Voting: your opinons on patterns

Following my post last week about my hopes to start (eventually) creating my own clothing patterns for sale I have a few questions that I wondered whether you might be happy to answer with your opinion.

The first is about seam allowances. Traditional envelope patterns from Vogue and Simplicity tend to have seam allowances built-in to their clothing patterns. This means that when you cut your pattern pieces out you don't have to add on any extra seam allowance. However, it also means that if the pattern dictates a 5/8" seam allowance that's what you have to use (which can be annoying if you're using an overlocker or if you want to give the garment a certain finish that requires a different seam allowance)...and it makes it more difficult to make any adjustments to the pattern as you have to allow for the built-in seam allowance in any changes that you attempt to make.

I've come to love the Japanese patterns that don't include a seam allowance - I find it's easier to think about which finishing technique suits me and it also makes it easier to make any adjustments to the pattern. When it comes to adding on the seam allowance, the pattern can be cut out and then the extra seam allowance easily added on as you trace the pattern onto your chosen fabric.

However, out of interest I'd really love to know which method other sewers prefer? So here's the first poll:

Do you like your dress patterns to have a built in seam allowance?

The second question I have for you were going to buy a dress pattern from me (fear not, this is hypothetical, so even non-sewers' opinions would be valued) which would you be most interested in. The three patterns I'm thinking of developing are shown below, but it would be really nice to know if there's a stand-out garment that would be far more popular than any of the others, as it's always nice to pick a good starting point.

Knit dress
A-line Skirt

Summer Blouse

Which sewing pattern would you be most likely to want to buy?

Thank you so much for your help.

Florence x


  1. Firstly, Hello! I've been reading your blog for a while now, and it's been incredibly helpful with my newbie sewing status and entertaining and pretty to boot - so thank you :)

    Secondly, I want to say a HUGE thank you as you have just solved a mystery that I've been baffled by for some time. Why, when I'm so careful about buying my patterns based on my sizes, do they all wind up so massive on me when made up? Like, whole sizes too big? I had no idea that Vogue and Simplicity had a set seam allowance added on to the patterns (see, newbie!). That explains an awful lot. Thank you!!

  2. The knit dress is lovely, but I'm still building up my confidence with knits. I loved that A line skirt, though.

    Darm, looks like other people like a seam allowance...

  3. I wish your blog had been around when I started sewing 40 years ago! It would have been very helpful. My mother sewed from patterns like the Japanese books (Burda back then put out magazines periodically with exactly those patterns in them), and I always found it difficult. I much prefer the Butterick/Simplicity, etc. patterns seam allowances, I find that very easy, and I have no problem adjusting it to fit me.
    My problem is always that I have a long upper torso, and all patterns are too short, at 5'9" proper fit is hard to find here in the US.
    Anyway, thank you for all the posts!

  4. It's taken me a while to get used to patterns without a seam allowance, but I must say I now prefer them - for the reasons you give. I can see though that it might give some people difficulties but one does soon start to automatically add on the extra and its really useful if your fabric is bulky or heavy knit as you can have less to trim on curves etc.

  5. That was fun - I seem to be in the majority! Definitely the A line skirt - a really useful pattern I would think and it's all those details that made it special.
    I would choose seam allowance to be included but only because I always tended to stick to it. Burda patterns didn't have them and it seemed something extra (only a small thing admittedly and not difficult)to do. The bottom line is that I wouldn't mind very much either way.

  6. Hi, as a relatively experienced dressmaker I still have the capacity to forget to include for a seam allowance whilst cutting fabric and just cut round the pattern, a highly irritating and expensive mistake! Secondly, with a built in seam allowance you can "shave" a little off to your taste when cutting out the paper piece (all of it off if so desired!) so it gives people the choice of cutting their paper pattern to suit. PS I love the knit dress as the shape is very good. Also, I love your blog (long-time lurker!) and am always very pleased to see a new post as your pale pink pages,great photos and clever words do brighten up the day!

  7. How exciting, Florence! Your own grown-up patterns! I for one can't wait. Danielle x

  8. Just a small detail. Some of us are not stick figures, just thought I'd mention.

  9. Hello Helen - thank you! Oh no, poor you with the patterns, but even with the seam allowances error, I'm not too surprised that you've found them too big - they seem to come up far bigger than the body measurements that they correspond to.

    Ruth - that's so interesting - I'd thought it was a modern thing - I hadn't realised that it had its roots in Burda.

    Dollygumdrops - thank you - that's really kind!

    Deb...I'm a little confused as I don't think my post said anything that implied that. However, if I do eventually find that I'm able to create some patterns then of course they would be available in a range of sizes, just like any other clothing pattern.

  10. Just a thought....Most patterns come in a variety of sizes with multiple sizes included on a pattern. I wonder if you could make multiple seam allowance choices in the same manner...

    Best wishes with your new endeavors.

    ~Your devoted follower.

  11. My most particular preference with the seam allowances thing is to make it really stupidly obvious which it is: keep reminding us on the pattern pieces and throughout the pattern, please! I made up some little boy-pants from a Japanese pattern book before I knew about the SA thing... luckily my boy is slender haha! I voted knit dress but also really, really love the shirt.
    Another preference with patterns would be for you to please make the sizing as clear and easy as possible, like whether to go by your over-bust or full bust measurement, what cup size you're catering for etc. I'm still really trying to work out my proper sizing and measurements and get more confused the more patterns I try! A knit dress is actually probably my ideal solution :-)
    I really look forward to ALL of these patterns, pretty please!

  12. in theory i go either way on seam allowances. in practice, I'm always going to forget to add one, and only realise once I've cut the biggest piece out of whatever lovely fabric I've plucked up the courage to savage with scissors.

    i love the knit dress -- have to confess that I would need to see the pattern/dress on someone a little larger and lumpier (my build) than your lovely self: if it worked on them, I would definitely get it. it looks like a great "throw it on and you're ready" dress!

  13. I love patterns that don't have SA added - it does make it so much easier to adjust etc. I started very early on with Ottobre & Farbenmix patterns which don't have SA, and I do find it much easier to follow.

  14. Hi Florence! I definitely prefer patterns without Sa, as this leaves me to decide how much I feel I need for that. (Sometinmes skimping a little bit can make or brake the project, if I have a piece of fabric from my stash).
    Ans admittedly I have always sewn with patterns without SA, I think this is the German way of doing it and all the Scandinavian pattern makers including Ottobre seem to have followed. (Actually I think that is how they learn it when studying design).
    Love all of your pieces, but picked the dress, maybe due to the weather and winter. I am SO excited about you thinking about making dress patterns!

  15. Love the voting feature. And very much hoping you'll make patterns for *both* the Knit Dress and Summer Blouse!

    K x

  16. I just want to wish you great success with your venture. I'm sure your patterns will be a hit!

  17. everything is lovely, but that skirt is wicked. I love it.


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Florence x