Thursday, 29 May 2014


We’ve all been there. Excited. Just bought a magazine with a pattern in it that we just can’t wait to make, you’ve bought a pattern, bought a book, downloaded a freebie.  This is a new start! You pull your fabrics or buy a whole new set! Order the base fabric and the thread? Get your MOJO on!!

You read the pattern (right? Because you should ALWAYS read the pattern first)

You measure, measure, cut and start sewing.

Wait, what? That doesn’t work! Those pieces together make 3 ½ inches, not 3 ¼” !  You double check the measurements, double check your seams, maybe even make another and nope, it’s still 3 ½.

What’s next?

No, you don’t hit your nearest electronic device and post that shit all over the message boards, Facebook, quilters forum, Twitter or Instagram.

You quietly fire up your email account and pop a short, polite and hopefully precise explanatory email off to the designer.  Please don’t say, I bought this pattern (YSX) and it doesn’t work.  That tells them nothing except that maybe you shouldn’t be unsupervised with sharp implements.
If you can say I sewed piece F (1 ¾” x 2”) to piece G (1 ¾ ” x 3”) together on the 1 ¾ “ edges as per your instructions and the resulting piece is 1 ¾ “ x 4 ½ ” not 1 ¾” x 4 ¼ ”, could you please confirm that there is an error in the pattern?

The designer knows exactly where to look and exactly what to check. Nine out of ten times, they will come back and say “OMG!!  Thank you so much!! I’ll put an errata on my website and change the next round of printing.”  Believe me, I know this for a fact;  I’ve sent that email lots of times.

Before you get all hissy and say “I paid money for this, I expect it to be right” stop and think.  Designers are human. In fact, since many are super creative and subject to all sorts of artistic criticism, they can often be super sensitive to how they are approached.  None of us are perfect all of the time. Yep, you included.  Make any typo’s in that report today? Thank goodness for spellcheck.  Ever had a recipe fail, accidentally burnt the toast, washed a red sock in with the whites? No? Never? I call bullshit.

Car companies make a mistake in a design, millions of dollars of vehicles are recalled to save lives. Those engineers earn thousands every year, they still make mistakes.  The error in your pattern is not life threatening.

I’m lucky enough to count a few designers of various types of things as friends.  Without exception they test, check, have other people (including myself) test and check, before they release patterns into the wild.  Even so, sometimes mistakes occur.  A final change in the fabric selection means a re-calculation in the quilt requirements. Making a complicated block, multiplying it for the number of blocks in the quilt and then forgetting to multiply the background fabric and add it to the setting or sashing calculations is SO very easily done. Opening up a previous version of the colour chart in a cross stitch pattern; a simple click and select error. Even when checking monthly releases, editors check the current version, they don’t compare with previous versions, that would just be confusing and not at all productive.  The only time this occurs is text editing for books, and in that instance it is the technical editor of the publishing house who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that everything is kosher. Give him/her a call and blow your lid.  What? You wouldn't do that?


Why is it okay to slam a designer in an abusive email or, worse, on social media?


That’s right, it’s not. Stop it immediately.
It’s rude, offensive and, quite frankly, says more about you than it does about an error the designer may have made.  It says you would walk up to a person wearing an outfit that looks awful (in your opinion) in the street and shout out to them and everyone in the immediate vicinity that you think they look dreadful.  It says you would verbally tackle a complete stranger and tell them you think their work is worthless.

You wouldn't do that face to face?  Then why is it acceptable to do it online.



So, next time you come across a mistake, error or whatever you’d like to call it, I’d like you to perform the following process.  With your own design.  Of anything.  See how you go.

idea --- sketch --- draft --- pull fabric, thread, etc. and make --- note changes, adjust, note changes --- write and check (internal) --- test (external) --- edit --- finalise and print --- sell.

Or, politely send an email and ask if you may have found an error.