A few reader comments on past posts indicate a preference for patterns packaged with multiple sizes.
As a frugal minimalist with Midwestern cultural roots, I never want to pay more than I have to pay for anything, but over time believe it is worth it to pay for value. In this post, I want to make the case for our individual pattern sizing, aka single sizes, as a value argument.
To reach the farmer there was selected twenty-eight farm and garden papers, having a combined circulation that would best geographically fit the distribution of the goods in the United States, the object being to stimulate uniformly trade everywhere. These advertisements told the farmer how “True Temper” tools were made, for what work they were best adapted, and urged him to ask his dealer for “True Temper” tools. He was also requested to send for a book, “Tools and Their Uses.” This book is more than a piece of advertising. It is handsomely illustrated with appropriate farming and gardening views, and with nearly all the various tools the company makes. It tells how they are made, what work each is designed for, and how the farmer can save time, labor and money by having good tools and the “right tool for the right job.”
In starting any do-it-yourself project, whether it be home remodeling, gardening, sewing or even financial planning, you have to start with a plan, and plans are based on goals. What do you want to achieve? What are the right tools for the job?
What I learned from my previous financial consulting business is that it is not easy for people to formulate goals. People start projects without goals in mind and sort of discover them as they proceed, sometimes realizing mid-project that the result they are actually achieving is not the one they really want. In this case people settle for a less than satisfactory result or they scrap the project and start over. Those who start over usually have at least a few goals in mind for the second iteration. Sometimes it takes several iterations to clarify goals.
What makes it so difficult to form goals? In my experience, it comes down to clarifying your values. What is important to you as individual? Or, if a couple, what do you and your spouse or significant other want life to be about? Values inform what level of financial resources you will try to achieve, what you will do with them when you achieve them and how you will financially manage your lives along the way. In other words, values shape your life plan, and your life plan clarifies your goals.
Spelling out goals is hard work, especially for couples, because getting on the same page with respect to money involves a lot of communicating. Often the work is not done, and people fudge forward without clear goals, which impacts everything they do, including do-it-yourself projects, because all projects require making financial decisions. Which projects are most important? For any given project, is economy the goal and if so in which ways? For example, you might invest in quality tools that save you time or help you achieve a more professional result, but economize on scope, materials or simplicity of design. Or maybe you view your project as more temporary in nature and because of that are willing to compromise quality results for the sake of economy. All financial decisions involve time, economy and quality trade-offs.
As an example, let’s suppose I time travel back to the days when my husband and I were raising young kids in New York. In those days, we had to be extremely frugal. Our goals were to aggressively save money so that we could afford to buy a home short-term, and longer-term save funds for college and ultimately comfortably retire. For years, our home was pretty spartan, with very few pieces of furniture, many of them family hand-me-downs. Sewing projects were all about economy. I could buy one pattern and make my son 10 tops or my daughter multiple dresses and that was what was important to me. I sewed their ballet and Halloween costumes too, with economy in mind. When I shopped for patterns and fabric, I was looking for discounts, and if I could have figured out how to take advantage of multiple sizes packaged in one pattern I would have. Fit was not an obsession, because the kids fit into average pattern sizes and as a working Mom I had no time left over to sew for myself. Higher-priced indie patterns would have been out of the question (not that they were available in the early 1980s) even if they offered more value for the price, because I was doing fine without added value.
Fast forward to the present and fit now is an obsession for both Martin and me, because we both have fit issues and finally have the time and financial resources to address them. One of the reasons we have the financial resources to address fit is that we have agreed as a couple to prioritize sewing expenses above other budget categories, including vacations! This obsession is what inspired us to get back into sewing. It is what inspired us to figure out, in self drafting a blouse, the engineering behind sewing patterns, and ultimately it is why we decided to start this business. In this scenario, a higher-priced pattern that helps us more efficiently achieve a better fit without having to redraw all of the lines ourselves is a good value. The custom neck and A, B and C cut lines explained in this post are the good value engineered into the pattern to help you save time.
If time is of value, reduced efficiency gets expensive!
We believe our customers will be sewists who care as passionately as we do about fit, and are willing to pay a higher price for a single-size pattern engineered to efficiently help them achieve that goal. Our customers will be people who care about saving time. That said, if we can figure out how to profitably offer multiple sizes we will! The bottom line is that the vellum is too bulky to fit more than one per envelope, and we don’t currently have affordable access to tissue paper or printing services offering tissue. And we can’t add more cut lines on our pattern for different sizes because this will make the pattern too visually busy. Our tester actually suggested removing some of the optional lines we had for a single size.
What we are offering, specifically, is 19 different individual sizes based on the shoulder distance body measurement as defined and explained in this post, from shoulder distance 16 1/2in to shoulder distance 21in in 1/4in increments. In past posts I referred to half sizes but that wasn’t correct. A brain-packed and busy man, Martin keeps me on my toes figuring out how to extract all of the salient facts out of his head, to the point where sometimes I feel like Perry Mason cross-examining a witness.
In closing, thank you everyone who commented here and on twitter yesterday to answer the technical flats question I raised in my previous post. Now I have a more thorough understanding of how home sewists use these diagrams and why they are important. And Mari @DDisciplines gave us some useful Illustrator tips and links to resources which will hopefully help making drawing them easier. So many learning curves!