NYC Part 2: Touring the McCall Pattern Company

25 Aug

Ok, y’all, time for part 2 of my NYC journey – touring the offices of the McCall Pattern Company! Whoop whoop!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Before I get too far into this post, there are a couple of things I’d like to address, as I’ve had some emails and comments about this:
– The McCall Pattern Company did NOT fly me into NY to visit their offices. Umm… I wish? I paid for my plane ticket all by myself, sorry!
– I did not come to NY specifically to visit The McCall Pattern Company – I was here to teach a workshop at Workroom Social. As soon as I announced my impending visit, I was emailed by Meg from McCall’s and offered an invite to tour the offices while I was there.
– Meg is the new Social Media Pro at McCall’s. If you’ve talked to anyone from McCall via Twitter, Instagram, their blog, etc – you were likely talking to Meg. I personally have known Meg for a couple of years now – well before she went into working for McCall’s – which is why she reached out to me to visit while I was in the city. Much to some the butthurt anonymous commentary on my blog, McCall doesn’t have a grand scheme of shutting me down (I mean, let’s be real you guys – I’m not hurting their sales when I post commentaries. There are a WHOLE lot of other sewists out there who don’t read my blog/don’t read blogs/don’t care about my opinion on Koos Van Den Akker. They still buy the patterns – some of the traffic coming directly from my blog. So there’s that.). They simply wanted to reach out and let me see the company, so, (in their own words) that when I’m talking my shit, at least I’m getting the facts straight πŸ˜‰
– I’m sure there are people who are thinking about what a sellout I am right now. That’s totally fine. You do you! I got over that whole ~sooo underground anti-coporation~ shit when I was like 17. DGAF.

With all that being said – OMG! Longtime dream – accomplished! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to lurk around the offices of this pattern company (as much as I poke fun at them, it doesn’t excuse the fact that we are still talking about dream job territory here. Nevermind that I’m not a patternmaker in any sense of the imagination, nor do I plan to become one), so this was an absolute treat for me! Full disclosure – I went into the offices with every intention of taking lots of photos (hence my phone in my hand in, well, every picture haha. Wish that dress had some pockets!), but since I never end up doing what I planned, all the photos you see in this post were taking by Meg. Thanks, Meg!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

I got the grand tour, you guys – I saw every department, met sooo many people (except the CEO, who was unfortunately in a meeting when I arrived. Oh well! Next time!), and a few of them even knew who I was! So crazy!

One of the biggest things I learned was just how freakin’ small this company is! Sure, they had a hell of a lot more employees than any of the indie designers we know and love – but it’s not like there are thousands of them, scattered across the world in giant corporate offices, with a big fat CEO smoking a cigar in his silk bed jacket and laughing all the way to the bank (I mean, I know I just said I never actually met the CEO but I’m just gonna ASSUME here, you guys). Everything is done in-house in NYC – they produce the patterns for McCall’s, Butterick, Vogue, Kwik Sew, and even do Vogue Pattern Magazine. Each individual department is very small – some only having a couple of employees at most. It’s also one of those companies where everyone is basically family, which I just think is really nice and feels good to be around. Everyone was extremely friendly and clearly very happy to be there.

There are a LOT of rooms and departments – the fabric library (where they keep zillions of swatches, plus buttons and trims and notions and, oh god, it was heaven in there), drafting, dressmaking, customer service, in-house photography (complete with racks of clothing and even more racks of shoes aieeee), etc etc. All in all, I think I was there for about 3 hours – flitting around, chatting everyone up, getting all grabby hands on the various fabrics (and apologizing every few minutes. Forreal, my mom hates shopping with me because I’m incapable of not touching things. This is why I hate museums and love flea markets, haha).

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour
Checking out the fabric room and perusing the samples was one of my favorite parts. Sooo much eye-candy!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

This look of wide-eyed wonderment was pretty much plastered to my face the entire time I was in there, ha!

Another highlight of my tour was getting to finally meet the famed Vogue Pattern Designer, Carlos Correa (I didn’t get a photo with him, but you can see him chatting about some of the designer pieces in this McCall blog post). The very first thing he said to me was, “I LOVE YOUR BLOG!” hahahahaa!! Apparently, he reads it and loves the pattern round-ups (and I reckon he’s reading it right now, so HI CARLOS!). I spent a long time in his office, talking about the pattern and their styling vs how they look in real life, and saw some of the new designs for next season as well. I can’t say much about those, but what I can say is I kept going, “Oooh! I want one of those!” haha!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

I also stopped in the Vogue Pattern Magazine offices, to chat with the Editor and LURK THOSE DESIGNER DRESSES.

Did you know that the outfits on the Vogue American Designer pattern envelopes are actual designer garments? That was news to me! Take Vogue 1409, the Saber-Toothed Tiger dress, for instance. This dress literally came from the Donna Karan Collection – and McCall’s based the pattern off it, then used the actual dress in the photoshoot. It wasn’t sewn by them, nor did they choose the fabric (since it’s from Donna Karan). If you look inside, you’ll see all the tags – including the original price tag. This is much better explained on the McCall Pattern Blog, but that’s the general gist.

McCall Pattern Company Tour

With that being said, the next order of business was to try on the $10,000 Ralph Rucci coat.

Me: If it fits, that means I get to keep it, right?
Everyone else: lolololololol

Damn, that thing was a work of ART! I know I hated on the arm holes at one point (that’s such a random thing to hate on, ha), but seeing it in person absolutely made me change my mind (and I still think it looks weird on the envelope photo, maybe it’s just the way the model is standing?). The inside is amazing – all bound seams and even some hand stitches! Apparently there’s a whole Pinterest board for lurking the inside of the designer garments, so we can all drool from far away.

After that, it was obviously time to play dress-up. Because, duh.

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour

In another Ralph Rucci original (pattern is Vogue 1404), featuring the wind machine πŸ˜‰ Also, those shoes are like 4 sizes too big.

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour

Obviously I had to try on the Guy Laroche purple nightmare (that is actually silk chaurmeuse) (pattern is Vogue 1416. The sleeves were cracking me up to no end.

McCall Pattern Company Tour

(side note: holy shit I need to touch up my hair color)

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Ughhh WANT THIS COAT (pattern is Vogue 1419)

I had an amazing time visiting the offices and meeting all the wonderful people who work so hard to produce all these patterns (whether you personally love them or not, I think we can all agree that the sheer amount of patterns they put out every year is quite impressive!). I did bring up some personal beefs – the excessive ease, the styling situation – as I feel like these are areas that do need some improvement. My opinions were definitely heard, and some things were already in the process of being addressed before I even brought them up, thanks to customer feedback. The McCall Pattern Company is absolutely interested in what the consumer has to say, and they’re making a huge effort to reach out to the online sewing community and bridge that gap. I know it’s really easy to hate on the ~big guy~ for just being there (especially when it’s a faceless corporation), but at the end of the day – I want to support the sewing community and it’s future! I’m absolutely invested in doing whatever I can to bring home sewists more options, and that includes supporting the Big 4. It was such a treat to visit the offices and get to know the people who make things happen there.

If you have a question or a complaint about a pattern from the McCall Pattern Company – contact them! They don’t know there is a problem unless you tell them, and their customer service department is extremely dedicated when it comes to helping. Follow their blog to learn more about the company, Like their Facebook page, lurk their Pinterest. Don’t be afraid to reach out and chat them up if you have a comment or concern. I’d love to see the gap close between the Big 4 and Indie pattern companies – I mean, we’re all in this for the love of sewing, right?

McCall Pattern Company Tour
(me hanging in the styling room. I was told to pretend I was fixing my hair – I promise I don’t sit at every available mirror and preen, haha! Although my hair did look really good that day. Minus the whole I need-to-redye-it situation)

Now, I can’t stop thinking about that Ralph Rucci coat…
So, like, if I paint it... I have to sew it, right? ❀️
I am definitely going to sew the shit out of that pattern. Just need to find my perfect red wool.


117 Responses to “NYC Part 2: Touring the McCall Pattern Company”

  1. Red Point Tailor August 25, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    Lucky girl! How wonderful! I have seen your picture on the Vogue blog but yours are much better! You are really enjoying this! So now I am waiting for this coat and pictures of you wearing it πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      You and me both! I am DYING to make this pattern because I think it will be really interesting! Just need to find a good fabric πŸ™‚

  2. Katy August 25, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    Gah, I had so much fun reading this post and living vicariously through you! The wind machine photos are my favorite by far. πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      i think the wind machine might have been a highlight. I felt like I was in a Mariah Carey music video, which is never ever a bad thing as far as I’m concerned.

  3. gingermakes August 25, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    So glad you got to visit! I loved checking out their offices- it’s like Willy Wonka’s factory for sewing nerds!

  4. zilredloh August 25, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    How wonderful to get that awesome tour! Ginger – yes!!! Willy Wonka tour for sewing nerds hit the nail on the head. hehehe

    I totally agree, it’s easy to hate the big 4 since they are faceless corporations – but as you shared it’s really not true. It would help for the big4 to become a bit more transparent through social media & blogging so we see the faces behind the company & how they do things. Like you said, we’re all in this for the love of sewing & fashion. πŸ˜€

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:29 am #

      They are definitely doing a great job of being more active in the social media world and interacting with customers (as well as listening to what we have to say!). Things like that make me love companies, regardless of their size. And whatever I can do to help spread the love of sewing and fashion – I’m happy to help!

  5. lisa g August 25, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    so, so jealous! of the big 4, mccalls is what i tend to sew most often. i’ve loved seeing them reach out to the sewing community, and have learned a lot about their process. must have been a blast to lurk their offices!

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:29 am #

      Oh man, it was AMAZING! I want to go back and never leave, haha!

  6. Anonymous August 25, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    Okay – I’m going to be the weird one in the group that hopes they don’t make a lot of changes.

    I’ve spent a lot of time getting to figure out what alterations I need to make to a pattern to make it fit me. I still have a while to go on pants, but with everything else I know immediately how high up to raise the waist, reduce the shoulder, etc.

    I’d hate to start all over again. 😦

    • Kaci August 25, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

      I totally thought this, too. I mean, really, the main beef is that if you are starting out, the size based on body measurements is probably going to be too large and every single sewing blogger in the world suggests picking the next size down. And then you learn to refine from there.
      As long as I know the finished measurements for bust, waist and hips, I’m happy. Especially when it’s on the envelope.

      • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:33 am #

        See, I size down like 4 sizes! It’s ridiculous! I know I wear my garments very fitted, but it’s crazy to me that I’m sewing something that is based on a waist shape that is a good 4″ smaller than my actual waist size (but the amount of ease means it fits me perfectly). And, you know, as long as the finished measurements are on the envelope, I can figure things out from there. My main beef is that the amount of ease means I get sized out of a lot of patterns, even though I’m far from being ~omg so tiny~, you know?

        • Kaci August 27, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

          Ooh, I didn’t think of that. Truly, though, I think you ARE tiny, at least when compared to the population of America in general. I measure a 20 and I always sew either 18/16 and sometimes even a 14 (especially in knits or a sm/med/lrg pattern). That is nuts! The closest I can empathise size-wise is that some patterns nest from 16 to 18W (18W is larger than 20) and if I’m really excited about the design I have to either grade up or down to an 18.

          I do stay away from some more advanced designs, not because I don’t have the skills, but because I have no idea how to alter the pattern pieces because they’re unusual and they don’t have alteration lines.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:31 am #

      I don’t think they are going to change the patterns or the blocks they are based off of (although I’d love to see the sizing numbers change to something more modern, again, I doubt that will happen since it’s so ingrained in our minds what our Big 4 sizes are at this point). My main concern was that they at least print the finished measurements on the envelope itself, so people like me don’t have to rip out the tissue in the middle of the fabric store to locate a bust point to find what size to buy. Actually, I think they are already starting to print that info on the back of the envelope, so moot point anyway! πŸ™‚

  7. Kerry August 25, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    Looks like a fascinating place to visit and a nice company to work for. I like that they contacted you when they heard you’d be in NYC – being so outspoken about their patterns, I bet they wait to see what you’re going to make of each season! πŸ™‚
    I know it’s a bit rude to shoehorn in my own blog here, but a few years ago I did an interview on my blog with a lady called Helene who worked for the Reader Mail pattern company in NYC from 1978 to 1983, who produced a range of mail order patterns including Marion Martin. That was totally fascinating as it was such a weird timewarp and I’ve always been interested since then to find out about what a modern pattern company was like to work for.
    (These are the links to the interview: )

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      I don’t think that’s rude at all! Thanks so much for sharing these links – that shit was super fascinating!

  8. carolinascallin August 25, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    What a great opportunity! So glad you got to tour. Very interesting about the designer dresses being used – did not know that! Also, I’d pictured a huge place, too…! How neat that it’s like a little family πŸ™‚

    Can’t wait to see your coat!

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:35 am #

      Yeah, the designer clothes part blew my mind (and then made me happy that I actually got to touch them – my first couture! Woohoo!)

  9. sewdooley August 25, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Oh, how lucky you are to have the tour and meet the people behind the name. It was obviously enlightening. I still love your comments and the purple blouse makes me laugh too. It shows there is a wide range of tastes and needs. I had the opportunity to be part of a focus group with McCalls last year at the American Sewing Expo and I can confirm your point, they are very interested in the concerns of the customer. They listened and made changes. When I use their patterns now, I think of the small group of people behind the pattern envelope. No judgments from me, keep being yourself.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:36 am #

      Man, I’d love to be part of a focus group! How cool is that! I agree with you – even if I don’t care for a big chunk of the patterns they release, they *do* cater to a wide range of tastes and needs, and I think that is pretty impressive in itself (especially considering how many patterns they release over the course of a year).

  10. jne4sl August 25, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    So completely jealous, what an opportunity. Sewing provides way to much time to think about minutia, if they let me in there I don’t think I’d ever run out of questions. Also, I don’t doubt for a second that Vogue knows exactly how many people bounce of your posts and make a purchase. I know I’ve done it and I also know they’ve secured gobs of my money even at $4 a pop.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      Ha, well, that’s fine with me! If I can help push them some sales so they stay in business, that just means more pattern buying options for me in the future πŸ™‚

  11. onewarpedengineer August 25, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    I am so falling in love with that coat, even though the idea of sewing it scares the crap out of me. When you get to it, please do a sew-along or really in depth post. Glad you enjoyed your visit. I’m with the other folks. So jealous.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:38 am #

      I definitely want to do some posts on sewing the coat! I have a feeling it’s going to be a fairly intense project, even without the tailoring that I usually add to my coats.

  12. Tilly Buttons August 25, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Omigawd omigawd you got to play with the WIND MACHINE?? That must’ve been a lifetime goal in itself, non? Looks like you had so much fun!

    And in case you’re wondering, I met the CEO recently and, while he wasn’t smoking a cigar or wearing a silk bed jacket, he does like his cocktails… which is a good thing, obvs πŸ˜‰

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:39 am #

      RIGHT?! Channeling my inner Mariah Carey was totally a lifetime goal in itself, no lie haha!

      Always gotta love a man who loves his cocktails! Although, TILLY, I’m so curious now as to why you met the CEO…! I think we need a Skype gossip sesh, stat!

  13. maddie August 25, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    So amazingly jealous!

  14. Trice August 25, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    I am jealous you got to visit McCall, but a happy for you jealous.
    I don’t understand why people care to email or comment to you stuff like that. Not even their business, seriously. You keep doing you love.

    Anyways, I would have totally asked for a job their, even not being qualified. lol Indeed, dream job.

    I really like the yellow dress on you. And that coat in red will be completely awesome.

    Glad that you had a great trip.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:40 am #

      Oh, I get the weirdest emails and comments about stuff like that. I think just the open frankness of my blog kind of opens it up to that. Which, I mean, I’d rather have someone ask than speculate and gossip, so you can’t be too angry about having the ability to set the record straight πŸ™‚

  15. Bec August 25, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Oh wow! What a fabulous opportunity! I don’t understand the haters,

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:41 am #

      Haters are always gonna find something to hate! It’s their nature!

  16. Catherine Abalone Water-Tiger Saxton August 25, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    You know why I love your blog? IT’S REAL!!! Some of us would have never started sewing without McCall’s etc. Some day, I’m gonna meet my daughter that lives in Houston, in Nashville, and I’m gonna take you to lunch! I hope. Thanks for keeping it real and for the inspiration. PS I wish I had read your tutorial on matching plaids before I sewed my “Birthday Slash Summer Garden Party Dress.” Have a lovely day.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:42 am #

      Aw, thank you! If you come to Nashville, I will TOTALLY get some lunch with ya! πŸ˜€

      • Catherine Abalone Water-Tiger Saxton August 27, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

        Perfect! I’m headed to Los Angeles tomorrow for a “fabric field trip” I hope I can sleep tonight. PS My adventure will include Mood Fabrics and I’ll let you know if I find any red wool for your coat. πŸ™‚

  17. SeeKatSew August 25, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Wow what an experience! Lucky you. That’s great that the company really does listen to customer feedback. I really hope they change their styling. Using actual designer garments explains those odd fabric choices. I really wonder though who buys those patterns and how many the company really sells. I guess it’s like trendy gelato places that have weird flavours like onion and wasabi – part of the experience is looking at them and saying ‘what the hell are they thinking making those??” and never trying them. (Or making the mistake of trying the garlic flavour and regretting it forever.)

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:45 am #

      Oh, even the ones that we think are ridiculous get crazy sold. They showed me some of their best-selling patterns from the last collection, and it was all pieces that I had personally spewed word vomit all over because I thought they were so ridiculous and awful. Just because we don’t like it, doesn’t mean there isn’t a big market for it regardless!

  18. Bec August 25, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    Oh wow! What a fabulous opportunity! I don’t understand the haters, they must be jealous! I think there is room for everyone in the sewing world. As much as I love indie patterns, I also want to be able to go into a shop, flick through a massive pattern book and know that more than likely there will be what I’m looking for.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:46 am #

      Can’t blame ’em for being jealous, I’m a little jealous of myself, almost. I mean, I got to play with a WIND MACHINE! ha! And I hear ya on the virtues of the Big 4 – love being able to look through the giant pattern catalogs and know there is *something* in there that is exactly what I’m looking for!

  19. Tamara Jenner August 25, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    What a fun opportunity you had! I adore that coat on you and the shoes rocked! I can so see you making it up in red wool πŸ™‚

  20. Adrienne August 25, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    Thanks for sharing that experience with us! Loved reading about it!

  21. ShanniLoves August 25, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Nice to hear they are working hard to voice customer’s concerns. I love that they’ve become more active in social media recently and are interested in what we all are sewing. WTG Meg! Thanks for sharing you day. And thanks for keeping it real!

  22. ThreadTime August 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    What a fun post. Thanks for sharing. I know Indie patterns are all the rage, but I admit to being a die hard Vogue fan. I learned to sew on them and the love affair continues.

    Having said that, I TOTALLY agree with your assessment of the pattern photo for the Ralph Rucci coat. Maybe the model is the wrong size for the jacket?? I’ve seen it made up (can’t remember which blog) and it looked FABULOUS!! The fit made all the difference.

    Keep sharing those opinions, girl. Don’t hold back. πŸ˜€

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:48 am #

      I love them both! Indie & Big 4 both have a time and a place in my sewing life (and I agree, Vogue is the best!). Also, now I want to look up that Ralph Rucci coat that was made by another blogger. Damn, they obviously sewed it up really fast!

  23. theknittingarchaeologist August 25, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    You, madam, are awesome. You didn’t even need to respond, but you did so in perfect fashion!

    And, um, don’t touch up your hair. I love the shades of blue and blue-grey. I’m actually getting ready to dye my hair either that midnight blue or a turquoise. My hair is basically a step away from black, so I’m trying to get some moisture into it so I have hair afterwards πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:49 am #

      Ha! I think it looks better in photos than it does in real life πŸ™‚ It’s reeeal uneven and I’m sure all the stylists out there are cringing whenever they see it. But OOH you are gonna look so good with blue hair! Omg! Can’t wait to see it πŸ˜€

  24. Vicki Halliday August 25, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Hi, I know you don’t need me, or anyone, to say this, but I wanted to. I admire your attitude to the low blows you recieve in comments, etc, I wish I knew how to DGAF some of the time. It’s a shame not everyone can enjoy your blog & your sewing adventures, I defo live vicariously through them! Don’t ever stop! Unless you want to, I guess. Xx

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:54 am #

      Aw, no, I always always appreciate hearing something that like! Thank you so much! β™₯

      As far as not giving a fuck… it’s a lot easier when the low blow is coming from some anonymous rando on the internet (like, come one, leave a freaking name and OWN that shit!) who’s mad for some ridiculous reason.

  25. loribeilby August 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    Thank you for giving the big 4 some love. They have served my well for 4 decades. Yes, there is dorky styling and graphics, but many of the patterns have good bones.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:54 am #

      Very true! Anyone who can look past the styling can easily see that there are a lot of gems in those patterns!

  26. weefrills August 25, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Fun tour!

  27. Grace August 25, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    So insightful, I always thought they were giant multinationals run by ‘fat cat’ bosses, happy to be mistaken

  28. Heather M August 25, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    Thanks! I’ve been impressed with their response to my comments.

    • Heather M August 25, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

      And adds fuel to my fire of visiting McCall/Vogue and the Steinway factory on my next visit to NYC.

  29. ekabby111 August 25, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Whatever, Sell Out.

    I want to roll around in that coat forever and ever and ever.

  30. nx44 August 25, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Great post. I don’t really get why people are so anti the big four. They gave us options pre indie and to be honest I’ve had more problems fitting indie garments than I have big four. I’m with you and think all pattern companies are pretty fab for representing different styles. You are seriously luckily to have that opportunity and you look great in the yellow dress!

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      It’s cool to hate the big guy, I guess. I mean, I get it, because I’ve been there before as an angsty teenager – but it’s not like they are the Walmart of sewing patterns. They have a great company and work environment and they are far from putting the Indies out of business, or anything like that.

  31. Kilkenny Cat August 25, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    I love mccalls patterns. However I love love love your posts about McCalls patterns even more. Really interesting to see inside their offices. Also your Tennessee Bell witch is one of the most frightening stories I have ever read. We had a much nicer witch in Kilkenny (Ireland) she liked liquor boys and good times. Cant wait to see what you get up to in London.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      Ooh, I like your ghost better! She sounds like fun!

  32. Danica August 25, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    You are so lucky! I had no idea it was such a small operation. I also imagined a company with floors and floors of employees and a big-shot CEO. Ha! When people say “Big 4,” it sound sounds so menacing, and impersonal, but I guess it’s not.

    Most of what I sew comes from the (unfairly) maligned “Big 4.” I actually like most of their patterns and know (pretty much) how much I need to adjust them to make them fit adequately. I really appreciate your post and your photos. Like many others have said, I enjoyed living vicariously through you on that one.

  33. Molly Lindell August 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    Sounds like you got some snarky stuff from jealous or overzealous people. Take no notice of these anonymous pissants. I’m enjoying reading about your trip and most of us don’t give a damn about the petty shit.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      Oh yeah, you’re probably right about that. I just wanted to make it clear since, if one person asks, that means there are more people who are wondering – and I definitely don’t want anyone to think that McCalls ~bought me out~ or anything weird like that, you know?

  34. Kathleen August 25, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Talk about a kid in a candy shop! You should negotiate a commission on up coming sales of the pattern for the Ralph Rucci coat cause after you sew it, we’ll all be following suit.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      ha, that would be nice! πŸ™‚

  35. walldruggie August 25, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    You didn’t mention a “sewing room”, i.e. where people actually sew up the garments to be photographed for the pattern envelopes. Do they do that and did you see it? That’s my dream job except I doubt sewing pattern samples would pay enough to live within an hour’s commute of the offices.

    • Philippa August 25, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

      Priceless! Love this post!

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 10:00 am #

      Oh yeah, they had one of those! It was right next to the pattern drafting area – instead of desks with computers, they had desks with sewing machines! DREAM JOB FORREAL.

  36. onedabbles August 25, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Great visit and post. Thanks for sharing. Indie pattern makers can do that because Big 4 do so much – everyone contributes their thing and we can all learn from each other. Your sketch painting of the coat is wonderful. I love seeing creativity bubble up. Did you ever think you’d be doing all this when you started sewing?! Enjoy!

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      I always dreamt of visiting the pattern offices but i never thought it would actually happen! It’s pretty cool how things work out πŸ™‚

  37. jne4sl August 25, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    So now I’m curious on your take of the fit of the designer originals on you even if it’s a little moot given the pattern fit could be different. The yellow dress is amazing, they should have let you walk out with it. The Rucci coat, sleeves too long, hem maybe longer than intended. The armholes do look better on you than the pattern envelope, but would you alter the scye to be shorter? The waist fit is amazing but probably could hit you a little higher. The purple blouse, you win there. Clearly you’re swimming in it. Still from the envelope or runway shots I might have believed there was something salvagable but those sleeves are an extravegant waste of fabric, I can’t imagine why they exist perhaps the pants are acceptable. Anyway, can’t wait to see your red coat.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 10:04 am #

      Well it’s hard to say anything about the fit of the designer pieces since they are generally samples – and thus, sample-sized (the purple blouse, on the other hand, was strangely a much larger size than sample size. I think it was a 10? It was obviously WAY too big on me!). And since they are off-the-rack, they aren’t sewn to any particular person’s measurements – which, as you pointed out, is why the sleeves and hem are so long on that coat. I actually don’t think I would change anything else about the fit of the coat when I make it, because I like the waist fit and even the arm hole feels and looks fine. That being said, I’ll still make a muslin because I have no idea if they added a bunch of ease or what to the pattern. Just because the designer one fits decent doesn’t mean the pattern version will!

      • jne4sl August 26, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

        That would be frustrating if the sample were so close to perfect on you and no actual pattern fit close to the same. I have this superstition that if I just cut the size 10 they may not have tinkered with it too much, but I know that’s baseless. I’m surprised you didn’t try on the saber tooth.

  38. Lisa A August 25, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    SELL OUT!!!!! Just kidding. I think its so awesome you got to tour their company, seriously! Thats not something most of us will even get to do, and its really awesome to see the inner workings of a company like that. Looking at their samples would have been so overwhelming for me and I dont blame you for touching everything!
    It looks like you have come so far and done some even more awesome things since your days of posting on craftster!

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 10:05 am #

      Yes! I never would have thought of Craftster as a jumping-off point for what has turned into a VERY intense sewing hobby (I mean that in the best way, obviously!), but things have definitely taken a turn for the awesome πŸ™‚

  39. Velda August 25, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    Great Post! I think it’s funny how you imagine these companies to be such huge operations with millions of employees. I toured the Wolf Dress Form company and its a mom and pop shop with like 20 employees.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 10:06 am #

      Aw, that sounds so adorable! I love Wolf dress forms, I love that their company is so tiny πŸ˜€

  40. Bella August 26, 2014 at 1:12 am #

    People asked you the weirdest questions! I don’t think you’re a sellout at all! The tour looks like so much fun. It’s so true and funny how businesses can appear huge from the outside. Thanks for this insight!

  41. Bethy August 26, 2014 at 6:30 am #

    Droooool. I have been loving the increased social media presence from McCall and now I double love your bridge-the-gap attitude about this opportunity. Thanks so much for sharing and I look forward to continued love/hate/snark/joy of any and all patterns out there, B4 or otherwise! πŸ™‚

  42. Sonja August 26, 2014 at 7:18 am #

    I love your lovely tour and have to admit: I’m jealous ;), but in the good way. And you must do something with your drawing talent, it rocks!

  43. Annabelle August 26, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    I think it is so awesome that the McCall Pattern Company welcomed you into their offices – especially after all your smack talk! The fact that Carlos Correa loves your blog is so cool. Thanks for sharing about your visit.

    • LLADYBIRD August 26, 2014 at 10:07 am #

      They were all so cool! They are definitely good sports with a lovely sense of humor πŸ™‚

  44. wundermary August 26, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Ha, haters gonna hate!
    I’m so glad you got that tour; how fun! It’s awesome they reached out to you, best foot forward!

  45. CarlosCorrea August 26, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    Hi Lauren! This is Carlos from Vogue Patterns and I just want to say it was a pleasure meeting you as well. I am a fan of your blog because of your honest and humorous critiques so please never change! BTW, you looked amazing in Ralph Rucci!

    • LLADYBIRD August 27, 2014 at 6:57 am #

      Aw, this comment makes me so happy! Thanks, Carlos! β™₯

  46. SewSouthLondon August 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    O.M.G. That looked like such a FUN day out. I feel like I’ve just been on a sewing vacation! You lucky lady.

  47. powell2317 August 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    LOVED this post. So fascinating to peek inside. Thanks for sharing

  48. Abigail August 26, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    That looks like an exciting and very informative day! I’m jealous of that coat!

  49. Nicole August 26, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    I would need a week to soak all that awesomeness in! How did you find the time to get through each department? As for the coat- should we count on that being your yearly-coat-sew for this winter? πŸ˜€

    • LLADYBIRD August 27, 2014 at 6:59 am #

      Well, I had a couple people (gently)ushering me around, so I couldn’t really linger if I wanted to (which, let’s be honest – it was a normal workday, so that miiiight have been a little creepy to have me hovering around with my mouth hanging open, haha!). And yes, I think the Ralph Rucci will be my coat for 2014! The more I think about it, the more I want to sew it!

      • Nicole August 28, 2014 at 3:14 am #

        Bwahahaha! That was the most awesome mental picture ever, except for the poor fabrics that were getting drooled on… πŸ˜‰

  50. Caroline Joynson August 27, 2014 at 1:01 am #

    Yipee; I have just signed up for your zips and buttons tutorial at Tilly HQ’s in London in November! Let’s zip those buttons like crazy!

    • LLADYBIRD August 27, 2014 at 6:59 am #

      AWESOME! Can’t wait to meet and sew with you!:D

  51. 66stitches August 27, 2014 at 3:12 am #

    “I’d love to see the gap close between the Big 4 and Indie pattern companies”
    This is a really interesting comment and I’d love to know exactly what you mean by it. In a way, I think that blogs like yours are creating that gap, when most of us are just out there sewing what we like. I’m not a hater by any means, I think your blog is great (and I love a scathing review as much as anyone). But as someone who’s sewn big-4 patterns I adore, and indie total disasters (and vice versa) I do think the “gap” is pretty arbitrary.

    • LLADYBIRD August 27, 2014 at 7:07 am #

      You’re right, I fully admit that I was one of the gap-creators – and in an intentional way, at least at one point. I still think there is definitely a gap, at least in my sewing circle, where you have Team Indie and Team Big 4 (not much different than, say, Team Apple vs Team PC. Both products are good, but both parties are diehard fans of their brand. Actually, I think Big 4 and PC users kind of dgaf and it’s the Apple & Indie that are rapid fangirls, at least in my experience hahaha). Think about how the indie designers (and customers) will band together and support one another, even though they are technically “competition,” but you rarely see them pull in any Big 4 (except in the case of OOP vintage patterns), nor do you see much interaction coming the other way, from Big 4 to indie. These are just my observations, and you’re right that it’s probably arbitrary. I guess I just want to see us come together as a whole, across the board, instead of having each side that we stick to. You might not see it on your end, but there are definitely some Indie-Sew-Or-Die sewers out there (again, I can say this because I was totally one of them! haha!).

  52. Colleen August 27, 2014 at 7:48 am #

    My mother died two years ago. She was the kind of sewist who made her friend’s wedding gown (train and all) at the age of 19. My whole childhood and adolescence was spent with her in fabric stores looking at McCalls and Simplicity. I can never hate on the Big 4. They are my bond with my mother and my life. I do wish they would change their sizing, though, to conform to the Indy pattern companies….

    • LLADYBIRD August 28, 2014 at 7:17 am #

      I’m so sorry for your loss β™₯ Thank you for such a lovely comment! I totally understand the bond of looking at the big pattern catalogs with your mother – that was a big part of my childhood too πŸ™‚

    • laurajane August 28, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      Colleen I feel the same way! I lost my mom about two years ago too. She was almost 90 years old and had taught me to sew when I was young. We spent many happy hours in fabric stores, through my teens, looking at pattern books and planning projects. I still miss her so much! I think of her often when I sew, and always when I look at patterns. What a lovely memory. And what a lovely thing to share. Thank you, Colleen. And thank you Lauren for this amazing post. What a dream day! I wanna make that yellow dress. And the coat! You look amazing, as always!

  53. Ally August 27, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    McCall’s Instagram feed has actually given me hope for them! I have bought a couple patterns from those suggestions! But fo real. They stepped up their social media game hard. Go Meg go!

    • LLADYBIRD August 28, 2014 at 7:18 am #

      Dude, their Instagram is so much fun now! Awesome things happening in that company right now:D

  54. Karrie August 27, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    That is SO AWESOME. I was kinda upset at the beginning of the post. Of all of the things that popped in my head when I saw your other blog post with that pic, those mean things didn’t even come close to what i was thinking!!! I haven’t read the comments on your other post so I’m not even going to talk about that, but I really look up to you as a beginner sewer (in garments) and I believe that you know what you are talking about. I LOVE how much you are honest. Seriously. I know that you aren’t hating on the people or doing it to be mean, you are hating on the garment. And that’s why there are so.many clothing stores to make all of us happy. I’m super picky about what I like and wear, and my tastes/thoughts are a lot more pickier than yours most of the time! And you are hilarious.

    I think it’s such an awesome thing that you got to do! I know that you were teaching a class, so I didn’t think that is why you were going to NY, but I’ll be honest, and tell you that one of my thoughts was: “NO WAY!!!” I was kinda hoping that you were going to either release some patterns, or be involved in the process for you to come out with a mini-collection/collection of cute stuff that people our age would love to wear. Or I guess I should say: young women with similar tastes πŸ™‚ I’m kinda bummed that wasn’t what it was, because I would be so behind it!!

    I think you hair looks great in those pics, you are worrying for nothing πŸ™‚ If they don’t collaborate with you soon, they should definitely ask you back as a model! I don’t want to be a creeper here, but you look so pretty!! I love your outdoor pics, but you look like a model with the professional lighting.

    One thing I love about this community (sewing/quilting), is that I get to see people’s dreams really come true. I started as a quilter, but before I got done with my first quilt, I found out there was a ton of women my age making their own (super cute) dresses/clothes, and have been wanting to do it ever since. I don’t have the fitting thing down quite well, but I’m planning on taking a class next time one opens up in my area. I get your blog emailed to me, and you are definitely a big inspiration. I just wanted to give you some positivity for the negativity. Seriously, people are just jealous. We all know what it means when a person is hating, but still people do it. It’s too bad that they don’t have the balls to say it to your face. SO. I can’t wait until you go back. McCalls: If you are reading this, PLEASE do yourself a favor and collaborate with this lovely lady! Even if she just sketches something someone should made. This girl knows what she’s doing and talking about. You could be the first of the Big 4 to bring your company to the 21st century!!!


    • LLADYBIRD August 28, 2014 at 7:22 am #

      Karrie, thank you so much for your lovely comment! I got to see this right when I woke up and it was an awesome way to start my day πŸ™‚ So THANK YOU!! β™₯

      As far as me collaborating with the McCall Pattern Company… well, I don’t design or draft patterns (not a skill I possess, sadly!), there’s not a lot of room there. But I’d love to have a hand in other areas of the business, so we will see πŸ™‚

  55. mertxelasierra August 28, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    Lovely post, here! Really interesting. And it is a really lovely coat. I am curious to know if the comercial pattern can lead to such a beatiful realization as the sample you tried on. How much in on the pattern and how much is on the sewist expertise. I would love to watch you make it!!!

  56. Kelsey August 28, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Where did you get the shoes you’re wearing with the cherry dress? I love them.

    • LLADYBIRD August 28, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

      I bought them on the sale rack at DSW… they brand is GH Bass & Co. Hope that helps πŸ™‚

  57. Kelly August 28, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    I love this post!! The big companies seem rather ancient, faceless, and monolithic, and it’s so neat to get a glimpse into what it’s really like.

  58. Tasha @ By Gum, By Golly August 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    GAH, all your New Yorkness looked amazing!! I think it’s so much fun that you got to go their office, and even play dress up! It’s great seeing the inside of something that *can* feel a bit nameless/faceless. And haters…stupid. You rock on with amazing jet-settin’ sewin’ self. πŸ˜‰

  59. Rebecca August 30, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    Can’t wait to see that coat, especially as it’s going to look amazing in red.

  60. jumliana September 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    I looooove this post!
    feels like we were there with you.
    I applause you being so respectful, aware and clear with your thoughts and words.
    I love this!

    thank you!

  61. sewcookgardenrepeat September 11, 2014 at 6:52 am #

    Wow, that looks like so much fun!!! Glad you enjoyed yourself, especially wearing DESIGNER FREAKIN CLOTHING!

  62. Duffle September 21, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    OMFG I am sooo jealous!! I would love to have a day trip to McCalls!! Tell them they would make a fortune doing tours for (sewing) tourists lol!!!! oh and f*** (i can’t commit to a full on curse sorry!) the nay sayers, some people get stuck on one way of thinking and can be too proud/ignorant to try and see another point of view, delighted to see that you are not that way inclined πŸ™‚ love your blog btw


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