Indie Patterns – Worth The Price?

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Okay, I’m the first to admit that I’m thrifty. Really, it’s a genetic thing! My ancestors were all frugal Yankee farmers – I  can remember my relatives wrapping stray bits of string into a big ball and making sausages from scary scraps of meat. I learned from them to be frugal with my purchases, but recently it occurred to me that perhaps my thrifty ways are not as cost-effective as I thought. Especially when it comes to purchasing my sewing patterns. Let me explain what I mean.

Recently I purchased an Indie pattern. The pattern was the Tie-Back Top, pattern #107, from Christine Jonson Patterns. The pattern was on sale but still cost $12.60, plus shipping of $5.24. As you can probably guess, because of my thrifty genes, I’ve rarely paid more than $2.00 for a pattern. In fact I usually pay less than that, including tax! So the Tie-Back top pattern, even on sale, seemed pretty expensive to me. After all, I could have purchased 8 Big 4 (Butterick, McCall’s, Simplicity and Vogue) patterns on sale for the same price as this 1 Indie pattern.

But when I apply the principle of “cost per use” to the garments I’ve sewn thus far I see it differently. Those 8 Big 4 patterns I bought for $18.00? I didn’t end up with any wearable garments after sewing them. So that’s $18.00 wasted. And what’s even worse? When I figure the cost of the fabric I used and the amount of time I spent making 8 garbage garments, those 8 low-priced patterns actually cost me a small fortune. I understand that sometimes you get lucky and one of those Big 4 (on sale for a dollar) patterns actually fits and is a keeper. But in my experience that’s about as likely as winning the lottery. It only happens rarely, and only to other people.

I’ve finally learned my lesson about cost per use and I’ve changed my ways. The Christine Jonson top pattern I bought (which I originally thought was too expensive) was well worth the price I paid. Because this Indie pattern produces a great fitting and wearable garment. Before I even attached the sleeves and sewed the hem of my Tie-Back top I ordered another pattern from Christine Jonson – at full price!

 So take it from me, to be truly thrifty, find an Indie pattern line that flatters and fits you and then make that pattern over and over again. The cost per use is much lower in the end with a well-fitting Indie!


  1. For me, the only Big 4 which works “OK” is Butterick. I do *love* Tasia’s Sewaholic patterns. I remember Peggy Sagers advising sewists that it’s the patterns which are wonky not our bodies! That’s a relief.


    • Hi Jane,
      Why do you think Butterick works better for you than the other big 3? The only thing I can think of is that the Butterick sloper is closer to your shape than the slopers used by the other 3. Or maybe Butterick doesn’t add such a huge amount of ease to their patterns?


  2. I can’t tell you how many Big 4 patterns I’ve purchased for 99c each and how many I’ve donated! Perhaps when we spend more money on a pattern, we consider its purchase more carefully and value it more after we’ve added it to our pattern collection.


    • Yes, I agree.

      Instead of thinking “I might make this and it”s so cheap” it’s more “Will I truly use this pattern? Does the style complement my body type & style preference?”


      • Yes, I totally lose my practicality when faced with the 99 cent pattern sales. I find myself buying loads of pretty dress patterns when I know all I ever wear in real life are pants and a skirt once in a blue moon.


    • Lynne, I totally agree with you! I put much more consideration into purchasing a higher priced pattern. I’m looking at higher priced patterns with a more discerning eye, making sure I really like the style and that it suits me before making the investment. Perhaps if I really think about whether the style will suit me, as Jane suggests, I’ll have better luck with the 99 cent sale patterns also.


  3. I’ve had it up to here with the big four and their wacky ease in patterns. I’m experimenting more with Burda and find the fit/ease to be more favorable. I have not tried any indie patterns yet but hear such great things I’m going to!


    • Hi Jill,
      I do think the big 4 have some crazy amounts of ease in their patterns – at least that’s been my experience. And it bugs me that I have to sew sizes so much smaller than my measurements to get even close to a good fit with the big 4. It’s so random, I never know what size to buy or make. Why do they add so much ease? I think you will like the Indies – what Indie pattern will you try first?


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