Some New Directions for MIY Collection Sewing Patterns

What’s in a Name?

For some time I’ve wrestled with whether or not to “name” my patterns.  It seems to be a convention amongst indie pattern designers to give each pattern a name (as opposed to the style number that big brand patterns use).  Now, I can see the advantages of naming your patterns: they’re much easier to remember and search for online, easier to # on social media enabling sewists from around the world to look at each other’s versions of the same pattern, it makes the pattern and brand feel more personal and it definitely can enhance the touchy feely side of a pattern brand by adding another personal narrative to the story of the brand. (If in fact there is any narrative to the names and they’re not just random.)

So why haven’t I?!  Well for one, I hate to be seen to be jumping on any kind of bandwagon and like to think that everything I do is considered and done that way for a reason.  For example, my patterns aren’t printed on thin/tissue paper, the instruction book is A4 size and the whole thing is packaged in an A4 sized paper bag into which you can keep your project!  I’ve been criticised by some  retailers wanting to stock the patterns over the size of the packaging, but I like it, my lovely makers seem to like it and it makes MIY Collection distinctive, so I have no intentions of changing it just to be like everyone else.  I’m also a fan of keeping things simple and the “form follows function” approach to design.

I asked the question on Instagram:


The consensus from the super lovely positive community on there was that people like a name and it works.

So, I’ve come up with an authentic naming system that I hope will add some sort of narrative to what I do and that some of you lovely people may even find interesting/intriguing.  No, I won’t be naming them after friends, or film stars, or French girls’ names, I’m going back to my roots and I’m naming them after areas of my home county (Yorkshire) and to start with, more specifically after Sheffield wards and districts. Har har see what I did there – Wendy Ward, Sheffield wards?!  (For non-UK readers wards are administrative divisions of a city or borough represented by councillors in local politics.)

So, in honour of the steel city that made me who I am and that still has my heart wherever I may be, my first named pattern will be The Brightside Shrug pdf pattern #miybrightside and here it is! If you fancy whipping up one for yourself (I once had a MIY Workshop student make one from scratch, including cutting out in a 2 hour class!), you can get yours here.

MIY Brightside Shrug pdf sewing pattern

I’ll gradually be going through all my existing patterns and giving them names and all of my future patterns will also have names. Rest assured I have a long list at various stages of development, here’s a snippet of it that I recently posted on the MIY Collection Facebook page:

Size Matters

The second improvement I’m making with the launch of this pattern is in my approach to size labelling.  Regular readers will know I like a good rant about sizing (here’s a previous rant).

For a long time I’ve been thinking about an alternative size labelling system to the current confusing and disingenuous dress sizing system that we’ve all been brainwashed by.

In my book I made a start by using a numbering system, 1, 2, 3, but have since thought that this is probably how the current system started and after all it’s still just a label which actually tells you nothing about the actual body measurements of that particular “size” garment or pattern.

So, I’ve decided to go for a system similar to men’s sizing and refer to actual body measurements, for tops the size will relate to the actual bust size that the garment is designed to fit (including any ease), for skirts and trousers the size will relate to the hip measurement and dresses will use both bust and hip.

I am a bit of a control freak and to an extent, if you make your own clothes I think you should be too.  Know the dimensions of your body and love that information, it’s the secret to making beautiful well-fitting clothes that you’ll love to wear, don’t treat your measurements as something to avoid, deny, keep secret or be embarrassed about.  In the spirit of leading by example, here for all the world (who is bothered) to see are my measurements:

dressmaking taking measurements

1 Bust: 97cm / 38″

2 Waist: 79cm / 31″

3 Hips: 103cm / 40.5″

Height: 5ft 8ins / 173cm

Foot size: 7 / 41

This means that when I’m shopping for ready-to-wear clothes I can fit anything from a size 12 to a 16. Confusing and a bit dispiriting huh? I’m fairly happy with my shape and I know that I’m healthy and armed with these measurements I also know how to make myself fabulous clothes that I look and feel great in.

I hope you’ll enjoy my new and improved MIY Collection sewing patterns. I’d love to hear what you think of the changes, leave a comment!

10 responses to “Some New Directions for MIY Collection Sewing Patterns

  1. paloverdeblooms

    Sorry, but I loathe, detest, and generally can’t stand the cutesy naming system that has overtaken indie patterns. In my view, it brings down the professionalism of the pattern line. I know I’m in the minority and it really doesn’t matter since I’m probably not a good fit for your pattern line. I wish you well, but…blech! to your new names.


  2. Well, they do say you can’t be all things to all people. What a bland world it would be if everyone liked the same thing. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and write a comment!


  3. Pingback: A New PDF Pattern & Some Changes to MIY Collection Sewing Patterns | Wendy Ward

  4. paloverdeblooms

    I should mention (and sorry I didn’t with my prior comment) that I like your approach to sizing. When you look back at commercially available women’s patterns in the early part of the 20th century, you’ll find that they are often labeled by the dimensions (usually bust) they are intended to fit. So good luck with your pattern line and may your business be successful!


  5. I love that you’ve named them after the Sheffield Wards! Great idea. And the sizing too, it makes much more sense to go on measurements. What I love about the sewing community is that you get to see that normal people are all different shapes and builds, we can accept it and get on with making clothes that fit (hopefully!)


  6. Ah thanks Grace, glad it all makes sense for you!


  7. Pingback: The Walkley Vest Dress | MIY Collection

  8. Pingback: Introducing the Walkley Vest Dress | Wendy Ward

  9. Laura O'Sullivan

    Been meaning to read this post for ages!
    I like the names, it gives the collection a more professional and modern branding. It’s nice to know where then the names have originated from too. The Sheffield theme is very appropriate. (And I’m very glad you didn’t chose girls names, they usually make me cringe!)


  10. Thanks Laura! Glad you like the Sheffield link for the names :o)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s