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Who writes those darn pattern instructions?
gramma b
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gramma b
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Date: 5/4/10 5:54 PM

Why can't they show us commercial ideas in the instructions? So often I turn to one of the Help books to find a neater, better, simpler way to add a collar, facing, hem, etc. Or I look at a similar RTW and say, why didn't they show us that technique?

Are there any pattern companies that consistently show you commercial techniques? Teaching middle-schoolers, I can see they often get frustrated with the instructions, which doesn't help capture a new generation of sewists! Of course, we always have to buy from the big 3 on sale because of the cost.

Any why can I usually use less fabric than what they list on the envelope?

3HoursPast
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3HoursPast
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In reply to gramma b


Date: 5/4/10 7:09 PM

Well, for one I think that there has long been a disconnect between home and industrial sewing. Now that more and more women are taking up sewing again, we have high standards and we aren't going to settle for less. I think it will take the big 4 a little while to catch up with that.

KS usually use more "Industrial" construction techniques, and more professional finishes.

You usually have leftover fabric for a few reasons- 1) for standard fabric widths, there is some variation between different mills. Some fabric might come out 41", some may be 46". The pattern companies know that and try to compensate for it. Therefore if you have 44" wide fabric, you'll find you might have a little extra. 2) They have to cover their asses, so to speak. Have you ever dealt with someone who found out they bought too little fabric for a project, fabric they can't find and buy more of? Horrible.

I usually lay out the pieces in the most fabric effective way I can find (maintaining grain) and store the rest of it to use in another project. I like all my pieces to be linked together by shared fabric. Sometimes I make whole dresses for "Free" with my remnants, but usually they go to make "free" little girl clothes.

The point is, the big 4 are really letting us down. That's why we love Oliver + S, Colette, Jalie, vintage patterns, etc.

(Also, I've had the thought of offering my services to the pattern companies- making their instructions better. I teach and my students find the same frustration, which is why I've learned to approach teaching sewing by teaching a set of skills and showing how to apply those skills in different situations, and when to throw the pattern instructions out. It works ok, more fun and less frustration. But then, I teach adults.)

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http://3hourspast.com- Vintage Style, Sewing, and Ethical Fashion

Sew4Fun
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In reply to gramma b


Date: 5/4/10 7:33 PM

>>Are there any pattern companies that consistently show you commercial techniques?

Yes Kwik Sew do. I always say if you want to learn to sew buy a KS pattern. Their instructions are the best IMHO.

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Belinda. Melbourne, Australia
http://sew-4-fun.blogspot.com/

CM_Sews
CM_Sews
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Date: 5/4/10 7:34 PM

Who writes those pattern instructions?

Demented sadists.

That's my theory. I can only echo your frustration. At one point, I was making test garments (wearable muslins) and I'd follow the pattern instructions to the letter for that first pass. Every time, I was disappointed with the results.

I do read the instructions to determine the intended end result, and to see if there are any specific steps that I need to pay attention to for a particular design feature. I find myself muttering things like "Who in their right mind would sew it together like THAT!?!?!" They never tell you WHY they want you to do something a certain way; there are times it would be extremely helpful to know WHY.

Now I use the techniques that I like; I might omit a facing and bias bind the neckline instead, for instance, not because it's necessarily easier to sew, but rather because I prefer to wear garments without flapping facings that look like Happy Hands at Home. And I change the order of construction so I can press and sew on FLAT pieces as much as possible. I'll use a flat felled seam, edge stitching or top stitching where I want it, regardless of the instructions.

I use my extensive sewing book reference library. When I find an interesting tutorial on the web, I print it out and put it in a binder so I can refer to it later. I examine RTW for construction techniques.

Kwik Sew usually has good instructions and techniques that make sense - not overly complicated, not a lot of fiddly tasks. Kwik Sew instructions do not usually make me mutter amazed expletives.

I have great respect for those of you who are learning on your own and just dive right in, buy a pattern and fabric, and use the pattern instructions as your lesson guides.

CMC
-- Edited on 5/4/10 7:36 PM --

JEF
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In reply to gramma b


Date: 5/4/10 8:22 PM

The Islander shirt I made for my husband had instructions with lots of industry techniques. To be fair, I also watched the DVD but I think the pattern could stand alone. Islander patterns

HTH
JEF

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"The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine." --Abraham Lincoln

dresscode

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Date: 5/4/10 8:50 PM

I remember making the prerequisite "jumper" in 7th grade Home Ec. We were to follow the instructions and sttch the shoulder seam on the public side and then stitch as far as we could on the "facing" and handstitch closed. Yuck.
l
I later learned the "burrito" method for pulling the shoulder seams through, all finished. (Works on sleeveless sheaths too...like ready-to-wear).

but, I don't always agree that "commercial" is better. Facings get a bad rap but often provide the smoothest finish that molds the body, for instance. I used to think facing screamed "home made" until I saw some designer crepe de chine tops at Saks that had gorgeous facings.

SophieMiriam

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Date: 5/4/10 9:17 PM

I think pattern instructions were probably written by people like me, who can't really afford sewing books and don't know any alternative ways and who think the way the pattern people do and can therefore always understand the pictures and instructions. :P

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Check out my sewing blog! filasewphie.blogspot.com

dfr2010
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In reply to 3HoursPast


Date: 5/4/10 9:19 PM

Quote:
and when to throw the pattern instructions out.

Or in my case, across the room ...

I have no idea what the instructions writers were thinking, but for me one of the most hekpful parts of pattern reviews here at PR is when people point out problems in the instructions, or detail better methods than what is in the instructions.

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I don't really make mistakes ... I create "learning opportunities"! Murphy says: The better you match the thread to the fabric, the more likely you will need to rip some stitches out! I spend more quality time with my seamripper than I like ...
Yes, I DO love fabric!!
Happy owner of a band of Brothers: LX-3125, CS-770, CE5500 PRW, a PE-770 emb ... and now Kenmore 158.18032 and 148.12190
Blogging my "learning opportunites" at http://sewingmissadventure.blogspot.com/

CM_Sews
CM_Sews
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In reply to dresscode


Date: 5/4/10 9:19 PM

Quote: dresscode
Facings get a bad rap but often provide the smoothest finish that molds the body, for instance. I used to think facing screamed "home made" until I saw some designer crepe de chine tops at Saks that had gorgeous facings.

Maybe it's just the way the Big 4 draft the facings? I agree that facings can look wonderful, but I rarely get that result when I follow the pattern exactly.

Somewhere or other, I saw a Threads magazine video tip (on a DVD, I suspect) that included a tip to redraft neck facings such that there are no shoulder seams on the facing. Take your pattern pieces (front facing cut on fold, back facing, cut as two pieces) and put the seam lines on top of each other. Now you have a single facing piece (a big "C") that you cut on the fold. You end up with pliable bias all around the neck opening. The last part of the tip was to cut off about 1/8-inch at the center back seam end of the facing, so when you sew the center back to the center back facing seam, you end up "snugging up" the facing piece slightly (it's bias), so it is ever so slightly smaller than the fashion fabric and the facing lays flat against your body on the inside of the garment. Also, since you eliminated the shoulder seam on the facing, you do not have double seam allowance bulk along the shoulder seam.

I have no idea if this is "industry" or not, but it's certainly not the way the Big 4 draft it.

In the final analysis, there are NO sewing police, so if I don't want to use the facing provided (whatever my reasoning), I can draft something else or bind the neckline, using one of several techniques I've found in sewing books or online. I think of pattern instructions as I think of recipes: It's a suggestion about how to put the garment/dish together. I can experiment. The worst thing that can happen is the garment doesn't turn out quite right. Disappointing, but unlikely to trigger global catastrophe. (For recipe failure, just send out for pizza.)

CMC
AdaH
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In reply to CM_Sews


Date: 5/4/10 11:08 PM

CMC
What a great facing tip.
This tip gets printed and put on my sewing wall.

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Ada

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