Good afternoon, lovelies! This is the second part of My Year With Knipmode, a series examining my year of subscribing to that beloved Dutch pattern magazine. In the last post, I talked about the functionality of Knipmode, from subscribing to sizing. Today, I’m going to look at the patterns themselves.
Were they worth the price?
Have I used them enough?
Did the larger size range bring nothing but caftans and harem pants?
Well, let’s find out! Grab a warm beverage, settle in, and I’ll take you through my year of Knipmode patterns. Be warned, though: here there be pie charts.
Note: In the last year, I’ve received thirteen issues of Knipmode. I bought the first few issues on a trial basis, then signed up for a full, year-long subscription, because I liked the designs so much! However, there was a lag time between my subscription and my first delivered issue, which meant I didn’t actually get the January 2016 issue. For the purposes of this post, I didn’t use that issue or the September 2015 issue that Marianne previously reviewed, cutting my total number down to twelve. An actual year’s worth of magazines…if not consecutively.
Patterns by the Numbers
First up, let’s talk about the number of patterns. If you’re subscribing to Knipmode, how many patterns are you actually getting in that year? Well, over twelve issues, I received a total of 331 actual patterns, an average of 27.58 per issue. This count doesn’t include bonus issues, which will be in the next section. The French and German versions of Knipmode, called Fashion Style, don’t include these bonuses, so I separated them out.
As you can see in my handy pie chart, most Knipmode patterns fall into expected categories. Almost half of their offerings are dress and blouse patterns, followed by an even split of skirts and jackets. Trousers are well represented, but thinner on the ground. That’s probably for the best, let’s be honest. How many new, interesting trouser designs does one woman actually want to wear? There’s a bit of reinventing the wheel in that category, as it is.
This year, Knipmode also had six jumpsuit patterns, some lingerie pieces, and two Carnival costumes. Six jumpsuits may not sound like many, but as someone who suffers from pathological jumpsuit hatred, it felt like a lot. Every other warm weather issue had a romper or catsuit included.
Personally, I think Knipmode shines brightest in dresses and jackets. Those two categories had the widest actual design variation, with new, interesting styles featured in every issue and design lines seldom seen elsewhere in the sewing world. They’ve done everything from tailored, vintage designs to modern austerity, in both categories, and done it well.
Knipmode’s skirts can be repetitive, with seaming and asymmetry used to put a shine on basic blocks, but they also had some exquisite, standout designs. February 2016 featured nine separate skirt patterns, each one an innovative, wearable design that made up for more pedestrian looks in other issues.
For me, the blouses and trousers are probably the weakest areas, ignoring jumpsuits. You can tell that design variation is hard to achieve from month to month. There are some gorgeous blouses, but there are also a lot of boxy tops and twists on the standard button-down. Great, basic trousers are definitely found, but there are added pleats and weird “design features” on a number of patterns.
This year, there were three bonus issues that came with my Knipmode subscription. These miniature Knipmodes offer capsule collections, framed around a certain theme. March 2016 featured loungewear patterns, May 2016 had summer patterns drafted for three heights, and October 2015 gave us cozy autumn basics. These bonus issues have a similar pattern breakdown to Knipmode’s main issues, without extra fluff.
Personally, these mini issues tend to be hit or miss for me. I absolutely loved the May issue and would happily make every pattern it included, but the March issue didn’t have a single usable pattern for me. October was more of a mixed bag, but still mostly positive and added value to the issue itself.
With capsule collections, which are so strongly tied to a theme, this spottiness is expected. I don’t sew or wear “athleisure,” but it’s obviously a trend that Knipmode saw and acted on, with March’s issue. Of course, that was going to be a miss for me! The classic patterns of May’s issue, meanwhile, were called boring by some Facebook users and went right onto my to-sew pile.
Up above, I gave you an image of all the line drawings for this year’s Knipmode issues, but that’s a totally overwhelming graphic. Why don’t we focus on a few individual issues, instead? We’ll look at which ones were slam dunks for me first, then we’ll examine those that didn’t work in the next section.
My favorite issues were actually much harder to pick than my least favorites. So many issues had whole collections that I swooned over or multiple patterns that I’ve already made up and loved.
For my money, though, the April 2016 issue topped them all. Entirely themed around vintage-inspired patterns, it brimmed with full skirts, nipped-in waistlines, and classic tailoring details. That this was my favorite issue cannot be shocking, y’all. It’s page after page of my pattern catnip! There was even a jersey shirtdress (#19) thrown in, just to win my loyalty further. While I haven’t actually made anything from this issue yet, there are eighteen patterns that tempt me to start tracing. Even the presence of a romper and a jumpsuit can’t bring this issue down.
The June 2016 issue came in a close second, with its theme of wearable summer dresses. In its pages are twenty dresses, each with interesting designs details and thoughtful nods to warmer weather. I’ve already made two patterns from this issue–the pieced princess-seam cover dress (#14) and the elastic waist kimono style dress (#23)–both of which are in constant rotation in my wardrobe. If the measure of a sewing magazine is how many patterns the subscriber actually makes, this issue would win. I’m already plotting some of the knit wrap dresses (#1-5), the strappy back cocktail dress (#8), and the cute A-line dress with center darts (#17). Heck, even those high-waisted sailor pants (#21) catch my eye!
Least Favorite Issues
My least favorite Knipmode issues were not hard to pick out. When I go through my giant stack of magazines–whenever I need a jolt of sewing inspiration–these two issues always end up cast aside. Neither one is universally bad, but they don’t send me racing for tracing paper either.
If December 2015 were a vegetable, it would be the cauliflower. It’s totally fine, reasonably nutritious, but not remotely exciting. It really needs some cheese or ranch dressing to make people crave it. Okay, this metaphor may have gone too far. Suffice it to say, this issue was full of “meh” patterns. There’s a nice blazer I might make and a cozy looking sweater coat, but otherwise it’s pattern after pattern of boring details and uninspiring styling. For a holiday issue, particularly, this doesn’t work. I wanted sparkle and cheer, but instead got midwinter drudgery.
The July 2016 issue of Knipmode is a weird one. I actually love flipping through this issue, thanks to its riotous use of color and modern floral fabrics. When I back away from the pretty pictures, however, there aren’t many patterns I like. Most patterns are almost right, but not there. Ruffles are too big; cold-shoulder cut-outs are too small. The one exception is the designer dress by Mart Visser (#21), with it’s cleverly cinched waist and interesting use of color-blocking. Loving one pattern and an issue’s styling can’t make this one a winner, though.
Final Pattern Verdict
Taking into account its hits and misses, good issues and bad, this was still a successful investment for me. Of the total number of patterns, 170 were pieces I either liked or loved. That may not sound like many, but it’s a much better hit rate than the Big 4 pattern collections, and infinitely better than my return-on-investment for Burdastyle. Having every pattern in every size means that if one collection doesn’t work, another in the issue still might. I’m not limited to whatever schlock editors deigned to give plus sizes, that month. Knipmode has more room for error, because of its inclusivity.
Knipmode has a much lower of incidence of WTF patterns, compared with competitors. The ones I don’t like are rarely hideous, but just a bit boring or uninspired. The patterns that work for me, on the other hand, work beautifully. They have thoughtful design details that I haven’t already seen a hundred times. In my next post, I’ll share my Knipmode projects from the last year. Not one looks like another pattern I already own!
When you look at Knipmode on a purely monetary level, it also succeeds. My international subscription was $90, which means each pattern cost me 25 cents. If we separate the dreck and jumpsuits, which I’m never making, that means that each usable pattern cost 51 cents. That is still such a deal! Even with the best JoAnn Fabrics pattern sales, I am not buying patterns for such low prices.
What’s more, I find that subscribing to Knipmode changes my overall pattern buying behavior. When a new indie pattern or Big 4 collection comes out, I always reference back to Knipmode before making a purchase. So many patterns are garments I already own some variant of, thanks to my subscription! Knipmode obviously tries to stay on the cutting edge of fashion, which is ideal in a subscription like this. When I wanted to try the exposed shoulder trend, earlier this summer, I already had a Bardot top and a few cold shoulder designs in my collection. The culottes that I gave side eye to, in last September’s issue, were aggressively on trend for 2016. My own style isn’t usually trend-oriented, but I do like having the ready-made option to try, without shelling out too much cash.
Honestly, my only complaint is that I haven’t used Knipmode as much as I should. Then again, I haven’t sewn as much as I generally do either. It’s been a year of style quandaries and ever-changing measurements. Frustration has kept me away from my nightly sewing habits. However, through all that, this subscription kept me inspired. Even in months without a single Knipmode project on my table, I’ve loved leafing through its pages and fantasizing about what patterns to make. Every delivery brings new excitement. I settle in with a cup of tea, highlighters, and my new issue, for an hour of creative bliss. One of my goals for the next few months is to up my own use of the magazine, because I do plan on resubscribing.
When I look at the numbers and all those glorious pie charts, it’s easy to see why. Knipmode isn’t perfect, but it certainly tries to please its audience. Boundaries are pushed, differing styles are catered to. There are flops along the way, yes. There are also issues filled with such gorgeous, inspiring patterns that even my lazy bones can’t help but grab a pen and start tracing.
That, my dears, is a win.
If you’d like to read about Knipmode’s sizing or how I use the patterns (including tracing and translation), check out my last post!