Saturday, February 9, 2013

All about Ottobre

In the past week I have had two different people ask me about the Ottobre mags that I am always harping on about in my sewing posts.  Thanks Renee for the idea of a post dedicated to Ottobre, I will try and cover everything I can think of about the pros and cons of the mags without waffling on too much.  First of all I am in no way affiliated with Ottobre but I do love their mags so it may end up appearing like a bit of an advert ;-)

What are Ottobre Mags?
Ottobre are Finnish sewing magazines which come out 6 times a year.  There are 4 children's issues each year (one for each season) and 2 women's issues.  I have been very lucky to be gifted a subscription as a christmas present for the last few years but I would continue my sub anyway as a bit of a no-brainer.

Because they are based in the northern hemisphere the magazines do arrive out of season for me but I don't mind this at all because it usually takes me a while to decide on pattern, fabric and then actually get around to sewing.

What's inside?
Each of the children's magazines contains 35-40 patterns and each of the women's magazines about 20 patterns.  I find there is a really good selection in each issue from good standard basics to the patterns with a more tailored finish and more 'special' outfits. In the issues I now have in my collection I can pretty much find anything I might want to sew for the children from underwear and sleepwear to tops, jackets, jeans, trousers, shorts, dresses, skirts and even swimwear.  I find there is usually a good split of girls and boys patterns in the children's magazines and I find the boys patterns fantastic in comparison with any of the major 'shop' brand patterns.  They seem to have a lovely attention to detail which means you can either not bother with some of the detail for a good basic pattern or go all out and make something with a real 'shop bought' finish.

How do the sizes work?
Being a european publication all the sizing in both the children's and women's magazines are european. The women's magazines go from a 34-52 which is the equivalent to 8-24 with most patterns covering the entire size range.  The childrens magazines covers sizes 56-170cm which is approx nb-size 14.  The european sizes for children are based on height and a bit confusing but there are lots of conversion charts available online.  The children's magazines are split into 3 sizing groups (babies/toddlers/boys and girls) with the patterns generally grouped to reflect these, although some basic patterns will cover a wider range.  There is also a fantastic measurement chart in each magazine which also details how to take the measurements, so I just measure the children at the start of each season and use those measurements to choose the appropriate size for a given item (which may differ between tops and bottoms).

How do you use the patterns?
All of the patterns come printed on large A0 pattern sheets within the magazine and need to be traced off for use.  It is all a bit daunting at first but they are all colour coded and each pattern piece is clearly numbered so it's not actually too bad once you get going.  I trace all my patterns onto a really lightweight interfacing I bought cheap.  I find this really good as it is easy to see through for tracing but reasonably durable and easy to use when it comes to cutting out.  Each pattern piece I trace I also label with the magazine issue, pattern number, pattern piece and size, and I always check the magazine that I have got all the pattern markings (there are schematics of each pattern piece with the sewing instructions).  One advantage I find of tracing off the patterns is that it is really easy to customise them as you go, for example for mr A I always make a size 98 with 110 or 114 length and I can easily do this for my base pattern as I trace then just reuse it :-)

The cutting and sewing.
The biggest trap of these magazines to those not used to using european patterns is that seam allowances are NOT included in the patterns.  I generally just add these on as I cut however it pays to read the sewing instructions before cutting because often hem allowances are included and seam allowances don't need to be added to bound edges (and if you do you end up with neck holes way too small for kiddy heads, lol).
I find the pattern instructions pretty good.  It does pay to read through them first and sometimes they seem a bit complicated but generally if you break it down and follow things one step at a time it all works out okay.  I find included lots of good tips for getting a nice finish on things like joining linings, hemming etc, and each magazine has a few extra illustrated instructions for things like bindings, collars and plackets.  I guess it does help to have some general sewing knowledge and occasionally I decide to do things my way (which is usually a cheats way) instead of what is stated in the pattern.

A few final thoughts.
For the price I think that these magazines are great value for money.  There are very few issues I have that I haven't made anything out of, more often I have used several patterns from a single issue.  So at $20 for 40 patterns it doesn't take long to look like a good deal compared for $15ish for one pattern from the shop.
I did find it a bit time consuming looking through all the mags each time I was looking for a pattern but each issue has a double page showing schematics of all the patterns which I have now printed out and put in a folder for easy browsing.  These include what sizes each of the patterns is in so it's a great way to quickly locate and compare patterns.
Another thing I really like is you don't have to subscribe.  You can go online and order single issues either from Ottobre themselves or one of their agents and even better you can go onto the website and actually browse through every issue to see what is in it before committing to purchasing.
The fit of the patterns is the only thing I think I haven't commented on.  I have found the fit pretty standard and they do often state if a pattern is a looser or slimmer fit.  Some of their wee girls tops and dresses do run a bit wide but there are some good reviews from people who have sewn the patterns up online so you can check that out and adjust size accordingly if necessary.

So on the whole what do I think of Ottobre?  I love them!  I wouldn't be without them and rarely sew from anything else for the children these days.  Is the tracing of patterns a bit of a pain?  Yes I guess but I tend to do a whole lot in an evening while watching tv.  Would I recommend them?  Definitely.  If you haven't tried one before find a single issue you like and buy that to start from, it wont be long before you get hooked, lol.  I would doubly recommend them if you have any boys to sew for.  I can even see patterns in them that will be acceptable to most tweens/teens.

I think that is everything but if I've missed anything crucial let me know.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post! Thanks so much, I'm definitely going to hop online ands order an issue.