Pattern designer – or pattern profiteer?
That is the question. Where does design end and profiteering begin? There is a recent new release from a popular Indy producer of patterns. It is an elastic-waist straight skirt, and the pattern consists of rectangles.
Renaissance of sewing
There was a crop of babies in the village last year, and now there are several young mums who I’ve taught to sew, or helped and encouraged through the initial stages.
Some of them have come knocking at my door recently with pattern puzzles and ill-fitting garments made from the much-vaunted trendy Indie pattern sellers.
Although ‘dressmaking’ might seem intimidating to a generation whose sewing education when younger was usually non-existent, it has recently become a desirable and indeed trendy activity, with London and other metropolitan centres awash with Sewing Cafes and Studios where ‘sewing experiences’ can be purchased at a suitably high price, sometimes in the company of, or associated with, the ‘sewlebrity’ of the moment.
Young women in rural Lancashire are just as susceptible to trends as are their city sisters; I’ve had to rescue quite a few items, made from certain Indy patterns, as best I could. Which didn’t always result in even the same type of garment … disappointing, or what, when someone has put so much effort into, and paid so much for, a pattern which virtually promises good results.
Are beginners being bamboozled?
I think it’s great that sewing – and especially dressmaking – is enjoying a renaissance, but I believe that in many cases, beginners and others are being bamboozled.
Cynical, moi? Smoke and mirrors!
I am angered when I see beginners being taken for a ride by self-proclaimed ‘designers’, scarcely more experienced in sewing and related skills than most of those to whom they are selling – and considerably less experienced and skilled than some! – but who are superb marketers and effective persuaders.
How many of these new Indie pattern sellers have any industry experience? What professional, academic or vocational education have they received in aspects of dressmaking, tailoring, design, drafting, grading 0r fitting? The acquisition of Adobe Illustrator and the inspiration gleaned from ££ and $$ in front of one’s eyes does not make anyone into a gifted designer or a technically-competent pattern drafter. The quality of the patterns they sell displays that fact very clearly!
There are, thankfully, a few exceptions to this general dismal situation – people who do have appropriate experience, or the sense to employ someone who has, and who have vision and skill- but these are a tiny minority compared to the mass of Indy pattern producers.
Too many keen would-be dressmakers have been served a bitterly-confusing Kool-Aid cocktail informing them, on the one hand, that garment sewing is very difficult and, on the other hand, that if they buy Trendy Wendy’s pattern with its ‘specially simplified’ instructions, they just need to
swallow the snake-oil follow the instructions and they will be successful!
If only …
I have no axe to grind with anyone except where marketing expertise is used by trendy snake-oil saleswomen to make fools of beginner sewers who know no better and are easily tricked.
Yes, you read that right – tricked. I could use words I consider more accurately-descriptive, but tricked will do.
I consider selling rectangular sheets of paper for £12.50 and calling it a dressmaking pattern, to be nothing short of trickery. I consider selling a pattern for a woman’s dress where the front piece is exactly the same as the back, to be nothing less than trickery. I consider selling a bog-standard centuries-old peasant blouse pattern at over-the-odds pricing to be sheer trickery. ‘Boho-inspired’ my left foot!
There are any number of high-quality patterns, tutorials and videos for peasant tops and dresses, and elastic-waist skirts, free or much cheaper than the heavily-marketed and publicised ones. You don’t need to pay £12 or even $12 – results are not, and cannot be, guaranteed, however much you pay! Contemporary dresses for adult women, which use the same piece for front and back, not so many, for fairly obvious reasons …
What do others think?
Beginner sewing resources for elastic-waisted skirt
If you’re a beginner sewer who wants to make a straight, elastic-waisted skirt, I recommend you look at all or any of the following:
Sew a skirt in one hour; How to make an elastic waistband skirt Part One and Part Two. Totally easy skirt making; super simple skirt in 15 minutes; Making elastic-waist skirts; On this page of Marilla Walker’s website are links to download a cute FREE skirt pattern and instructions.
There are innumerable other helpful free resources – websites, videos, blogs, forums, your local library, a neighbour who sews, a craft group – rather than paying £12.50 for a few rectangles of paper. Spend that money on some fabric instead, or two or three 2nd hand sewing reference books.
Heck, if you’re in or near Lancashire, I’ll happily show you how to make one, and tell you where you can get gorgeous fabrics at far less than trendy Indie designer prices … this is Lancashire; we have fabric – as long as you know where to look!