There's been a bit of discussion here and there about wardrobing; how many of what kind of garments should be in Every Woman's Closet. But for a while I've been pondering a variation on that...how many pattern styles of what garments should I have in the cabinet? On the whole, how many skirt patterns do I *really* need? How many pants patterns? How many jacket patterns? You get the picture. There are a number of 'wardrobe' or 'ensemble' patterns that I have that have one outstanding feature -- usually the jacket-- and then a pair of ordinary pants or an unremarkable skirt, for which I have patterns out the ears. How many patterns of straight-leg back waist zip pants with a waistband do I need? Only one...or maybe even zero, since I don't like back zip pants. But because I like that jacket...and that jacket...and that jacket...I've got a bunch of back-zip pants and skirt patterns.
Nancy Erikson has an interesting concept with her Fashion Sewing Group patterns; she publishes basic patterns...a fitted jacket, a boxy jacket, a knit top and cardigan, a coat, a skirt and pleated pants (I'm forgetting something...)and then teaches how to alter these basics for various styles. She's published a couple of books, also printed some 'add on' patterns for the jacket, and frequently writes directions for modifying the patterns for different looks in the by-paid-subscription -only newsletter that she publishes every other month. So the sewing customer purchases and fits the basic pattern, then uses that as a basis for new styles, rather than buying and fitting another pattern.
It does have its appeal! I've got 4 of her patterns and have made up two so far (I still need to tweak the pants pattern a little), but I'm really not convinced it's less work to modify a pair of tapered, pleated pants with a waistband into a flat front straight leg contour-waist style than it is to fit a new straight-let, flat front contour-waist pattern, once fitting techniques are learned (and they have to be learned whichever way you go...unless both patterns would fit right out of the envelope). I hope to get at least one more of those patterns -- the fitted jacket -- made up and tweaked this spring. Right now, the holdup is that I *know* what I need to do to, say, a Vogue jacket to get it to fit but I haven't gone beyond generalities on what I will need to do to the FSG jacket. New pattern line, new fitting learning curve.... But I really believe that once I get over that hump, I'll use that jacket pattern quite a bit.
Anyway, I think the Big 4 could learn a little from Ms Erikson...think of the reduction of printing costs if they stopped reprinting the same basic blocks for all those coordinate patterns and just printed the pattern for the garment that was truly unique. I probably wouldn't buy fewer patterns...I'd still get the fabulous jacket for which I have no similar pattern...but I'd have less redundancy in the cabinet.