Hey, it’s a Saturday Musings post! Grab a beverage …
Okay, so I don’t like expansion packs for sewing patterns. Hence the title of this post. Note that I did not title this post ‘why I don’t like expansion packs’. You see, I don’t actually know why I don’t like them! So I thought I’d work out my feelings in a post, and see what you think on the matter. Yes? Yes.
A little back story on my opinion: I started sewing with Big 4 patterns (actually Big 3, as Simplicity was a later arrival to my pattern collection). They were low cost, easy to find, and had a million different designs. Sometimes the biggest size was laughably small for me, but a little elbow grease and a lot of
stubbornness patience led to successful upsizing. Another wonderful trait of the Big 4 was that every pattern included multiple variations of the same garment. Sometimes the variations were minor, like short and long sleeves, and sometimes they were major, like different necklines. Big 4 patterns also had wardrobe patterns, which are my favorites! For the price of one shirt with two sleeve lengths and three necklines, you could get a shirt, pair of pants, skirt, and a cardigan. Wow! Here’s a photo of my favorite wardrobe pattern:
from which I’ve made more than ten items, including both items in this post’s featured photo. I might have paid $4 for it, including shipping. WINNING!
Of course, there are some things the Big 4 (especially the Big 3) do that I don’t like – they re-release old designs as new patterns, and release very similar designs at the same time. So if you’re not careful, you could end up with the 1993, 2004, and 2015 version of the same exact design. They may be cheap individually, but that $4 adds up! And when it comes to sales, similar patterns pose a dilemma – do you get both, thereby getting basically one design with allll it’s variations, or do you sacrifice one of the fraternal twins in order to get a completely different new pattern that caught your eye?
Yes, I know this is all very first world problem-y. But I think about sewing a lot – welcome to my inner world.
Okay, so that’s the Big 4. What about indie pattern brands?
Independent pattern brands are often the aesthetic venture of one person. Maybe with a team of five or so people exclusively supporting that person, with any number of vendors offering indirect or non-exclusive support. Indie brands simply do not have the resources or personnel of the Big 4. It is not reasonable to expect, or want, them to play the same game. And you know what? People *love* indie expansion packs, as far as I can see. So what’s the problem?
I think, for me, having been forced into pattern drafting and grading right out of the gate, a little bit of hacking is such a breeze I wonder at the need for an expansion pack. Then I remember most people who sew don’t have to do things the hard way, and so might not have the faintest clue how to do anything more to a sewing pattern than pin it to fabric and cut around it. (Lucky ducks!!!!)
The other point of resistance for me is confusion over what is included in an expansion pack, and whether one should have to pay for it. Some brands offer hacks for free on their blogs, some brands offer expansion packs for free in their shops, and some charge up to $10 for theirs. Why? What is the difference in their offerings? I suppose it would be easy enough to buy some patterns and acquire their expansion packs and see. Would you like me to do that?
Anyway, for now it’s enough to know that my pushback comes from a lack of understanding. (Isn’t that always the source of human resistance to new things?) And I know how to resolve this inner hangup: exploring the matter further. Huzzah for baby steps! And huzzah for having a space to nerd out about sewing patterns.