One reason experienced pattern makers are reluctant to take on a new entrant is because the designer doesn’t have a clear understanding of what they should or should not do. Specifically, new designers think nothing of taking a professionally made pattern and changing a thing or two without realizing how those changes can impact the rest of the pattern’s design. The common result is that disaster strikes once it hits the contractor. The contractor will be angry or annoyed and want to know who made it. The designer will naturally say X pattern maker did the work -without mentioning their own modification- so guess who gets blamed? Unless the contractor and pattern maker have a close relationship (they prefer it to prevent this sort of thing) design modifications made by a designer can be ruinous for a freelancing pattern maker. This is a clear case of responsibility without authority and it can make anyone crazy.
Making modifications like this is akin to tampering with an item which voids its warranty. A pattern maker warrants a pattern they’ve made will suit the purposes for which it is intended. If it does not, then the pattern maker needs to repair it. But if you tamper with it, all bets are off. The warranty extended by the pattern maker is void. Unfortunately, there is no sticker on a pattern that lets others know the warranty has been voided so blame is misappropriated and reputations suffer. Or worse, the pattern maker is unaware their pattern was modified and begins to doubt their own sanity and competence in the process of repair. Obviously, CAD patterns can be a blessing to prove version history but only if the customer or employer has no access to the files to modify the originals.
A designer is both responsible and accountable for whatever transpires on their watch, whether the pattern was well made or not or whether the designer modified the pattern or someone else did it. Since the designer paid for the work and own it, they have the right to do whatever they want with it. However, the pattern maker is being held indirectly responsible for results over which they had no authority. Meaning, they’re blamed but were completely powerless to prevent the problem. Regardless of where you lie in the debate (I see it both ways), it is patently unfair to blame someone even in absentia for something over which they had no control.
I once sent a pattern for a lined vest to a start up contractor; she was motivated and did nice work but she had no industrial experience and was unfamiliar with protocols. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how much she didn’t know. When the contractor brought the garment, it looked wonderful with beautiful even stitching, everything lined up, it was properly bagged etc -but the vest hem was curling toward the inside of the garment. This was bizarre -I cut my linings longer precisely to prevent this. I mentioned the curling hem to the contractor and I swear she smirked. When she said -with a sarcastic snort- that she cut the lining off because it was too long, I nearly fainted. I couldn’t breathe out of shock. I was so angry I could barely speak so I practically whispered to explain why the lining was longer (she frequently said she never “needed” to go to college to learn to do this like I did). I paid her for sewing the sample, threw it in the trash and never spoke to her again.
In a professional environment, stitchers are never permitted to cut anything beyond seam clipping or trimming corners. That’s it. The responsibility of the outcome is the pattern maker’s. Stitchers do not have authority to make pattern changes which is what trimming pieces amounts to. The question we return to, is do you have that authority? You own it.
A colleague is dealing with a similar ruinous situation. The long time client (who is having some problems) modified a key block that affects dozens of styles. The affect of the damage is so far reaching my friend is truly adrift and has no idea what to do. As a freelancer, one can be powerless to control outcomes of their own work. I’ll say one thing for corporate environments (knock them all you will) this sort of thing rarely happens. For all their ills, corporations are better about assigning authority to the person who is responsible for the work. I’ve never had this happen to me in a professional company. Even one’s boss can’t do it. The only way one can modify a pattern made by someone else is if the responsibility is also transferred; it becomes that pattern maker’s pattern. The responsibility rests with the pattern maker who had it last so believe me, you check all of it, even the parts you didn’t mess with.
I don’t know the best way around this but it is better for all concerned that a designer realizes that the responsibility of pattern outcome lies with who ever modified it last. There is no other way to say this: tampering voids the warranty. Or in the case of patterns, the warranty transfers to whoever fiddled with it last.
As an aside, I don’t have a problem if someone modifies a pattern as long as they say they did. Sometimes they have no other choice but it’s better to mention it. I’ve gotten patterns made by other pattern makers that were terrible, only to later discover they’d been remodeled by someone other than the pattern maker before they got to me.