Case Study: Decades Everyday

Posted by on Mar 1, 2017 | No Comments

When I develop artwork for clients, I’m usually executing their vision faithfully, without too much of my own embellishment. However, I do get to execute my own vision on occasion, and when I get to do it on a grand scale, it’s a real treat. Naturally, I was delighted when Decades of Style Pattern Company approached me about doing a product design for their new micro-line of beginner-friendly sewing patterns, Decades Everyday.

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Decades of Style is known for producing sewing patterns for gorgeous, wearable, truly vintage women’s clothing styles emblematic of their respective 20th century decades. The over-sized vanity covers of the main Decades of Style pattern line are illustrated using authentic illustration styles from the decade represented. While those illustrations are aspirational and appeal to Decades’ vintage-loving core customers, the new Decades Everyday micro-line needed to have a younger and broader appeal. It also needed to be a visually different product, while still retaining a relationship to the core Decades of Style pattern line.


Decades Everyday patterns were designed to be extremely wearable wardrobe components with a broad appeal to sewers of a wide range of skill, from beginner to intermediate and beyond. This line of sewing patterns for dresses and separates reference the late 50s and early 60s while still remaining contemporary, so I wanted to capture a bit of that era’s packaging charm and still appeal to current sensibilities in the sewing and crafting marketplace.

I gave the printed Decades Everyday patterns a smaller format to differentiate them from the main Decades of Style line, and to keep the printing cost in line with their slightly lower retail price point. Inspired by simple two-color offset printed packaging for 1960s beauty products, I gave the half-sheet covers a bold frame, black outlines and type, and decided that each pattern would be framed and accented with a different bright, bold color in three values. The name of each pattern is located at the top of the frame above the model, creating an easy reference point for stockists who might house the patterns in a drawer and need to identify the styles while flipping through inventory.


The smaller pattern cover format meant that I needed to squeeze a lot of pertinent information into the back cover of the pattern without overcrowding. While the font sizes on the back of several of the pattern styles get reduced  below to a point size I consider comfortable for readability, the Hypatia Sans Pro multiple-master font is exceptionally clear. I adjusted the line height and letter spacing to pack in even more written information. I always say there’s a way to include more text!


DLAS-Blog-DecadesEverday-CatsCradleModelThe kicky cover model that appears on the first 3 Decades Everyday patterns (and is modified as twins with different hairstyles in the 4th and 5th patterns) was a suggestion from the Decades management. The model was re-drawn from vintage reference in a bold, vintage-inspired ink style. New clothing was drawn on to carefully match the proportions and design lines of actual sample garments.

By the release of the 5th pattern in the line, The Cat’s Cradle Dress, we had decided to diverge from our cover model formula to create more diverse model representation, and to give the dress a more aspirational pop of color, as well. The Cat’s Cradle Dress was modeled after vintages 1970s reference material depicting African American models. Should the line grow, future cover models will likely be published in full-color going forward, with diversity of ethnicity and decades represented.


When the first Decades Everyday pattern was released, it was to be sold in both paper and  PDF-downloadable format. This is a popular option for many sewers, as it eliminates shipping costs and provides the pattern to the end user almost immediately. The sewing pattern sheet itself is made up of many tiled pages, which is then trimmed and taped together by the end user. All pages, including supporting documents such as the cover images and sewing instructions, were formatted for US Letter to accommodate at-home printing on both letter AND A4 paper. This eliminated the need for separate Letter and A4 documents.