I am an off and on sewer and sometimes several years go by so I have to reacquaint myself with things. I am finding that the instructions in patterns are harder to follow than I remember. I am working through a Connie Crawford (Butterick) pattern and I am having a heck of a time figuring things out. I have made a new rule to live by and that is to only buy patterns with 3 or less pattern sizes. Patterns for 6 sizes have too many lines and circles and notations. I would like to know which pattern company has the best pattern instructions.
I've found that patterns that have more fit built into them with seams and darts have better information in them than the simpler styles that have 2 side seams. If you'll notice those patterns with 2 side seams usually make you feel like a sack when wearing them too & you may not like the appearance. I hear ladies talk about not liking how the garment looks after sewing it but they want only a 2 side seam pattern! When I made the decision to avoid those patterns (no matter how good they looked on the envelope) I began to be better satisfied with my results. I've found that Butterick & Vogue give more info on "good construction" techniques and use more interfacing as well as more seams and darts but just glancing at all that info is intimidating.
Sandra Betzina's Vogue pattern line has very good intructions because they are written by her. Same with Claire Shaffer (Vogue) and Loes H.inse
I have found that Vogue generally has good instructions-- even when I was a novice sewer I gravitated to their easy patterns because I found the instructions and the markings were more suited to my needs. I also have found that a good "how to" manual is a good companion to patterns. For example, the Singer Sewing Reference Library series, the Vogue Sewing Book, and Cynthia's Precision Sewing Techniques 1 and 5. Often I will read through these books (I have different ones for curtains and other non outfit stuff), when i read through the instructions just to refresh my memory and see whether there are other techniques or short cuts not mentioned in the instructions. Plus several of these books have detailed pictures and illustrations that make it clear how to proceed.
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