Thursday, August 29, 2013

Do You Tape?






I don't. Well, I did once and it was OK. I taped four sheets of paper for a PDF doll dress pattern. That's my limit. It made a darling little dress, too.

 We all know patterns aren't perfect. We aren't perfectly built to match pattern measurements, either, any of them. So disregarding fit what does taping have over rotary cutting out a pattern in minutes? The only advantage I see is to the producer of the pattern. It is a quick way to get a design out to the public and turn a quick buck. Go entrepreneurs! But sorry, other than the four sheet limit, this does not appeal to me in any way. Thirty  to seventy pages is not uncommon. Are you kidding? Do you know how much interfacing I can buy for the price of my printer cartridge, never mind the ream of paper? Add in the price of all that tape, too. Oh, and don't forget the time it actually takes to print off  and tape your PDF pattern. Then there is just dragging around all those taped white sheets to the cutting board. Now all of this is coming from a user standpoint. I definitely see the advantages from a designer standpoint and who knows, I may do a PDF pattern and sell it myself one day. But using them, not so sure. Give me a 3.99 Vogue pattern sale any day.

I am not going to show examples of these PDFd on my blog because, hey, these digi-sewists need to make a living like everyone else. My suggestion is to google PDF patterns for women, or children or whatever and see what comes up. 



Another beef I have with PDFs is that many are so unfitting and generic. Whether it's Burda or your local Mompreneur, a tee shirt is a tee shirt, a baby bib a baby bib and a  hi lo skirt is a hi lo skirt. The majority of designs being sold as PDFs are very very basic. Now that is a good thing. I am for anything that gets anybody to sew any type of clothing. So newbies, jump on board. But will the results be in a heap in a corner of the closet with the store bought fast fashion these generic downloads  emulate?  Or is it the other way around? Will the generically looking and fitting PDF garment be thought of as just as exciting and glamorous as all the rest of the generic tees from the fast fashion emporiums? If that is your standard, and it is for much of our population, these designs are right up there.



There is one very fascinating aspect of all of this, however. The other night I was on one of the brightly pastel colored blog/websites of a clearly inexperienced sewist but very capable blogger and PDF user and maker. In the same paragraph she says she abhors "The Big Four" and a sentence later she admits she's never used a pattern. Her sidebars offer you her PDFs. This is not a dropout from FIT but a lovely young woman who learned on her own like I did and based on the results shown in her blog, maybe sewing for a year or two max. Now what you read from here on is merely my observation, not a criticism of any kind, but I do find it fascinating. Our young, really young, newby sewists are so digitally primed that they think it is normal to print out 65 pages and tape it together. It is something they have grown into, would never question, and clearly would wonder why anyone would not do it this way. Everything else in life comes by way of clicks: dates, purchases, jobs, etc.  I have seen just this sentiment on more than one hip pastel sewing blog. I just find this so fascinating. This is a price we are paying for the lack of textile education in our schools. There is another way, newbies. No, there is not instant gratification. Yes, you will have to really think about how the garment goes together  when using a RL pattern. You will even have to follow directions, sometimes bad directions. But after you have done this enough times in enough variations you will be damn good at sewing.  Taped Tee Shirt after  taped Tee Shirt doesn't quite get you there. I am hoping that all those digi-sewists out there will eventually graduate to using real patterns, whether Indie or Big Four.


My caveat here is that I do know there are some designs sold as PDFs that are not so generic and blah and actually have fit as part of their existence. Burda definitely has some. But still, I am  just not ready to be a Taper. Are you a Taper? Digi-sewist? PDF maker and seller? Would love to hear from you all as I find this a rather fascinating provocative subject. The floor is yours. Just be nice.........Bunny

79 comments:

  1. Well said, Bunny!
    I don't tape any more than I have to as I was taught to sew using the paper patterns from the Big Four!
    The main problem with new sewers is that they haven't had any training on how to measure a person and use those measurements to construct a garment that fits. I was lucky in that they offered us home economics classes when I was in high school, and I also majored in H.E. for a few years in college.
    It's sad that our schools here don't offer anything like that anymore. So I think most people learning are looking for the easiest way to make something, and it is usually a garment that doesn't have any real fit.
    I just wish the new sewers would try the paper patterns and reading a pattern guide. I've only found a few guides that were a little difficult to understand. I just follow them step by step, and that seems to help.

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    1. Shirley, it is sad that these subjects are no longer offered in schools. I think with the effect that Fast Fashion has on our environment it is only good citizen training to get younger people sewing their own clothes. We need to stop fueling the high cost of fashion.

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  2. Very interesting post and timely post Bunny. I was thinking on the phenomena of young sewers who sew for a few minutes and then produce a pattern line comparing it to myself and others of my generation who have spent 20 years sewing for all and sundry with many a cool pattern and idea but never commercialised. I think you hit the nail on the head about the digital age producing these budding designers, some will go onto greatness while others fade away to obscurity. I have bought 2 patterns and taped but will not do it again as the facility for error never mind the fiddly process was great as well as tiresome. Some of the more savvy are now providing a flie that you can take to a print shop and have the pattern as a sheet (still not cheap $6.00 at my copy shop) which seems a good compromise.

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    1. That's really interesting. So the quick download turns into a trip out to the copy shop and drop of six bucks. Hmmm,,,, not sure what is gained that way either. Thanks for pointing this out to me/us.

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  3. I'm not a newbie or a youngster but I like having instant download options, and I actually prefer taping to tissue. I think it takes me less time to tape together 30-70 sheets of paper than to wrestle with, press, and cut out a tissue pattern ... esp. if I print at work on the fast laser while I'm already there. ;-) Multi-tasking.

    I'm OK with tissue now, but I used to HATE it with a passion. Still don't love it. That said, I don't think I've bought one of the "bright pastel" downloads because like you mention, most are basic enough that I already have TNTs that I stick with or can morph from. My taping preference comes from my pattern software days not from the "bright pastels."

    I haven't really had any formal training and think I'm a fairly accomplished sewer. Yes, my mom and grandmothers sewed and I sort of absorbed some from them way back then but I didn't sew as a girl or young woman. I didn't start sewing garments for myself until I was 39 (51 now) and I learned everything from the internet and books. But I didn't learn lightly ... I spent a LOT of time and energy self-educating.

    Give the newbies a chance ... everyone has to start somewhere. :-)

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    1. I agree and as I said I am all for anything that gets our next generation sewing, whatever method. I do think they will eventually morph to a higher skill level on their own.

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  4. Another thought ... many of these new PDF pattern-ers inspire a following. Sew-alongs, etc. Sewing is usually a solitary activity but the sew-alongs, get-togethers, etc. bring them together into both virtual and actual communities ... something older sewers had with HE classes, local fabric stores and classes, 4-H, Girl Scouts, and more. So maybe that's also part of the attraction to independents mainly featuring what may be very very basic styles??

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    1. I think you hit the nail on the head. The basic styles and Sew-Alongs are a great way to feel connected to a greater community. This is something that wasn't available when I was a teenager - one that was modifying pre-fab clothes, shopping at Salvation Army, and doing what is now called "upcycling" without any notion that there were others out there doing the same thing. I think it's great we have the blogosphere to connect!

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  5. Love it Bunny!!! I'm not a taper either...but I gotta have all those tape dispensers!!! so funny. I am still a believer in old school. But again I am older. great post!!!

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  6. Great post!

    I am not a taper and find it incredibly time consuming having done it once ( not from one of the bright pastel sites). While being a newish older sewer who has now taken some fashion design courses I find that not only do I prefer tissue but I am neurotic enough to trace my tissues onto more tissue so I can preserve the original pattern while I attempt to figure out fit issues.

    I think it is just part of the instant gratification generation that our wonderful technology has spawned. Even though it takes a lot of time to assemble the pattern is in your hands instantaneously and no waiting required!

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  7. I have taped one pattern and believe it or not purchased another one and will tape it together too. Being a plus size sewist, many of the PDF patterns aren't graded up to the larger sizes so I don't even look at them. Will I continue to purchase patterns to tape...ummm No! I'd rather spend my time sewing than taping. Also, I need patterns to offer me unique features to make me part with my hard earned money...probably why lately I'm mostly drawn to Vogue patterns or using my TNT patterns to interpret a style I've fallen in love with.

    Personally I think what is occurring here is a passing of the torch but differently than it was passed to us...and that is part of the disconnect. I'm thrilled that the next generation has taken to sewing and promoting it. Not so thrilled with some of the aspects of their taking to it but hesitant to bash it or criticize it because their enthusiasm is what will take them to the next level - at least that's what I believe.

    Sewing was declared dead and/or dying just 5-10 years ago and this generation's embrace of it has caused a comeback. I want sewing to be around for a long time. I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to experience the thrill that I do every time I spend time in my sewing cave. And with the rapid pace of technology, I'm absolutely sure that their experience will feature different experiences than mine did/does.

    I guess I want us older sewists to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly of our craft...knowing that the bad and the ugly will shake out and the gold (the good) will remain.

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  8. Because I am plus sized and over 6 ft tall, I already have to do a lot of taping just to make the preprinted patterns fit me. I think I might go batty if I had to tape it together,then cut it apart again for alterations.

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  9. The one and only pattern I downloaded and taped was enough to do me in.

    The paper stuck in the printer, the ink became lighter on page 23 gradually tapering to invisible, taping them together could only be successful if I had a full nights sleep before the event, and then the folding of the said pattern after the cutting, was like the tape then re stuck to the rest of the pattern, ripping the pattern apart where the tape was not used.

    I will take a $3.99 Vogue any day.

    Hand me the scissors.

    Joanne

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  10. I mostly buy paper patterns, but here in Australia they cost a LOT! No $3.99 sales - and shipping costs from the USA are huge. So if there are patterns available from designers such as Oliver + S or Victory Patterns as either paper or pdf, I will opt for the pdf and spend the time taping it together - because it will cost me significantly less. I've just tried my first Lekala pattern as well, a pdf that is drafted to my measurements, and the fit was great (although I chose an unflattering style, but that was my error, not theirs). Like many things in life, I think that the quality of pdf patterns varies greatly and depends on which designer you buy them from (as can the quality of paper patterns). And for me, they can save me a significant amount of cash! I am in my mid-forties and grew up with paper patterns, but can see the advantages that are offered with new technologies too.

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    1. So there is a real need for these PDFs in Oz. Very interesting.

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    2. We don't have the great pattern sales in the UK either. Sales are occasional and only up to 40% off. Also not all sewing stores stock all brands...usually just Butterick, Simplicity Burda and New Look. So I love a download. I really don't mind the taping. I do it on a evening where I'm too tired to sew but want to be productive. Generally with a glass of wine and some music! ;-)

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    3. We don't have the great pattern sales in the UK either. Sales are occasional and only up to 40% off. Also not all sewing stores stock all brands...usually just Butterick, Simplicity Burda and New Look. So I love a download. I really don't mind the taping. I do it on a evening where I'm too tired to sew but want to be productive. Generally with a glass of wine and some music! ;-)

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    4. We don't have the great pattern sales in the UK either. Sales are occasional and only up to 40% off. Also not all sewing stores stock all brands...usually just Butterick, Simplicity Burda and New Look. So I love a download. I really don't mind the taping. I do it on a evening where I'm too tired to sew but want to be productive. Generally with a glass of wine and some music! ;-)

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  11. ps - I have to admit that I HATE the taping part, and sometimes will take large patterns to a plan printer instead. And some designers do pdf patterns better than others in terms of how they tile the pattern pieces. I suspect that they are still getting their heads around the best ways to do things too, especially those that are hoping to make a serious business out of their designs.

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  12. I am not a newbie. I took HE. My mother encouraged my sewing. I sew from the Big 4. Iron all the sheets and paper trace them. Never cut the tissue. I order PDF's. I tape. Then I paper trace them. I love the whole process. I am all for supporting the Indy pattern makers. More power to them.

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  13. Not everyone lives in the US and has access to cheap patterns. To buy a Vogue here in Australia is $24 (at a guess cos I haven't bought one lately). On sale, maybe once or twice a year, you get for half price. If you order online from Vogue postage is about $25. And you have to wait awhile to get them. So for me, downloading a Burda is a very good option.

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  14. I have had both good and bad experiences with pdf patterns. Like with any new technologies there is a learning curve for all. I have to admit taping is not fun but is necessary and if the pattern is one I really want then I am willing.
    I have sewn for many years and part of my love for sewing is experimenting with new or different designs. So like others have expressed I am willing to embrace the new pattern makers.

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  15. I don't tape (and am not keen to trace either), but have noticed that both downloadable and purchased tissue are available in both very basic and more sophisticated designs. What is most striking to me is that new, young sewists are so eager to learn and share. I do wish there wasn't such a generation gap, with both age groups having such a hard time communicating across the chasm. Elle

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    1. I so agree. I would love nothing more than to hand off the torch to a highly interested newbie. I've had no interest in this area for teaching younger people but that may change.

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    2. Teach me. I am a young newbie..very new. But i would love to learn the 'old ways' vs. fast homemade fashion.

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  16. I don't tape (and am not keen to trace either), but have noticed that both downloadable and purchased tissue are available in both very basic and more sophisticated designs. What is most striking to me is that new, young sewists are so eager to learn and share. I do wish there wasn't such a generation gap, with both age groups having such a hard time communicating across the chasm. Elle

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  17. I hate to tape too, but I also hate mutilating a pattern to the point that I probably could have drafted my own from scratch by the time I got it to fit. I ordered a Lekala pattern and had it printed on the big machine at Fedex Office. It cost me $10 which is a third of the printed cost of a Vogue pattern these days. It was actually a pretty close fit, not perfect, but a lot closer than a vogue pattern would get me.

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  18. I have never taped a pdf pattern so can't comment, but I am with you on the cost of the ink, the time to print the pages, lay them out, tape them, and then you still have to cut it out too - its just never appealed to me.

    I do hate tracing out the BurdaStyle patterns, but confess to being so pleased with the styles and results of the few I have made, that I am sold on them now.d

    That said, I guess this is the digital age, and everyone wants it instantly, so I guess this is what is driving the market. But I think buying a pattern on sale is a better option for me.

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  19. I've taped a pattern or two...when they're well-drafted it's no big deal, although I hate having to then retrace the darned thing if I need to see the fabric pattern placement for cutting. If a pattern is what I'm looking for, it's reasonably priced and I can get it immediately, I'll deal with whatever format it's in.

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    1. Good point. I definitely like the idea of see through tissue for print placement.

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  20. I'd rather wait for the printed pattern in the mail to be honest, but in a pinch, I've printed stuff out. Either way, when you're over here in Germany where Burda is everywhere, you're going to end up tracing and using tape. Same goes with Dutch and Japanese sewing patterns. To offer another alternative to PDF at home vs. Big Four... there's self-drafting and draping! I've been learning how to draft my own bodice, skirt, and trouser blocks at home using several books including "Pattern Cutting" and "Make Your Own Dress Patterns". I must admit, though, I have an illustration and drafting background, but drafting sets and scenery for theatre instead of clothing.

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    1. Kudos to you for jumping to the next level, drafting and draping. I'm impressed.

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  21. Tissue fitting is a vital part of sewing for others and myself. Pinning tissue paper patterns together give you a real idea if that sucker will actually be flattering or hang well or need altering. Try pinning printer paper around your body and hoping it will give you an idea of the finished product...you end up looking like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz. Cutting out a new pattern is relaxing, pressing it with a dry iron is rewarding and folding it back up and sliding it into a neat ziplock bag after it is used is divine...try doing that with a 30-60 page PDF. What DO you do with all those bulky taped sheets of paper? They don't fold flat, they don't roll and they are wasteful seeing what you cut off in the process...you can't use the cuttings for anything else. My pattern paper cuttings are recycled in the wormery as they decompose quickly.

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    1. Why am I not surprised you have a wormery, Jo? Great point on the tissue fitting which I have seen you do so well on your blog.

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  22. I love the pdf patterns and taping, it's so nice when sewing for kids to have a whole range of sizes for the one pattern so that when sewing for multiple children or the same pattern over multiple years it will still fit and doesn't involve buying multiple tissue patterns. Tissue patterns may work when sewing for myself as I don't expect to change sizes radically but they are impractical for me when sewing for my children (and friends children), I've often sewn the same pattern for a 3m old, 3 year old, 5 year old and an 8 year old at the same time in boy and girl versions and lengths which can't be done in tissue without buying the same pattern 4 times or spending a lot more time tracing - uggh so much more time consuming than printing, taping and cutting!!

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  23. I was taught to sew when I was about 10, but would consider myself an amateur. I can put together outfits but I can not in any way draft anything! And I will probably never figure out how to measure myself and end up with pants! :) I prefer real patterns, but will use the PDF patterns for simple items and mostly for play clothes for my kids. I prefer my children's clothes to fit them and not some random sample size so I will make their pajamas, pants, shorts and such. And for that I will use a PDF pattern because they are very simple. However budget, time and all that being no obstacle give me the pattern in an envelope any day!

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  24. Amen and amen Bunny!!! I'm right there with you. I have only bought PDF patterns for kids. I hate the whole taping process and, as you've mentioned, many of the patterns are very basic. My experience has been less than wonderful with almost all the PDF patterns that I've tried. I think instant gratification is definitely the issue.

    Instant designer is also the problem. I've found that once someone can create something, they are instantly a self proclaimed designer, start a eye catching blog, develop a following and they are off to creating PDF patterns and this seems to be the ticket to success. Yikes! The lack of formal training is tragic. The fact that even after they have a following they still do not seek any formal training is even more disturbing. Fit is usually tragic.

    As mentioned, I've tried a few of these PDF patterns. The first one had good (not great) instructions, but the fit was SO wrong. Took me many months before I succumbed and purchased another one. Again, a less than great experience. My most recent PDF purchase was better in terms of instructions, but the fit (again) was really wrong. The pattern had 5" of ease in the chest for a size 18 mo.!!! Clearly, most of these self proclaimed "designers" - and I use that term VERY loosely, are in need of some serious training. However, they are so busy designing, selling, and some are even teaching real life classes, that they have no time to improve. It's pitiful.

    I am glad that there is a renewed interest in sewing. I only wish that there was a desire on the part of this new generation of sewists to go further and learn correct construction, fit, etc. and excel at the art of sewing.

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    1. I like that term, "Instant Designer". You are such an acknowledged expert at what you do and I find you opinion very interesting.

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  25. Well, I am on the opposite side as a pattern maker who offers her patterns as PDF files. I made several patterns which I offer for free, but these are hand drawn, with very brief instructions and in one size only.
    I have recently launched a new line of sewing patterns that I charge for, called Stepalica Patterns, aimed for intermediate to advanced dressmakers, so no basics from me! A specific style of my patterns is unusual seaming and details - a combination of Pattern Magic, TR and my sense of aesthetics and style.
    Oh, and I'm also self taught, but I'm no newbie at all! I've been sewing actively for 20 years. I also write for several sewing magazines (Sew News being one of them).
    So, why are my patterns in PDF format? I'll admit it - it's much cheaper to produce a PDF than to print. But, it isn't easier. The amount of work is equal for both - you still need to draft the pattern, test it, prepare it for print, write down the instructions and draw all the illustrations, no matter what the final format is. And let me tell you, it is a lot of work, especially if you set yourself some high standards like I did.
    I am aware of the donwside of the PDF pattern. I would love to offer printed patterns as well, and I hope I will, some day. But, at the moment I am not in a position to do so. If my start-up project survives and I realize it is worth the investment, I sure will switch to the print. Until then, I'm stuck with the PDF.
    I do hope you'll change your mind, because I believe there are some talented pattern makers who just can not afford to print (yet). We are not all stereotyped beginners trying to get rich over the night.

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    1. I am so glad you responded, Anajan. I will definitely check out your blog and designs as you are clearly a pro. I wish you great success and am glad you provide a better alternative for those who tape and our newbie digi-sewists. It is nice to know that there is some real professionalism used in making your designs. So many I have seen are not in that category. I really appreciate you chiming in and sharing your valuable point of view. Thanks.

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    2. I just checked out your Nougat dress and it is fabulous. Now, that's worth taping and doing. You are a gifted pattern maker and I hope others here click on your name and check out your blog. Best of luck to you.

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    3. Thank you for posting your thoughts and pattern information. I would hardly classify someone with over 20 years of experience with the beginners. Unfortunately you have a real uphill climb because of all the 5 year and less sewing, inexperienced and untrained women out there that are selling their PDF patterns. Sadly, with the poor fit, lack of technique and lackluster styling, they give PDF patterns a bad reputation. The only thing that they have going for them is that they are using trendy fabrics with lots of appeal, and they have blogs that are eye catching.

      I hope that you do well with your PDF patterns. I do understand the expense of printing paper patterns. I just had 10 patterns and instructions printed - it was over $100. Very costly. PDF is much less expense, but yes, equally as much work. Good luck with your designing/selling. I'll be watching for new patterns. :)

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    4. What pattern makers are you refering to when you say pastel and eye catching blog?
      Colette clearly has a bright pastels theme, but the sell printed patterns so I can't tellif you are refering to them or not. Their biggest talent is their user friendly technical writing. I tried sewing from a commercial pattern for the first time in 2001 and what may be clear to sewist who barely reference the instructions is greek to a new sewist and it turned me of of comercial patterns for a long time until all these sewing blogs popped up. I read recently that there is an observable trend in sewing instructions over the decades and interestingly enough I pulled out my vintage new york gold brunch coat pattern and it has better instructions than my run of the mill comercial patterns.

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    5. I will say Colette Patterns is not one I am referring to here. But there are many that fit my description. I am not going to name names as I just don't blog that way. I am saying buyer beware. Recently Debbie of "Stitches and Seams" blog had a fabulous open letter to indie designers. It says it all in my opinion. Here is the link: http://stitchesandseams.blogspot.com/2013/10/an-open-letter-to-indies.html

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  26. I am a fan of SOME PDF patterns. I agree that a lot of the PDF patterns out there are from inexperienced sewists who should take a sewing class or two before getting into the pattern-drafting business. I live in Canada and there are few if any pattern sales at Fabricland any more. There are a lot of great independent pattern designers, but the shipping cost to Canada is often more than the cost of the pattern. PDF patterns are a way for me to get some of the great new patterns, so YES! I tape!

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  27. I have another perspective. I am a large size and many of the commercial patterns are not graded large enough. I use pattern drafting software and can design my own clothing (often using pattern line drawings as inspiration). I have to print and tape. I find this is far more effective than my grading up a pattern and then having to alter that pattern to fit me. I print out a pattern that will require only fine-tuning in the fit and nothing more. I do agree that many of the PDF's "out there" are fairly simple, and find many craft sewing projects (like wallets, purses, etc) the only ones that may catch my eye.

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    1. I agree. The smaller projects like doll clothes and wallets/bags I don't mind taping. There are usually minimal pages.

      It did not occur to me that there is such a need for plus sized patterns. When are they going to wake up? I am glad that using PDFs works for you and we all have to do what works. There certainly is a business opportunity here, sewistas. Won't someone fill the void?

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  28. I see a market! For we home sewists to teach classes.

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    1. I actually have a friend who did just that.
      Having moved back to our old home town, starting over, needing employment, and noticing our small town offered dance, music, and martial arts schools as extra curricular activities, she rented an empty store front, bought 4 sewing machines, and started offering Saturday and after school classes. Summer was slow, but as the school year approached, enrollments increased. She limits her class size to 4 students, from the age of 6 onward, and charges by the month. I wish her, and you, great success.

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  29. I thought I was the only one.
    A 'cheap' download is not cheap at all. MY paper. MY time. MY tape. MY ink!!! Let's not discount the cost of losing MY temper!!!
    I've been sewing since the 1960's, and I like to think I'm pretty good at it. Never once, have I been happy, or worn out of the house, anything I've downloaded, taped together and tried to make into a pattern. In fact. I have better luck buying a used garment at the Charity Shop, taking it apart and using that as a pattern. Give me a Vogue or Butterick any old day!

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  30. I've taped twice. Burda, for my sins. The taping is as annoying as the obtuse directions are. The ONLY reason I did it is this: both times Burda was the only company that had coat patterns in the styles I wanted - a pea coat and a duffel coat. Give me the Big 4 any time but, of course, that's what I grew up with. As you pointed out, printing and taping does not save the consumer any money. It is an illusion to think that the pattern is only costing you $5. Great post, Bunnie!

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  31. Choice is good. My preference is not to print and tape, so I look to see how many pages etc. I do love the Flickr pools so I can see how the designs come together IRL. I have had great success with Victory Patterns - I loved the first dress I made and the taping was OK. She offers paper, PDF or copy shop files. PDFs for bags and wallets like Debbie Cook offers are painless, right?

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  32. I feel a little envious of all those beginners who think they can do anything. If you can keep up that attitude, you CAN, eventually. The stuff they're making doesn't appeal to me, but they seem to be having great fun, and isn't that what we all want from our avocations? (I already have a tee-shirt pattern, so I know I don't need another one. Maybe spending money and time on one of those pdf's would sour me on them a bit.)

    Learning to sew from my mom and the 4-H club, I thought I had to have a pattern to make anything. I used Big 3 (in those days, Vogue didn't appear in small towns), and I bought my knitting and crochet patterns at Woolworths, along with yarn and needles. It dawned on me after a few years that sweaters were simple shapes, and I could make up my own patterns.

    I wish I had felt free to try and make my own sewing patterns back then. I knew something about fitting, and I knew I could combine details from various patterns to change the look, but I believed in the mystery of the all-knowing pattern companies, and I was afraid of wasting fabric.

    These days, I feel that the world has more fabric than I have life left to sew, so I'm trying pattern drafting. I just wish those pastel-colored, hip sewists were a little less snarky. I guess it goes with being young and insecure.

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  33. I, too, admire the newbies. Plugging away on YouTube and learning to sew. They are not jaded by the rules and their creativity is not smoothered by some teacher saying "no you can't do it that way, rip it out"!

    I do tape. I use Wildginger pattern software to create many of my clients' patterns. I purchased a photo printer which allows me to print 13x17 sheets. On average most pattern takes about 12-24 sheets. I place the smaller pieces inside of the larger pieces, since never cut the paper, I trace them on medical exam paper it works out great. I sometimes feed the paper in upside down and use the reverse to print new patterns!

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  34. I'm an old-school taper. It's how I was taught, and what I'm most comfortable doing. DH bought me a lovely software program to create my own... but, I've barely used it. Maybe if I get a tough-to-fit client it will come in handy? Anyhow, I was just remembering this morning... I was about 5 and shopping with Mom for a pattern and fabric for some "back to school" clothes. I distinctly remember a blue gingham for the top... Anyway, I remember feeling the cut tissue, and then when the shirt was done, I couldn't for the life of me figure out where that tissue went! Was it inside the shirt? Where did it go??? I thought it would become part of the top, and to this day, I laugh to myself as I remove the tissue from the cut fabric, and fondly remember my mom, her big plastic avocado green sewing box, and the days when Kmart sold fabric and patterns!

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  35. Great post Bunny. Some good observations on what is out there to download. I see so many patterns that are basically the Same thing, renamed or "reinvented" either available for free or paid. I think with some sewing experience and/or education that beginning or intermediate sewers could save themselves many hours by using better patterns to start with.
    Re: taping. Almost never. What a pain. I did print and tape a couple of times as a pattern tester for Tasia of Sewaholic patterns and was happy to do it, obviously that is a particular case since the patterns are still in "draft" when she sends the PDF. I also paid the print/tape for a Lekala pattern per the owner's request so I could blog about it and that was fine. It was not a very complicated dress style and the fit was perfect so I recommend highly. but the time it takes to print, tape, then I trace because the pages are both too stiff and yet too fragile to use as the actual pattern pieces. Once I did a download from Burda for a skirt and after taping etc I totally lost interest.
    Thank goodness for Vogue patterns. My favorite!

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  36. I don't like to print and tape. I would however be more than happy to do it if I could enter my measurements and print out a pattern that would fit me!!

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  37. You can send those PDF files to Office Max or any other printing service and they will print them for you. Usually they are on big sheets of paper so there is minimal taping involved.

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  38. You've echoed a lot of the thoughts I've had on the digi-sewing trend. I am a pattern maker with many years of experience and I use tape and paper as a matter of course. Still, I can't see myself laying out 50 sheets of paper to tape together. I've considered selling patterns too but I've pretty much rejected the idea of straight up PDF patterns for the whole taping together issue. I also agree that the newbies need a bit more experience before venturing out as experts - though it is encouraging to see their no-fear attitude.

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  39. I tape. I actually enjoy it. It is like putting a puzzle together. However the patterns I do this to are usually complicated designs that I can't find preprinted. I am working on one now. After taping the printer paper together, I trace the pattern pieces on tissue paper and then do my normal fitting process from there. This move to digital I don't mind. Digital books and magazines I do mind. I have not embraced that change.

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  40. Although I've been sewing for over 35 years I'm a newbie to the online sewing community. And guess what, I like downloading pdf's! Your post is written from an American point of view whereas the sewing world is very international. In Europe we pay 25 to 30 dollars for a Vogue pattern, and the choice is limited. Ordering online from BMV or Indies adds 15 dollars shipping cost to the price of a tissue pattern. Downloading is faster, cheaper and fun. By the way, I don't tape, I glue! I trace my size, roll the original and put a rubber band on it.
    I agree with you on the lack of knowledge by some PDF sellers.

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  41. While it is true that many of the PDF patterns are basic, so too are many of the Big 4. I am self taught, and occasionally need a break from the challenges sewing a difficult pattern. It is then I will download and happily tape a basic tee, or dress. Just recently I taped up a tee pattern developed for petites, and found it to be a wonderful fit. It is actually going to replace my Vogue tees as an activewear tee pattern.

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  42. Wow! I go away from the computer for a day and all H$#% breaks loose! I never use .pdf patterns and I don't know who those newbies are with their pretty sites. I use Big Four exclusively, generally on sale at Joann's. I'm not about to spend all that time and effort printing and taping, then cutting something that may or may not work. I've been sewing since grade school (I'm now 60 and retired) and never once wanted something I couldn't get from the Big Four, probably because I haven't a creative bone in my body. I've only taken one class in school and that was over the summer so it was limited in scope and time. I never really realized how good we have it in the US regarding the price of patterns. Good luck to those in Europe, Asia and Down Under!

    If I have a tissue pattern that I like I fuse it to lightweight Pellon, available on sale at Joann's, to keep using it for a long time. This way I can make alterations to fit me perfectly. I find the Amazing Fit patterns from Simplicity to be quite good. I solved the plus size dilemma by losing weight. That works wonders for fitting :), but I realize that not everyone can manage it.

    Great post, Bunny, keep up the observations, it really stimulates a lot of thinking and results in great comments. We all learn from these posts and comments.

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    1. Thanks, Claire. I like the Amazing fit patterns as well and have minimal changes to do with them.

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  43. I'm not a fan of taping - I've done it a few times but the length of time and resource that it takes from hitting the download button to having the actual pattern (in tissue or whatever) that you use to cut out the garment is arduous. That said, I'm a fan of tracing - Burda, Ottobre and the occasional Patrones magazine. My preference is guided by needing fewer alterations to Burda patterns than, say, the big 4. I've been using Burda magazine for nearly 3 decades now and their sizing has always been very consistent, so I'm able to grade between sizes as I trace and also add in any other adjustments, such as swayback, also as I trace. All this is a huge timesaver for me, doesn't take much resource (just the tissue paper, really) and is very cost effective - a typical magazine will have around 15 - 20 patterns in it for less than £5 which isn't much more than the cost of a download pattern.

    Re. the enthusiastic newbies, if they make it as a business, they will at some point have to up their skill levels, I think. There are only so many basic designs you can work with under your own brand and as (hopefully) the skill levels of those newbies on the journey with you develop, you will have to offer them more if you're going to keep them for the long run. Whether they stay with PDF or go printed will probably, again, be dictated by commercial realities - will they lose their customer base if they go printed having always been PDF? Give it another 30 years and we'll probably all be wearing 3D printed clothing anyway! Perish the thought!

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  44. I think I agree with you Bunny. At the moment I am working on getting basic skiils back after a break of about 20 years from sewing. But in my youth I learnt everything from Vogue Designer Patterns - I wasn't satisfied with quick and easy. Id do think simple patterns, whether PDF or tissues are great for beginners, but I do take issue with beginners thinking a simple skirt makes them a great sewer or designer. But they do seem to attract other young newbies, so I guess at least they are all sewing.

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  45. as far as I am concerned, it's a matter of availability, cost and time. If you have access to patterns in envelopes cheaply and easily, then you are lucky as you have all 3. I live in the Philippines where there are no patterns available in stores, so I am used tracing patterns out of magazines I bring back from Europe or drafting my own patterns. If I want a Vogue designer pattern, I wait for the sale and then have someone mail to me from the States, but that can mean waiting months, so not very useful if I want to make something for a party next week. So I was really pleased when companies started offering pdf patterns as they are often cheaper than the ones in envelopes, and immediately available world wide. Wether I trace a Burda pattern out of a magazine, or print tape it together (actually I find a glue stick much faster!), takes about the same amount of time. Yes it does use up lot of paper, but then I recycle all my office paper and use for patterns and it does use ink, but then the patterns were cheaper in the first place. I believe PDF patterns definitely serve a need all over the world and if they didn't the companies offering them would be out of business pretty quickly! It's also a bit unfair to equate PDF patterns with "lesser quality" patterns as this depends totally on the company offering them. After all even some of the "big 4" offer their patterns as downloads and I certainly wish that Vogue would do so, so I could get my hands on some of their designer patterns quickly and easily!

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  46. I'm one of the "newbie" sewers (less than a year of sewing) and I LOVE pdf patterns, mainly because i'm abroad in west africa and can't exactly go to Joann's and buy patterns. I find cutting and taping to be very relaxing as i love the "mindlessness" of it. Also I dont have libraries or sewing teachers here - so those online sewalongs are EXTREMELY helpful to me as I often have no clue what I am doing and my only resource is the internet. I dont see a lot of sewalongs happening for the Big 4 patterns.

    Tissue patterns also stress me out because they're so fragile. Trying to cut/trace one of those inside a stifling hot cement house near the equator without ac and not being able to turn the fan on because it'll blow the tissue pattern away, then having your sweat drip on the tissue and thus creating points where it tears easily... yeah not fun, but i suppose not many people have my living situation either. In the end i think each person just has to figure out what works best for them depending on where they are.

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  47. Very well put. I am not a taper (having done it only a couple of times), but the person that said it takes less time to tape 30 sheets than to cut out a tissue pattern obviously has never done the latter. After you tape all the sheets together, you STILL have to cut it out! I think the most disturbing thing about this trend to support indie designers it to dis the big four. I follow several sewing blogs, and I'm not seeing that the end results are any better fitting than Big 4 patterns. Fit, it would seem, it dependent on on the sewer's talent or work at altering.

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    1. ...and no worse than the big four. I've been sewing for 12 years and my opinion is that the birth of so many independant designers has caused the big four to up their game.

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  48. Very well put. I am not a taper (having done it only a couple of times), but the person that said it takes less time to tape 30 sheets than to cut out a tissue pattern obviously has never done the latter. After you tape all the sheets together, you STILL have to cut it out! I think the most disturbing thing about this trend to support indie designers it to dis the big four. I follow several sewing blogs, and I'm not seeing that the end results are any better fitting than Big 4 patterns. Fit, it would seem, it dependent on on the sewer's talent or work at altering.

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  49. I came across this thread yesterday and returned today to finish reading. I'm a new sewer (got my first machine in January). I'm luckily in the US with a joann and Hancock within a few minutes driving so of course I navigated to the Big 4 ($.99-$5 patterns? Yes please! I have taped a children's pattern and the Kimono tee by Maria Denmark. I just printed a Lekala pants pattern and yes I will have to tape it then trace it :/ I don't like taping and I don't like tracing and I hate muslins.

    I like tissue fitting and flat pattern measurements. I mean, that tissue isn't fabric but if it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit. Right?! And if the flat pattern waist for example measures 32" and mine is 34", it's not going to fit...right?! So yeah, I only muslin if I'm completely unsure or my fabric is too lovely to chance.

    And with tracing well...when you can get the pattern again for a dollar or two...

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