Monday, November 25, 2013

Reflections on being a beginning sewist, indie pattern companies, and product support

Life got in the way a little and prevented me from moving forward on the Red Velvet Sewalong for awhile, but I'm happy to say I've completed through Day 5--Hooray!  This means I've:
Hey, I figured out how to do a three stitch zig-zag!

  • done the Deep Bust Adjustment and added longer sleeves to the bodice
  • cut out my fabric
  • stabilized and sewed my shoulder seams
  • attached the facing and topstitched it to the bodice
I wasn't totally happy with my topstitching, at first, and was considering ripping it out, but then I looked at it again the next day and decided it was fine.  The fabric crept a little on the top as I was stitching, which made it look a little skewed.  But, then I decided it didn't look bad (and certainly not bad enough to keep me from wearing it), so I decided to move on.  In the videos accompanying the sewalong, Steph shows how she uses steam a seam on that part which I'm sure keeps the fabric from creeping.  I didn't have any, so I didn't do that step.  Next time, I will (I haven't even finished this dress and I'm already planning another one!).

My mom was visiting last week and I showed her the pattern and we talked about the price difference between indie patterns and buying a Big 4 pattern from Joann's.  It's true that indie patterns are much more expensive than what you would pay for, say, a Simplicity dress pattern.  I like supporting small businesses (especially those owned by women), and I recognize that a higher price is something that goes along with buying from a small business.  Not everyone has an interest in going out of their way to support small businesses, though, and some prefer to save money on buying their patterns and spend it on more expensive fabric instead and I can appreciate that point of view.


You are never, ever going to get the sort of product support on a Big 4 pattern that you can get on an indie pattern in general and on the Cake patterns in particular.  Never.  Maybe, if you are an experienced sewist, that doesn't make much of a difference to you, but if you are a beginner, well, the videos accompanying the sewalong are worth the price of the pattern all by themselves.  And, on top of that, you can upload images of your project to the flickr Sewalong group and if you are having a problem, the designer herself will help you sort it out.  Frankly, this is pure gold, and this is what my mother and I ended up talking about.

I am quite lucky in that:  1) my mother is quite good at sewing, and 2) when I decided to learn to sew and bought a machine, my mother helped me make a dress from start to finish.  This meant that I learned a whole bunch of very basic things right at the very beginning and had enough confidence (and knowledge) to make a few skirts and kid's clothes on my own.  I'm also unlucky in that my mother lives half a continent away and so, after that initial lesson, I was mostly on my own.  That's where the product support, sewalongs, etc. come in.  

I know I'm not alone in this.  There's a large number of beginning sewists who have nobody nearby to help them learn to sew and improve their sewing.  Maybe they don't live near family or if they do, nobody in their family sews.  The online sewing community has been instrumental in helping people in those circumstances, and sewalongs (led by the pattern designer or another experienced sewist) are invaluable.  I'm very grateful that they exist and I hope to join more sewalongs in the future!

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