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5 Steps To Deciding To Buy A Pattern

I don't know about you, but I own a LOT of patterns. If I just count all the files in my "sewing patterns" folder, I have 569 ...

I don't know about you, but I own a LOT of patterns. If I just count all the files in my "sewing patterns" folder, I have 569 files. Let's assume that at least 100 of those are duplicates OR the sorts of files that come as 2 parts (pattern plus instructions.). And assuming I pay a mere $5 each because I'm a savvy shopper and use coupons and grab free patterns, that is  $2345. Ouch. Cue heart palpitations. And let's be honest, NO ONE is going to use 500 different patterns. The average seamstress MIGHT use maybe 100 in a year. That is about 2 per week and assumes she never makes duplicates. I ALWAYS make duplicates.

But recently, I've become WAY more careful with my pattern dollar. It isn't that I don't WANT to buy another pattern. I love patterns (clearly). But I'm sure my husband would prefer I spent less and honestly, I don't NEED a new pattern.

I know that might be hard to hear, but if you follow my step by step process, you too can save money on patterns AND still have all the styles. Ready?

Step #1- Do you actually have money in your budget for a pattern right now? If you don't, then stop right now. I know it is just $5 or $10, but those add up (and fast). And wouldn't you rather build your pattern stash in a way that is actually going to help you sew more things? If you don't have the money, but think you want the pattern, go ahead and review the other 4 steps and then add it to your "to buy when I have money" list. The next time you do have money, check your list, not the PDF Pattern Sales and Promotions Group!

Step #2- Is it on sale? Yes you can buy patterns that aren't on sale, but if you're going to spend money on a pattern, it is better on sale. Take advantage of those discounts, BUT only if it meets the other 4 requirements. It is better to pay full price for a pattern you need than buy 4 or 5 patterns you don't just because they're on sale.

Step #3- Is there a sense of urgency? If you are actually going to sew this pattern TODAY, then you're on the right track. If you're just buying it to build your stash then stop and consider whether it meets the other steps.

Step #4- Is it significantly different from other patterns you already own? For example, if I search "raglan" in my sewing patterns folder, I have 26 unique patterns. I hate to admit it, but even I, the queen of raglans doesn't need 26 patterns, even if it breaks down to 8 kid's, 8 men's and 10 women's. There is honestly nothing significantly different about these patterns. If I was really honest, I use 2 different kid's raglans (loose fit and slim fit), 1 men's raglan and 2 Women's Raglans (loose fit and slim fit). That means I have 21 raglan patterns that I could have skipped out on, or $100 in patterns, minimum <gulp>.

Things that do not count as significantly different: A new neckline (you can probably copy this from another pattern you already own). 2 separate patterns for a circle skirt versus a gathered skirt. Adding a ruffle or piece of lace/trim. I hate hacking, but these are things that don't require much hacking at all.

Step #5- Is this pattern replacing a pattern that didn't work out the way you expected? We've all made pattern purchases only to find that either the designer isn't very good OR just doesn't draft for your body shape. If you can honestly say that the pattern you do have absolutely cannot work for you, then yes, buy another of the same type. But don't buy 100 of the same type, that's just silly.

Did you go through all 5 steps? Still think the pattern is a good choice? Then you have my blessing. But chances are, you can talk yourself out of most purchases and you can thank yourself by buying a ridiculously priced coffee, milk shake (Sonic anyone?) or more fabric. You're welcome. :)

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  1. So true Tibeca! I've really started evaluating new release patterns before I buy...since I've got a decent stash of patterns, I feel that I can hack a lot of the details in the new releases!

    1. It is SO hard to say no. But I have plans for a mini series of things I said no to and hacked instead.

  2. Thanks for this. I am frugal with money, but some darn patterns are so enticing.

  3. Great post!!!! I have become a lot pickier when buying patterns and fabric and rtw stuff. I have happily found designers whose patterns work well for me!

  4. I actually prefer buying (or sewing) a style I'm familiar with if a designer is completely new to me. It might not be the most frugal way to sew but I feel like it gives me somewhere to set the bar for fit and other expectations I might have for the designer.

    It is also on my sewing bucket list to sew every kids raglan pdf pattern in existence. Ha! ;)

  5. Great in theory! I'm looking forward to your mini series


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