Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Will You Help Me Decide -- and a Reminder About My Giveaway

Update: Please read the update at the bottom of this post. Thanks!

Okay, so I really need to hear from you. I'm thinking of "unretiring" from my career as a technical editor so that I can edit sewing pattern instructions, and you can help me make my decision. Here's what I'd like to know:
  1. Do you buy downloadable sewing patterns (and instructions and tutorials, so I'll just use "patterns" in this post to mean all three) from individuals or small companies (rather than the "Big Four", and I'll add in Burda, too)?
  2. For what kind of projects do you buy patterns (garments, purses, upcycling, baby and children's clothing and accessories, home dec, other [please mention])?
  3. Do you print the patterns or read and use them from your computer? Ereader? Other mobile device? Or both print and use from computer/mobile device?
  4. Do you notice errors and omissions?
  5. Do you notice inconsistencies?
  6. Are you aware of confusing instructions and/or instructions that are out of order?
  7. Do you care?
  8. Why? In other words, how does this affect your 1) ability to use the pattern and 2) your pleasure and enjoyment of the pattern?
  9. If you notice these problems, how does it affect your decision about a subsequent pattern from that person or small company? (Are you more likely to buy it or less likely to buy it?)
  10. What bugs you about patterns?
  11. How would you like them to be different?
  12. Do you have different satisfaction standards for patterns that are free compared to those you purchase?
  13. What else would you like to say about this topic? 
I welcome your answers to any/all of these questions. Short and sweet or long and detailed: all are welcome. However, please do not mention specific individuals or companies by name or innuendo; I feel so strongly about this that I promise to delete your comment if you do. This post is not about bashing; it's honestly and only about helping me to make this decision.

A great big THANK YOU to everyone who reads this and replies. This time, it's you who's helping me! "We help each other!"

And a reminder: The giveaway for a little zippered case with a see-through front ends tonight (Tuesday, Sept 4) at 11:59 pm EDT. That post is here.

Update: I think I am asking way too many questions here. How about if you choose one or two questions and answer those. Would that be better?

Blessings and peace...


  1. Hi Sandra - it's always fun to 'un-retire' and re-invent yourself to find your next career. Have done it so many times in my lifetime that I've even been asked to speak this Fall to a group of young professionals about my re-inventions!

    Personally, I don't like PDF patterns. I hate all the paper and ink it uses to download and print them. I hate the time it takes to tape them together. Then you have to take the time to trace all the pieces onto 'real pattern paper.' If there are alterations to be made - and there always are - that's more time and more paper. I have worked with all of the 'biggies' and a whole lot of the 'indies'. Some are much better than others and you can always find errors or mistakes and really good ideas and techniques in both categories - though the indies learn a lot more to more specifics and techinques than the Big 4.

    What's funny is today is a 'play day' and I have been refolding and fondling my stash and re-organizing my patterns - of which I have WAY too much of and many of both. But I like pattern envelopes. I can easily see photos of the finished garment, and have the measurements, yardage and line drawing all in one handy envelope with my pattern pieces tucked neatly inside. Something downloads will never have.

    If you have an offer to do sewing pattern editing, it may prove quite interesting - and challenging. Input from the pattern designer would be a delicate balance you would need to measure and work with.

    Great questions and a new opportunity for you. I'd say 'give it a try' and if it doesn't work out, you can always re-retire!

    1. Hi Reann, Thanks so much for visiting and for your thoughtful and helpful comment. I, too, do not like or use downloadable patterns that involve taping pieces together. I am also the worst present wrapper in the world. :) And yes yes yes about the time. I am very slow in every aspect of sewing projects. So these patterns do not appeal to me.
      As for the pattern envelopes... you could put the front "cover" and a page that includes yardage, measurements, etc. "wrong sides together" in a see-through plastic bag, and keep that part with your purchased paper patterns. It wouldn't really work for me, though, because I like to keep all the parts together. Most of the time. Except when I have a traced pattern; those (that fit and flatter) I keep on skirt hangers.

  2. Hi Sandra! Here are my answers:
    1.Sometimes. I mostly buy paper patterns but downloads give instant gratification, save on shipping costs and can in some case be customisable.
    2.My garments and sometimes childrens clothing. I have also bought one for children's shoes.
    3.I print the patterns and I print the instructions. 4.Yes.
    5.Sometimes - eg references to pattern markings that aren't there, repeated instructions.
    6.Instructions are often confusing (in both printed and pdf patterns) but I usually refer to other sources, eg books, online tutorials for anything tricky I haven't done before.
    7.Hmmm... depends on the drafting - if the drafting is good I am happy to fill in the gaps in instructions. If the fit is poor I won't buy the pattern again. But patterns with good instructions are nice to use and quicker to sew.
    8.If the instructions are poor it takes me a lot longer to sew, as I have to look up how I might do it and then decide if it will work for the exact pattern I am looking at. I also have to keep wondering if I've missed out a vital but unstated step (like stabilising the shoulders or whatever).
    9.If the instructions are sketchy but the drafting is good I will still buy. If the instructions are wrong or suggest ways of doing things that are more difficult than necessary, I will rethink whether I buy again from that company. I particularly dislike confusing instructions - they're worse than brief ones.
    10. Unnecessary extra ease in the draft that makes fitting difficult; instructions for doing things that are "home-made" looking.
    11.I like to see the line drawing, and instructions for altering to fit are always welcome.
    12.I'm less demanding of instructions in free patterns but there's no point in using a pattern unless the fit is right.
    Good on you for thinking about this!

    1. Hi Lyndle, You are so very kind to take the time to answer so many questions. Every answer helps me in this process. We are alike in that it's all about the fit. :)

  3. YES! YES! YES! I notice the mistakes. I notice the incorrect drawings. I notice the instructions that are not clear or skip steps. I have done editing myself to help one pattern company. I think it definitely takes a proofreader to find these issues. It is really hard to find them when you are the author.

    1. Thanks, Joy. I have a follow-up question for you, since you have done editing for a pattern company. Which editorial style guide did you use? It's another aspect of this that I am learning about (and that I didn't ask in the original post). Thanks!

    2. LOL! If you will tell me what an "editorial style guide" is, maybe I can answer. I used the English language and grammar.

      Hugs, Joy

  4. I do buy...and prefer...(garment) patterns from the big 4.

    I bought 2 downloadable patterns (from 2 different sources) that I printed from my computer. I didn't have a problem with either the patterns or the directions.

    My opinion is that the downloadable patterns are convenient, but time consuming to assemble.

    I do think you should 'unretire'. :)

    1. Hi Judi, Thank you so much for your helpful comment as well as stopping by. I agree about the "time consuming to assemble" aspect.
      I am still pondering this idea of "unretiring"... :)

  5. I think I've come far enough in my sewing that I can find instructions one way or another. Having said that if all other things are equal, great instructions are awesome!

    I particularly love instructions that show better sewing techniques. I bought a downloadable pattern (the only one so far) just because I read its instructions for finishing the neckline were the best around. In that sense, I'm actually buy the pattern to learn a better sewing technique.

    I have to be honest - I loved that pattern. I even enjoyed the assembly. What I hate (and why I'll avoid downloadables in the future) is storing them. It's too much time and expense to go through the process of printing and assembling if I decide to trace a different size for a daughter. But what a mess to store (the taped pattern).

    If I could figure out a way to roll it and keep neatly inside a cardboard roll, maybe. I just don't have cardboard rolls laying around that can corral a 6 x 6 8 1/2x11 taped together sheet!

    My vote is that you write for a certain fabulous indie company that produces printed patterns with a great draft and is raved about for everything - except their sewing instructions.

    1. Hi MaryMary and thanks for visiting! Yes, I, too, am always interested in learning new and improved techniques. As far as downloadable patterns, I've only DL'd one (garment) pattern. And I STILL haven't taped it together. I think there's a little part of my brain that already knew exactly what you've experienced -- how do you store it? I think that if I liked the pattern and thought I'd use it again, I'd trace it onto vellum or medical supply paper. At least that's easier to store rolled up, inside or outside a tube. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  6. "Unretiring"! You just sit still - maybe to the benefit of us all. I'm at the stage in my sewing where I only look at instructions for tricky or new things so I'd really love a 'shortened' version of instructions like Order of construction 1,2,3. Good for you Sandra.

    1. Hi Ruth, Haha, sit still. I gave away my old Vogue sewing book; it's one of my few decluttering regrets. Because now I wish I had a single reference book about garment construction. Instead, I have a million web pages saved as bookmarks.

  7. Are you still thinking of coming out of retirement?? I sent you a lengthy email that was send back to me - so I'll keep it short... I've written a crib-quilt tutorial that I'd really love to share on my blog, but I think it's pretty bad. So I'm wondering if you want a client? I sure could use some expert advice!

    1. Hi Theresa, Louie helped me to make my decision to stay retired (thank you, Louie). BUT! I'd be happy to take a look at your tutorial. Will send you an email (I think I have your email address; if you don't get an email from me, send me one, okay?)


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