Life of Johanna / Patterns / Sewing magazines

Pattern magazine nostalgia

As I might have mentioned before I started sewing clothes at a rather young age, I was only 11 when I made my first pair of pants and as a teenager I was already making a substanal amount of my own clothes. If this makes me sound like child prodigy, trust me I was not. In fact I was horrible at sewing for the first 10 years or so. One reason I sucked for so long was that I was completely self thought. But also this was before the internet, remember? So the amount of information, inspiration and information sharing was much more limited. In hindsight a sewing class would have been great, but for some reason I never ended up taking one.
In 1987, when I was 15, I begun to buy pattern magazines as they provided a much better value than envelope patterns. Back then Burda magazine was a dowdy stale publication with really boring, unfashiony clothes so instead I bought the now defunct Neue Mode magazine. I did tons of clothes from these magazines, much more than I do today and browsing through them I see that I usually made 2-3 styles from each issue. The only downside was that in the 80’s and early 90’s there were usually just 1 or 2 sizes, so some great styles never happened since the pattern weren’t in my size. I thought that I had thrown all these issues away, but it turns out I didn’t! Mary Nanna wrote a great comment on how she felt about every new Burda issue, and I felt the same kind of buzz when Neue Mode hit the stores. 

The 80’s were much more restrained and subdued than I remember, at least in the Neue Mode world.  
But it wouldn’t be the 80’s without some lamé!
If you think the sheets in pattern magazines are crowded, I can assure it was way worse back then.

Some of the garments that I made. I really put these magazines to good use.

Neue Mode is sadly no more. But Sewingpatterns do sell a large chunk of their old envelope patterns, and again I am struck by how timeless many of the designs look.


  • Nancy K
    August 7, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Burda was my first exposure to pattern magazines, but not until the late 90's. I sewed a lot of Vogue designer patterns back then. I never knew that Neue Mode had a magazine and only learned about Neue Mode patterns from Sandra Betzina's old tv sewing show. Considering the price of patterns in Europe, pattern magazines are definitely a good buy.

  • theperfectnose
    August 8, 2012 at 3:24 am

    A lot of these look pretty cool. I have seen the re-issues on the sewingpatterns site but because they postage is way too high and they suck at responding to questions about their downloadable patterns (took me two weeks of badgering them on Facebook + email to get a response) it's not gonna happen. XD

    Also please please disqus so I don't have to deal with the blindness inducing hideousness that is recaptcha!

  • Maria Christina P.
    April 2, 2016 at 8:15 am

    I see your article is dated back in 2012, but I just found it myself browsing through the internet. And I was smiling all the way through my read as I was actually reading my own story! Amazing how people tend to have lived the same things. I too, have kept all of my neue mode copies (although I regret to have lost some patterns on the way) and some burda ones, although I agree the burda was and still is very boring! Having resurrected the magazines, I found out that many many of the patterns are excellent to be used even today. Fantastic basic designs that now I can easily "hack" to the design that I will to produce.

    • Johanna
      April 4, 2016 at 8:31 am

      Thank you so much for sharing your story of Neue Mode. I love getting comments like this, this is one of the things I enjoy about the web, it makes the world smaller, and that we can share stories like this even though we never met. I so agree with your assessment of Neue Mode, their styles really hold up in an amazing way. And your post inspires me to make something this year from one of my old pattern magazines!

  • Denise
    March 26, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this! I loved the Neue Mode envelope patterns. I see the new owners have added a few new patterns and I’m tempted to try them to see if they still use that high European armhole I loved so much.

    • Johanna
      March 27, 2017 at 7:54 am

      Yes they drafted such great sleeves! I have a shirt envelope pattern from them that I still use for many of my sleeve drafts. I didn’t know that they still updated their range, will have to check them out!

  • Christina R Eriksson
    August 14, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    I,m searching for Neue Mode Nr 5 1991.
    Can anybody help me?

    Christina R Eriksson


Leave a Reply