My Blog,  Patterns,  Sewing

How to Shop for Sewing Patterns When You Live Outside the USA

Hi everyone! A few years ago, I received a comment asking how to purchase a sewing pattern I talked about in the post. The problem was the writer did not live within the United States. I was able to help them, but, after talking to friends of mine that do not live in the United States, I realized that sewers are not in the United States do not always have access to the same patterns sewers in the United States do.

Because of this, I decided to write a post about how to shop for patterns from the United States when someone doesn’t live in the United States. Also, when I researched how to buy sewing patterns from the United States, I found some interesting things about sewing patterns that I wanted share that may be interesting for anyone in the United States to learn about.

I’m unsure how many know about this, but many of the United States websites for pattern companies websites will ship to countries outside the United States. Sometimes, pattern companies will limit the amount of countries they ship to, but for the most part they will ship world wide. To see if the pattern company will ship to your country, please check their shipping policies as well as the prices for shipping.

In addition to this, there are websites that officially sell sewing patterns for certain countries. An example is Sew Direct, a website that sells and ships to Europe and the United Kingdom as well as other countries. They are an official distributor of Simplicity, McCall’s, Bruda Style, Vogue, Kwik Sew, and Butterick patterns. Although this is the only website I know is an official seller of these patterns outside the United States, I suggest searching for websites that are connected to the pattern brands before purchasing the patterns second hand.

Despite these options to purchase patterns, there are those odd patterns that official websites will ship to certain countries only. You can see if the patterns you want will ship to your country by checking the pattern listings on the United States brand website. There, on the page, it will say if the pattern ships worldwide or to certain countries only.

I know not shipping certain patterns outside the United States is odd and not fair, so I wanted to dive a little deeper into this. There are multiple patterns I could use as examples of patterns that are sold and will be shipped to certain countries, but I will focus on two.

The first pattern is McCall’s M7627…

Which is designed by Lara Ashley and only ships to the United States and Canada…

And the second pattern, and the inspiration for post, is Simplicity’s 8723…

Which is an official Harry Potter sewing pattern for the robe from the movie series and only ships to the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand…

Although my friends who live outside the U.S. are very annoyed that M7627 is will not ship to their country and are enraged they cannot buy 8723 at their local shops, it made me start to think about what makes pattern companies ship to certain countries instead of others.

The reason? Copyrights.

All sewing patterns are copyrighted by the pattern company, but some have special copyrights that bar others from purchasing them outside a restricted area. This problem is similar to someone who collects CD albums of a specific singer or musician that is not from their own country. In the music collector’s home country, the CD will contain a standard amount of songs that is available around the world, but if you look at albums from other countries, specifically the singer/musician’s home country, you will sometimes see not just additional songs, but exclusive album covers and limited edition items that are not available in the music collector’s home country.

Although there is a variety of reasons why exclusive album covers and limited edition items are offered, such as exclusivity to create the potential for the album to become a collector’s item, when it comes to exclusive songs, it deals with copyrights. Record labels sometimes register the copyright for a few songs to be sold in one or a few countries instead of all the countries the album will be sold in. And, believe it or not, this is also what pattern companies sometimes do.

Normally, pattern companies allow their patterns to be sold all over the world, or wherever they will ship to, but in the case of patterns by a specific designer or connected to an already existing design, they will limit where the patterns will ship to. This is on a case by case basis, but it is more common to see a limit of pattern availability when it comes to already established designers. I believe this is the case in M7627, which is a pattern designed by Lara Ashley.

As for Simplicity’s 8723, things get a little tricky because it is not from a specific designer, but is an official costume pattern connected to a very popular movie series. I occasionally work in the entertainment industry and I do know a little about copyrights tied to movies and TV shows. And yes, Hollywood studios can make requirements with things with copyrights that make the normal person and fan scratch their heads.

An example of this as allow an official robe pattern from Universal Studios’ Harry Potter to be sold in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Although the Harry Potter movies are very popular in all four countries, it is odd the pattern will not be sold in the United Kingdom, which is where J. K. Rowling is from, the Harry Potter series takes place at, and where my friends, who are huge Harry Potter fans, live. (They told me that not selling the pattern in the UK is “blasphemy and must be corrected immediately.”) But the studio have their reasons for this copyright limitation, as weird and illogical they may be. Or how much my friends may demand it be corrected immediately.

So, how can you buy these patterns? Well, there are multiple ways, but I’ll focus on my favorites.

The first way is probably one of the cheapest. If you know someone in the United States, ask them to purchase the patterns for you. Simply give them the pattern numbers for the patterns you want, give them the money in any way you feel comfortable giving it to them, and let them go shopping. If you are on a tight budget, ask to wait until a pattern sale. These sales are normally advertised and reduce the price of the patterns by at least $8 USD. (Depending on the brand, the sale, the pattern’s original price, ect.) Then, once they have the patterns, let them ship it to you or pick them up the next time you see them. Just make sure they have enough money to not just purchase the patterns but to ship the patterns to you as well.

Of course, not everyone knows someone in the United States to shop and ship the patterns to them. Because of this, I would recommend my favorite method of shopping for patterns when they are hard to find in my area or are out of print: Look at marketplace websites that sell home sewing patterns such as Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon. All three sites allow for patterns, as well as other sewing essentials, to be sold. Although the big four pattern companies do not ship outside the United States, you may find a seller that wants to downsize their pattern stash and listed the patterns you want and will ship internationally. Amazon would probably be the best option for shipping because you can shop from the United States’ Amazon site and, if it ships directly from Amazon, you can use your Amazon account for the order. Etsy is my favorite, though, because it has a better selection of patterns and sizes in a variety of prices. Just make sure the shop ships to your country.

The last way, and most expensive way, to purchase the patterns is to hire an international shopping service. I would suggest that as a last resort, especially if you can find the pattern you want on Etsy, Ebay, or Amazon, but if you really need the pattern and cannot find it anywhere else, it’s the way to go. Since I never used a shopping service before, I cannot vouch for the service or suggest a shopping service to use in the United States. I would suggest to do a lot of research before contacting an international shopping service. Also, look into the cost of the shopping service because you will not only pay for the cost of the pattern as well as shipping, but you will be paying for a person to shop for you. And there is currency conversion to take into account as well as other hidden fees that may pop up when you purchase from another country.

Well, that’s all I have to say! I hope someone found this post educational and enjoyed it!

Thank you for reading!