Sew That’s Why: Lolita Patterns Packaging

 Company, General  Comments Off on Sew That’s Why: Lolita Patterns Packaging
Sep 072013
Lolita Patterns | Packaging

The pattern envelope is the next topic on our behind the scenes series.   From Papercut to By Hand London creative packaging is everywhere in the indie pattern world.  Lolita Patterns will be no exception.


By Hand London

First up, the practicality of the envelope. This is my area of expertise.  We wanted an envelope that was durable, had great restuffability (I made up that word, but you get what I mean) and was easy to store and find in your pattern stash but also fit our aesthetic as a company.  I incorporated parts of our logo into the packaging itself. At first we had planned to have a gusset and an envelope that just fit the contents.  Like a gusseted version of a Sewaholic pattern envelope.  After discussing this with our printer, the gusset we wanted was too small to be machine glued.  So out went the gusset idea.  After numerous samples and mock ups, we ended up with a more spacious envelope, made with very sturdy cover stock and re-closeable flap.  We are also color coding each envelope flap to so that you can see find the pattern quickly even if it is in a stack of patterns.

Lolita Patterns | Packaging

Now onto the creative look of the envelope.  This is Amity’s wheel house.  The cover has a beautiful fashion illustration by our very talented illustrator, Jen Dodson.  Her website can be found at  The cover models are wearing a very fashion forward take on the pattern.  Amity scours the fashion websites to find the exact right clothing and accessories to go on each model. The cover model is also accessorized and styled for a head to toe look.

Lolita Patterns | Packaging

Sew that’s why we ended up with our pattern envelope features.  As Amity mentioned on her post about our delays, the envelope is our final hurdle in releasing Sugar Plum or any future pattern.  We’re so happy with our pattern envelope and hope you’ll love it, too.

Nhi Signature


Jul 202013

This is another post in our series of posts on starting an indie pattern company.  If you missed the previous posts on our sizing or pattern paper, you can catch up here!

Now let’s talk about pattern instructions… Sometimes you can’t live with them, sometimes you can’t live without them.  I don’t claim to be anything resembling an instruction expert because I don’t read pattern instructions.  As you can see from my Me Made May pic wearing Simplicity’s 2760 that I didn’t read how to wear my coat right side out and to match the button with the button holes.

Lolita Patterns | Sewing Instructions
Since our patterns are a bit more complex than average, going without instructions a la Marfy was not something we wanted to do.  So what to do?  Since we were initially inspired by Japanese Lolita street fashion, we wanted heavily illustrated, minimal written instructions like the Japanese sewing books.  This would appeal to sewers from all countries as there would be no language barrier or translation issues.


Lolita Patterns | Sewing Instructions
Seriously… what where we thinking?  Some of the steps are so tricky we couldn’t even describe them to each other.  Most notable is the Sugar Plum steps that enclosed the zipper in the lining all on the sewing machine aka the “3 layer thingy” and the “sew the X part” with some arm flailing gestures.

Lolita Patterns | Sewing Instructions

Numerous versions later, we have what we think is a nice balance of written instructions and illustrations.  And I can’t forget to mention that we’ll also do sew-alongs to show all the nitty gritty details and tips we picked up along the way.

To make sure we had enough room to give complete and thorough instructions with detailed illustrations, we had to eliminate something. After much discussion and surveys, we realized that many people do not follow cutting layouts. Removing the cutting layouts provided us with the extra room we needed. But what if you like to follow cutting layouts? Have no fear! We will go over potential cutting layouts during the sew-along. Also, each piece is labeled with how many pieces to cut and we have an additional helpful tool called cutting labels (which we will reveal in another post!) to help you cut out the pattern perfectly.

We were very happy to see that  so many of our testers were able to sew together Sugar Plum despite some oopsies on our part.  We can’t thank our guinea pigs testers enough.

Lolita Patterns | Sewing Instructions

Instructions proof!

Our instruction proof has been approved and is now printing.   We’re so excited to be one step closer to releasing our pattern.  Our next big hurdle is the packaging.  More to come…

  Nhi Signature

Sew That’s Why: Tissue Paper vs. Bond Paper — and the other options!

 Company, General  Comments Off on Sew That’s Why: Tissue Paper vs. Bond Paper — and the other options!
Jun 272013

Here is another post where we look at the reasons behind certain decisions we make as a pattern company. You can see other posts in this series here. This post has to do with printing.

A big hurdle from the beginning was packaging. We had such a distinct idea of what we wanted that we had to search high and low to find what we wanted—and find it at a reasonable price. Same goes for the pattern. In the beginning, we were very adamant about wanting to print on bond paper like the old Kwik Sews and not use tissue. It turns out, that the largest size that gets printed on bond paper is 28″ x 40″ unless you pay an arm and a leg for them to open up the giant machine—and we were especially conscientious about keeping the price as low as we could because any extra we pay on paper or packaging, of course in turn gets passed on into the price of the pattern.

Lolita Patterns | Sew That's Why

Sneak peek!

The problem with that size paper is that it ends up being too small. Our patterns are intermediate to more advanced and tend to have a lot of pieces. We also develop our patterns in a large amount of sizes. (See our previous post for more information) If we printed on that size paper, we might have 7-10 pieces trying to fit into the packaging. Yikes!! That was definitely not going to work.

We are still looking at various creative options, but for now we have decided to go with tissue as it is economical price wise, has a much larger print size, and folds up thin enough to fit in the packaging. However, we know that many people prefer bond paper, and as a result decided to also provide our patterns in PDF as well as print shop format. This allows the user to have the pattern on bond paper either by printing at home or taking it to a copy shop to print. We are doing our best to accommodate a wide variety of people. We hope that one of these options will work for you!

While this is the option we are using for the first couple of patterns, we are still researching an interesting idea that may come to fruition down the road. We hope that our next post in this series will debut our packaging! Stay tuned!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns


Jun 122013

Here is the first post in our behind the scenes look at the reasoning behind the decisions we make for the company. We wrote briefly before about how we wanted to explain how we ended up with each of our decisions and specifically, that the first post would discuss our unique sizing model.

When Amity and I started talking about what we wanted from a pattern company, one of our first goals was to have a large size range to fit all women.   After much debate and numerous revisions on what this really meant, we settle on 2 sizes ranges:   2-14 and 16-24.

While doing our research, it didn’t look like many pattern companies did larger sizes.  There are definitely companies out there just not as many.  Speaking to many others, there seemed to be an unmet need.  But to do larger sizes correctly, we had to establish different grading rule than our regular grading rules.

Lolita Patterns | Unique Sizing

To us, this was the right thing to do vs having the same grading rules from 2 to 24 which would have been much more cost effective.  The reason for the different block and grade rules is that as we ladies gain fluff some things get bigger (neck, armholes etc) but not that big.

Lolita Patterns | Unique Sizing

If we kept the same grading rules for the regular sizes and kept grading we would get linebacker shoulders, weight lifter neck and 80’s men’s tank top armholes.

Lolita Patterns | Unique Sizing

With the 2 different blocks, we have to sew 2 different samples, do different fitting sessions and many more things that cost more time, money and energy.  In the end, we think it is worth the investment.  We’re very proud of our sizing and grading and hope that our potential consumers will feel the same.

Sew that’s why we have this sizing range.

Lolita Patterns | Sizing Chart

Next time up we will address paper decisions….specifically tissue vs. bond vs. other options.  Stay tuned!

Please let us know if you like these posts and find them interesting. We are doing this series because we find it interesting learning about why other companies make certain decisions. We hope you do too!

EDITED TO ADD: There is a follow up to this post you can read here. It provides an update on our sizing and how the blogging world reacts.

Nhi Signature

Jun 012013

The time has finally come to release the next pattern to testers! As I am sure you all can understand, getting the first printed pattern ready to go has not been without its bumps and hurdles. We have huge dreams, but need to be realistic when finding vendors or suppliers to implement them. In the end, we think we have found a happy solution and things should be much smoother going forward.

Since we find it very interesting reading about how companies make their decisions and why, we have decided to include you in how our decisions came about when developing this pattern company. We will be doing a series of posts explaining what we saw in the pattern company market, what changes we wanted to make, what ended up being feasible, and why we chose that particular method.

But first we need to talk about our sizing chart and setting up some testers for our pattern! Most importantly, we want to debut our official sizing chart. We will do a special in detail post on what makes our sizing so unique and why, but in the meantime I will give you some highlights.

Lolita Patterns | Sizing Chart

Lolita Patterns | Sizing Chart

We went through many drafts and edits when deciding on our official sizing. The most unique part of this sizing chart is that it uses a different block for the smaller and larger sizes. This means that we are not making one base size and grading all the way down and all the way up which results in an “Uncle Fester” type fit where the shoulders and general fit gets boxy. Instead, we chose to use a separate block for the larger sizes that takes into account the way a body actually gets larger. This way the shoulders, the armholes, and other measurements do not get grossly out of proportion. It definitely takes more work to do two separate blocks and two separate sets of grading rules, but it was important to us that our patterns fit well right out of the envelope and have enough sizes to fit a majority of women.

But to be triply sure, we want to find testers for every size who are willing to test sew up the pattern. These testers will get computer versions of both the pattern and the instructions as well as a short survey of questions. We will also need the pattern test turned around fairly quickly. We are looking at getting the pattern to you by the end of next week and are hoping for return feedback within two weeks. We want you to sew up the pattern, give feedback regarding instructions, pattern, fit, and anything else that strikes you. We also want to see a couple pictures of you in the garment.

Lolita Patterns | Sugar Plum

Amity in one of her Sugar Plum’s

After getting feedback, we will make any necessary edits and send the pattern and instructions to the printer. Then we just wait for the turnaround time and then get the pattern up for sale!

In exchange for helping us out, we want to offer you something in return! We promise you the first mailed copies of the official pattern when it is released and we also want to feature you and your garment on the blog and our other social media including the website.  We hope to find enough testers to test every size we have. If not, we will be sewing up the other sizes ourselves just to make sure there are no glaring discrepancies. We want it to be as perfect as can be the first time out and working with you all will help us get there.

The testers were are looking for are for our next pattern, Sugar Plum. One version can be seen above, but there is another view and we are happy with either version you wish to make. Also, this is a more difficult pattern so if you are a confident beginner sewer and would like to test, let us know in the comments below as the next pattern might be perfect for you to try.

If you want to test the pattern, please leave a comment here or contact us with your email, and what size you would sew up based on the sizing chart. Please keep in mind that our patterns are professional wear and have very little design ease. These patterns are very close fitting. If you are in between sizes, or like your garments to fit looser, please choose the larger size.

We also want to test all our patterns in every size so if you do not feel like you can fit this one in, or this pattern might be too advanced, we have an easier one coming up next that might be perfect for you! Throw your name in the hat as we will keep a running list.

We are so excited we finally got this far. It seems like it took forever but we are already getting the third pattern ready…it might even go out before Sugar Plum finished printing! It is so great to finally feel like the kinks are getting worked out and the beginning of a rhythm is being found. Thanks for joining us on this journey!


**UPDATED TO ADD: Sorry about the confusion surrounding what kind of garment this is! I wrote a clarification post with line drawings here. Thank you all for your response about testing! We will go through all the responses and organize what sizes we have and what we still need and will get back to you within a few days. Thanks!**

amity bow | Lolita Patterns