Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Designers Beware

I was reading a post on Megan's blog earlier where she talked about pattern issues. She was frustrated by a lack of real instructions included in the pattern. No pics or illustrations either.

I have found this to be true when shopping for patterns. Now, when I like a pattern, I refuse to purchase it until I've looked at the instruction sheet. I skim through it to see if I can understand it and if I can, I will purchase it. Sometimes, we aren't able to hold the pattern in hand, like when shopping online, but I do it every time I can.

Example: Bonnie Blue's Pattern for Sallie's Quilt. Last year, at the Quilt Festival, I saw this quilt from afar hanging in the Bonnie Blue booth. I fell in love with this quilt from first sight. As I looked over it, I realized it was an easy pattern. A two block quilt with sashings and cornerstones, set on point. But, she had done all the work. I hadn't thought of the idea. I asked her if I could open the package and look at the instructions. Well written and worth the price for the picture alone. I purchased it within 5 minutes.

This year at the Quilt Festival, I found a pattern that I really liked. Now, for me, I usually spy a quilt that looks like a great scrap quilt pattern. I RARELY (read only one time) buy a pattern and purchase all the fabric needed at the same time. Most of the time, I buy a pattern and use what I have and supplement what I don't. I'm trying to use some of this stuff up.....

Anyway, back to the story. So, I spy this quilt and think it would be a great scrap user. So, I went into the booth, looked around and couldn't find the pattern. I asked, and a lady said, "Sure, it's right here. We also have this great little gadget to help you make the blocks." I'm not a gadget person, I like to make things with as few tools as possible. A universal ruler or one like the EZ Angle. Something that can be used for a lot of different quilts.

Not wanting to be rude, I watched her demo. The neat gadget was a piece of vellum with sewing lines on it. You sew along this line, turn it around and sew on this line, cut here and you have two HSTs. Ok....not impressed. I can certainly make a HST without this special little paper.

So, I ask if it's ok for me to open the package and look at the pattern. I really had every intention of buying. I just needed to see if the instructions were clear......and they weren't. The instructions called for the neat little gadget in order to make the quilt. In order to make it without the disposable vellum paper, you have to think and think and do some math. I stood there dumbfounded. The pattern price $9. The vellum? $10. And, those $10 papers only made a lap quilt.

If I find something I like, I try to buy the pattern because someone went to a lot of work to make the pattern up, and I respect that. But try to hoodwink me into buying something that can EASILY be made without your expensive gadget.....at twice the price and I'm likely to walk around the corner and draw out the block on a scrap piece of paper.

Here is a pic of the block I made when I got home that evening. See what I mean about simple.?

The vellum was to help you sew a second seam 1/2 inch away so you end up with a HST for the border. I can do that for free.....don't need to pay the extra $10, thank you.

I would have purchased the pattern just to have the pic of the quilt on the front of it, if only I hadn't felt like they were trying to rip my head off. I was going to have to buy the paper and then rip it off and throw it away. And if I ever wanted to make another quilt, I'd have to call the pattern company and order new papers. Too rediculous!

So, pattern designers beware....we're not stupid. We love what you do, but please don't force us to buy crazy little gadgets and stupid disposable papers that can only be used once or just for this pattern only. We like things to be versitale. Believe me, I don't mind spending money on something that I think I'll use over and over again. But I'm not laying down my hard earned cash easily.


Catherine said...

What a great post! The minute a pattern means I need to buy some ruler or some other gadget that will likely never be used again, I get rather turned off. Then I try to sort out how to make the quilt on my own -- without the pattern!

The Calico Cat said...

Oh my gosh, that block is usually called Indian Hatchet & has been around FOREVER! As a matter fo fact, I am using it for an I Spy quilt (eventually)... (Novelty where you have white - solidy fabric for the triangles...)

I have used it previously for a signature quilt...

Libby said...

Amen! I'm not a big gadget gal either. Oh, I love my rotary cutter, ruler and mat. But a plain grid ruler is just fine, thank you. Hopefully the designers will hear you. While it's wonderful to have a little help from a special tool, there's nothing wrong with including a little direction for the gadget-challenged *s*

Darlene said...

Wow, Paula, well said! And, like you I like to open a pattern to make sure I can understand the instructions and such.

Thimbleanna said...

Ahhh, it sounds like you're my kind of quilter. I hate buying lots of gadgets and don't really like patterns. Most patterns, if they're not applique, can easily be figured out on graph paper and that's how I like to do it.

Having said that, I do have one gadget. It's my easy angle. It's not vellum though -- I don't think I've seen what you describe. It's a hard plastic template, like a ruler and I do use it to cut triangles. I've had it for something like 20 years and the markings are starting to wear off!

Marilyn R said...

I learned to check out the directions before I buy a pattern the hard way! I started a project to find the pattern was hard to understand and some of the measurements didn't line up. I contacted the pattern company and they "tried" to help, but it was a poorly desgined project. Live and learn I guess!