Pop Quiz #473 pt. 2

These pop quizzes are always so educational for me. I should do them more often so I’m grounded as to changing visitor competencies and frame of reference. It’s possible there’s a myriad of issues but I was looking for the broadest, most obvious and most costly considering the potentiality for error. From a sewing perspective, that’d be the notches. Someone in a sewing line would never have occasion to see the pattern and know whether there were a grain line or not. It’s the notching that’s noticeable from a sewing perspective. Grain line or lack of one, is only obvious from a cutting perspective.

In the previous entry, there’s no way to tell which piece goes where. In industrial sewing, notching is coded and offset. Anyone, anywhere should be able to pick up a cut piece and know instantly whether it’s a back or a front piece regardless of whether they know what the garment looks like. It might not matter if you’re only sewing one at home. It matters a great deal if you’re sewing whole stacks of these. Then you’ll become very annoyed.

The system of offsetting notches was discussed at length in the production pattern making section of my book (pp.176-180) precisely because this is one of those little things that is never mentioned in textbooks and it really matters. This explains why it’s easy for a practitioner to know at a glance whether they’re looking at a home pattern that’s been put on oak tag or if the pattern maker is a little green. In industry, notching isn’t considered to be arbitrary. I know pattern books seem to stick them where ever with no rhyme or reason but that’ll get you in hot water at work. Below is just one possibility; of the side front (SF) being sewn to the center back (CB):


Here’s another example. What’s to prevent the side front (SF) from being sewn to the lower side back (LSB)?

Last night, Eric mentioned another way in which the stitchers might confuse the pieces (below). Being equidistant, what’s to prevent them from sewing the pieces upside down? You can’t assume the stitcher knows what the item looks like. They may have been given a pile of cut pieces, the implication is always that they have to figure it out. It is usually like this, trust me. If they’ve been given a bunch of similar looking pieces, how will they know it’s not sewn like this?

You can always say that the stitchers should be thinking but if the pattern has been made correctly, they shouldn’t have to. That’s not to say they shouldn’t think. It’s that they should notice anomalies. When they come to something that is untoward, they should come to a screeching halt. That’s one reason why it takes so long to sew bad patterns. Stitchers are coming to a screeching halt repeatedly. After awhile, with so many things wrong, how is one to know what’s right and what’s wrong? You don’t know how often a DE will send stuff out without a sketch or a sample. In the absence of oversight, you may safely imagine it won’t be sewn as you’d expected. This is why a lot of people won’t make protos for you if they didn’t make the pattern. It’s nothing personal and it’s not the money. It’s just too much hassle to work with a poorly designed pattern.

Related entries:
Checking a pattern pt.1
Checking a pattern pt.2

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9 comments

  1. “This is why a lot of people won’t make protos for you if they didn’t make the pattern.”
    Here, here! I did it once and would like to avoid repeating the experience.

  2. cuttingline says:

    As the other posters have mentioned, the piece shapes are not good for a refined fit……The pattern can’t be taken seriously if it is meant to be an accurate reproduction of the shapes. Let’s hope that it was merely a diagram of a “pattern” to be used for some other purpose, like the pattern shapes reproduced on the back of the old Mccalls patterns. I cannot imagine any professional wasting time sewing it.

  3. J C Sprowls says:

    I don’t mind sewing for other patternmakers provided it’s a functional relationship. I treat every pattern I’ve never seen like it were a first pattern that needs to be proven. Some people I’ve worked with don’t like that policy – but, I think it’s in the customer’s best interest.

  4. Kathleen says:

    I don’t mind sewing for other patternmakers provided it’s a functional relationship. I treat every pattern I’ve never seen like it were a first pattern that needs to be proven.

    Lol but you can’t assume that a pattern from another pattern maker is any good either, hence the need to prove any pattern that crosses your desk :). I’ve got some patterns that I won’t even attempt. I recognize the handwriting!!!

  5. J C Sprowls says:

    Hey… is that the same cuttingline that bids against me on with such fervor on eBay? He finds the good stuff, too. For example, he got to a French book on Neapolitan tailoring, Le Secret de la Coupe Grand Pieces de Napolitano, before I did.

  6. Deanna says:

    I have worked in costume production for theatre, and it is so true that sewing for a good cutter is a pleasure. (We call them cutter’s instead of designers or patternmakers, not sure if it is a theatre thing, or a Canadian thing)
    We come in to work to find all the pieces for the garments in individual piles. Often the only instructions given is a note pinned to the pile with the actor’s actual waist measurement. No picture, drawing, etc. But when you are confident that it is cut well, you know that if one piece is 1/4″ longer than the other, you have the wrong piece. Even on period costumes where the bodice pieces are not recognizable, it is still straightforward to put together because you know the lengths are exact, stripes/plaid match and notches are only used when needed. It can only fit together one way. Sloppy cutter, and you are constantly second guessing, tugging or shoving to make things fit together, it takes longer to sew, and you can’t press it enough to make it look good. IMHO

  7. Anwen says:

    I wasn’t sure whether to mention the non-numbered notches in case it was a silly home-pattern thing ;) But yes, this makes total sense – when someone’s sewing a zillion garments a day, why make things harder for them by not making it completely obvious which bit goes where??

  8. Todd Hudson says:

    Even though I said I won’t sew from other people’s patterns, I admit I want to hire JC to suffer cutting/sewing from my patterns! Of course, I’d give him at least a muslin with the pattern.

    I also tell my clients “You should really hire the factory to do these samples to make sure the whole enchilada is cooked through.”

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