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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Design Review: Paper Goods

In these Design Review series, I want to discuss and compare a few indie pattern designers on various subjects. I've chosen seven designers, loosely based on popularity, size and diversity. I'm hoping you'll talk with me on your experiences, what you like and don't like, so I can take this into account when shaping my own products. I'll leave out all the (dis)advantages that these options will have for me as the maker, and just look at the subjects as a customer. In the coming weeks I'll cover instructions, pattern style and variation, and communication.

But today, I'll start with paper: the way in which your pattern is delivered to you (downloadable or physical), the packaging and the pattern paper. I've created another survey to collect your answers at the bottom, it'd be great if you'd fill it out!

Digital or physical
As you know, patterns are usually delivered in two forms. With the first you have the pattern immediately at your disposal, but you have to print and tape the pattern yourself. With a physical pattern, you have to wait some time before it arrives, but then the only thing you have to do is trace it or cut it out. Some designers offer only downloads (Grainline, Victory Patterns), some offer only printed versions (Sewaholic, Papercut Patterns, Deer & Doe, Megan Nielsen) and some offer both (Colette Patterns). For me, the choice is clear: I would go for physical. I don't own a printer, which takes away the argument of having it immediately. I also find the printing and taping a bit annoying. To me, the joy of receiving an actual package and having a pretty instruction booklet to flip through is worth the wait and the extra money. And it's easier to store them because they already come in an envelope. But then again, it is not me I'll be making patterns for :) So my question: what is your preference?

When it comes to packaging, it seems everyone has chosen a different strategy. Sewaholic uses a standard (but pretty) pattern envelope that opens at the top. Megan Nielsen uses the same but with a wider opening and a velcro closing. Colette Patterns has an envelope and booklet in one with a fold-in closing. Papercut patterns has taken packaging to a whole different level, cardboard with a fold open hook and stenciled logo. Deer & Doe uses an envelope but bigger than normal.
To me, the Papercut and D&D envelopes are a winner because of their size. Sewaholic's has a clean look but I don't like the small opening, it teares easily. I don't use it to store the pattern afterwards. Megan Nielsen makes this a bit easier with the wide opening and the Velcro closure. The folding flap on the Colette envelope had already teared before I used the pattern. But I like the fact that you can keep instructions and pattern together more easily. What are your thoughts on these different ways of packaging a pattern? What would your ideal package look like?

Pattern Paper
Another important difference between these pattern designers is their choice of pattern paper. Sewaholic and Colette use the standard tissue thin pattern paper. Megan Nielsen, Papercut and D&D use normal/recycled paper, I'm guessing the standard 80 grams. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The brown tissue paper tears easily but takes up less room and works better with stretchy fabrics. The thick paper lasts longer but you'll have to iron it well for it to lay flat and you can't see through it. I personally would very much like something in between. My sewing teacher has something like that, sturdy but still see-through. What kind of pattern paper do you prefer?


  1. Hi, I've just been reading your blog for the first time. I found you via Marianna's PM challenge (in which I also participated). Your blog is very enjoyable and interesting and how exciting that you are starting a pattern company! I have just sent you my feedback on patterns and I will definitely be returning to read more about your creations and progress with your challenges for 2013 :)

    1. Welcome Meg! So great to hear you enjoy my blog. And thanks for your feedback on the pattern!


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