Big 4 Patterns – Are They Really That Bad?

In the comments section of my last post, GwenSews wrote,

“I’m glad to hear a good review of one of the Big 4 patterns, since they get a lot of bad press.”

Which got me thinking – are patterns from the Big 4 (Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity, Vogue) that much worse than those from independent pattern companies? What is it about the Big 4 that seems to incite such scorn in the sewing community?

It’s by no means universal. For every bad review, there usually is a good one. I’ll use myself as a case in point. I really like my McCalls blouse. I’m happily wearing it right now. I think it fits well and is flattering on me. But a quick search on PatternReview shows two reviews. One rates this pattern as “Great Wardrobe Builder”. The other rates it “Would Not Recommend”. Same pattern, opposing views. I guess I’m the tiebreaker.

I’ve had lots of experiences where friends and fellow sewing enthusiasts have had great results with certain patterns, but mine have been less than satisfying. I’ve even scratched my head at some patterns that have been labeled “best of” because they were not best for me.

I’ve had bad experiences with patterns from independent pattern companies, as well. Independents are by no means immune to problematic patterns. I think part of the reason the Big 4 gets slammed is simply a numbers game. The Big 4 pattern companies put out hundreds of patterns every year. Many more than all the independents combined. So they present a bigger target. Ultimately, the fact is that not every pattern will work for every body, whether it comes from The Behemoth Pattern Company or from Bettylou’s Originals (those are hypothetical pattern companies, not real ones).

So what do you think, my Gorgeous Readers? Do you think the Big 4 are worse than others? Or is it just that they present more opportunities for dissatisfaction (and conversely, satisfaction)? Feel free to opine, I just ask that you keep it civil.

About Gorgeous Things

I own an online fabric store, www.gorgeousfabrics.com. Everything else you need to know about me is what I tell you on my blog, darlings!
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