Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New York Times Article on Home Sewing and the McCall Pattern Company!

Well, this is amazing. The New York Times has done an entire piece on the McCall Pattern Company and the home sewing industry! As you may know, my pattern line "Patterns by Gertie" is released by Butterick (one of McCall's pattern labels) and I was thrilled that the writer interviewed me for the piece. It's a really in-depth, detailed article on the past and future of the company, as well as home sewing in general. So, if you sew, you'll want to read this!

I've always been really proud to be a pattern designer with Butterick, partly because I have a strong nostalgia for the process of pattern shopping. So I was pretty excited to see this quote:
Gretchen Hirsch, a blogger, author and pattern designer who began sewing seriously 10 years ago when she was in her 20s, said the process of picking out a McCall pattern has not changed from when she visited fabric stores with her mother as a girl in the 1980s. 
“Going to a Jo-Ann’s and seeing those same old metal filing cabinets with the McCall’s and Butterick patterns inside — you know, the tissue, the instructions and the little envelope — I found it enormously comforting,” Ms. Hirsch said.
Another favorite quote?
“I’ve done this long enough to know that people have it in their hearts,” said Carolyne Cafaro, the creative director. “There could be one pattern company left in the world, but I do think people will always sew.”
I love that the piece conveys so much of the emotion surrounding home sewing, but it also tackles lots of other topics including the future of the industry in a digital age, the company's relationship with social media, and the DIY revolution. Not to mention a really fantastic slide show about the company archive, complete with pictures of a young Isaac Mizrahi and Charlize Theron.

In any case, it's pretty thrilling to see home sewing get such prominent media coverage. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the article!


  1. I read this piece this morning before I saw it on your blog! It was an interesting read with fun details about the pattern world. I love that they highlighted sewing as something that is not exclusively for older women who want to make quilts, but is also for a younger, creative, and style-aware demographic. Excited for you to be a part of the process, good job and thanks for inspiring!

    1. I can't figure out how to leave a comment except to "reply" to one. That was a really interesting article about 21st century sewing. I discovered that sewing seemed to be coming back about a year ago when I found numerous sewing blogs, mostly written by young women. I am far from young but have had a renewed interest in sewing and am glad to see it becoming popular again. I wonder if there will ever again be a time when there are lots of local fabric stores available. I really miss that.

      Gertie, please answer a question about your fabric. Early this year, I bought some of your "Gertie Collection Fabrics-Swiss Dot Fruit Floral" and made a summer top which I love. It's 100% cotton but what kind of cotton. I've seen cotton lawn, cotton voile, etc, but what kind of cotton is your Swiss Dot Floral?

      ALSO, are you going to have more fabric at Joann's for fall?

  2. "McCall and its competitors have introduced downloadable patterns as a nod to changing times."

    I had absolutely no idea McCall's offered downloadable patterns. I really don't like using traditional paper patterns anymore, although I'll still buy them when they are on sale for $1 at JoAnn's just to use for inspiration and very occasionally sew up. I went to the website, which I peruse at least once a month, and had the hardest time even figuring out how to find the download option. Partially because the patterns I was interested in purchasing aren't available to download, which I discovered when I finally figured out that the printable ones have a little printer icon next to them in the pattern listing. It really wasn't obvious to me and it doesn't help that each pattern's description page has the same printer icon at the bottom that just means you can print the catalog listing. The McCall company has lost out on a lot of my money over the last several years. When I see something I like on there, I'll pin it then search online and end up paying up to $20 for a PDF pattern that looks similar and hack it if I have to.

    1. You bring up a great point. One question would be how much of the market share is now going to indie pattern designers? McCall's prints their patterns at the print facility (it's one of the only places available domestically to print tissue patterns). Camp Workroom mentioned in the article offers 13 classes. One is based on a McCall's pattern and the other 12 are on indie patterns.

  3. Hi, Gertie! Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed the article and the slide shows. All were very interesting and inspiring. I admire your passion for sewing and designing. You go girl!

  4. What a compliment for your work! So go ahead! It is inspiring!

    Best regards from the Netherlands!

  5. I haven't sewn a garment in years, but reading this story was like stepping back in time!! It also gave me a bit of a sewing itch!! Since I go to JoAnne's and Hobby Lobby anyway for my yarn, I think that I might take a gander at the pattern books, just to see what they have that will fit me. Thank you so much for re-printing the article, and best of luck with your career!!

  6. Great article! I think they missed out though by not mentioning the many, many places one can buy fabric online. Hancock may be closed, but I suspect the online fabric business may still be thriving. There are problems with buying online, but over all it's my main way to get exactly what I want (and I can shop in my pajamas!)

  7. Thanks so much for providing the link to this article. So interesting. I particularly enjoyed the slideshows. I am so glad that you were interviewed for the article. Such a compliment to your skills.
    Best wishes from the UK.

  8. I enjoyed reading the article, and it's terrific that you were interviewed. I can't imagine myself not sewing, as it's been a part of my life for almost 50 years. I am so used to the quality and fit of the clothes I make, and having something not quite like all the other clothes I see.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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