Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sewing patterns

You would think that makers of commercial sewing patterns would like to make the instructions as clear as possible so that the people who buy them have success and are more likely to buy more patterns.  Instead, I have come across more than a couple of patterns for the which instructions are written so poorly that I have trouble understanding what they want me to do... and I've been sewing for a while.

Take Butterick B5230, for instance.  A. is making M. a largish pillow as a belated birthday present and I was helping her figure out the pattern.  I sat reading the instructions and looking at the picture for a long time before I finally figured out what was going on.  With a couple more lines of explanation, the whole process would have been made clearer.  But it truly felt as if the person writing the instructions didn't really care whether the sewer has any success.  This is besides the fact that there were blatant errors in the written instructions as well.  This is not a complicated item to make (or explain how to make), but the instructions made it look like rocket science.

Do pattern companies really want to go out of business because of poor products?  Sometimes it certainly seems that way.

But there are some bright spots as well.  First there is a great site called Sewing Pattern Review.  If you want to look up a pattern before attempting it, you can read reviews of people who have actually sewn it.  The reviews say if a pattern fits true to stated size, whether the instructions were understandable, and a whole lot of other information.  It's kind of fun to browse around.

Second, some patterns are written well and go together easily... I don't want it to seem as though I'm bashing the entire industry.  Currently I'm making a new dress for P. for Easter using Simplicity 5234.  This is a pattern that I can whole heartedly recommend.  The instructions are pretty clear and it's going together easily.  Plus, it has no zipper or buttons, so for someone new, it removes those two tricky areas.  (And for those of us who can do zippers and buttons, it goes together super-fast.)

Really what I want to say is that if you have had a bad experience with a pattern and have decided as a result that there is something wrong with you and your abilities... I think you need to rethink that assumption.  Sometimes it's really just a bad pattern.  Try again.  You might discover sewing is something you can do. 

Because it's not that difficult.  Really.


sandwichinwi said...

Not related to sewing patterns, but it's the most recent post, so I'm hijacking it for a question.

I see you have The Borrowers in your list of books you're reading. Curious. Were you as enchanted by the first book and as perplexed and disturbed by the final book as I was? I just felt the later books (even beginning with the 2nd), especially the last two, were rather dark and odd.

I was so disappointed to dislike the sequels and we LOVED the first book.


sandwichinwi said...

Maybe you weren't, as I see you listed "and following books in the series."

Must've been me.


thecurryseven said...


I've been thinking about this. No, I guess my initial reaction to the sequels wasn't as strong as your. They are a little different than the first one because it was obvious that The Borrowers wasn't written with sequels in mind. I think the feeling of darkness comes in because the Borrowers were constantly searching for a safe place to live where they wouldn't be found by humans, and because they sort of tackle the questions of what would life really be like if your were that small.

As I write this I realize that I like them for that reason. They deal with big issues but in a way that can be discussed with children.

But, it's OK with me if you didn't like them. There's certainly enough books out there that many other people love but I don't really care for. :-)


sandwichinwi said...

I'll have to reread them and see what it was that caused me to react so strongly. I don't remember the specifics, just the feeling of strong disappointment.

Thanks for your reply!


Anonymous said...

Based on your post, we purchased the Simplicity pattern you are making for P. for Ellyn's 4-H project. It is difficult to even find modest little girl patterns these days:(
KIM Crawford

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