Sunday, August 24, 2014

So what do you pay for patterns? Please tell me

What a bunch of brilliant people read and comment here!

I was slightly apprehensive to write that post yesterday regarding patterns but I am really happy that I did. Such great comments! So thoughtful and interesting. Points I had not considered or even known about. Lots of agreement with me, which makes sense if you read this blog regularly - but some other viewpoints with great explanations to back them up.  If you didn't happen to read it please do and check out the comments for some great discussion.

I really appreciate all the comments, and will circle back around to many of the points in the coming weeks. But many people wrote about the cost of patterns in other places. As I mentioned, we here in most urban / suburban United States locations have access either in superstores, local merchants or via on-line orders to Big 4 paper patterns at a very low price as compared to what is paid in the rest of the world.

And there was some real interest in my self proclaimed "pattern whisperer" role. I am looking forward to making some general and specific recommendations but first I need some info.

I want to know :

what does a pattern cost where you are? and where can you or can't you purchase them?  This is a call out to everyone, in particular if you are outside the US.  

This question has 2 components,  Product Access and Price 

Product Access

  • What do you pay or can you even purchase the following items? 
  • Are there sales when you can buy at a discount? 
  • Do you do mail order for these items? 

Price:  specifics on the various brands, at what type of store, sale vs. everyday price, how often discounted

  • Vogue Patterns     (or BMV for all 3 together)
  • McCalls Patterns
  • Butterick Patterns
  • Simplicity Patterns  
  • New Look Patterns
  • Burda envelope patterns
  • Style Arc patterns
  • Burda Magazine which includes the traceable patterns
  • Other Pattern magazines

Any other paper pattern you can purchase (Papercut, Named, Sewaholic and many more)?

I am going to presume that everyone worldwide has the same access for most of the online purchase, downloadable PDF type patterns from independent pattern designers, big or small, but perhaps that is not the case. Of course the currency exchange could make some items quite costly, so let me know that too.

Tell me all the details! 

Canada - let me know.  United Kingdom, what's the scoop?  Spain, Italy, Greece, France, I imagine a local merchant but maybe not?  Hey down under, Style Arc might ship quick around AU and NZ but can you get your hands on a Vogue pattern for a bargain price?  
Hong Kong, South Africa, Scandinavia, India, Japan and everywhere else we are sewing and blog reading the search for the mythical perfect pattern continues so I want to know how you buy and what you pay.

The reason I am asking is that after my last post I was going to recommend some good basic patterns that are quite good to fit and hopefully easy to adapt into different styles. After reading all the comments I am learning that the patterns I thought were mostly available worldwide may not be. It really suprises me that Simplicity are not available in Canada. They are missing out on business. In any case, this is mostly the reason for asking, as well as being a really informative topic for people sewing all over the world. I don't want to recommend a bunch of things that are not available widely. 

Thanks very much for sharing this info and I look forward to hearing about your pattern purchase process (whew say that 3 times fast :)

As for life here in Northern California, we did have an earthquake last night, it was a biggie but not "the big one" which we are all expecting and dreading someday. Definitely some damage in the location which was centered near Napa, so some injuries but not a lot. However they did seem to lose a lot of great Napa valley wine off the shelves, which would be funny except that earthquakes are so dangerous. In any case it was a wake-up call, in many ways including the proverbial "I thought I would bounce out of bed" since it happened at 3 am.  All is well and as a native and life-long Californian just something we live with but rarely think about. 



  1. Ooh, second Canadian to comment! Yes to everything Jennifer says above. Jalie arrives quite quickly (no shock there bc they are Canadian), Style Arc takes much longer. I used to live in Japan, as as of 3 years ago when I left, I'd never seen a single "big 4" pattern available. Just a few paper patterns, really, and all in the baggy casual style of most Japanese sewing books. I think most people must have been sewing from pattern books instead of single patterns.

  2. I think we all worry about the "Big One". Glad you are safe and sound.

    Great post yesterday. Here are my answers to today's questions.
    Access: I pretty much wait for the sales at the chains and pay four dollars or less for my patterns. I chiefly use Vogue but also lots of Simplicity. I like their non garment craft patterns and children's patterns a lot. I keep a running list of patterns to buy in my pocketbook and wait for the sale days. I am in club BMV but have only used them once, on a 2.99 sale. I also use Burda patterns from the magazine but not so much recently as much seems rehashed.

    Price: 3.99 for Vogue, .99 to 1.99 for the other Big ones. I have purchased and used Indygo Junction and Jalie patterns, not on sale. Some Indies are good like the ones I just mentioned but many I see marketed with poorly made garments which makes me question the drafting abilities of the designer.

    I do get confused at times as I hear some indies draft for the larger cup size, or the petite plus, or the petite, etc...It has taken me years to get to the point where I know just what to do for fit with a Big Four pattern and I don't care to remake the wheel with an Indie pattern that drafts from a different perspective. At least I haven't seen a design yet that has motivated me to do so.

    FWIW, I use my Sure Fit Designs kit to draft patterns as well. That was worth every penny invested.

    1. I just want to add that I used indie heirloom sewing patterns for children a lot. I find they are VERY well drafted, have clear instruction and because they are classic designs are used over and over so I definitely get my money's worth. My favorites are from Gail Doane and also Children's Corner. These indies have been around for years and are well tested out in the heirloom sewing world. They can run from 12-15 dollars.

      I live in the Adirondacks on the Canadian border of the US.

  3. I get my Big 4 patterns at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I've actually never bought a Burda pattern, but I think they're also available at Jo-Anns, but not sure of the price. I always check the Jo-Anns app to see which patterns are on sale. Beth, you probably know all this, but just in case any readers/commenters are curious, when patterns are on sale I can usually get Simplicity for 5/$5, McCalls and Buttericks are typically $1.99 each or 5/$7 and I think Vogue is $5 (I don't think I've seen it cheaper than $5 each).

    I can buy some indie designers in local quilt/sewing stores. I live closest to Sew Modern and I know they carry Sewaholic and Colette and some other patterns. Sew LA is a bit farther away from me, but I've bought Deer and Doe patterns there and I know they carry a bunch of other designers. I don't think either store ever has these patterns on sale so I normally really have to like/want the pattern in order to buy it.

    I've never sewn any garment from a magazine or book, but I've tempted to get some Burda patterns this way.

  4. I live in central New York, and have access to stores that discount patterns, but it have been trying some of the indie, as Grainline and Sewaholic. They work well for me for several reasons. 1. I can print out as often as I want, 2. I get the pattern immediately, 3. No gas is used to go to the store and find they don't have the pattern you want. 4. I like supporting the small companies. It seems worth it, even though it may seem pricey.

  5. Here in NZ you can pay up to $30 for a Vogue which is why I try to use online sales. You need to be sure to use it plenty of times at that price!

    I feel for you with the earthquakes. After thousands of them here I still find them unsettling.

  6. I buy Big 4 patterns on sale at Joann and BMV. I also buy Kwik Sew from BMV. I buy Burda at Joann at their baseline 40% off price. That brings it down to ~$5-8, which I think is fair for a well-drafted pattern. I sometimes sew from BWOF/Burda Style Mag, but mostly I just look at them. I pay full price for Jalie. But their full price is a realistic ~$12 and they come in all sizes from toddler to women's and are printed on heavy stock paper. Plus, the family that makes Jalie is so nice and provide great customer support.

    A well-drafted and designed garment pattern is worth $$. I should get paid (reimbursed for time and materials) for poorly drafted patterns. The problem is, how can we distinguish the lemons before we purchase and sew?

  7. Bunny said: ".It has taken me years to get to the point where I know just what to do for fit with a Big Four pattern and I don't care to remake the wheel with an Indie pattern that drafts from a different perspective"

    you know, i hear this comment a lot from seamsters ~ my age (52) and it puzzles me a bit, Over the decades i've generally only sewn Vogue Patterns, mostly designer ones. I've never been in a position where i can just make certain standard changes and 'woolah! perfect fit!" I look at the basic design lines, do a tissue fit, flat measure/compare against fit of similar garments in similar fabric, often do some species of muslin, cut wide seam allowances, fit again.....

    This is over three decades of fairly constant sewing for myself, with not a huge variation in body weight/shape. Even just laying the pattern pieces on top of one another it's apparent that, whatever ideas of standard block and drafting by the BigFour is out there, i just do not see that type of consistency.

    It sounds great to me to have that type of consistency in the patterns you sew, although i've found if you are sewing for yourself, have some basic TNT's and a knowldge of your body shape for the great majority of patterns thru flat measurement and 'laying over' (for want of the technical term) it's not rocket science to see how a pattern will/won't work for you. But to get back to my point, i've never had that type of consistency even with the Big Four, so i don't find the idea of trying out something new that tremendously intimidating.

    I also feel that it can be a nice change of pace to try something new, and hopefully keeps the ole brain cells perkier. Happy Sewing and stay safe, steph

  8. p.s. i commented on your last post but my comment got aten : ( but wanted to add i have a pretty non-standard body shape - big, square shoulders, flat butt, full bust, long-ish waist, veryvery teeny front crotch i'm having to make adjustments no matter what unless i draft from scratch.

    my mom lives a block or so from downtown Napa, we were there just last nite taking her out to dinner for her birthday. Great pictures here showing the effects:

  9. I have limited alteration skills, so I use Pattern Master software and copy as many (simple) patterns as I can to avoid making alterations. The patterns that I cannot copy I buy either online (when they are on sale) or on Ebay or Etsy at a much lower price.

  10. Another Canadian here!

    Our version of Joanne's is Fabricland. With purchase of an annual membership $30 per year, we get 50% off Vogue and Butterick and 25% off McCalls and Burda. We can no longer buy Simplicity or New Look. Some of the Fabricland's are corporate owned and some are locally owned. As I understand it, the locally owned stores can carry other pattern companies products. The shop in the next town sells Kwik Sew, but the one in my town doesn't. I finally found Burdastyle locally, the European version, not the dumbed down one intended for the North American market. I get it at a local German delicatessen, where it is available in English or German. As the instructions can be so iffy, it doesn't always make a difference if one is fluent in German or not 8-D.

    There is no place in my town that I can buy indie patterns. As I only buy Sewaholic and Jalie, and they are both Canadian, the shipping is reasonable and they get here quickly.

    Glad to hear the earthquake didn't bother you too much.

  11. Everything but Burda envelope patterns are mail order only! Here in Estonia at least.
    But there are exceptions. We get two Russian magazines here: Moden and Sewing & Cut.
    Moden usually has arround 7 Simplicity patterns that have to be traced from a pattern sheet. Sewing and Cut publishes la mia bella Boutique patterns from time to time. It contains the whole Boutique magazine and again patterns must be traced. Bouth magazines cost under 4€. Instructions are in Russian which for me isnt a problem since I speak the language.
    Burda envelope pattern s can be purchased in our capital city and cost usually under 7€. Selection is poor and outdated.
    I try not to order patterns by mail since shipping is expensive, from US over 13€ and Australia 22€. Custom fees may apply. And they can get lost. Or be shipped to California. Hey it has happened since it appears many do not know where Estonia is located!
    If PDFs are available I buy those. So far I've only bought two indie patterns. One worked, the other one was a complete wreck! The bust dart sagged under my bust and the sizing was off!

    I am a Burda magazine gal! I grew up with that magazine! Tracing is in my blood LMAO. But I buy the mag only when it has two patterns in that I like. For less than 5€ two patterns I say YES

  12. The masonry is not looking great in Napa, but this morning I was relieved to read that there were relatively few injuries. I was living in SF in '89, and those days always come to mind when there's news of a significant quake. I've long since transplanted to the East Coast, but all the brick buildings still make me a bit nervous at times...

    Okay patterns….I'm curious as to what will be done with this data! Anyway, it may surprise those who do not live here, but it is very difficult to buy patterns in NYC. There is actually only one place that I know of, and the stock is limited. So, mostly I use Burdastyle patterns, and I subscribe to what is now referred to as the "international" version. I think it works out to about $8 an issue, and there is anywhere from 0 to 5 useable (IMO) patterns in each. I'm going to guess that, on average a Burdastyle pattern costs me about $3.

    Otherwise, it's all online. I got a membership to BMV this year, so including postage, Vogue and McCalls cost me (on sale) from $3 to $7 each. (I'm not really a fan of Butterick or Kwiksew).
    I also buy Jalie patterns for the athletic wear. Most recently I found one on ebay that was a little cheaper than the list price, but I can't remember what it is. Jalie does not going on sale as far as I can tell. I'm also kind of interested in Greenpepper patterns (athletic & outdoor gear); online for about $ 8, but haven't made it up yet.
    Beyond that are the Japanese pattern books, but that's getting a bit complicated…


  13. US here; Minnesota. I primarily sew Big4. I buy mostly from Hancock Fabrics. My JoAnns kinda stinks. Hancock always has new patterns in -- this weekend they had the new Burda patterns that weren't even on Simplicity's site yet AND they were on sale for $2.49.

    I've recently made my first BMV purchase and don't mind that route; but I'm walking distance from Hancock and a few minutes away is JoAnn.

    I only buy on sale - Simplicity, McCall and Butterick are constantly on sale-$.99, $1.40, $1.99. Vogues are now $4.99 pretty consistently (used to be $3.99). Burda goes on sale for $2.49 sometimes. New Look are always $3.99 or $2.99 at WalMart.

    I own a few Indies but there just aren't many that appeal to me at the expensive price points.

    I own some Burda mags and don't mind tracing but I DO kind of hate pdf patterns. I've used some and won't completely rule them out but again, I don't really look forward to them. So while I'm in no way anti-Indie; there justisn't much that I need but can't find in the BMV/KwikSew/Simplicity/Burda/NewLook lines.

  14. Australian perspective here!

    IF I buy in store I can expect to pay $30+ for Vogue designer, $21.50 (around US$20) for McCalls & Butterick, $13-$15 for New Look, and around $18 for Simplicity. Very, very rarely we have sales but the best we will get is $5 a pattern and generally the ones I want aren't in stock. Also there is a considerable time lag (6 months?) before the new release patterns are available in store.

    Needless to say I generally buy online, and when they are on sale, in which case I pay the US price plus postage. Postage is around $15 for ONE pattern, but can be reduced to $3.60 per pattern if I buy 7 at a time. In this way I can buy a Vogue designer patterns for a little under $10 including postage. The downside is a three week wait for delivery!

    Style Arc will cost me the same as US buyers but with shipping around $7 which I assume is less than the International shipping prices.

    While I am not a fan of taping pdf patterns, the cost and immediate delivery are a big plus. $7.50 for a perfectly drafted In House pattern that I had taped and ready to go in an hour was good value in my books. Similarly I feel the Grainline patterns are good value as I am prepared to pay for the quality pattern making. However I paid $11 for a very basic Republic du Chiffon pattern which really did not justify its cost.

    1. And to add to this: BurdaStyle magazines appear in the Australian shops about 3 months late for around US $15. I have a subscription from Europe so mine arrive about 2 weeks later than everyone else in the world (but quicker than the shops here down under!) at about US$10-12 per issue.

  15. I am in the US in North Texas. I buy Simplicity and McCalls on sale at HobbyLobby for .99, or for less than $2 a pattern on sale at Joann. Joann Fabrics is the only place I can buy Butterick (less than $2 on sale) and Vogue (c. $5 on sale). Joann also sells KwikSew ($6.99 on a rare sale) and Burda ($2.49 on a rare sale). New Look can be purchased at Wal-Mart (limited selection), HobbyLobby and Joann, all for around $4. I used to also shop sales at Hancock Fabrics, but the one within a reasonable distance to me moved far away:( I too keep a list of wanted patterns on my phone and wait on a sale (and wait on the new patterns to be in stock). I have purchased books and magazines, but find I actually prefer to use the individual patterns. I haven't had too much trouble fitting with the Big 4, for either myself or my daughter, so that's usually what I buy.

  16. Like JenC above, I am in Australia too and find the same pricing and issues. Our version of Joann's is Spotlight or Lincraft and they do have $5 sales or 3 patterns for $10 (rarely), but I also find most of the patterns I want are not available, sometimes I get lucky to my great excitement, however, sometimes it means I buy what is there rather than exactly what I want and just make it work. I now usually resort to buying online from the US (see below).

    For indi patterns I usually buy from who provides free postage otherwise I grit my teeth and buy a pdf.

    I agree about the lack of views/options on indi patterns make them very expensive and although I went through a stage of buying them alot I am turning back towards big4 due to many of the reasons you mentioned in your post from yesterday.

    I do really like and have purchased a number of pdf patterns from them.

    I recently joined club BMV and got 2 patterns for $3.99 each (including a vogue pattern) and it cost $15 postage (AUS). Even with the postage this was good value for me as Vogue Patterns in Australia are rarely discounted. I think this will become my preferred method of purchasing Vogue, McCalls etc patterns.

    I don't mind paying more for a pattern of quality, especially for something like a fully lined coat or something that is more advanced.

  17. First, magnitude 6 earthquakes are scary, we are all thinking of people in the Napa Valley area.
    Second, at the moment our dollar is quite close to the US dollar
    •Vogue Patterns (or BMV for all 3 together) - $25- 33, sometimes there are half price sales. My local fabric store carries them. An online seller has a few patterns at $9.
    •McCalls Patterns. My local store doesn't sell but the big box store does. Normally $20. Half price sales 3 times a year, I think
    •Butterick Patterns. $18-21, See and Sew $7. My local store doesn't sell but the big box store does. Half price sales 3 times a year, I think
    •Simplicity Patterns $17-20, Its sew easy $8. My local store doesn't sell but I think the big box store does. Half price sales 3 times a year, I think
    •New Look Patterns $11-15, My local store sells them, half price occasionally
    •Burda envelope patterns $15 - $25, not sure who sells them near me, they used to be half price occasionally.
    •Style Arc patterns: Shipping to NZ is around $15 for 3 patterns plus the freebie, and takes about 7-10 days from dispatch. Without postage it's NZ $12-20 per pattern (their dollar is stronger than ours).
    •Burda Magazine which includes the traceable patterns - $13, available locally but right now we have April and May in the shop.

    •Other Pattern magazines: I subscribe to Ottobre Woman direct, $17.50 EUR for two issues incl postage.
    For any other pattern mags I have to buy from Europe or on Ebay.
    Jalie I buy direct but we now have an online reseller with limited stock, they're $25-$30 plus $2 postage.

    So for me, I find the big 4 patterns difficult to use (haven't mastered the sizing thing), and Jalie and Style Arc are comparable with much better results (ymmv). Burda mags are worthwhile if I'm going to sew 2 or more patterns. My public library has Burda magazines, which is a bonus.

    1. and, patterns costing money has a benefit - even though my sewing skills aren't great, I'm not afraid to adapt a pattern. I've learnt a lot from my failures this way. Spending $25 to get a sleeve or neckline variation is hard to justify!

  18. Ooops forgot to say I'm in New Zealand, in the capital city.

  19. Australia, so everything Jen C said! and also adding that Burdastyle magazine costs AU$17 in the newsagent; which is how I buy it. A few Eastern states Aussies have commented that they've seen it in the library but I never have here in the West :(
    I would only buy Vogue through Club BMV during their sale, but our Spotlight has a AU$5 per pattern sale once a year. This is the absolute cheapest option, if I can bear to wait for it.

  20. Reading all the comments, I must live in the best part of the world! UK, at least where patterns are concerned! I love the Burda magazine and we pay £4,85 for it and usually is packed full of goodies, also I order the Ottobre magazine from Europe at about £9, packed full of children's patterns! I must admit I have turned to the Scandinavian designers like "Farbenmix" Lillesol and Kibadoo for patterns they are unique, fun and "STOFFE" fabric is just to die for, patterns mostly PDF is around £3-50 - £6-00. In the UK we also have a Fantastic lady, "Kitschy Coo" I love her patterns and she has a huge selection of European fabrics. Tilly and the Buttons is another one, she released her first book with several patterns included I payed £18.00. I suppose the bottom line is, the UK pound being so strong,I get patterns at good prices!

  21. Sorry forgot to mention, that in the UK, the best fabric stores with patterns are mostly on line, so online ordering is big! I dont mind tracing patterns I actually love PDF! OH and Amazon for the Japanese pattern books usually around £11-12-00!

  22. Here in Greece only burda patterns are available, which i don't really like,most people buy the magazine which retails for 5,50 euro so if want any other brand of patterns you go to either bay or esty but likely I learned how draft patterns about a year after I started sewing so I don't buy commercial patterns anymore.
    Shipping rates can get insanely high.

  23. I live in Austria, Europe.
    I buy both Big 4 & Indie patterns however I do buy considerably more Big 4 because they are cheaper on sale. I ONLY buy on sale directly through the BMV site. Postage varies depending on how many patterns you buy but I usually bulk it up (7) and pay USD25 for postage. It may sound like a lot of money on postage but Im essentially paying Euros. Furthermore, patterns are NEVER on sale here - EVER - so purchasing 7 patterns at a time on sale & paying around EUR18 postage (converted) is really affordable & much less than Id pay full price here. Also, the selection of patterns here is always limited so now I dont even bother. I live in the sticks so my nearest pattern keeper would be Vienna which is an hour from me at least. Oh how Id love to have the .99c sales...or even a decent sewing store close by...!!!
    Touching briefly on your post yesterday - I also see more value in purchasing Big 4 because in most cases they offer more than one variation in the envelope. I do not like spending big bucks on indie patterns to get only 1 pattern so I avoid those unless Im desperate :-)
    PDF - Ive got mixed feelings about these. On one hand they are convenient for instant gratification but on the other, they are so much work by the time Ive printed, cut, taped, stuck, traced etc Im kinda over it. Also, in some cases, they are sort of still expensive for all the work you've put in considering its just a download on their part, no printing, no packaging, no postage. I think the pdf offers need to be reviewed - not all, just some.

  24. I'm in NZ so the price of the big 4/5 are same as Lyndle above. My local store sells Papercut patterns ($25 - $30 nz) and I find that out of all pattern companies their fit works perfectly for me so i'm happy. For me, i'm happy to pay a little more for sizing that works. i can also buy them online with free shipping. Other indy brands (sewaholic and colette) I purchase from,au as its free shipping. Also, i find it hard to get to a actual store (work full time in an area where there are no shops and have 2 preschoolers) so online shopping is perfect for me. I'm also more than happy with PDF's as it means i can purchase immediately and can access the patterns from anywhere (i store them in my dropbox)

  25. Thanks Jellibeen for a few new links. Here in the UK I find sewing patterns expensive. The most expensive Vogue £15.00, which I did love. I used to be a member of Sew today magazine, = paid £7.50 a month , in return you got a magazine every month and reduced rate patterns throughout the year on the big 4, which isnt a bad deal. Of course there are sales online but there is the 3 week wait and £15.00 p.&p. Sometimes my local shop has half price patterns. I would think the cheapest option is the Burda magazine which I think I paid £6.00 last time I bought but as I am in the bigger sizes there are only a few pattern choices. Interesting reading the comments, I cannot believe how cheap some people get the patterns for. Because of the price of patterns I tend to play around with existing ones, which can be very rewarding.

  26. The Netherlands reporting! BMV patterns sell for around the equivalent of 25-28 US$. Not available locally like they used to be, and NEVER on sale! I usually wait for the online BMV sale but then again there's the frustratingly high shipping and handling cost of US$15 for 1-3 patterns. Really? We're talking tissue paper! We regularly order cd's in the US and we pay only half of that for shipping cardboard boxes, during sale weeks the cd shipping is even free. Looks like the McCall company should look for better shipping deals! My guess is overseas retailers have to pay these insane rates too when stocking BMV patterns, that's what keeping those prices up.
    Pattern magazines including traceable patterns are available in every supermarket and every bookstore. Burda ($8,50), Dutch Magazine Knipmode ($10), Ottobre ($12).
    I much prefer Vogue patterns, but at these prices I have to think twice before buying one. And if I do, it'd better be good. Needless to say pattern whispering will be much appreciated!

    1. In addition to the aforementioned, also from The Netherlands: a new magazine was launched last year, about 10$, La Maison Victor, a Belgian magazine, but widely available in The Netherlands as well. More a glossy actually, with very nice patterns.
      I do have tons of patterns, mainly magazines for obvious reasons. All my Vogues come from sales at the McCall company. I don't want to think about the total costs of shipping, it is enormous, so I really cherish my US patterns. Simplicity is available as a magazine btw. With only a few sizes available and not many in the smaller sizes not really an option for me, but a magazine with at least 12 patterns is only 5euros, about 7dollars.

  27. I'm in the East of the UK. I can buy Vogue, Simplicity, Burda and probably McCalls envelope patterns at my local department store but they are very pricey. Something like 15ukp for a Vogue and 7 for a Burda. I've seen Collette on sale in London but never where I live. Don't think I've seen any of the other indies for sale in shops at all.

    I have switched to buying all my Big Four patterns online. Their UK site does a membership scheme where you get a discount all year round and a much bigger one in the sales which happen a few times a year. That reduces a Vogue to about 6ukp so is well worth it. Can't remember what the membership costs but it certainly pays for itself after two or three patterns. Shipping is free and fast.

    Burda magazine is available in one local newsagent. It's about a fiver which is great value, but I subscribe because the newsagent supply isn't reliable. I have never seen any other pattern focused mag available in the UK other than at the now vanished RD Franks in London. There are lots of sewing magazines as opposed to pattern magazines. They are much easier to find than Burda. Even the smaller newsagents will have one or two. Those tend to have one or two simple apparel patterns and the rest is craft projects. I have an idea they're mostly cheaper than Burda but I haven't bought one for a long while.

  28. In France you can go to this website and get an idea of how expensive it is.
    For Burda, I took the time once to compare prices for downloading and it was quite a hoot as even within Europe, the pricing was different from country to country for no apparent reason.
    I don't download Big4 as you are never really the proprietor, there is a 2 years time limit on them.

  29. Like Lyndle I am in NZ - Prices for patterns can take your breath away and sales are not as frequent as in the US (or as good). I am one of the lucky ones and can usually make Vogue up as is and most other brands. I do have a problem with the lack of fashionable plus sized styles and use Ottobre and Burda, I subscribe to both but am considering letting the Burda lapse as the styles are just not so great anymore. Prices are as Lyndle outlines.
    I hate with a passion PDF patterns and have had little success with them - I have just bought a selection of Cake patterns but opted to wait for the patterns to arrive. My favourite patterns are now Style Arc as I just have to cut them out and make them up. They are stylish and up to date - and just over the ditch so postage is not quite the problem. Love your blog and enjoyed your jacket sewing lessons.

  30. In the UK a few of the big department stores (John Lewis, Masons in Abingdon) carry big 4 patterns, or will order what they don't have. When I worked in central Birmingham I knew of nowhere in the city centre that carried patterns. Some smaller fabric shops carry them too, and some of the small quilting/sewing stores carry some a selection of the independent lines ( I could get some of the Colette/Sewaholic/ Oliver and S patterns at The Village Haberdashery). There are online suppliers locally for some of the independent patterns too (Sewbox carries Sewaholic, Hotpatterns,Colette...Typical price £12.50 that is about $21 plus about $4 for postage) The standard envelope price for both big 4 and independent patterns is between about £8 and £15 ie $15 - 24. You can get BMV patterns for less than half that if you join the club and order online (for example Vogue 8923 for about £5 that is $8). There are sometimes - about a month per year - 40% reduction sales on each of the big 4. Not all the brands in the same month of course. And we don't seem to have the reduction coupons that I read of in the USA. Style Arc patterns average about £10 ($16) (converted from Australian dollars) but shipping will tend to add about another £32 ($53) per package - better buy a lot at once!. All of which helps to explain the economic attraction of magazines (Burdastyle bought in big branches of W H Smith for about £5 ($8)) and PDF downloads. Lekala patterns about £2.50 ($4.50). But generally I think we grit our teeth and pay the prices.I think most people sew as hobby or so as to get exactly what they want,not to save money.Interestingly BMV have a FAQ on their UK website "Why are patterns so expensive?" . Their answer is at - scroll down to question 6. What it doesn't begin to answer is "why are they so much more expensive in the UK/Europe than the USA!
    Hope this helps!

  31. I'm in Australia (Melbourne) and others have already explained our situation. Note that our prices as given all include taxes, as will the European prices, which I think the US ones don't (?) BMV, Simplicity, New Look and Burda envelope patterns are readily available at the chain sewing stores and I find that one or the other of the brands is quite commonly on sale for half price, which would be maybe $US 13-14 for Vogue, and the others less - which I will pay - though there'll be a McCalls sale when I want Vogue etc! (I wonder if the sales vary from region to region as other Australians seem to complain of not getting them so much.) Occasionally there are $5 ($US4.65) sales but these are becoming rarer, and they're starting to exclude Vogue from that. I have bought patterns at full price when I was desperate (:-P) and I certainly did when I lived in the UK where the half-price sales were much more uncommon.

    I have never bought from BMV online because the international shipping is exorbitant. I am reliably informed that the actual shipping on the package is much lower than the amount charged, and that would annoy me (even though the net price of each pattern would be lower than buying locally). I prefer to wait for a local sale.

    Burda magazine is available in some newsagents, and I can get Patrones if I want it at a speciality newsagent. Both priced around $US 16. When I was really into it I used to subscribe to Burda, which is a bit cheaper and comes in the month of issue, rather than several months delayed like the one in the newsagent.

    StyleArc are based in my city. I can still only buy them online, but shipping is obviously better than for overseas.

    For the most part for other patterns I have to buy them online. We have some local online suppliers for international independent patterns, which saves us a bit on cost, and a lot on delivery time :-)


    1. BMV shipping charges aren't simple postage in the US either. They ship first class mail with the postage visible on the envelope and it's significantly less the flat rate charged. Clearly they include a handling charge so I just factor shipping into the pattern price. I can't complain in comparison to your situation, but clearly in all cases ignore the shipping cost at your own peril.

    2. I will say that I personally mailed a pattern to someone in Australia and was shocked that the postage to mail one pattern in a soft envelope was over $12.

  32. My fellow Aussies have laid it all out before me, apart from a twice yearly $5 pattern sale (that I know of), it's pretty much retail price or buy in bulk from to spread the cost of shipping across several patterns. I've had a subscription to the brazilian Mannequim magazine for a year, which I really enjoyed flipping through... but have not made a single thing from. That was really just a waste of $80! I'll stick with Marfy at the moment, especially as the exchange rate is pretty great against the euro (historically, anyway). AUS$25 for a coat pattern, AU$18 for a dress pattern. Ever so slightly above the cost of an indy, but infinitely better in drafting quality - done deal for me.

    1. I think that with those pattern magazines, you may go back to them later and create something. I sometimes find myself pulling out a 5+ year old Burda Magazine for that perfect pattern. I think that Mannequim drawings are hard to visualize in a flattering way so I tend to not want to sew them. Hopefully you will see something in the future and make it so it won't be a total waste!
      I agree about Marfy, its worth the extra money to get something dependable.

  33. Hello! Another Australian here, I just wanted to add that at between AUD $12 and $30 indie patterns are price comparable to the Big pattern companies' prices here. I shop up at Club BMV and when there is a sale and I'd I have my eye on something, but I also make the postage work for me. Sometimes patterns are geoblocked as well - the new McCall Laura Ashley patterns are an example that can't be shipped out of the US (and I really wanted the peplum top!). I use a few Australian based online stores for indies and they generally have great service and quick postage. I've never bought a StyleArc pattern because my hips are two sizes smaller than my waist/bust and I don't like to freehand my grading. I sew a lot of my children's clothes as well as my own from a mix of Bigs and indies. I use a lot of indie PDF patterns from Etsy and Craftsy for my children's clothes, I just find there is a better size range and value for money for their everyday clothes.

    1. You could probably get the Laura Ashley pattern on Ebay, if you really want it.

      (Beth, she's right about the geo-blocking though. Those pages in the catalogue have a sticker over them saying "not available". I think it sometimes applies to Disney designs too.)

    2. If I get to the point where my life will be empty without it, then I'll probably jump on eBay (or use a relative in the US to order it and then get her to post it on, but that feels like such an imposition on someone), but honestly I probably have enough patterns to go on with! I just thought the geo-blocking issue might be something US-based sewists may not realise.

  34. I have recently moved to Dublin. The pattern choice here is scarce. I saw only one shop which sells patterns (the Big 4, Burda envelope patterns, Colette, Sewaholic and Oliver +S) but the prices are quite depressing: €18-23 on average. Needless to say that I am an avid supporter of PDF patterns. I also own two years of Burda subscription magazines which I love. I find that in general European patterns suit better my body type and fit better than their US counterparts (indie patterns included). Also, I prefer working with patterns that do not include seam allowances.

    I find that the Big 4 charge crazy shipment money and if I had to order some, I'd use my friend's address and pick them up whenever I am in the US.

    From the indie family, I like Style Arc, Named and Ralph Pink. And since the Australian dollar is cheaper than euro, in the beginning of the year I invested heavily into Style Arc.

  35. Living in Charlotte, NC and being a returning sewist, I buy ALL my patterns on sale at Joann. Hancock Fabric is not the best here and them having the pattern in stock is another issue. I either missing the sales at Hobby Lobby or they don't have them on sale. Some of my New Look are purchased at Wallyworld for $2.49. I just purchased my first Indie pattern for Sew Chic and I paid full price so yes I will be making slips for everyone from now on, lol. I have all the classic pieces that work for my shape and pieces to mix it up a little. I haven't attempted a PDF pattern as of yet. My purchase are based on the sale price(.99 , $1.99, 3\$5.00, 10|$10.00) and usage. I have to like everything on the envelope first, stitch up all the views and stay within my sewing range(ie refuse to sew anything that might get me frustrated).

  36. I live in Oaxaca, Mexico...I have not found any patterns. As a result, I have bought a couple PDF patterns, Grainline and Sewaholic which I was pleased with.

  37. So glad you did post yesterday I enjoyed it and the comments were enlightening. Seems many said they like the indies because for whatever reason they wear the makes more and remake the patterns more. I hadn't fully realized this but that's exactly my case as well. I'm in the Eastern US
    I have an Ottobre subscription kids and woman about $70/year but that means any given issue is about the price of an indie pattern or even a little less. I don't think there's ever been an issue I haven't sewn at least one item from and often multiple and repeat makes. A real staple for me.

    Since Named started up I've sewn a lot from them and I do wear those nearly everyday like others I have made multiple versions of several designs. From the first collection, 3 pairs of Jamie jeans, 3 batwing shirts so those were well worth the price. They have been tinkering with their pricing some, the 2nd collection had lower prices based on survey responses. They do have occasional 15% sales especially at the end of the season and an occasional single pattern or category on deeper discount. With the 3rd collection, pattern review has the best price (I almost hate to mention lest it's in error).

    Finally I buy mostly Vogues through BMV. I try to wait for the 3.99 sale and buy in groups of 3 or 7 to maximize on shipping cost in which case they come to $4.33 per pattern. I did consider that low enough that I'd order patterns on a whim and place a $30 order on a regular basis without thinking much of it. However I made the mistake of tallying all the orders which BMV kindly keeps track of. My account goes back to 2008 and with an average of 4 such orders a year, this actually put my total into 4 digits. I had no idea my on a whim pattern purchase were actually my biggest pattern expenditure and I've now cut back drastically especially since Vogue doesn't account for the majority of my makes. Clearly sometimes cheap patterns are not so cheap.

    So glad you asked, eager to read everyone's responses.

  38. As I live in norcal, too, my pricing is the same as yours. However, I wait for burda to go on sale at Joanns, which is only a few times a year and I think they are $4.99 when they're on sale. I pick up burdastyle from Europe at britex and generally will get the colettes at britex or stone mountain for their list price. I just ordered a jalie from the other day for $7.99 (I believe). I will get the pdf's of bluegingerdoll patterns as I don't like paying shipping from AU. Sewaholic patterns I've been buying them on etsy so I don't have to pay shipping from Canada. I've been buying the big 4 patterns when they've been on sale lately at joanns for a friend in NZ as she has to pay about list price down there. She's sending me some merino wool jersey, so I think I win! Lol :)

    1. PS we did not feel the quake over here near Yosemite, but my friends and family in the bay and Napa sure did. When I was going to school in SF, I often wondered what it would be like if I was stuck in the city or on the Bart during one.

  39. Since I live in the US, you know the pricing story for me. I do have some indy pattern companies I love because they fit right out of the envelope. They are not the new, cool blog-y companies. Style Arc pants fit me great, The Sewing Workshop shirts are amazingly drafted (plus I buy Linda Lee's Sew Confident series every year, and the instructions are so so helpful!), and I love my Islander Sewing jeans jacket. I think those 3 indies are better than the Big 5, so I'm willing to pay more for them.

  40. I've pretty much given up on the Big 4 patterns - they just don't work for my shape (tall triangle - narrow shoulders, big hips.) I have bought 3 or 4 indie patterns, but they are expensive! And I still had to make adjustments. Although I have to say the Grainline Scout Tee was worth every penny to me (after a couple of fit adjustments - it's a TNT.)

    I understand the indies would be expensive for the paper patterns (small company, etc.) but $12 for a PDF is too much! I just bought a Lekala PDF pattern (tailored to my measurements) for under $3. If it sews up well, it's fantastic deal. Wish me luck! :-)

  41. Writing from Germany.
    BMV: could have them for like 20€/pattern. Instead, I decided to become a BMV Club member and bulk order when they go on sale. Not to many, or else there could be extra customs fees.
    Simplicity/New Look Patterns: ebay or my
    Burda envelope patterns/magazines: I live in Germany so I can get my hands on these easily.
    Style Arc patterns: Now I’ve been literally drooling over some of these for a while now but the shipping fees? For a one-sized pattern that might end up not fitting at all? Nope. I’d love them to make their patterns available as pdf. I’d grab quite a few.
    Other Pattern magazines: for Patrones and La Mia Boutique, or else the international library.
    Any other paper pattern you can purchase (Colette, Oliver and S, Sewaholic and some more)? Wait until they go on sale.

    1. You can download Style Arc Ann Tshirt from the Gorgeous Fabric website until the end of August for free - they include 2 sizes either side of your selected size to help with the fitting. This is my TNT Tshirt and is well worth a try.

  42. I'm so glad you were OK during the earthquake! Yikes! I remember my first southern California earthquake... as a midwesterner, it was pretty startling!

    Since I'm in the U.S., you know my deal about pricing, except that I don't have a nearby Jo-Ann's (there's one that's about a 45 minute drive away, but there are several tolls to pay between here and there so it makes for a pretty expensive trip). I will say that if you have a community of local sewers, it's worth it to split a Style Arc order. Three of us NYC ladies split one to lower the price of shipping, which was nice. But I don't want to make a habit of ordering from them as I like to sew for my mom and my sister, and the single size patterns from Style Arc make that impossible. That's why I tend to prefer PDFs- it's easy and cost-effective to sew multiple sizes.

  43. I live in the southern US and pay about $15 a pattern including shipping. Why so much? Once I started sewing Jalie and Burda, I never looked back. I pay about $15 for each issue of Burda and called that "per pattern" as I'm usually buying an issue to get a particular pattern I want. I get so much enjoyment out of Burda and often end up sewing other things too so it's probably not a fair statement.

    I'm enjoying your blog more and more too.

  44. I buy the Big 4 patterns at Joann's sale but I seem to be doing their online sales more and more. So convenient. Independent patterns are usually under $10 unless I get a Paper Cut pattern, then they are more. I floated away from the Big 4 but they are pulling me back, for me they fit just fine and the price you cannot beat.

  45. UK personal view: I order BMV patterns when they are on sale from the USA website. Even with the postage it is significantly cheaper than buying here even when they are on sale. Likewise I wait for simplicity, newlook and burda sales. I have just bought burdastyle patterns in the 2 for 3 sale; the simplicity sale where I am also has a loyalty card so you buy 4 and get the 5th free. In my experience Indie patterns are rarely on sale and so I have to love it to pay £12GBP or so.

  46. Such an interesting topic! I'm originally from the Uk but I live in Greece. Here, BurdaStyle Magazine reins supreme and you can get it at every newspaper seller. It costs 5 euros ($6.50) which is cheaper than in the UK where it costs 4.75 pounds (almost $8). I've seen Burda and Vogue catalogues in one of the haberdashery shops here and I'm pretty sure that the prices will be full price i.e. very expensive. No one really sews with anything other than Burda Magazine here so there's no real demand for the paper patterns and thus they have a very high price tag. If I want to buy Vogue/Butterick/Mccall's and now Kwiksew, then I buy them from which often has 3 for the price of 1 sales although you do have to pay a memebership fee. I seem to remember that Vogue patterns are about 15 pounds ($25) full price, 8 pounds ($13) for members and about 5 pounds ($8) on sale day. Of course, you have to add postage to that (50p (80 cents) per pattern out to Greece, but I think it's free to the UK) so they're pretty expensive compared to the US.

    For Simplicity patterns, I've ordered from when they had a 0.99 sale and saved a huge amount on the price in the UK.

    Half price sales on patterns are pretty frequent in fabric shops who carry patterns as well as online ( for example)

    I hope that was helpful! I really can't wait for the Pattern Whisperer posts - me, me, let it be me! :)

  47. Sue from South Dakota, USA. I used to mainly purchase only the big 4 patterns but since I also regularly read blogs and Sewing Pattern Review, I have branched out to include Indy patterns but at times their price tags make me cringe! I will only shell out more than 5 bucks for a pattern when it has been highly reviewed and recommended by many other sewers or if the pattern is super unique and I simply love the style! I used to HATE pdfs, but many are super easy to put together and there is an instant sort of gratification with a PDF that you don't get from a paper pattern you have to wait to have shipped! And, I hate to also admit this but I have no issue loaning a pattern to a fellow seamstress when I am finished using it. To me it isn't much different that giving someone a well loved book you purchased and read!

  48. I live in Alaska, we get plenty of earthquakes; glad you are okay and that there were few injuries in the Napa area.
    Now on to patterns. First I live in Juneau (30,000 residents) and we have a Joann's and I am able to get all of the sale prices if they have the pattern I want. I swear sometimes that they are only sent 3-5 of each pattern and not all sizes. The same is true with new patterns the delay is 4 to 6 weeks from announcement. I don't belong to BMV Club. I do get the Burda Pattern Magazine (not the new US version).
    So I sew primarily from Burda. I have some indie patterns that I have either ordered online or when I take a trip down south (I always take 1 day of our trip to fabric shop.)

  49. JenC and the other Australian's have said it all for me. I do subscribe to the Burda magazine so do have a large number of patterns available. I have purchased some indie patterns, Jalie full price from Canada and then SewSquirrel as well as Sewaholic Minoru which I love (but the drafting for the sleeve was not good). Love Fehr Trade's work out patterns which are PDF's. I don't mind taping patterns together or tracing the Burda.

    A very interesting post and comments from yesterday, I also learn from my Mum but have sewn with a teacher for a number of years. I class myself as intermediate.

    Oh and Pattern Whisperer that does sound interesting!

  50. Firstly, glad you are OK and second this is fascinating! Here in Hong Kong you cannot buy patterns from a store so it has to be online (good websites are a must, Simplicity is so awful and their international delivery policy is nuts, I think it goes through a 3rd party, I've given up on them totally). A number of bookstores stock Burda Style magazine and I get that every month, it is my go to pattern source and the best value by far for me. I am never going to buy some indie designer tshirt or pencil skirt pattern with 10 years of magazines in my stash. These days it has to be something really quite unique to make me buy anything else, I buy interesting Vogue designer patterns on sale sometimes (3.99-5.99) and I like Style Arc too (that free pattern each month psychologically helps cancel out the shipping!). I've recently delved into pdf patterns (Fehr Trade's sports patterns) and I love the instant gratification, sticking the pages together is no worse than tracing which I do all the time for Burda.

  51. Hi Beth, I'm in Australia too and ditto everything everyone else has said. I am not a member of BMV club but when I have splurged (twice) I've bought patterns from when they are (US)$1 - $4 (the Vogues being the most expensive and sometimes they are $1 ea max buy of 10 for Simplicity or Butterick) but the postage is up to US$32. At $1 per pattern it still works out ok value but any more and I wouldn't. I subscribe to Ottobre and think of it as a treat to flick through and read but what I've made is well drafted, easy to trace and suits my body shape better than the Big 4. I love Burda patterns - they are really drafted well and I like Style Arc but I don't like that there is only one size on the pattern sheet you get, I don't think this suits many people but they are drafted well and they give a lovely sample fabric to help you along. I haven't bought any Indie patterns but I did get a Sewaholic pattern at a swap (the Lonsdale that I'll try and make this summer). I've used My Image once and they were drafted well too. I don't like the style of Tessuti patterns (although I made the Mandy tee recently), and I think too many indie patterns are too basic and having sewn for more than 30 years I have lots of basics to pick from. Great discussion. Oh I'd like to try a Jalie. Why are Simplicity and New Look not available in Canada??
    Glad the earthquake didn't cause too much havoc although I kind of feel any earth shaking is scary and best to be avoided.

  52. Hi, I'm in the UK. I subscribe to a magazine / catalogue called Sew Today. As a member I get mail order access to Butterick, McCalls, Vogue and Kwik Sew patterns at reduced prices - usually 2 for the price of 1, with the cheapest one being free. Shipping for members is free and in addition to this, several times a year they have buy one get 2 free deals. Their standard prices are:
    Vogue - £15.00 (comes complete with "made with a Vogue pattern" label)
    Butterick - £7.50
    McCalls - £8.25
    Kwik Sew - £8.99

    I don't much care for print your own / pdf patterns and I don't believe they are particularly cost effective when you add the cost of paper, ink and tape to the price of the order. Then there is the whole how do you store these bulky things issue. I don't do it.

    Burda fell off my radar many years ago for being too way out (fashion forward I think they call it), but I did sew with Burda magazine patterns back in the 90s. I have found Burda magazines very hard to buy in the UK.

    I have recently subscribed to Ottober Woman, which is published twice a year and I think is very good value for money at Euro 8.50 (approx £6.60) per magazine.

    There is one store in my town which sells patterns and I think they sell Burda paper patterns and Simplicity, however, I haven't purchased any except at clearance prices so I don't know what they retail at. The Simplicity UK website is difficult to navigate, and I haven't purchased anything from there.

    I am wary of buying patterns from overseas for delivery by post in case they get slapped with customs charges. Even without that, the shipping charges are generally prohibitive, so I don't so it.

  53. Hello, I'm in france and here are the prices here:
    Vogue : 14€-20€
    McCall's, 9,90e
    Simplicity : 9,60€
    Burda : 7,90€ - 8,90€
    Burda magazine : 4,95€
    Ottobre magazine : 9,35€ - 11,35€
    + shipping : between 5€ and 10€

    I make Burda and Ottobre pattern, because I prefer patterns without the seam allowances included (I was taught like that).
    I tried only one pdf : a pattern for free from Tamanegi Kobo, to try the japanese shape (I'm making it at the moment)
    For me indie pdf patterns are too expensive, if you add the time and the paper (especially the time, as I do not have a lot with a full time job and 3 kids).
    I also find the indie patterns too vintage oriented, and this is not my taste.

  54. Hi Beth
    I'm in the UK and patterns are more expensive than you ist in US.
    Indie are about £12
    Vogue £12
    Most big 4 £5/6
    I buy most on line so I don't get distracted!
    Fit wise and basic pattern wise I recommend New Look. Usually £3 and have a good range of styles

  55. I live in the UK and have nothing much to add about pricing of the big 4 patterns versus indie. At 58 I buy indie mainly because I can download and have 'instant' access on the day I want to sew. I have to travel over an hour away to buy patterns in a shop.
    The other reason that I buy indie is that you usually get all sizes, with vogue, who's patterns I love btw, I straddle the 2 packet sizes and the thought of buying 2 patterns at their current prices before buying fabric, I might as well buy RTW!!

    My other thought is that patterns available in the US are very often not available here. The Mccalls pattern you use for your 2 tone dress for example is not available in the UK. I hope you bear this in mind when you recommend patterns. In my later years I am becoming more comfortable with adapting patterns to fit and look forward to your recommendations.

  56. Hi Beth,

    I'm in South Africa...

    For envelope patterns (Vogue, McCalls, Butterick, Simplicity, New Look, & Burda) we pay between ZAR 80 - ZAR 120. (About $8-12) They're graded by skill level generally.

    Style Arc patterns - ZAR 140 - ZAR 250 - and that's not even including import duty.
    Burda Magazine costs about ZAR 120 ($11) but my local library has a subscription so I get them for "free". You have to trace regardless!

    Any time you want to have items shipped, you have to pay import duty. It's normally about 30-40% of the price of the item. So generally that puts the price way out of range.
    I generally sew Burda or Lekala because price-wise, they are the best value for money. And I've worked out most of my fitting kinks!

  57. I just found this conversation, very interesting. I moved to mainland from Hawaii 2 months ago so now I can get sale patterns at stores. In Hawaii the best prices were from ebay and I would include the shipping costs before I chose who to order from. I'm enjoying this topic and hope you continue with it.