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Thread: I HATE patterns! (or maybe they just hate me....)

  1. #1
    TX_Cutie's Avatar
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    Today Jo-Ann had their Simplicity patterns on sale for $1. I found some very cute apron and nightshirt patterns to make as Christmas gifts. I also found a nice one for sewing room items (pin cushion, chair organizer, machine cover, etc.)

    I can't follow the pin cushion pattern AT ALL. I know millions of sewers find it easy to follow these instructions but I am not one of them. I can assemble Ikea furniture, do it yourself home renovation projects, legal jargon, and even computer instructions. But the "sew easy" patterns? Not a chance.

    Am I the only one who has these problems? It's as though the pattern is skipping steps (or not explaining the whys and hows). For example - the pin cushion pattern's last step involves inserting a can. What can? Who said I needed a can? A full can - an empty can - a soda can - a soup can - a paint can - WHAT CAN?? :oops:

    These patterns always end up making me feel foolish - especially the ones specifically labeled as "for beginners" or "for dummies". If I can't follow them, what does that make me? :cry:

    Okay, I feel better now that I've shared my frustrations with my fellow quilters. I'll just stick to quilting patterns - those I've got down.

  2. #2
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    Except for quilting--ALL other patterns are Greek to me. I don't get them. I tried making the simpliest dress for my daughter when she was small... a seamtress talked me through it. I was no further ahead in my understanding when it was over. :roll: You're not alone.

  3. #3
    Super Member MollieSue's Avatar
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    I agree, I think all patterns assume one has years of experience following them!
    But everything you need, such as your 'can', should be listed on the back of the pattern. Probably in real fine print.... :wink:
    I have to really focus on what I'm reading, while following a pattern. And I've done quite a few!
    Maybe post a picture, or give the directions, and someone could help you out?
    :-)

  4. #4
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    I am such a visual person and have adhd, txcutie...unless you just really don't want to work with that pattern, post pics of the guidesheet.
    You couldn't possibly need more visuals than me, lol! You just need some help. If I can't be of any use, and I might not, lol, I bet somebody here can.
    What about going to their website and emailing them?

  5. #5
    TX_Cutie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MollieSue
    But everything you need, such as your 'can', should be listed on the back of the pattern. Probably in real fine print.... :wink:
    I looked and it does list (in tiny letters) that a 2.5" x 3" can is needed. Who new? :roll:

    I appreciate all of your great support and willingness to help. I think I'm going to give up the pin cushion for now. My best friend wants me to make her an apron for Christmas and I'm going to tackle that pattern next. I may be coming to you all for help with it.

    It's great to know that I'm not alone in having trouble with patterns! :D

    I'd like to take a class on"how to read patterns and on how to properly use all of those quilting rulers that I keep buying.

  6. #6
    Super Member MollieSue's Avatar
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    Yeap, told you the 'can' would probably be in fine print! lol!!!! :wink:
    If you have any problems with the directions for the apron, just post them, and I'm sure one of us can help!
    :D

  7. #7
    Super Member LucyInTheSky's Avatar
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    The Quilting Treasures I Love Lucy apron... no frickin' clue what any of the directions said. So I just took the measurements (they had a diagram) and made it work. I said - I need to sew down the edges - so I did. I don't know what they were talking about. Though I've done a few of their patterns and they have errors in them, but this was all Greek

  8. #8
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    I personally think that sex starved spinster home ec teachers make those patterns up to keep us as confused as they are. Uh, if there are any home ec teachers on this board, I am not giving you my home address hahaha.
    Some patterns I've read actually make me wonder if recovering crack addicts have written them.
    Seriously, a lot of them are written either with too many insane steps to make the pattern 'longer'. Or like the one you are dealing with- skipping to the middle of the page with the assumption you can connect the dots. If we could connect the dots, we wouldn't need the pattern.
    Maybe the pattern testers are too 'like minded' to the creator of the pattern and don't see any problems.

  9. #9
    Senior Member CindyBee's Avatar
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    I think it would be hard to find a can that size! I share your frustration with pattern directions. A lot of sewing is just intuitive. I just picked up a bunch of Butterick and McCall's baby patterns for 99cents to sew for my granddaughter.

  10. #10
    Moderator Up North's Avatar
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    The can is probably a tuna fish can. At least that is what the ones I have seen used.

  11. #11
    Super Member lfw045's Avatar
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    I know I need to remember that a lot of you are not seamstresses and that is a whole different world from quilting.

    Just remember to read the directions and take it step by step. If you can read quilt patterns you can read these patterns too. It can be frustrating I know. I've been sewing since I was a child and took 5 years of Home Economics in high school just to get a couple of new outfits to wear......LOL!

    I'll help if you need me.

    Linda D.

  12. #12
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    Totally agree. I learned to sew many moons ago and remember when the patterns were very clear. I'm laboring through a jumper for granddaughter and just don't understand the instructions for the yoke!!

  13. #13

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    I have always found sewing patterns to be very confusing and inaccurate. The sizing is way off, fabric amounts are way off... I always end up with something two sizes too big and a ton of leftover fabric. I made a poodle skirt for my daughter's Halloween costume when she was in first grade and I was careful to follow the chart on the pattern because I wanted to have the right size and enough fabric...the skirt was too big even for me (i'm no skinny minnie) and I had a lot of fabric left over, I'm just glad it was really cheap stuff. I've tried a number of other "easy" patterns over the years and have had the same problem so I have given up and taken up quilting because that's easy, it's mostly sewing a straight seam, right??? :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :| :| :|

  14. #14
    Senior Member quilter girl's Avatar
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    :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: Oh my gosh - did you hear me laughing - I still have the silliest grin on my face - will be with me the whole day - thanks - what a great way to start a Monday. I do agree - I can't read those sewing patterns either - they are greek to me.

  15. #15
    Super Member mimisharon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lfw045
    I know I need to remember that a lot of you are not seamstresses and that is a whole different world from quilting.

    Just remember to read the directions and take it step by step. If you can read quilt patterns you can read these patterns too. It can be frustrating I know. I've been sewing since I was a child and took 5 years of Home Economics in high school just to get a couple of new outfits to wear......LOL!

    I'll help if you need me.

    Linda D.
    Me, too, Linda. Money was always tight when I was young (she's says it pretending it's not tight now :shock: ) and I had to learn to sew to get clothing that wasn't used. I love all sewing and I'm glad to help anyone anytime I can.

    Just pm or yell for me, sometimes I pick my head up and listen...

    Sharon

  16. #16
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cathy M
    I personally think that sex starved spinster home ec teachers make those patterns up to keep us as confused as they are. Uh, if there are any home ec teachers on this board, I am not giving you my home address hahaha.
    Some patterns I've read actually make me wonder if recovering crack addicts have written them.
    Seriously, a lot of them are written either with too many insane steps to make the pattern 'longer'. Or like the one you are dealing with- skipping to the middle of the page with the assumption you can connect the dots. If we could connect the dots, we wouldn't need the pattern.
    Maybe the pattern testers are too 'like minded' to the creator of the pattern and don't see any problems.
    ROFL!!! Too funny!

    I wish I could say I have no clue what you ladies are speaking of but I have to admit I'm with you all! Patterns for sewing clothing is like reading Greek for me. I don't read Greek so that should let you know where I stand. When I read a pattern, I get the distinct impression the person who wrote and designed it did so thinking that only experienced sewers would ever attempt the pattern. I'm considering taking a beginning sewing class with my daughter (anything to get her into sewing and closer to a quilting addiction!) so maybe there is still some hope for me.

  17. #17
    Senior Member PuffinGin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX_Cutie
    Am I the only one who has these problems? It's as though the pattern is skipping steps (or not explaining the whys and hows). For example - the pin cushion pattern's last step involves inserting a can. What can? Who said I needed a can? A full can - an empty can - a soda can - a soup can - a paint can - WHAT CAN?? :oops:

    These patterns always end up making me feel foolish - especially the ones specifically labeled as "for beginners" or "for dummies". If I can't follow them, what does that make me? :cry: ....
    I know what you're saying. Supposedly simplifying things often just makes them hard to understand. That's a sign of a poor pattern writer, IMHO.

    I agree that it's likely a tuna can. Or it could be a bean dip can. Might not matter if you don't empty it as long as you don't open it. However, if you do open it, you probably should empty and then wash it thoroughly before inserting it into your pincushion. If you use an unopened bean dip can (the one with a pull tab to open) and if can can be easily removed from the pincushion, I'd suggest keeping a bag of tortilla chips handy in case you get a sudden snack attack while you're sewing. :lol:

    Apologies for being silly!

  18. #18
    Super Member charismah's Avatar
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    I feel the same way...I can read quilting adn bag patterns but...clothing patterns I don't understand..i just made a scarf on friday night and a scarf is simple enough right?

    Well the pattern had me taking so many steps just to cut it and attach beading...when if you have any experience at all you know you don't need templates or special folds...I kept asking my BFF why they are having us do it that way? Finally she says...they are probably not realizing they are DEALING with QUILTERS! we don't need all of this..who tests these patterns? SO we did it our own way and it came out perfect!


  19. #19
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    Quilting patterns are often like that too. I purchased a kit from a really nice quilt shop. It has wool applique leaves on it. I was very careful cutting out the leaves but still was short of the wool fabric. I had to drive quite a long ways to go back to the shop to get more fabric. The owner had designed the pattern. She said I should have put in my instructions to lay out all of the leaves before you cut any. I could have told her that she also left out several other instructions. I ask her if I could take a picture of the quilt as it was on display. She said that was okay as I had already purchased the pattern and kit. I am making the quilt from looking at that picture. I would hate to think what an unexpierenced quilter would do with that pattern.

  20. #20
    Senior Member hulahoop1's Avatar
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    I'm one of those seamstresses learning to be a quilter. I can usually read and understand those patterns and instructions. But, I glance through them and figure I know a better way. Arrogant, I know. My biggest downfall is that I'm always looking for the "shortcuts" which inevitably cause more problems and takes longer to fix than the time the shortcuts would have saved. These days, I try to force myself to become really familiar with the pattern BEFORE I pick up that rotary cutter. Seems to work a little better that way.

  21. #21
    Super Member carrieg's Avatar
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    I recently made a tote bag from a quilting magazine. I had to read it over numerous times, highlight certain sections and re-read it word by word, re-read the cutting instructions and supply list several times. Plus the directions called for things I had not used before, like fusible fleece. What the heck was that? (I know now) :-)

    It takes a talent to write instructions of any kind.


  22. #22
    Senior Member OdessaQuilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctquilter
    I have always found sewing patterns to be very confusing and inaccurate. The sizing is way off, fabric amounts are way off... I always end up with something two sizes too big and a ton of leftover fabric. I made a poodle skirt for my daughter's Halloween costume when she was in first grade and I was careful to follow the chart on the pattern because I wanted to have the right size and enough fabric...the skirt was too big even for me (i'm no skinny minnie) and I had a lot of fabric left over, I'm just glad it was really cheap stuff. I've tried a number of other "easy" patterns over the years and have had the same problem so I have given up and taken up quilting because that's easy, it's mostly sewing a straight seam, right??? :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :| :| :|
    I have a similar story, but in reverse. I don't have too much difficulty in reading and following clothing pattern directions. But in 1975 (fall), I took a HS sewing class. It was a two-hour block and very helpful. I wanted to learn to sew my own clothes because I was always hard to fit (large swayback to contend with, very curvy/hourglass shape, and short). Up to this point, my Grandmother had sewn most of my clothes. Teacher had a MASTERS DEGREE in Home Ec. :roll:

    She taught us how to take our measurements and checked everyone's to make sure we did it right. We shopped for our fabrics based on what the pattern told us to buy. We were instructed to purchase exactly what the pattern told us to purchase. If we bought more or less fabric than called for, our grade suffered.

    Every day, when we finished up for the day with our sewing, our progress would be checked by the instructor. She would check to make sure we had used tailor's tacks to accurately mark the circles/dots on teh pattern. Notches were to be cut out from the edge line (not in), just as printed on the pattern. Seams were measured for accuracy.

    Suffice to say that the pants I sewed NEVER fit me: there was a huge gap at the top of the back waistband because the teacher did not teach me how to allow for my swayback. When I told her what Grandma did to make pants patterns work for me, I was told that her method was "wrong" and that if I persisted in doing it that way, I would fail the course. :evil: :twisted: The pants did not fit at the thigh ... too snug, even though thighs were measured and checked against the pattern, there was supposed to be at least 1" of "wearing ease" in the thigh, and I even skimped on my seams through the leg to give a few extra threads-worth of generosity in wearing ease. The pants never got hemmed because they were not long enough (and at only 5'4" at that time, it was inconceivable to me that they would not be long enough).

    I got a C- on the pants: B+ for construction, C for completion ("would have been higher if they had been hemmed" she wrote), D for fit. :shock: :shock: :?: That stung, especially since I was very concerned that these pants were not being made the way I knew they shoud be made to fit my unusual shape.

    I had just barely enough fabric to make these pants. Now, my Grandma would have spent a few extra dollars to buy an extra 1/2 yard to be sure I had enough material. If I had taken the pattern to her the pants would have fit, I am convinced. So, you see, even the most educated of us can be misguided in reading/preparing/executing a pattern.

    Don't let the problems with patterns get you down. We are a helpful board and we are here to help you be successful!

    Glad I'm here, that's for sure! :wink:

  23. #23
    thismomquilts's Avatar
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    Actually, Simplicity patterns are the easiest to follow - in my opinion... the others are not clear... But I have been sewing since Jr. High and watched my mother sew ALL the time prior to beginning myself. Post your apron questions and I'm sure someone can help.

  24. #24
    Super Member jbsstrawberry's Avatar
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    Sewing patterns always look intimidating...until you take the time to read them. :) First step is to read the back of the envelope itself...that's where you'll find all the materials listed and how much you'll need. Then, take the time to read the instructions on the first page...which tell you what pieces go print side up, print side down...etc. if you have a whole lot of trouble...ask one of us that is in that catagory of seamstress turning quilter LOL. We'll be glad to help as much as we can. Tissue patterns really are a LOT easier than they look when you take them out of the package, I promise.

  25. #25
    SkatingKaren's Avatar
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    I recently made an "Easy" quilt from a pattern and nipped the corners off the right side of the triangles. I thought it was me, but when I took the top to my long-arm quilter, she analyzed the problem and determined it HAD to have been a error in the pattern. Proves that no one is perfect! I feel your pain about patterns! :(

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