Digital Pattern Dreams – Q #8

This is the seventh in a series of posts concerning a survey that I conducted among some digital sewing pattern testers a few weeks ago. The initial post is here: There was another post that prefaced this whole journey here:

My next to last questions was simple: “If you could have one wish granted to make .pdf patterns easier to use, what would it be?”  I left it open-ended for the pattern testers to freely express the thing that gives them the most angst when using .pdf patterns.  I was amazed at their wishes.

Only a couple of wishes related directly to sewing and fabric construction.  Almost all of the “wishes” were related to the format of the patterns.  Some were about the printing while others were specific about the pattern drafting and symbols.

A large number of respondents wanted the option to print in A0 or A4 format. A little research on my part taught me that the U.S. is the only nation that really uses the Letter, 8.5″ x 11″, format.) The rest of the world uses A4.  Trying to print a Letter page on A4 paper can lead to LOTS of problems and vice versa. It simply does not work.

Many respondents complained about the problem I addressed in a previous post of laying the pages out in a large grid and taping them all together.  Arrows, marks and page designations are not always clear.  Some designers do not include a master layout grid and are not consistent in their marking.  The testers pleaded for designers to spend time on that aspect of their patterns.

Testers called for less trim pages. They say they waste paper and are a nuisance.  I’m assuming by “trim pages” they are referring to those pages to the sides, top and bottom of the pattern grids that contain little if any printed lines but are important to making the full pattern grid.

A few testers begged for layers in the .pdfs.  Different layers would be created in the pdf with each layer containing one size of the pattern.  The customer would choose the layer containing the size that they need and then print. I know what layers are because of my work with our library’s floor plans in my role as the Building Coordinator but just for fun, I informally surveyed a handful of my coworkers who are fluent in .pdf usage and creation.  I asked them if they were familiar with layers in .pdfs.  No one knew what I was talking about.  One thing that I have learned being a member of several designer’s Facebook groups  where customers ask for help with their patterns is that the average .pdf pattern user struggles with getting their pages printed with the proper scale.  They struggle getting all of their pages printed with that one-inch square to print out as one-inch. A Facebook post appears hourly in those groups concerning the “Fit to Page” check mark.

There is also a call for multiple file formats being made available. In my library world, when I select an eb00k or serial article to download, I’m given file format options.  I can choose which file works best for my choice device.  Each file format has been specifically designed with that display in mind.  The options are generally a .pdf, an html, or an epub.

And last, but not least, there were “wishes” for a better means to store patterns after they have been taped together in their inconsistent sizes, a pre-cut pattern option and, oh what a dream, for patterns to be free because printing them is expensive.

Points to ponder: Do designers draft patterns to be used by sewists in other countries? Then the A4 problem needs to be considered. I wasn’t aware of the problem. This survey taught me what a big deal it is, not to Americans, but to other countries who want to use American sewing patterns.

Layers would be a great option but I foresee it being a nightmare for many customers.  Layers should be an advanced customer feature, maybe an optional file for advanced users.

Different file format generators are out there and maybe that is a direction that designers need to go.  I think patterns need some kind of uniformity.

I see so many things that tech-savvy entrepreneurs could jump on. My mind is spinning! And it is all to improve our sewing resources.  How cool would that be?


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