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Indie Sewing Pattern Companies Can Do Better

Indie pattern makers, we need to talk. On the surface, we’ve been getting along fine, but I’ve been nursing some grievances. Now not all of these things are exclusively an indie problem, but the little guy is supposed to be more responsive, so maybe you’ll listen. (Not that very many people read this blog, but one can dream)

  • Inaccurate or non existent technical drawings

This is basic and I really need an indie to get it right for me to see them as at all professional. I may still buy your pattern if it’s one of a kind, but that’s less likely and I’m less likely to talk about your product to others. Your line drawing should accurately represent your product. The waist line should be where it is drafted to hit, the amount of puff the sleeves have should be apparent, etc. No more surprise leg o mutton sleeves or empire waists, okay? I’m buying based off what I’m seeing and I don’t like surprises, this is not a mystery sew-a-long.

  • Patterns for knits with no suggested stretch percentage

Now I’m new to sewing with knits, but even I know all are not created equal and that that fitted tee that looks so cute with 40% stretch is going to have you looking like you were stuffed into a sausage casing at 15%. This is basic information that should be available without buying your pattern, it’s not a damn trade secret. I am much more likely to impulse buy your pattern if the likelihood I have to go out and buy new fabric for it is cut to zero. In addition, if I do want to buy new fabric, having the stretch percentage handy makes it easy, whether in person or online.

  • Sizing and the hunt for the size chart

Please have your size chart readily available. Link it from every pattern page, don’t make people go search. I don’t know if companies are just hoping a buyer will assume they fit into that companies version of a 16 or an XL, but it’s annoying to hunt for what your sizes really mean because they’re linked in tiny text at the bottom of the page. Also, and I know this has been hashed over, please consider extending your sizing. Have a vote on your page one which styles people would most like to see sized up if need be.

Also if you have a large size range, it would be nice to see some of the patterns made up on a plus size model every now and again. Yes, I can I go hunt for blog posts,but having the visual representation right there makes it easy for me to buy.

  • Make sure your value add blog posts are actually adding value

There are 9000 tutorials for turning a knit bodice into a tee, turning a garment sleeveless, a basic FBA and colorblocking. Considering doing a tutorial on adding Queen Anne neckline, a bodice harness for a party dress, or something, anything new. If it hits on a particularly tricky part of your pattern all the better. I certainly would buy more patterns if I had a clue on how to do a FBA on uniquely placed darts or across interesting seaming.

  • Pattern testing and pattern testers

There should be more of a line between pattern testing and pattern promo. I actually don’t mind blog tours that much, but if they haven’t sewn with the final version version of the pattern, that tells me nothing. I’m uncomfortable with the general lack of compensation from several indies. I know you’re small, but giving people a free unfinished pattern in return for their time, materials and often promotion seems a little off. I also think that calls for pattern testers need to be clearer about what exactly the testers are getting (will they receive a finished pattern, store credit, fabric?) and if they’ll be expected to promote on their blogs.I know this has been hashed over and over so I won’t go on.

  • PDF patterns

I have a love/hate relationship with pdf patterns and it’s time to talk about what I hate.

If you have a lot of sizes, it’s okay not to have them all in one pdf, although hopefully you’ll overlap the split for people grading between sizes. If your lines for different sizes come in different colors, consider offering a black and white version, many people are saving their colored ink for things other than sewing patterns. It can also be helpful to have a guide for what pages I have to print for which view, there is no point in my printing off ten extra pages for the v neck when I only want to make the scoop.

If your pattern has many large pieces, please consider offering a copy shop version, you’re going to save your customers some grief. I know it looks nicer to have all the pieces going the same way, but it’s okay to have some pieces print on the “cross” grain to save paper. Stick to standard pattern makings, I’m not really into trying to memorize what a Unicorn head means when I’m cutting out a dress.

I could go on, but I won’t. Just consider asking your customers what isn’t working for them, you might be surprised. Hell, if you want to make a thing of it, offer a prize for the best suggestion. You could even, IDK, offer a paid survey to really get some indepth answers.

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The Great Knits Conspiracy

Sewing blogs have been lying to me, for years. In fairness, it’s not all of them, just a sizable amount, especially among the cohort aimed at new sewists. And frankly, I think it’s sort of awful that this myth is so widespread that it’s taken as gospel in some cirlces, it is discouraging newer sewists from branching out.

I’m talking of course about the “knits are the devil” mantra. I recently sewed up a t shirt in an evening and I had never worked with knit fabric before. At all.

It wasn’t hard as such, just fiddly on occasion. I even messed up the neckline by stretching it out when I tried the turn and sew approach recommended in the pattern, but I was able to fix it with a self fabric band with minimal fuss. Now, in fairness, I did have the “new” serger I got for xmas to complete most of the seams on, but even hemming on my regular sewing machine was not much of a hassle. I also chose a midweight 100% cotton knit for the project, and I am certain there are harder knits to work with, but that holds true for woven fabrics as well and we don’t tell beginners to just not work with wovens.

I’m certainly no expert and with my dyspraxia a lot of more intricate parts of sewing require a great deal of effort on my part. Yet, once I got going I was fine. This post isn’t really meant to be an accusation that there’s actually conspiracy to keep people from sewing knits, in order to sell books or something, I don’t know, but it is weird.

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Tentative Spring Plans

spring 2015 sewing

Kwik Sew 3036

Enid Sweater

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt

Bootstrap Fashion 8 Gore Skirt

Mccall’s 6706

Tenterhooks Patterns Snapdragon

I hope to complete these by the end of March/mid April. I do not think it is too ambitious, but I could be vastly underestimating the difficulty, I’ve never worked with knits before but I need to get over that. I’m a grown woman. There’s no reason be afraid of a textile.

I still need to decide on a color scheme, but there’s no need to rush that that since I am on a fabric fast until the new year. it’s become evident that I need to stop saving fabric for when I become a better sewist and just sew, or I’m never going to accomplish anything. There are a few special pieces that I am going to hold off on, but there is no good reason to save Joann’s clearance poplin for a distant day.

Anyway the hope is to work on this while I also fiddle with my skirt sloper. I feel like it will be easier to just sew if I’m not mucking about with my own patterns, I’m not exactly experienced with drafting.

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