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Independent Pattern Companies and Standardization
Inconsistencies in Written Instructions
auguste
auguste  Friend of PR
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Date: 7/8/13 12:23 PM

Hello, Pattern Review-ers!
I am an experienced seamstress with years of sewing, quilting, fitting, and now teaching under my belt. I teach monthly classes and private lessons at a local sewing center. My dilemma is with the challenging format and grammatical inconsistencies in private label (independent) pattern company instructions! On the occasions where I use a private label pattern, I find myself re-writing most if not all of the written instructions included in the pattern!
Does anyone have feedback to offer on this topic? And, more importantly, is there any type of standardization used in private label patterns? I've had many students tell me that they won't purchase a particular brand of private label pattern based the frustration they experience in reading the instructions!
Thank you for your feedback.

PattiAnnJ
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Date: 7/8/13 12:40 PM

I have read several things (not just pattern instructions) where it appears the author (I don't count as I am not an author) cannot express their thoughts in writing, something is lost in translation, or they are using a program like Kindel where the gadget thinks it knows what you want to type.

Or, it could be the pattern is for the more experienced seamstress.

I noticed many years ago the commercial pattern companies began making their instructions less detailed.

What standard could the independents be held to other than telling them what is wrong with their instructions and that you will not be recommending them?

------
I dont give them Hell, I just tell the truth about them and they think its Hell. Harry Truman

"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

GoSewGirl
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Date: 7/8/13 4:31 PM

I don't think there is a way to standardize instructions between independent/private label pattern companies.

Anyone can call themselves a designer and/or patternmaker, create a pattern, have it printed and sell it. There is no vetting system for independent and private label pattern companies, other than consumer feedback and reviews on places like PatternReview.com.

To be honest, I also don't think there is any standardization in the LARGER commercial pattern companies, at least not between the companies. Each individual company seem to have it's own way of writing and illustrating pattern instructions. There is standardization for sizing in the US but not for pattern blocks. Meaning Simplicity's sizing chart is the same as Vogue's, but they draft from their own sloper. (And with Vogue, I wonder if the designer patterns use the standard Vogue slopers?) Anyway, I can't imagine there would be any sort of standard for independents either. I find the sizing to be most difficult to judge with the independent pattern companies.

Over time, people learn which independents are the most reliable for fit, sizing and instructions! For teaching purposes I would only use those patterns that I had used myself or were from companies that I think have great instructions, like Kwik Sew or Jalie. I would certainly also use a pattern from the Big4 if I had tested it first, as they at least use a similar format for instructions, if not actual methods.




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Liz

chicaem29
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Date: 7/8/13 10:27 PM

While I haven't done this myself... I have read here and on blogs that some folks, when confused by sewing instructions for an independent company's pattern, contacted the company (usually the designer herself with these small companies) and got very helpful answers in response.

I am sure that writing instructions so that they make sense to others can be hard. Some of these smaller companies offer things the big companies just can't - including a more personalized experience with questions and help!

Sew Confused
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Date: 7/8/13 11:11 PM

I may be a lone voice here, but I'm not sure that standardization would be a good thing. People have different learning styles, and written instructions that are clear and lucid to one person may be clear as mud as the next. So who would be the judge of what the standard would be?

It may take some experimentation to find a pattern company whose designs you love and has instructions that work well for you, but it would be a worthwhile undertaking.

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Paula

"In Seattle you haven't had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it's running."
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Visit my blog at www.sewconfused.blogspot.com

KiwiWendy
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In reply to Sew Confused <<
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Date: 7/8/13 11:55 PM

Quote: Sew Confused
People have different learning styles, and written instructions that are clear and lucid to one person may be clear as mud as the next.

This is so true and why I don't assume I'll agree with those who find some instructions to be difficult or hard to understand.

As a sidepoint I once worked in telephone customer service for a bank, and learned that sometimes you had to find new ways of explaining something because of this difference. Repeating the same explanation wasn't helping either of us. And sometimes (much rarer) it was because they didn't want to understand (usually why they owned money on their credit card).

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Sydney, Australia

Marilly
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Date: 7/9/13 0:17 AM

That's very good reasoning about learning styles in relation to instructions. I also think it's good to bear in mind that some are international so there's another factor to add in. Lekala, anyone?
The indie pattern co's that keep my attention are the ones who offer not just the instruction in the packet, but also additional info ( photo heavy tuts and vids) and structured sew-a-longs for their patterns. This practice is often a huge help and a way to make working up their patterns more inviting to more new users who need some hand holding.
This seems to me to be the polar opposite of what Marfy and sometimes Burda & Style Arc do. The lack of detail or even inclusion of instructions is used for narrowing the clientele in my interpretation...if you have to ask, you shouldn't be sewing this. I will say Chole does answer questions about Style Arc, but I still can't see the value in one size only. One of the reasons I buy a pattern is because of multiple sizing..not just so I can shift between them for myself, but because they can be used for another family member too. This is one of the reasons I'm okay with Jalie...and their diagrams are pretty well done too. Never had a problem understanding them.
Another reason I've even try the indies is because they offer different sizing than the big 4 and work to create designs that work with specific figure types.
There was a thread about how indie sizing is often tied to the designer's own body type or sensibilities.. petite plus is pretty obvious, Sewaholic clearly states she designs for pear figures, Colette favors the more ample busted. Cake also favors women with curves and has one of the more interesting ways of customizing the pattern to your body measures. Hotpatterns I've not tried yes due to price, but I've always been impressed that Trudy models her own designs in video. Actually, I'm on the fence about them cause shipping is free for a few hours more and I do not like printsew.
So what comes with the indie side of patterns, especially the smaller ones does not begin and end in the pattern packet. Some perform better than others and in time natural selection will likely weed out those who consistently fail to listen to customer questions or provide poor drafts. That's why I love good ol Pattern Review. : )
Shel

MrsCharisma
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In reply to KiwiWendy <<


Date: 7/9/13 10:56 AM

Quote: KiwiWendy
This is so true and why I don't assume I'll agree with those who find some instructions to be difficult or hard to understand.

Completely agree.

One of my first projects was the S2443 Cynthia Rowley dress. I'd read in several places how confusing it was to do the bodice. I put off sewing that dress for a couple of weeks, afraid that it would be "too hard". I was not, in the least bit, confused by the instructions. At all.

I agree also that standardization is too tough to "manage" and implement. It's a "you can't please all of the people, all of the time" thing IMO.

------
Nakisha
www.sewcraftychemist.blogspot.com
Singer Talent 3321 | Brother 1034D

My Big 4 Sizing: Medium | Tops 14/16 | Pants 18 | Skirts 16/18.

My Measurements: 36 HB | 38.5 FB | 34 W | 44 Hip

auguste
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In reply to auguste <<


Date: 7/13/13 11:43 AM

Thank you for your feedback and insight! Happy sewing!

Doris W. in TN
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In reply to auguste <<


Date: 7/13/13 3:12 PM

The Independent Pattern Company Alliance should have well designed patterns with good instructions. I am surprised Louise Cutting's patterns are not included because they are well drafted and, in my opinion, have some of the best instructions around.

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