As a tribute to my very opinionated best friend, I am weighing in on the recent small controversy regarding indie pattern companies.
When I began to seek out sewing on the internet, I immediately was skeptical of the indies. Fancy graphics, homogenous models, and self-patting on the back, it seemed. Reeked of high school ‘cool girl’ cliques. And to make matters worse, the patterns were super basic. A darted bodice with a circle skirt attached: OMG, rocket science!!!!!
At some point I decided to remove the chip from my shoulder, and happened to meet Sarai of Colette (who is really quite a treat). I bought a Lady Grey … and never sewed it. (Even to this day, a year or two later. Coats are scary, what can I say?) I got deeper into the online sewing community, and began to feel like a grouchy loser for not loving indie patterns. After starting my blog, I even decided I needed to quit the Big 4 and go indie 100%.
I guess for me, the issue surrounding the indies is less who gets paid and for what, and more what are they really bringing to the table. Snazzy graphics? Check. A face for a brand? Check. Fans? Yes. But the garments I see sewers make work more because they pick great fabrics and less because the pattern was ‘well drafted’, or made for their ‘body type’, or whatever.
As you know, right now I’m working on a Centaurée. The drafting is great, but I’m fat. So I have just as much work to make it fit as a pattern from Vogue. Centaurée has an interesting bodice front, which lured me in, but Vogue has cool patterns, too. Some other indies have “clean” designs that you could easily hack from McCall’s Easy Stitch ‘N Save or Butterick‘s See & Sew patterns. (Heck, even Vogue has easy patterns.)
Interestingly, there was a time I wanted to produce a line of patterns for large ladies, but I decided against it. Why? Because simply offering larger patterns isn’t really good enough. I know the support would be there, but it lowers the bar in a way I didn’t want to do. As sewers who are spending time and money to clothe ourselves and nourish our creative fires, and, in the process, supporting thousands of people in areas from shipping to web hosts to fabric retailers, we deserve projects worthy of our gift and our passion. Not just ones we can pull on.
The other side of the debate was lack of indie criticism. Reading through the blog posts (linked below) and all the comments (I simply ADORE reading blog/article comments online …), I realized that we silence ourselves and then ask others to speak up. Every single sewer has issues, but we tend to shove them under the rug to appear positive to our readers. I know I’m super guilty of this; not until the other day did I share the work I do to simply get a pattern to fit my body. At the same time, I grouch that larger sewers don’t share their techniques for grading, don’t blog, etc. Hel-lo!!!!
Not all bloggers are squeamish, though. What I love about Clothing Engineer, Sew Crafty Chemist, and Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, are their honesty and really detailed discussions of sewing. CE is really technical, really worthy of her blog name, and if you take the time to read all she writes, you learn SO MUCH. (And she’s smart, and she’s very free with her knowledge.) SCC claims she sleeps, but really I think all she does is sew and review sewing patterns honestly — she’s another great source of information, no matter your body type. DoaSF is the queen of sewing bloggers in my mind, because she knows so much and it shows in her really intelligent finished garments: here, here, herrrre. She knows how to analyze patterns and exploit them to their fullest potential, and she shares her occasional wadder, too.
I think indies and sewers alike would be helped by truth and dialogue — not just between pattern testers and sewers, but between sewers and sewers, and sewers and designers, and designers and sewers and pattern testers. To that end, I will do my best to share my own behind-the-scenes more, instead of assuming my fat-fixes are useless for average-sized ladies. I’ll also share my little sewing quirks, like experiments on different ways to finish seams or join fabrics or whatever. As MegaMind says, ‘let’s just have fun with this‘!