Knipmode is a monthly Dutch sewing pattern magazine, similar to BurdaStyle. Previously, Knipmode typically offered about 25 patterns for sizes 34-46 (including variations) and about 5 patterns for sizes 44-56 every month. However, starting this September, all patterns in Knipmode will be available in 11 sizes, up to European size 54 (131 cm / 51.5″ bust, 113 cm / 44.5″ waist and 138 cm / 54.3″ hip). Most of the patterns are also available as PDF downloads.
The next few photos show examples of the garments featured in the September issue:
When Knipmode’s editorial staff first mentioned changing to all-inclusive sizing, not all customers were jumping for joy. On social media, lots of concerns were expressed. Of course there were the “heaven forbid plus size girls sewing up skinny jeans” remarks by self-proclaimed members of the fashion police. But also, would this change mean ‘tent-dresses’ for all sizes? Could Knipmode make things work from a pattern drafting point of view?
Let’s take a closer look at the first pattern collection to see if this skepticism was justified. The next image shows a scan of the technical drawings for all patterns included in the September issue:
First impression: This is a well-balanced collection containing skirts, blouses, dresses, pants and jackets. Shapeless? Some patterns are; but boxy, cropped tops are popular items in many autumn collections. One could say there’s some heavy relying on stretch fabrics going on, but then again, it’s not unlike trends seen in RTW. When we zoom in on jackets, we see patterns for oversized coats and boxy jackets with cut on sleeves, but we also see a fitted princess seamed jacket with two-piece sleeves.
My personal favourite from this issue must be the Salvatore Ferragamo knock off:
I contacted the editorial staff to find out more about the drafting and testing process. Knipmode’s patternmakers work with two different blocks for each pattern: One for sizes 34-44 (B-cup), and one for sizes 46-54 (C-cup). Grading steps are different for both blocks (see the size chart below). Garments are then sewn and tested on fitting models for standard sizes 36 and 46.
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. If you offer all patterns in eleven different sizes, why do all of the models in your magazine wear the same size?? It can’t be a cost issue. Some patterns show up six times, in different fabrics, on different models, such as the skirt pictured below.
Readers expressed their disappointment about changing the size range for the patterns, but not for the models. I feel that this is a missed opportunity. The May 2015 Knipmode came with a supplement that, in retrospect, can be seen as a pilot. Ten patterns were available in ten sizes. All outfits were shown on models in both size 36 and 46. For example, the next photo shows the same outfit on models of two different sizes:
What marketing decision made them go back to small sizes only for the photoshoot? The editorial staff promised to look into the matter. Recently, they reached out to Dutch sewing forum Sancho. Some members will sew garments in their own size, and their pattern testing results will be evaluated. We’ll see what happens next.
Some facts about Knipmode
The first issue was published 46 years ago, and for decades, Knipmode was the number one gateway to sewing in The Netherlands. The magazine is widely available. In my village with a population of less than 15.000, it’s sold in two supermarkets, two bookstores, and a tobacco shop. That’s about every corner of the street. But competition is tough: Burda, La Maison Victor, Ottobre and several other sewing magazines are just as easily obtained at said retailers. Knipmode has been struggling, with print numbers dropping from 120.000 in 1999 to under 40.000 in 2014. I’ve seen advanced sewists move over to Vogue patterns, StyleArc, and Burda, while younger sewists are attracted by the fresh, modern styling of Flemish magazine La Maison Victor (though I rate the pattern quality of Knipmode considerably higher). Soon after the magazine was transferred to publisher New Skool Media in 2014, signs of a new strategy were showing. A German edition was launched under the name FashionStyle, followed by the release of a French edition. I guess it’s just a matter of time until an English edition will see the light of day.
What to expect from the magazine
The pattern instructions, although they became much more comprehensive over the years, are still sparse and can be compared to those of Burda and Ottobre: No hand holding, and just one diagram added for the fabric cutting layout. The workbook contains 14 pages of sewing tips with clear instructions and accompanying diagrams showing how to trace, cut, finish seams, sew zippers, fly fronts, collars, cuffs, curved waistbands and more. Each month a selected pattern is featured with three to four pages of step-by-step instructions.
I can’t avoid bringing up the inevitable any longer. No included seam allowances and tracing from pattern sheets. Oi. I suspect some of you will stop reading at this point. I think we all agree there’s not just one way of doing things in sewing, so I’d like to discuss the benefits of this method. Let’s get one thing straight first: you’re not supposed to grab your ruler and add seam allowances to the paper pattern pieces! The idea is to work with real stitching lines. Therefore, it’s best to use waxed tracing paper to mark the fabric, or, in case of lace, tweed or fragile fabric, thread trace all stitching lines. Now you have the freedom to add different seam allowances to different seams. Ever ran into trouble because your fashion fabric behaved differently from your muslin? Adding three centimeters to the shoulder or waist provides so much more fitting insurance. In the odd case that I skip making a muslin, adding extra width to the hip saved my butt more than once! Also, once you’ve set in a sleeve using real stitching lines you’ll be surprised how much more accurate your sewing is.
With the restyling, the size of the magazine increased so there’s extra room on the larger pattern sheets. It’s not complicated, in fact I really enjoy grabbing my coloured markers and do some tracing on nights when I’m too tired for sewing.
Where to find Knipmode patterns
For PDF downloads: go to the online shop: https://www.knipmode.nl/shop
Each week another one of the newest patterns is on sale (half price, 2.50 euro).
For the magazine: you can order here http://www.magvilla.nl/magazine/96/knipmode
This site offers worldwide shipping.
Having trouble reading Dutch? Maybe this glossary will help!
I am pleasantly surprised by the fresh, new styling and the changes in the size range. Of course, there’s still room for improvement, and I certainly hope to see more advanced patterns in the next issues, but it’s a good start.
One thing cannot be left unmentioned. There is no information whatsoever about fitting in all 99 pages of the magazine, except for “if you’re in between sizes or shorter or taller than 172 cm you may need some adjustments.” When you take into account that neither Fitting and Pattern Alteration, nor the Palmer/Pletsch, Sarah Veblen, or Nancy Zieman fitting books have been translated into Dutch, and not all readers are mastering English, you can imagine how helpful a section about fitting would be. Replacing some of the sewing technique pages (plenty of good books covering these) by tips on how to do a FBA/SBA, make shoulder or sway back adjustments could be the fast track to better sewing results and happier customers.
I’m off to do some pattern testing! I enrolled for a three month trial subscription and can’t wait to have a close look at some of the patterns. What do you think of Knipmode’s restyling?
Disclaimer: this post contains no affiliate links. I paid for my copy and all opinions are my own.
Marianne has been happily sewing her way through life, from 70s hippie dresses and bell bottom jeans through an 80s wedding dress, followed by baby stuff, kids coats and prom dresses. Now she’s back to sewing one of a kind items for her own closet. Marianne is living in The Netherlands with her husband and a Border Terrier dog, aka the Furry Assistant. She’s blogging at Foxgloves and Thimbles.