Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Simple Pattern With Serious Flaws

It's a backward morning. I got up earlier than normal so I could get to Starbucks early to journal and then back home before the floor layers arrive. The bathroom renovation is ever so slowly coming to an end. I'll be glad when it's done. It'll be more efficient, more useful, and more attractive and all that is great but I'm done with people in my house and messes to clean up. Isn't that the way? We want it and then we don't.

Monday was Family Day, a new statutory holiday. I can't remember if this was the first year or the second but it's definitely a new holiday, not in my history or my memory. Long weekends mean more when you work outside the home or have children in school. For the on sabbatical sort like myself, they can be a surprise interruption to the regular schedule. Too funny ! ! !  Howard and I slept in, moved slow, and had a lazy day. It was good.





I worked on the cape. When I'm sewing with a plaid fabric, my first thought is as few seams as possible which is quickly followed by my realization that with a curvy figure, the better mantra is the more seams the merrier. A contradiction. And perhaps why I rarely work with plaids. Butterick 5819 seemed to be a happy mix of the right pattern with the right fabric and an exploration of a new shape. Would a short cape look good on me? What do I think of that collar? What about the pointed hemline? All something to experiment with. I'm enjoying the freedom of letting go of the garment suiting or fitting me to explore new ideas. It may or it may not. We'll see. Letting go was a good decision.

My fabric is 60" wide. With a narrower fabric, you would need a center back seam - and then again maybe not because the garment is only 31" at the longest and could be cut lengthwise - BUT... with my fabric... and especially a plaid... I decided to eliminate the seam. At first, I thought I'd actually use the paper pieces but that's not my normal style and just in case I did want to make some changes, I chose to trace them and that turned out to be a very good decision.





The pattern is simple. It has four pieces, two of which are basically a rectangle and two of which are collar pieces. It teaches a collar technique and flat felled seams and is exactly the kind of pattern we might recommend to a beginner and that would be a shame because it is not drafted correctly and there is absolutely no excuse for a four piece, basically a rectangle, pattern to be incorrect.





When I overlapped the two pieces at center back, I matched the hemlines. As you can see, the waist marking is not at the same height. This made me wonder if I'd traced two different sizes. No, I had not.





At the opposite end, the neck edge did not match. Can you just imagine a beginner cutting out these pieces and then thinking it's her fault that one is longer than the other? It makes me mad. How can we encourage others to sew if even the basic patterns have to be checked, checked, and rechecked?





I slid the paper up and retraced the neck edge. It merged with center front which seemed a little odd so I started double checking more things like was the distance from center back to the two corners the same on both halves - yes - and was the length of center front the same on both halves - yes - and was the curve of the neckline from center back to center front the same on both halves - no. I had to redraw the neckline which made me wonder...

... about the collar. The pattern is drafted for raw edges. The collar is in two pieces with the center seam meant to match the center back seam of the cape. Why? Just from an ease of sewing point of view, that creates an unnecessary seam and a point of bulk where those flat felled seams merge. I eliminated the center back seam, traced one complete collar piece, and then walked the edge of the collar along the edge of the corresponding neckline. The collar was way, way too long - almost 2" - and the notches and markings did not align. The collar is supposed to be sewn wrong sides together with the edges secured - no seam allowance. Again, the beginner would think it was her fault that the collar didn't fit the garment and she might not have enough fabric to re-cut and try again... or enough energy. Issues like this can cause a beginner to give up. It's not good.

How much effort do you make to check the pattern before you cut out and start sewing? I'm not sure if it's more experience sewing or more experiences with poorly drafted patterns but I am learning to pay attention to these details before I start. I'm glad. This is a simple pattern with serious flaws. More on the cape journey tomorrow. It does - eventually - come to a happy conclusion.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - experience and skill, the ability to see potential pitfalls

25 comments:

  1. Well, holy buckets! It never occurred to me to check the pattern like that! I've always just assumed that I did something wrong and get frustrated with myself.
    Hmmmm....guess who's going home and checking a few things on her latest pattern?!

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    1. See - you're better than you think. YEAH - definitely worth checking.

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  2. That is the beauty of experience :-)

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  3. Goodness gracious.

    see, that's one of the reasons I shake my head when people tell new sewers to "always sew patterns marked "easy"". Sometimes what appears to be the simplest of patterns produces a world of trouble.

    Boooo Butterick. For shame.

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    1. Exactly. Easy is not always easy. Well drafted makes a tremendous difference.

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  4. I always check them all - I walk the seam lines and check (and redraw if needed) all curves where they meet across a seam (neckline and armhole across shoulder seam, bottom of armhole across side seam, etc). It's just easier that way. It takes only a little bit of time up front and saves a lot of frustration on the back end.

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    1. Such a testament that the work is worth it. Your clothes are so beautifully sewn. LOVE the new cardigan.

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    2. Yay, thank you for the compliment!

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    3. You're welcome. It's well deserved.

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  5. Having to carefully measure all the seams is one of the reasons I've quit sewing with Big4 patterns. I can see what's wrong and fix it. But like you, I deplore the fact that this is what our new sewists are forced to use.

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    1. I don't tend to sew a lot of independent patterns. Actually I don't sew them. They're significantly more expensive and - in my experience - come with just as many issues if not more. I've achieved greater success by checking as opposed to trusting although it's lovely when things do match up. I just hate that someone might give up on sewing because of that learning curve.

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  6. This is great advice...I was never taught to do this and always assume that I have mis-cut or let something slip or stretch. I plan to do this going forward. Thanks for the tip.

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  7. Last week I finished sewing Butterick 5820, view A which is the shorter jacket. It's boxy but I like that and its vertical style lines. This pattern had some of the worst directions ever as well as inconsistent fabric suggestions with the pattern itself. I figured it out and made it work, but the issues were bad enough that I looked on Butterick's website to see where to complain/comment. I couldn't find a spot to do that and gave up. I did notice that Butterick took a one year old pattern and made it OOP. Perhaps they did know how bad it was?

    Enter your cape. I noticed your troubling pattern is Butterick 5819 (one number less than mine). Hopefully, this is just a bad batch of patterns lacking some good editing.
    Carrie

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    1. LOL - a week on which everyone was feeling off. We can be that generous although it's quite frustrating. Glad you made your pattern work out.

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  8. I would have assumed that a company of that size had checked the pattern before putting it on sale and that it must be my fault and given up.

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    1. Exactly what I'm afraid of and would hate to see happen.

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    2. That is such a woman thing to do - assume you did something wrong. Men don't do that - they assume the fault lies with someone else. I learned this many years ago and adopted that attitude as well. I know what I did and I know I did it right. Now there's a problem? It's most likely somebody else's fault. (And because those somebody elses have a tendency do make mistakes, I check my patterns.)

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  9. I never used to check patterns. And yes, I always assumed it was All. My. Fault. when things didn't turn out. In fact, I quit sewing clothing for quite a while. Then one day, something called the internet came about Newsgroups, blogs and forums entered my life. And I learned phrases like "drafted for 1% of the population", "pattern is drafted wrong!", "bad instructions". And I felt better and learned much. Mostly "it's not ME!" or at least not always me :-) Which is good. On the other hand, now that I know about tracing, tissue fitting, pattern checking, making muslins on tricky patterns, I still don't get much sewing done because of all the work it takes to get to the point of even cutting the fabric. But what I do get sewn usually turns out much better. Not always great yet, but much better.

    I keep reading people write that starting from scratch and making you own patterns is easier than dealing with purchased patterns. I'm considering that and buying patterns only when they have a high "how'd they do that" factor.

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    1. How terrible that you quite sewing. How FABULOUS that you started again. LOL - yes the Internet is a mixed bag BUT... another thing you must have learned about is T & T patterns and that means only working through it once and then using it over and over and over again. YES YES YES YES YES YES YES.

      I've done the drafting from scratch thing - even have the software to prove it - and like everything else it has it has plusses and minuses. What you end up with is basically a T & T that you're using to either alter the pattern or add details too. I developed my basic block from the Vogue fitting shell pattern. That may be a way to go. I definitely think it's worth the work.

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  10. That's the state I'm currently in, JustGail. I have to make so many fit changes that it's easier to use my basic blocks for neck, shoulders and sleeves and just add the style lines and details from the actual pattern. Somehow it doesn't stop me from buying more patterns though! Just not as many simple ones.

    I've been sewing a very long time and I don't remember there being so many errors in the patterns before. Just recently I found several so now I check everything as you do, Myrna, and I read over the instructions so I'm clear on how it goes together. And to determine where I'm going to do it My Way instead! That extra care didn't stop me from recently buying one pricey button too many when the number was wrong on the envelope. Grrr...

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    1. Having as many tools of the trade as possible seems the right answer for me. Sometimes I alter the pattern, sometimes I use my block to alter it, sometimes I add details to my block. It just depends which makes the most sense for the project and that's the lovely advantage of experience.

      I don't remember as many errors before either BUT... that may be because I was too trusting and unaware. It's entirely possible there were just as many. I determine MY WAY as well. Too fun.

      Sigh... and yes... I still buy patterns and fabric and buttons and... and... and... It's what I do. Got some stretch taffeta in black at 70% off today and only three expensive buttons and I only need three and this is good. Hope you come up with a special project for that extra one.

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  11. Thank you for writing this ... I've just cut this pattern out. One side of cape didn't match the other and I can't work out how to sew the collar without it looking awful. I thought I'd messed up. Great idea to cut the two sides of the collar as one piece ... luckily I've got some fabric left. Thanks again ... Sue

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Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.