one great tip submitted already by The Wilted Magnolia. The main pattern publishers (McCall's, Vogue, Simplicity, etc.) offer sales on their entire stock multiple times a year. It seems that Vogue has a "$4.99 for all patterns" online sale about every 2-3 months. This is a great reduction from $30.00 or even $17.99, though you do have to add shipping (around five bucks in the USA).

However, here in the USA we have a very large crafts and sewing chain called Joann's. They have pattern sales on 'the big boys' pretty much constantly. Simplicity patterns often go for $1.99 each (maybe for 2 weeks every couple of months), then maybe twice a year there will be a two week sale of this brand for .99 each.  They have Vogue patterns on sale for $4.99 every three months or so, which is nice because you don't have to pay shipping. However, just last month they had all Vogue patterns on sale for $3.99, which is the cheapest i've ever seen!  So it makes sense to scope out your local stores and read their circulars and advertisements to get a feel for their 'sales cycle'. Then you'll know when to swoop in for the best deals.

Sometimes i'll be in the mood to pay full (or close to) price for a pattern, specifically for patterns made and published by smaller houses. These include Hot Patterns, La Fred, Colette Patterns, The Sewing Workshop, and so on. These are harder to get for a dirt-cheap price, but i don't mind. These are smaller businesses that don't get the economies of scale of a Butterick or Simplicity. Additionally, the designs they publish are much more distinctive, and if you find yourself really loving a particular designer's line, it is worthwhile to support them so they'll keep on with it! Also, i've read in many instances of seamstresses contacting small pattern publishers for help and getting it - amazing and wonderful!

So, how to go about buying a more expensive pattern? One trick i like is to use holiday present money - i'll let family know that 'cash always fits', then spend that money on a nice pattern. This IS purely psychological, but the budgeting is easy. Again, do your due diligence when shopping. I bought two Hot Patterns patterns (?) and found the prices were 20% less on Additionally, orders of $35.00+ receive free shipping on - so i added a big spool of discount Gutermann thread to my order and came out almost $10.00 less than buying the same two patterns direct from As it happens, these particular patterns are printed with sizes 6-26 all in one envelope. This makes it easier to customize your own fit, and is perfect for 2-3 gals of varying sizes to share (thus changing the cost per use).

Many sewing patterns, especially vintage and out of print, are sold on e-bay. It's a great resource!! Again, buyer beware, check the descriptions and seller history very carefully, and don't bid against your own mother. You can also search for "Completed Listings" in the Advanced Search option. This will show you auctions that have already ended with details on price, etc., so you can get an idea of the going rate for your pattern. For newbies, here's a dictionary of e-bay acronyms and shorthands, so you can translate the listings.

Many thrift shops also sell old-timey patterns for a quarter of fifty cents a piece. It's definitely hit or miss, but if you're there anyways give it a whirl.  On the plus side you can thoroughly examine the item before purchase. Be careful that all the pieces that you need are present (neck facings or cuffs are easily drafted), and that it's a size that will work for you.

Bear in mind that the more thought, time, and effort you put into research you put into your purchase the better deal you will find. Mr. E consistently finds outrageous deal son shoes, clothing, etc. It's because he'll spend a few hours on the web over several days, going all the way to page 20 of search engine listings. He also makes sure to search for coupons. Just enter "name of your item + the word 'coupon'" into a search engine and start slogging through the results.

While house sitting in Albany recently i tried out some cooler weather looks. Albany is right across the San Francisco Bay from the Golden Gate and catches huge gobs of fog, so it's rarely toasty there. I've seen this type of approach from Ralph Lauren and on vacationing celebrities - a sleek and chic outfit topped with a cozy parka. It's fun and practical and i'm looking forward to cooler days!

Over to you - cheap patterns and fall fashions on the discussion board today!

Blouse, Skirt: own design
Denim Jacket: thrifted
Parka: vintage L.L. Bean
Boots: Bass Lamonts


  1. I don't share your talent for sewing (though I admire it!) but I do love the fall fashion you're sporting. Sweaters, jackets, boots, make it so! (92 degrees here today)

  2. I'm admiring the parka and this round-up of patterns. My parka finally grew too embarassing to wear, so perhaps I should add that to the thrifting list.

  3. Hi Patti! it's weird, here in the sf bay area we've had a very cool summer - temps consistently 10-15F below normal. turns out there is a BIG difference between 90F and 100F! it was sweet to have that little 'vacation' and i'm looking more forward to fall!

    Hi Terri! 'too embarrassing to wear' - ha! that should be in the 'clues to closet editing' bible, for sure! and i know you'll find something great, you're a helluva thrifter, woman!!

    Happy Friday!! steph

  4. It was a fun surprise to my name in Google ready! ;)
    Love the boots and parka! The only thing I love about winter is the sweaters and boots!

    I can never decide if I'm GLAD I don't live close to a retail pattern/fabric store or not! LOL Gas for a 3 hour round trip, lunch, whatever other goodies I think I have to have, the 5.00 shipping sounds cheap by comparison. I sure do miss prowling through the fabrics and patterns in person though...sigh...

    Interesting enough, our Walmart added patterns back to our store, and Simplicity has a line called Sew Simple that costs...wait for it... 99 cents!!! For beginners, but I liked several of them enough to buy a few to try them out.

    A sew-a-long sounds like fun. And it would have to have TWO leaders/partners! My version of...I'll jump, if you'll jump! :)

    You can email me at thewiltedmagnolia at ymail dot com! Brenda

  5. "It was a fun surprise to my name in Google ready! ;) "

    yay! i'm glad :) you make some really good points here - everyone's individual situation has some variations. like you say, $5 is cheap compared to gas, lunch, wear and tear on the tuckus, and so on. always do the cost/benefit analysis for yourself!

    gosh, i'll have to think about a sew along....i'm generally rotten at that type of thing, but it DOES sound fun. hmm....well,l if you have any more specific ideas, send 'em to:
    so we can plot and scheme!!! steph