Ugly ducklings – patterns with hidden potential

Is it just me or are pattern envelope photos and illustrations misleading? I’m fairly sure this is why I buy so many Vogue patterns. The pattern envelopes are simply more attractive than the competition. And yet the envelope art usually bears little relation to the end result. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen someone produce a dress that I have greatly preferred to the original in the envelope picture. It makes me wonder what pattern gems I might be missing out on because the company has made the sample up in a pastel floral print or something alarmingly polyester. (I have nothing against pastel florals on other people. People whose skin, unlike mine, isn’t naturally a sort of pale grey colour.)

So here are my two favourite ugly duckling patterns. Despite the envelope art, they made up really well.

First is Simplicity 3775, straight out of the pastel floral category. This is a fantastic dress. Mine’s made up in a burgundy wool jersey and it’s great. Its best outing was getting me through the 2010 general election in reasonable style. You want something very warm and comfortable to wear when you’re waiting for the count after a 20 hour day of campaigning, and if you have to look vaguely smart too then this is the dress for the job.

And here’s Vogue 8413. I don’t know what it is about this one. The whole thing is slightly scary-looking. I can’t make my mind up whether it’s the styling, the hungry expression the model’s wearing, or just the colours they’ve picked. I wouldn’t have touched it if I hadn’t really needed a pattern for a woven cowl-neck dress. And that is a shame because it’s a lovely style and has a lot of good reviews if you go out there and look. I grafted a circle skirt on to the bodice and it became my Yohji Yamamoto-inspired dress.

So do you have any ugly duckling patterns? Do share!

6 thoughts on “Ugly ducklings – patterns with hidden potential

  1. I have loads of ugly duckling patterns, including the Vogue dress above. I am always telling my daughters look past the ugly fabric or styling. Imagination is why we sew isn’t it!

  2. I’m not the best at seeing the “inner swan” in ugly duckling patterns, but I think I’m getting better at it. Why do pattern companies do it? I don’t understand why they would make up a dress in a fabric that obscures it’s lines.

  3. When I choose Burda patterns I avoid looking at finished result photo, instead going strsight for technical drawing and then measure the pattern pieces to give me an idea of the fit!

  4. Oh yes, I’m slowly learning to look past the awful photos on envelopes and actually it’s the sewing blogosphere that’s really helped me find some ugly ducking patterns! Handmade Jane’s version of Simplicity 2654 is entirely responsible for me buying that pattern! ( )

    I tend to look carefully at the line drawings – that Vogue 8413 that you posted looks great in a couple of the sketches, despite looking pretty vile in the photo. Such confusion for us stitchers!

    1. I have exactly the same bias toward’s vogues, purely based on some of the appalling fabric choices/styling simplicity, kwik sew etc seem to choose. Although for some reason this doesn’t seem to have an impact on my love of disasterous 80’s patterns, which I hoard in the belief that “I will make it work”…

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