I wrote an article in 2017 about why I canceled my Seamwork magazine subscription, and it’s been a reliable source of website traffic since; sewists want tea about Seamwork.
In the post, I shared my personal reasons for quitting:
1.) I wanted to try garments from other pattern designers.
2.) I had fitting issues with Seamwork patterns.
3.) I wasn’t using the product.
Well, it’s been a minute since I shared those opinions and sewed a Seamwork pattern, so I thought it was high time to give Seamwork another look.
RELATED: Why I canceled my Seamwork magazine subscription
After all, Seamwork has come a long way since its birth in 2014.
For example, did you know that the first issue of the magazine said its patterns “can be created in just three hours or less”? (That’s a quote from issue numero uno.)
Looking through Seamwork’s massive pattern catalog today, you can see many garments that require a greater time commitment (I’m looking at you, jeans).
In this article, I’m taking another look at Seamwork — a DEEP look. Here’s what you’ll find:
Table of Contents
What is Seamwork?
Seamwork is a paid membership site that offers two new patterns monthly, a monthly magazine, online classes, and a private community where sewists can track goals and ask questions.
Seamwork offers three membership tiers; benefits increase with increasing cost, natch:
- Basic: $7 monthly
- Premium: $9 monthly (this was the tier I joined — with my own 💰 — to write this article)
- Unlimited: $180 annually (no month-to-month option)
The newest patterns are exclusive to members for their first month in the pattern catalog. After one month, non-members can buy patterns; looks like they sell for about $15 each (some less and some more).
Basic and premium members get credits every month they can redeem on patterns. You can roll over credits. Unlimited members have unlimited access to patterns and don’t use credits.
Seamwork also has a number of free offerings (including patterns), which I’ll cover downpage.
First, though, let’s look at what membership buys ya.
What Do You Get with a Seamwork Membership?
Here’s what subscribers pay for beyond monthly sewing patterns.
Discounts at Fabric Stores
Premium- and Unlimited-tier members (not Basic members) get discounts from the following fabric sellers (shared in alphabetical order):
Bolt Fabric Boutique
Cindy-rella’s Sewing & Quilting
Finch Knitting + Sewing Studio
Guthrie & Ghani
I See Fabric
Josephine’s Dry Goods
Just Make It Sew
Loom & Stars
M is for make
Mulberry & MacNab
My Fabric Designs
NON NON OUI Textiles inc.
Paper Scissors Frock
So Sew English
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics
Style Maker Fabrics
The Confident Stitch
The Crafty Mastermind
The Sewing Room
Thread Theory Designs
Threaded Candy Custom Fabrics
Tissu & Co
I have a crafting pal who maintains a Seamwork membership only for the fabric discounts. She says the fabric savings pay for her Seamwork membership.
When I think about my spending history at Blackbird Fabrics alone, I think she’s on to something!
Discount on Patterns
Basic and Premium members get $5 off patterns beyond what they can buy with credits.
RELATED: Seamwork Olso review: At ease in a classic cardigan
Design Your Wardrobe Planner and Program
Design Your Wardrobe is a program that helps sewists plan and stitch a single-season clothing collection that works for their life and style.
Seamwork members can opt for a self-guided version of the class or participate in the video version, which runs twice a year for three weeks.
From what I can tell, Design Your Wardrobe is a re-imagining of Wardrobe Architect, a challenge-slash-series that appeared on their blog in 2014 and 2015. I completed Wardrobe Architect and enjoyed it very much; def would recommend if you’re feeling listless in the clothing department.
Private Community of Sewists
Seamwork says it has 16,000 members (as of December 2021). Members can:
- Complete profiles with a bio, measurements, and social network info
- Set sewing goals that include steps and progress tracking (and you can see other members’ goals and offer them support)
- Share projects with photos (the projects don’t have to be Seamwork patterns)
- Post in forums
The most active forum topic is General Sewing, followed by Seamwork Patterns. I noticed that forums have a lot of activity from Seamwork team members.
Members Only Pattern Bonuses
When Seamwork adds its two patterns every month, it also adds a pattern bonus variation (e.g., sleeves, pockets) available only to members. There are more than 50 bonus variations (as of December 2021).
Seamwork mag drops on the first of every month, and its contents are free to all in online form. Only members can download a PDF of the magazine.
Seamwork’s Online Classroom
A new video class is added each month. Seamwork divides its education offerings into two sections:
- Tutorials: Videos and articles that focus on one sewing technique or concept; this is “how-to” content.
- Classes: These are multi-part, sew-along video classes for specific sewing projects. (See below!)
Mini Review: Pants Sewalong Course
To be a good reporter for you (I was trained as a journalist!) I watched the Ani Tapered Leg Trouser Sewalong vid class. (For the record, I did not sew these pants.)
Here’s my quick-and-dirty review of the course:
Haley Glenn, Seamwork’s pattern designer.
Ani, tapered pants with welt pockets, front pleats, back darts, belt loops, contoured waistband. (I wanted to check out an intermediate sewing project.)
The class has three video lessons:
1.) Intro with pattern description. About 2 minutes.
2.) Supplies needed. Covered fabrics and notions. About 1 minute.
3.) Sewing! Sewalong with voiceover filmed above sewing machine and sewing table. About 22 minutes.
What I Liked
- For each lesson there is an overview and a transcript of the video.
- All construction steps are covered with visuals.
- It’s easy to pause to catch up if you’re literally sewing along.
- Each lesson includes links to related tutorials, e.g., how to sew a zipper fly video.
- There are timestamps for each section of the videos.
What Could Be Better
- This is specific to the Ani trousers, but it was hard to tell the right side and wrong side of the fabric.
- When Haley did the voiceover, she read the instructions; it was not conversational. I would have liked more personality.
- Autoplay from one lesson to the next wasn’t working. I had to back out of full screen mode and click to the next lesson.
Would I Recommend This Class?
Yes, I endorse this class. This pattern covers all the elements of classic, office-appropriate trousers — belt loops, welt pockets, and more. IMO, the self-paced videos give you everything you need to successfully sew pants, from step-by-step construction visuals to additional resources on techniques.
How Do I Cancel Seamwork?
Canceling a Seamwork subscription is easy; you can do it from your account under Membership Information.
Seamwork only lets you use your pattern credits if you have an active membership, so you’re encouraged to use them up before you say goodbye.
If you don’t use up all your credits, Seamwork hangs on to them should you reactivate your account. You retain access to all the Seamwork patterns you own after you cancel a membership.
Instead of cancelling an account, members can pause their membership for up to three months. Seamwork pitches it as a way to gain time to use up your credits. You’re not billed during a pause, but you can access the new monthly patterns.
Free Stuff from Seamwork
Seamwork offers many free products — no membership required — including:
- Seamwork Radio, a podcast
- Articles from the monthly Seamwork magazine, including pattern hacks
- A quiz for discovering your sewing type
- Design Your Wardrobe garment collection planner and mini course
- Weekly email, Snippets
- Four(ish) sewing patterns (keep reading for details)
Seamwork Free Patterns
Seamwork currently offers four(ish) free patterns. To download the PDF patterns, you must create a free account by sharing your email.
- Flo: Everyday bikini-style panties. Flo was designed as period underwear and has two views. RELATED: Sew with the Flow: Sewing for Your Period
- York: A three-quarter-length-sleeve top designed for wovens. Features bust darts and a keyhole opening with ties.
- Sorbetto: Relaxed-fit top for wovens with a bust dart (the line drawings do not show the bust dart, but you can see it in the photos). Comes in three views: sleeveless, tunic, with cap sleeves.
- Quince: Quince is a robe with two lengths: jacket and duster. Now, if you go to the Quince pattern page, it’s a pattern you must pay for if you’re not a member. BUT — if you’re not a member or not signed into Seamwork, you *might* get a pop-up field that offers Quince as a free pattern if you share your email. (Knowing what I know about running a web-based business, the pop-up probably is triggered on your first visit.) Should you want the Quince pop-up offer, I suggest visiting Seamwork via an Incognito window and/or clearing cookies for the Seamwork site.
Analysis: Seamwork Patterns, Size Chart, and Fitting
Time for the topic that I think sewists think of first when you say, “Seamwork”: the patterns!
As of December 2021, Seamwork has about 200 sewing patterns. Fewer than 10 are for men; about a dozen are patterns for accessories (bags, etc.). Seamwork also has archived and retired patterns.
You can filter Seamwork’s pattern catalog by fabric type (knit or woven) and garment type:
- Sweaters & Cardigans
- Jackets & Coats
- Pajamas & Lingerie
You also can filter by brand (Seamwork or Colette). I think this only is useful to you if you have memories of Colette BEFORE Seamwork, because Colette and Seamwork now share the same visual brand. FYI, the garment type with the greatest number of patterns is… dresses!
Seamwork’s pattern database IS NOT searchable by skill level (or price for that matter), which I think is an opportunity for improvement.
RELATED: Browse My Seamwork Patterns Makes
For your browsing ease, I took it upon myself to sort the patterns by skill level:
- Beginner Intermediate
These skill levels and patterns are accurate as of January 2022.
Seamwork has ZERO advanced skill-level patterns and ONE intermediate advanced pattern: the Larkin bomber jacket.
Sometimes it’s nice to have “social proof” of a sewing pattern before you commit to stitching it. Here’s what’s popping on Instagram when it comes to Seamwork.
(FWIW, some of these patterns *probably* have the most tags because they’ve been around the longest — for example, Astoria (April 2015) and Akita (September 2015).)
Most Popular Seamwork Tags on Instagram (December 2021)
|Pattern||Garment Type||Tags on Instagram||Hashtag|
|Akita (Retired – Seamwork suggests Madhu)||Top||800||#seamworkakita|
|Lenny (Formerly Neenah)||Dress||600||#seamworkneenah|
|Moji (Retired – Seamwork suggests Witt as substitute)||Pants||500||#seamworkmoji|
Seamwork Size Chart
Seamwork has two size ranges. According to the website:
- Sizes 00-16 are drafted for a C cup (3 inch difference between high and full bust).
- Sizes 00-16 are designed from a size 8 block. The size 8 fit model is 5 feet 8 inches.
- Sizes 12-26 are drafted for a DD cup (5 inch difference between high and full bust).
- Sizes 12-26 are designed from a size 20 block. The size 20 fit model is 5 feet 9 inches.
Seamwork’s Smallest and Largest Sizes for Each Size Range
|Misses 00||Misses 16||Curvy 12||Curvy 26|
|Bust||32 in. / 81 cm||44 in. / 112 cm||40 in. / 102 cm||54 in. / 137 cm|
|Waist||24 in. / 61 cm||36 in. / 91 cm||33 in. / 84 cm||47 in. / 119 cm|
|Hip||34 in. / 86 cm||46 in. / 117 cm||44 in. / 112 cm||58 in. / 147 cm|
Seamwork/Colette has been around for about a decade, and the pattern company has updated its size range and blocks more than once. (Here’s a great overview of Seamwork’s sizing evolution.)
I give Seamwork kudos for using a block with a C cup. Almost all sewing patterns are drafted for a B cup (2 inch difference between high and full bust). It’s why full-bust adjustments are so common.
I know this because in my journey as a fledgling sewing pattern designer, I’ve delved DEEP into pattern design conventions. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of info out there about designing patterns for anything OTHER than a B cup; seriously, all the pattern design books give pattern-drafting directions assuming a B cup.
By using a C cup (and DD cup), Seamwork is making its own rules about how its sewing patterns size up and down; this is called pattern grading. That’s why Seamwork’s blocks are sizes in the middle of its two ranges.
Many pattern designers (including me!) use a middle-size block for pattern development. This ensures that the block’s dimensions (theoretically) aren’t too far from the largest OR smallest sizes.
(Sidebar: Grading for plus sizes, though, is different because the measurements of plus-range bodies change more dramatically vs. the measurements of misses-range bodies. For example, an 8 misses hip might be 36 inches and a 10 misses hip might be 37 inches; that’s 1 inch between sizes. To compare, a 12 plus hip might be 44 inches and a 14 plus hip might be 46 inches; that’s 2 inches between sizes.)
How Seamwork Patterns Fit
Here’s where we get into some subjective stuff and conjecture!
Overall, I would describe Seamwork patterns as relaxed. Not many of their patterns are particularly fitted.
Because the garments are loose, they’re easy for sewists to fit. I think this aesthetic is, in part, a marketing strategy to ensure sewists make something that fits over their body; Seamwork wants to deliver sewing wins.
You don’t have to search long to find critiques on Seamwork patterns. Many sewists say Seamwork’s design ease (the ease beyond wearing ease, which lets a body move and bend in a garment) is huge and that you should size down when sewing Seamwork patterns.
And… that’s kinda been my experience, too, as I’ve explored Seamwork in 2021. I sewed the Witt woven joggers as part of my second look at Seamwork.
My body measurements put me in a Witt size 8, but my muslin felt too baggy in the rear, crotch, and thighs. I ended up sewing a size 0 (with enlarging modifications), and I was much happier with the fit.
I TOTALLY get why Seamwork runs big, and I used the same strategy when designing my relaxed-fit Cass T-shirt. Relaxed clothes accommodate more bodies with fewer fitting woes. Let’s minimize fitting woes because they can discourage sewists, and discouraged sewists sew less.
If you want to sew and wear relaxed-fit clothes, Seamwork’s catalog might be a good option for you. And if that’s you, you probably should measure your pattern pieces to pick a size with the desired (design) ease. (And then you should sew a muslin!)
If Seamwork’s got a pattern that blows up your skirt, by all means, sew it! But if you sew it without first measuring the pattern pieces or making a muslin and you think there’s too much ease… well… maybe ya can’t blame Seamwork for poor fit (which is kinda what I did in my original Seamwork article).
Final Thoughts About Seamwork
Seamwork has evolved A LOT since its inception in 2014. And, I’ve evolved as a sewist.
The problems that I had with Seamwork patterns in 2017 could have been solved with flat pattern measuring and corresponding adjustments. The reality is that most sewing patterns will require some fitting finesse.
But, you don’t know what you don’t know, and back then I didn’t fully comprehend the necessity of fit adjustments almost every time you sew. If you sew a pattern — from any pattern company — that fits with zero adjustments, you are a lucky duck whose body happens to vibe with a pattern block.
I’m glad I took a break from Seamwork patterns. I sewed stuff from lots of other designers and learned how to design patterns myself (still very much a novice at this, but I’ve got the fundamentals, and I’m not punching above my weight!).
I recommend Seamwork membership for sewing beginners. Seamwork’s educational sewing content emphasizes process and planning, and I think that sets up a newbie sewist for more and more advanced projects. (Just don’t forget to measure your flat pattern pieces!)
That said about beginners, there’s plenty in the Seamwork universe for intermediate and advanced sewists (especially if you’re not put off by fit adjustments). And don’t forget the fabric discount! Because after you’ve been sewing for a while, you start to develop an expensive taste for fabric.
Another thing I think Seamwork has going for it is that it walks the walk when it comes to inclusivity. They’ve got a big size range, and I love love love that they use models of all shapes, ages, and colors. They’re setting a precedent in this realm.
Should you be interested in joining Seamwork, you can click here to get $3 off your first month. This is a referral link, and if you execute on it, I get a month for free.
Seamwork is so much more than patterns and, in my opinion, worth at least a one-month trial. For the cost of a forgettable fast-casual meal ($9), you can get TWO sewing patterns, do a wardrobe planning program, and test drive several online sewing classes. That’s a lot of value for very little risk.
Over to you, gentle sewist: What’s your take on Seamwork? Have you ever been a member, and if yes, why did you bounce out? If you are a member, what do you like best about your subscription? Please leave a thoughtful comment. Thanks!
Image credit: I modified an illustration from Seamwork to create this image.