Behind the Scenes: Vogue Designer Patterns

Vogue Pattern V1416 by Guy Laroche.

Today we’d like to talk about the designer patterns for Vogue Patterns, specifically to clear up a common misperception that often appears online in blog posts and discussion threads. True or false: The models in the Vogue Patterns designer patterns are wearing the actual designer garments.

Give yourself a pat on the back if you answered true. The models in the product photography are indeed wearing the actual designer garments as supplied by the designers. We don’t remake these designer patterns using our own fabrics, nor do we alter the garments’ designs in any way. The designer labels are intact and very often the original price tags are still hanging from them.

Model wearing an actual Tom and Linda Platt top. Voge Patterns V1415.
Model wearing an actual Tom and Linda Platt top. V1415.

Some designers, like Ralph Rucci, will supply the patterns for us to use when we translate their designs for home sewers. If we don’t have a pattern from the designer to start with, our patternmaking team will study the garment very closely so we can replicate it as exactly as possible.

Ralph Rucci pattern pieces used by Vogue Patterns to create one of his designer sewing patterns.
A Ralph Rucci pattern, as supplied by the designer.

Every now and then we’ll see online discussions comparing a designer runway photo with the same designer pattern, and if there are differences between the two garments people  assume we altered the garment for our home sewing market. Not so at all. Designers frequently modify their runway garments for the RTW market—changing a hemline or fabric, for example—if they feel that will broaden a garment’s appeal. But we don’t alter the garments that come from the designers who allow us to license their clothes.

We hope this clears up this common misperception about how we create Vogue Patterns from designers. Let us know if you found this post informative and if there are other questions you may have about our designer patterns. We may feature them in future posts!

We’ve been sewing since 1863.

55 comments
  1. That was very interesting, I always wondered if the designer patterns were original when seen in the pattern books.
    Thank you

    1. I experiencing a sew and design Rebirth right now. Your blog is a great resource and while we’re talking, I’d like to know how to find out the actual fabric the pictured garments are made of. Many times the garment looks nothing like the suggested fabrics.

  2. Thank you that was very interesting.

  3. Great info! I’m enjoying your blog a great deal. So glad you guys decided to have a presence on social media these days.

  4. Thank your for this post. It’s most enlightening! I’ve always suspected that even designer originals won’t look the same without the same type of models & styling / photo trickery. You’ve saved us from wasted dollars buying designer originals only to be disappointed when it doesn’t make us look like on Karlie Kloss in Vogue or whatever! Now we at least know what we can realistically achieve and start making designer garments that fit properly at least!

    Speaking of which, can you elaborate on the fit of these designer patterns? Since the designers will all have their different fit models and target audience, I presume the fit won’t be consistent across the designer patterns. How do you deal with this? Do you try to standardize to match the Vogue Pattern sizing? If they’re not standardized sizing, what advice do you have for picking the right size and making fit alterations? Also who do the designer patterns have less alteration lines and reference points? If the patterns weren’t supplied by the designers, can you not add in these useful reference lines and points to help us make better fitting garments?

    1. Pia, we use our standard sizing for the designer patterns. We don’t switch and then use the designers’ sizing for these patterns. Also, we do add in all their alteration lines and reference points. Nothing is left off. Hope this helps!

  5. fascinating! thanks for sharing this information!

  6. Very interesting and good to know!

  7. So the purple is because that’s how the designer sent it, right?
    It’s all so interesting….
    Loving the blog!!

    1. The purple outfit…beautiful color, line art looks good, but the model looks like she’s swimming in too much fabric. Does this designer use a larger fitting block than others?

      1. Hi Denise. I went and looked at this Guy Laroche blouse and the label says size 40. Which translates to about a US 8/10. So it is a little larger than the sample garments we usually receive from designers. But keep in mind that we can’t alter the designer garments, because we usually have to return them to the designers, and that it’s not practical to hire a larger model just for one garment. Also, this is a blousey blouse, if that makes sense. It does have a looser fit.

        Even if a designer does use a larger fitting block, we still grade all designer patterns using our standard sizing. Hope this answers your question!

  8. Thank you for sharing, this is very interesting.

    As I looked through the latest issue, I found myself wondering if the model had been “photo-shopped” to lengthen her legs. I love this issue, by the way.

    1. Hi Nancy, we do not Photoshop the models to make their legs look longer. BTW, I’ve seen these models in person, because our studio is on site here, and I can testify that they were born blessed with long legs.

      1. Is that to say that photoshop is not used at all, or not extensively?

        1. Jessica, we never use Photoshop to alter the models’ bodies. We don’t make them taller, smaller, larger, etc. This is how they look in real life. We will use Photoshop when needed to remove tattoos, under-eye bags, pimples…minor imperfections like that. That’s about it. Hope this answers your question.

  9. A big THANK YOU for this very interesting clarification.

    1. Wonderful policy and wonderful to know. Thanks!

  10. thank you. it was interesting to read. I’m always use designer patterns and they are complicated and very interesting to understand how to build the garment and it gives a plenty of ideas

  11. Thank you for sharing this information about the designer patterns! I love the designer patterns and see them as a way to learn more about sewing and design, so even when I don’t think the style is right for me I will often buy the patterns. How do you choose the designer patterns that are then paired with a Craftsy sewing class? I’d love to see one for a Ralph Rucci pattern, and I’d love to see one for a men’s coat. Could you get a men’s designer pattern?

    1. BeccaA, it may not be designer, but I made V8940 for my husband this last year with a few alterations in the detailing and it turned out fantastic! I would even be happy to share a photo if you were interested. 🙂

  12. Wow.. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Great information! I incorrectly assumed it was made from your fabric and your pattern made from copying the garment. Thank you for a great post!

  14. Very cool info! Loving your new blog so far – keep up the good work!

  15. I appreciate knowing this! Now I’m even more excited about sewing “real” designer patterns (the Vogue Designer Patterns are always my favourite).

    I really enjoy reading this blog. It’s good to have more insight into a previously faceless company 🙂

  16. More larger sizes in designer fashions!!! V1415 above is a great example – add a 26, 28, even a 30! This would be a great curvy style!!

  17. Very interesting information. I always thought the designers sent you sketches and you took it from there..

  18. Well this post is certainly enlightening. Can you keep these posts coming regarding the process of selecting patterns, licensing patterns etc. Im sure I speak for all home sewers when I say these are all the details we’ve always wanted to know 😉

  19. Enlightening! Thank you so much.

  20. I was told some time ago that the first fabric listed on the pattern envelope is the one the designer used for the original garment’s construction. Is that true? Was it ever true? Perhaps another blogpost?

    1. Bunny, I can’t vouch for what’s been done historically, but just glancing through the newest patterns and fabrics listed, I’d say we suggest fabrics close to what the designer used. We err on the side of fabrics that are readily available to home sewers. The fabric Rucci used for his coat is a techno fabric of heavy water-repellant gabardine bonded to a flannel-like fabric. We wish we could find something like that at our local fabric store!

      1. I volunteer in a costume shop, and was interested to see that they make fabric like that by using sheets of stitch witchery in between the layers of fabric. They were bonding neoprene-like fabric to brocade for a dance costume.

  21. Wow! thank you for sharing this information. I was never certain if it was the actual garment or Vogue Pattern’s interpretation.

  22. I enjoyed this particular post so much. I had no idea that designer patterns are pulled from their actual collections and not just an approximated design for us “home sewers.” It is such exciting news I am going to go look over the entire designer pattern lineup and study all the garments all over again. I’m even more excited than I usually am to sew with these designer patterns, and I’m usually very excited already. lol. Having BVM on social media is wonderful!!

    On another note, I would be interested to know how designers are selected for incorporating into the Vogue designer pattern line. Personally, I would LOVE to see some Carolina Herrera designs.

    1. We plan on doing a post about how designers are selected. Yes, love CH too!

  23. Enjoyed this post very much and the thought of it never crossed my mind.

  24. A good read and good to know, thanks

  25. Thanks for the interesting post.
    I was wondering how pattern ratings happen?
    I made V1192 recently, and I was a little surprised because the rating was “Easy” and it left out things that would be obvious to more advanced sewers (I consider myself “Average”) such as pressing the seams and clipping the curves.
    If I had not done these things the extra fabric in the armscyes would have looked awful and the seams would have taken on a very amateur look. I feel that maybe if a pattern is rated Easy then things like that should be included (not just assumed) because those are the patterns the newer sewers buy, and they’ll end up disappointed with their product and never understand why it didn’t work out well.

  26. I forgot to mention that these instructions were at the start of the pattern under “sewing information” but not in the instructions where they usually are in other patterns. So they’re easy to miss for a newby.

    1. Hi Lisa, and thanks for this input. I’m passing it on to the team in charge of our instructions and ratings. —Meg

  27. Thanks meg, this also answers another popular question: why sometimes the choice of fabric print hides all the great pattern details. It is because that is the garment the designer chose to send. It’s strange that they wouldn’t choose fabrics that would highlight all their hard work, but instead send interpretations of their designs like V1394, V1152, etc.

    1. Just to be clear, the designers do not make special garments just for us. The designer garments that become patterns are first available for purchase by anyone in the exact same fabrics as you see on our pattern envelopes. If you do some searching on the Internet you’ll see what I mean. The designers create the design and choose the fabric they want to make the design in. I’m not sure that answers your question but I hope it does.

  28. I love the Ralph Rucci patterns. I would like to see Azzedine Alaia designs in future Vogue patterns!

  29. That was really interesting, I never knew you got the actual patterns for the Ralph Rucci designs.

  30. I love the detail pics you put on pinterest. Please please please keep doing them.

  31. Well it is all very interesting and thanks for informing us. As much as I love Vogue patterns, over 30+ years of sewing them I have come across things that have left me scratching my head. What bothers me is there seems to be (other than this post) no acknowledgment from home sewers about pattern issues. There is a reason why we may be all nattering away online. I think you need to accept comments and feedback and adjust the patterns where the feedback is reasonable based on sewing experience. For example, Rucci 1381. I overheard online that the runway dress was not lined. Your pattern was lined. It was so redundant. The dress is quilted so I don’t think re – lining those sections was needed. It is like re-lining a quilted Chanel jacket. Instead there was a lovely opportunity to teach how sections of lining are pieced on in Haute Couture where there was no quilting. I also think interlining should have been encouraged because parts of the dress hanging off of the quilting appeared flimsy in contrast. I interlined but had to do it retroactively.

    So I think your fans and experienced home sewers would admire having an impact on the designs. Many companies do this now.

    Thanks for listening.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. Vogue, would you consider creating the home garment as closely as possible to the construction of the runway garment? I know the designers have access to fabrics we don’t but a thorough description of the fabric, such as you did above in discussing the Ralph Rucci coat, helps us select a fabric that will behave in a similar way. In the same way, even a paragraph about the construction of the runway garment versus the home garment would help us advanced home sewers make decisions about how to approach construction.

    2. Jennifer, thanks for your comment. I can’t speak to V1381, but I just examined the two most recent Rucci patterns (V1404 and V1419) as a result of your comment. I compared the original Rucci garments, which we still have here, with the instruction sheets. We do instruct you to make these exactly as Mr. Rucci did. I’ll post interior photos to the new Pinterest board so you can see what I mean. —Meg

  32. Thank you so much for the information! It helps me to better understand the why and why not, please keep bring us this very insightful inside look into pattern production.

  33. Just keep the Ralph Rucci designs coming!!! I don’t know when I’ve been so enamored with a designer’s creations! I’ve made a point of purchasing every one of them I can – I don’t have a few of them due to being out of print or (gasp) one design I don’t particularly care for, but I can’t WAIT to begin sewing on this season’s dress and coat!

  34. A question on the topic of standard sizing: what HEIGHT of woman is the standard? I am 5′ 6″ tall and find that lengthening every pattern below the waist is necessary or the garment’s hem is about at my chin. If I knew how tall the “standard” woman is according the sizes, it would save a lot of guessing. Standard sleeve length would be a nice one to know, too, as that’s my other fitting issue. Thanks!!!

    1. I quite agree! I’m 5’9″, and it’s really annoying to look at the photo where it is worn by an obviously tall model, then when I make up the garment I have to add inches to the length. Now I realise that the photo is not actually of a garment made to the pattern, I understand why the garment fits a model often taller than me, but the pattern is too short for me.

  35. Thank you for the clarification. In addition to the photo of the original designer garment, It would be helpful to see the pattern sewn up by someone at Vogue Patterns in a fabric a home sewer is likely to use. Many of the original designs no doubt are sewn with fabric that’s hard to access and which costs hundreds of dollars a yard.

    1. Surprisingly, I most of the designer fabrics shown in our fall collection can be found in better fabric stores for under $50/yard, with most of them less than $25/yard. The Ralph Rucci coat fabric is more unusual than it is pricey, were you to find it for sale. It’s just gabardine fused to some kind of flannel. I’ve seen and touched the original designer garments myself and they’re made out of silk crepes, jerseys, ponte knits, etc. Basic, readily available fabrics this go-round.

  36. This was a surprise! I have tried several designer patterns with mixed results — this explains why sometimes the garment only vaguely represents the sample. I’m loving Marcie Tilton lately!

  37. Vogue Patters, I agree that People preserve that Vogue patterns are well planned. When I was in college I began to choose Vogue patterns because my professor knew that I could sew better than all of the students. Her advice to me was to get a Vogue pattern. She challenged me to learning a new skill with each assignment. This I did Vogue fit better they are my favorite of the commercial you know how vain we sewers are. We should be called “Sew E’s ” much like food lovers call them selves.

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