I wanted to tell you about something I did on a home sewing site but it is a bit off topic. There’s a big sewing forum called Pattern Review. It’s huge, over 200,000 members. I only read and participate in a few threads because I don’t understand a lot of it. The site has a weekly feature called “expert chat” where a home sewing authority is invited to answer questions. It’s a premium feature, only paying members have access. Anyway, I was invited to host an expert chat on the Pattern Review site Sunday before last.
Some of the questions were very good. There were additional questions left over that I will be answering separately, to be added to the transcript later. I think the sophistication of some questions may surprise you. Here’s a sampling to illustrate:
- What sewing steps do you consider processing?
- Any tips for reducing the processing time?
- …isn’t all the processing mostly a product of almost always making something different? Or should we be using more or less the same patterns all of the time, just changed for style?
- Are there any other steps in the home sewing process, such as stay stitching, that you feel are not necessary?
- Are there really industry “secrets” to sewing faster, or is it just a matter of work flow?
Sophisticated questioning or no, I can’t answer several (1 & 4; 3 & 5 are in my book) of them very well because I do cannot know the shared skills or methods repertoire of the audience. I would have to know how home sewers are doing things and with what equipment before I could recommend a course correction. It is close to an impossible job because no two people do things the same way -which is also similar to many of you. In home sewing, individual variations are nearly always supported and encouraged, amounting to a strategy of social cohesiveness rather than the goal of functionalism or efficiency.
The experience causes me to remind you of the utility of standard work*. If we can -and we should- be able to agree on an optimal process, individual deviations owing to man, method, machine or materials are solved much quicker. The question I pose to you is, why aren’t these sorts of important questions asked here more frequently?
*Dare I suggest it is useful to follow links in this post, particularly if you post a comment with objections? This has been happening a lot lately.