Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sticky Subject

In the interest of keeping this 7-year-old blog going whilst being distracted by the garden and Someone who wants to walk my feet off daily, here’s another post on a random sewing subject: downloadable patterns. Yeah, I know I’ve supposedly been on a pattern-buying moratorium lately. But that won’t stop me entirely! Besides, I only meant to avoid the Big 4 and anyway some downloading happened before I decided to hold off. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

So anyhow, I’ve tried quite a few of these downloadable patterns over the last while with mixed results. For starters this isn’t really a very cost-effective way to obtain a sewing pattern. It takes your personal time, paper, printer ink and glue or tape. On the plus side, you don’t have to go to the store to get it, find it’s not available in your size or wait for the mail to deliver it. The jury is still out on whether or not these opposing factors balance out in the long run. Especially when it can take as many as 50 sheets of paper to print the darn things. Oy.

However, that hasn’t stopped me from downloading a fair number of digital patterns. There’s nothing like immediate gratification! Even if it means more work at least I’m doing something. I don’t have a convenient fabric store that carries the common pattern lines. My go-to store, Dressew, doesn’t carry any patterns any more. And the other fabric stores are a much longer transit ride away. (Though I must visit Fabricana in Richmond some day soon.) OK, so where does one find downloadable patterns?

The first place I tried, quite awhile back, was BurdaStyle. They have select patterns from the magazine and a lot of self-drafted contributions from members. The quality of the former is great; the latter varies, as you might expect. If you purchase a digital pattern you can download the PDF to your own computer plus a link stays in your account if you need to download it again for whatever reason. This is good. Navigation is a bit awkward on this site but you can see what others have made from the pattern which is a nice feature. Some garments look totally different than the photo in the magazine! I probably wouldn’t have bothered with them if I hadn’t seen the alternatives.

Then there is I’ve been a little annoyed with purchasing downloads from here. You can get a selection of patterns from the Big 4 and other independent companies but sometimes the download is more expensive than the paper pattern. Why? Plus the download interface at Printsew (where they send you) is crap. You can’t save the PDF to your computer, though you can save the instruction sheets. You have to print directly from the site and supposedly there is a limit on how many times you can do that. My printer doesn’t play nice with it at all and though I can get a printout in spite of the error messages, I can’t adjust the options to use the black cartridge or draft mode. Wasteful. Grrr…

There are other places to get downloadable sewing patterns of course. As well as the established companies, there are lots of individual designers publishing pattern PDFs. Some are even free. As always, the quality of the production varies because I’m sure, depending on one’s software and abilities, there’s quite a learning curve to producing an excellent PDF. Though that doesn’t effect whether or not it’s a great garment pattern. That’s another whole skill set. The advantage for the indie designer is not having to produce and ship paper patterns or find and pay someone else to do it. This is a big one and it increases the cost of the pattern astronomically. I am more likely to buy a digital version than pay for shipping from, say, Australia. I made an exception for my Sewaholic Minoru Jacket but then I was able to pick it up from a local shop. Helps that Tasia herself lives locally too!

So where does that leave me and my current projects? Somewhere in limbo I think! Here’s the state of my BurdaStyle Pleat-Shoulder Blouse:


That would be it all cut out and sitting forlornly on my sewing table. Waiting. And what am I doing instead? Playing with more patterns:


This one was a freebee by DixieDIY. She unfortunately discontinued it for whatever reason, I guess to sub another (paid) pattern instead. The original page is here if you want to see what you missed. Sorry, because I actually like this version better, a loose swing t-shirt with little cuff sleeves. Her patterns are meticulously designed with Adobe Illustrator and I like how she leaves the pattern lines to overlap the edges and uses both numbers and letters to differentiate the notches for easier joining. I use my paper cutter to slice off the extra on the left and top of the pieces to be joined and then I use a glue stick to paste them together:


Unlike some whom I will not name, Dixie’s lined up perfectly. (Those rainbow light effects are not my camera but reflections from a crystal in my sunny – yay! – window.)

Now I can’t decide what fabric to use to try this pattern out! Maybe I should go back to the already cut-out blouse, huh? Or not. Perhaps I’ll just head out to the garden now. My plants are calling for some fish fertiliser.


Dixie said...

Thanks for your discussion of downloadable patterns. I've never been drawn to them, and I don't think I'll ever try one. I hate wasting paper and I don't trust the computer gnomes to be agreeable to this task. Glad you've found some you like. I'm looking forward to seeing your finished blouse. So plug your ears to plant talk and get sewing! :)

Louisa said...

Plants are nearly all put to bed. Except for the watering and weeding which is never done!