Can We Chat? Bits and Pieces about Blog Ethics, Cake, and Frosting

I know I said the next post is Conversant in Color. To be completely honest, at the end of a week of working 12+ hour days I’d rather sit around and chat with a beer. I mean, chat with you over a beer. Conversant in Color: Separates will come next.

I wore my Tira all day. In fact, I wear this dress more than is seemly. It’s comfy. This is the smallest beer you can get in Australia. Ok, not really, but it’s still funny.

In my last workplace, we usually had some champagne after closing on a Friday and called it “Friday Night Drinks.” I always looked forward to it, and miss it sorely.   That’s where I learned that my 60-year old colleagues had way more interesting wild stories about life than me.  We’d also sometimes discuss intellectual property rights, boobs and the latest trends in quilting.  I was spellbound.

Lately, Facebook has become the place where I ask questions that pop into my mind while I’m working or reading blogs. It’s really great, and I wanted to open the discussions more widely.

Question 1: Digital Cake Patterns

Ok- I want to offer Cake patterns digitally.  For a raft of reasons:

  • My first patterns (including the Blank Canvas Tee) were digital patterns.  I won’t go into my workflow for that, but it was very artisan and I spent many many hours on it.  (If you are a hard worker and you’d like to know how I did it so you can too, email me and I’ll regale you with the details.)  I learned so much.  But I didn’t want to go down that route again, so I looked around for other options.
  • You all want a digital option for Cake, and have requested it.  This is another reason to make digital patterns.
  • I recently started actually buying and printing various downloadable patterns myself.  I bought the Oliver + S Book Report Dress pattern for Lila because we both love the design and I’d much rather put together a few pattern pieces myself than pay $15 shipping.  I totally get the shipping savings/instant gratification attraction of digital patterns, and I’m really impressed with the quality of downloads from Oliver + S and Colette.

I found another route to digital patterns.  A local business solutions company can scan my patterns and make them tiled pdfs, no sweat.  This is a revelation, and I’ve spent much time in their offices lately working with them on Tiramisu’s lines and some other projects.  I think they think I’m a nutcase (they usually handle serious engineering drawings), but they’re happy to do what I ask.  So that’s cool.

For you, Louise…

The thing is, Tiramisu as a download will be anywhere between 55 and 75 pages, depending on how we tile it.  *I* wouldn’t buy a digital pattern that took 55 pages, so I’m really curious if you would.  Future Cake patterns are made up of separates, and I would dearly love to offer the separates, well, separately as digital downloads- maybe 25-30 pages each.  To me, that seems reasonable.  I’m curious if you would still like me to pursue Tiramisu as a download, or leave it and focus on digital for other projects?  I’m here to make you happy and ease your sewing.

Related Topic: Shipping for Cake

If I’ve ever sent you something, you know I have a severe aversion to the Post Office.  Usually, I can’t understand what the other person is saying and they have a hard time understanding what I’m driving at.  We’re divided by a common language.  Today, I sent a few blocks, some fabric, and a blue merino Tiramisu sample out into the wide world.  My Postman this time was exceptional at communication, thank you Neill!  For some reason, I had no trouble communicating with an Irish immigrant.  In fact, I found myself “talking Irish” with those gorrrrrgeous rolling r’s.

He even looked up the best shipping prices for a sewing pattern from Brisbane to various continents:

  • Europe/North America/South America: $4.70 (10-14 days)
  • Africa: $5.30 (7-10 days to South Africa, highly variable elsewhere)
  • Australia: $1.20 (woohoo! 3-5 days.  We always pay so much for shipping here!)
  • Asia-Pacific: $3.30 (4-10 days, depending)

I’ve also had several missed packages in the mail to international destinations over the past few months.  The most heart-breaking was some merino that never showed up in California.  I mentioned the particular cases to the Post man, respectfully expressed my consternation and he took careful notes.

Changing Gears for Question 2: Blog Ethics

Peter over at Male Pattern Boldness recently raised the question of blog ethics:

What do you think of the amateur fashion blogger as (stealth) brand marketer?  Do you care — I mean, if you like what they’re wearing and how they look in it, does it really matter?

Personally, I assume that many of the larger fashion bloggers are in cahoots with the agents of fashion.  It makes $ense.  That said, I don’t religiously follow many fashion blogs so my opinion doesn’t matter much.  I’m more concerned with transparency in sewing blogs.

This brings me to my next question: What about sewing blogger swag?  Personally, I don’t really care if a fashion blogger gets designer swag and waves it in my face.  I can probably knock it off.  Besides, blogging well is hard work.

I never had to form a solid opinion on blogger swag in the past because I haven’t had swag and didn’t mind if someone else did.  Lately, however, I find I have more swag opportunities.

When I posted about MakeBra, I wrote out of my own enthusiasm for the site and excitement from feeling like I could finally take the plunge into sewing lingerie.  I sent a lot of traffic to Annele, and she and I had a nice flurry of emails.  She offered to send me my second bra pattern and findings in my second size, to contribute to my sewing-bras-and-sizing-experiment.  After talking to her about weird technical stuff and the shape of my boobs, I’m sure she’s another mad sewing scientist type and you’re in good hands with Annele.   I’m so grateful for the swag, but I wondered if that would be ok with y’all?

Then, in the same week, I received a package from Sunni.  I ordered woven fusible stay tape in black and white from her shop because I’m sick of cutting it myself and my local doesn’t carry it anymore because I’m not there doing the ordering.  When the package arrived, she had very thoughtfully slipped in an extra roll of knit fusible.  Thanks, Sunni!

So I’m asking you (because the way I see it, I’m here for your benefit)- how do you feel about sewing swag?  If it comes up again, should I respectfully turn it down, or should I say “Yes YES please!” because I’m a neophile and I like trying new things, I enjoy torturing them and mis-using them and then writing about it?  As long as I mention something came to me for free/discounted, is it ok?  Or will you turn away because I’ve started schilling?  Personally and generally, I don’t approve of advertising, but I do think it’s a great idea to promote good indies/visionaries wherever possible.

I have never *ever* had a retailer dictate my opinion to me, and the moment they did I would walk away and tell you about it.  Because that’s a jerk move and you deserve to know.  Once I wrote a scathing review of a sewing machine, and I won’t hesitate to write another if it’s needful.  What do you think?

I want to make this cake. Sometime. Click for source.

Finally: Cake and Frosting and Peaceful Co-existence

The very clever and talented Mari at Disparate Disciplines just wrote a great post on integrating “frosting” into your everyday life.  I’ve been banging the “useful, utilitarian sewing” drum a lot lately, and this is a very good counterpoint.  Look through the comments, if you like the idea of having a “Frosting Week” in the spirit of MMM then leave a comment for Mari and we’ll work it out. Lord knows, I would dearly love an excuse to wear nothing but frosting for a week and take pictures.

So, grab a brewski or a mocktail or a green smoothie or some coffee and let’s chat.  Have you ever split a bottle of bubbly with someone 40 years your senior (edit: or, 40 years your junior)?  Would you buy a digital pattern with 55+ pages?  How awesome are those shipping deals?  What about sewing blogger swag?  And finally, are you in for a Frosting Week so we can flaunt our craziest makes on flickr?


143 comments

  1. You’re so funny! I started reading this and within seconds was whining at the husband to fetch me a cold Tui (lager) which I am now happily sipping (out of a glass tho, like a proper lady!) while eating chocolate wheatens. Surprisingly good combination! LOL! As for drinking champers with ladies 40 years my senior, they’d be so old, they’d probably go to sleep! hehehe. But yes, I love to mix it up across age groups and quilting retreats are always a joy for that melding of ages and backgrounds over a common insanity! And wine does most definitely come into it!
    Great news for us kiwis over shipping prices, that is really great. I have a few peops including my glorious sister lined up to receive Tiras when available.
    And FROSTING? Darlink I’ve been wearing a purple taffeta evening coat in the shop most of the week, with black evening pants and purple boots! My sister and mother are fretting over what to wear to a family wedding next month and I’m yippying because I have plenty of overdressed things that would be suitable hehehe. My problem is having nothing to wear to slum around! ;-)
    So, chin chin *chink bottles* and bottoms up!!

    • Hehehehe.

      There’s nothing like stitching and wine for a little inter-generational bonding… It’s my favorite social setting, hands down. I might start crashing the Friday Night Drinks at Old Work because I miss them so much… ;)

      You’re so lovely, spreading the Cake around. I’m looking for retailers, too, of course. Nudge nudge.

      OH! That sounds so awesome! Go tell Mari about your coat! hehehe. She and I have decided we’re lunatics, you can come too.

      Also, I slum around in a confiscated silk dressing gown and various muslins from drafting experiments. Slumming helps me figure out how to make the drafting better. It’s really not very attractive but it makes me happy.

      Clink clink!

      • Seriously considering stocking indy patterns, But Global fabrics already sells Paper Cut and they are barely 100 yards away, and sell fabric, so maybe I’ll put the thumbscrews on them to take on Cake. The cost of shipping Collette and Sewaholic to NZ for retailing is too high to be profitable, but our Australasian sisters…? :)
        Lunatics? Sound like me! I’m in!! Teehee!!

  2. I’m all about some frosting- I don’t sew with a plan, I sew what looks like fun to make. I’ve got to get better about my comfort level with crinoline and kimonos in the grocery store. About swag- an honest review of a product from someone we trust is valuable- who cares how you got the items.

    • I respect that. I hope my previous posts don’t make it seem like I don’t love me some whimsy, because I do love whimsy. Whimsy and I are good friends. But I know Plans are better for me in the long run… :) I wish you and I went to the same grocery store. hehehe. I actually rather enjoy going out all kinds of 1950’s to do normal stuff… Hair, makeup, crinoline, everything, and with a completely deadpan and businesslike demeanor. That might be the key to why the scanning people think I’m gently insane…

      Oh! I actually saw the cover of a local magazine today, they were frothing at the mouth over some girl who made a 50’s dress out of a bedsheet. Hello. Don’t they have the internet?

      Thanks for that, it’s my view too but I don’t want to cause offense either so I thought I’d ask.

      • Oh, no, oh, no! I didn’t mean to come off defensive- I wrestle myself over this issue, not anyone else. I actually have plan envy. Oh, I didn’t mean to sound bristly!

      • I love the idea of going out and about in vintage fashion but I’m afraid that some of it would just give us that crazy little old lady vibe instead of cool fashionista. LOL…The fifties are borderline retro for me, but the 60s and 70s fashions just look like I am a hoarder/baglady.

        As for swag, as long as you state that you received it as a gift, who cares? However, it seems to me, that you reviewed the items then got a thank you gift. You did not solicit the bra pattern nor the tape, you just blogged about something that interested you.

        It’s all about transparency and being upfront. When you feel like you can’t say something negative because you’re being sponsored by a product and outright lie, then it’s going to destroy your credibility, but from what I’ve read in your blog, that isn’t in your character. The fact that you have questions regarding the ethics shows you have high moral standards.

        I can’t understand why your pattern is such a big file? The instructions can be a separate file that doesn’t require printing. Also I like it when download patterns give me an option of print out size. I can take things to the local internet shop and have things printed in large format instead of printing several sheets.

        Sorry for the long comment, I have been meaning to comment before this, so I guess it all just came out in this one.

        regards,
        Theresa

        • I am already planning for being an “old” lady… I really really love Edwardian day dresses, the simple and comfy looking ones, and when I’m an old lady I give myself full permission to wear them as much as I like. I could do it now, for sure, but I don’t think it will work for me until I’m older. It’ll be rad.

          Thanks for that. No, I don’t mind saying what I think. Often gets me into trouble, but I think for blogging it works out pretty well… ;)

          Well- the pattern is multi-sized, for one. I could separate out the sizes to a certain extent, but even then we’re talking about a half-circle skirt, midriff pieces, binding pieces, the best in-seam pocket ever, etc.. It adds up. The 55+ is without instructions. :)

          I like long comments! It really makes my morning to read and respond, thank you for taking the time.

  3. As always, ultra interesting post – and you look so cute in your Tiramisu swigging beer from a bottle :)…. Personally I don’t give a flying f..k if you get swag – actually that’s wrong, I am very glad if you get swag. You deserve it – you give so much! I like that you have the ethical thing to mention it – even though that’s exactly what I’d expect from you :). I think it would be totally dumb to turn it down. And a bit offensive to the givers concerned. I think someone like Annele is probably totally getting off on the whole interaction with you and enjoying you getting into the whole bra thing so much and wants to encourage you. And Sunni is another blogger like you who really gives of her time and energy to us followers and i think it’s just really really sweet that she did that.

    Re PDFs – well, I’ve bought quite a few. But only when I couldn’t buy the printed pattern. So with Colette, I’d much rather wait and not hassle! And I will do the same with you. I’d rather wait and pay postage. And I’d also rather pay a little more postage than have things get lost – I just paid $US13 for the two latest Colettes. And I bought a knicker pattern from Makers Journal in Aussie – $6 post. I’d rather pay a bit more than have things take forever.

    I don’t enjoy putting the blasted things together at all – I am too much of a perfectionist and also have a painfully needy cat that parks on my work table! But I have bought some large ones – Victory Patterns, who doesn’t do paper yet – 43 pages. Not fun, but ok. So long as they’re well tiled they’re not too hard to put together. MUCH easier if you have a cutting mat and exacto knife than with scissors…. I know you’re going to have a lot of sizes available – perhaps to cut down on page numbers the pattern could be available in size blocks or something?

    I read Mari’s very interesting post and think that she and I are very alike! I work in the Foreign Office – dress code is suits or at least jackets. Everyone lives in grey or black short tight dresses and skirts…. I have my wardrobe of dresses made mainly but not all from 50s and some 40s vintage patterns in bright prints for summer and plainer fabrics in winter. I just finished a 40s dress with scalloped V-neck and scalloped edged cut-on kimono sleeves, it’s quilting cotton (so hit me, I couldn’t resist) by Laura Gunn – the bodice is white with yellow lily buds and the skirt is yellow with white lilies:)…. I wear an ancient provencal skirt with a quilted border in the typical yellow/green/black print with a sorbetto with sleeves, a twisted neck edging and a big bow in some vintage pale yellow batiste and a black or green jacket. In the beginning I used to get a few comments but have now noticed that some of the women are wearing more colours and prints – yay! My “proper suit” for taking minutes at VIP meetings is a cropped navy blue linen with folded back neck edges a la 30s tacked down with huge baroque pewter buttons, and a long 5 panelled 30s skirt which is the closest thing I could find to Minerve – less flare to the centre front, but still…. I don’t feel at all odd going to the super in any of my clothes. And have never been ticked off for not following the dress code – probably because the total look is so ladylike I guess – and so much more modest than most of the other women – so I can really enjoy my clothes!

    I think it’s pretty obvious that most fashion bloggers are in cahoots. I don’t follow any except for an occasional look at the Sartorialist but even he’s getting on my nerves now. Too elitist inclined.

    • Agreed. On everything. And thank you- duly noted. :) I really appreciate your very detailed input, here and in the emails, they’re flagged as examples of how my work should be.. :)

      Cahoots indeed. We’ll get people sewing, and then where will those fashionistas be? Eating hamburgers.

      Beer from a bottle.. Sigh. It’s kind of my style. I have some steins around, but the big oversized bottle makes me laugh…;)

  4. I personally would not print a pdf that had 55 pages. But if you offer it in paper pattern form, but I would definitely order and pay for shipping. I actually won a pdf in a giveaway one time that I really liked, but it was 80 pages. I’ve never printed it.

    Nothing wrong with blogger swag. I find that even though bloggers receive free goodies, opinions are always honest. I see nothing wrong with that.

    A frosting week sounds fun! I don’t think I’d participate, though. I’m working at a new school and I can only imagine what they would think of the new art teacher coming to school everyday in fancy dresses!

    • Oh no no no, Tiramisu is legit and in paper form. I’ve worked too hard on Cake not to go that way. :) Yours might come with a bonus Cherry Ripe, I think of you every time I’m in line at the grocery store.

      I try to be honest. I mean… You’re reading what I write, if I’m not honest about a technique or product and you try it out, then you know I’m full of sh*t. ;) And I don’t want to be that way…

      Aren’t art teachers allowed a little leeway, sartorially speaking? ;)

  5. Yes I buy digital patterns with lots of pages from sewingpatterns.com because it costs so much less to do this than to get them from spotlight. But if postage for you pattern is so cheap and the digital v paper + post is fairly even then I would lean towards the paper version. If you are offered nice things to review or use because you have a great blog and do a great job (which you do) defiantly accept them and be grateful you have the skill to bring in the goodies. I would expect if your reviewing because you been asked to that you say so its only fair that people know. Its lovely that your honest review returned you something its not why you did it so you should just enjoy what comes your way. Had my wine with dinner, now reading this while pretending to enjoy the AFL final. Not my team tonight but it is tomorrow night hope there’s not tears.

    • Well, Rennai, I’m here in Oz so the shipping is quite reasonable and the pattern will show up just after you click “buy now.” ;)

      Thanks for that, I feel better now about free stuff. Was getting a little worried.

      No tears tomorrow!! :D

  6. I think 55 pages is too many, I too would wait for a paper printed pattern. I’ve only done a couple of downloads, and found it very frustrating to align correctly. I think blogger swag is like any other gift, say “thank you very much” and move on. If you end up reviewing that product, then disclose that you received it and everyone should be fine. I think a no gift policy would be foolish, transparency is the key.

    • The printer guy thought I was absolutely stark raving mad about printable sewing patterns… hehehe. I had such a time explaining it, and even once he “got it” he still sort of looked at me like I was from another planet. But still very pleasant.

      Very sensible advice, thank you. :)

  7. So much in this post! :D lol. On printing patterns: I’m always hesitant to print anything that involves large pieces (dresses, usually) and will eat a lot of paper. Separates I’m more inclined to, but I’d rather buy a printed version of a dress pattern. But, I also realize (after having researched the cost of printing patterns myself for a few of my designs), that the hassle and cost of printing patterns is so high that for many smaller companies digital downloads is the way to go. So I’m not totally of the mindset that print-at-home patterns are evil. lol.

    On swag… Having been on the receiving end of “swag” in the past, I have a bit of a split-opinion about this. While the over-saturation of gifted items on fashion blogs is irking me more and more (though I don’t read a ton of them anymore), I’m far less bothered by “useful” things (like sewing notions). As long as, and this is the caveat, if reviewed an honest opinion is given. If you don’t like the item, say so. I’m pretty up front with people when approached about reviewing an item that just because they’re sending it to me, does not mean 1.) I’ll actually review it on the blog, and 2.) it’ll be a favorable review. I’ve become far more choosy about requests to review products in the past year or so, despite offers to work with a lot of companies. But unless I feel their product will resonate with me (and therefore, probably, my readers), I take a pass. Free is fun (and nice when your’e on a tight sewing budget anyway!), but when your blog starts seeming like a constant advertisement, it gets a little much. I still am sure that for every “free” item I have received and reviewed on my blog, there is a lot of things I’ve bought myself and also review (like patterns and books). I think it gives a greater credibility to the blogger.

    I wish I could participate in a “Frosting Week”! I loved both your thoughts on sewing utilitarian, everyday clothes and the idea in Mari’s post resonates with me (probably because I sew and wear a lot of what would be termed “frosting”). Right now though, I’m in a weird place with lots of utilitarian clothes that fit and not much “frosting” (that I can squeeze into. haha). Boo. Methinks this pregnant gal has to get off her tush and make something special to wear! ;) lol.

    • Casey, I am begging you to make some Betty Draper-esque maternity wear. Seriously. I will make it for you. I have the patterns and the fabric, I’m just not pregnant. ;)

    • Also- I was a little giddy last night thinking of dressing you up like Betty Draper and got distracted… :) Thanks so much for your well thought out response, I really respect your opinion and it’s so helpful to have some “guidelines”. I’m sure I’ll be referring to this later, too. :)

  8. Oh, I’ve split a bottle of champagne with ladies of many and varied ages and hope that I’ll get to do it with you in the not too distant future. I don’t mind printing 55 pages. I often don’t have the patience to wait for the post and I find something oddly satisfying in taping the pages together (how sad is that?). I’d never heard the term ‘swag’ used like this before but if I understand it correctly, I don’t have a problem with it. I guess it’s different if a blogger is just trawling for free stuff, but if you’re genuinely impressed with a product what harm is there in saying so? Some companies even give discount codes for bloggers to pass on to their readers, so it is to everyones benefit. A bit of frosting is fun every now and then. Incidentally, last Friday night I was in a bar drinking champagne with my staff and a woman sat next to me with a handbag covered in satin roses just like your cake and they were even in the same three colours. I have a plan in the back of my head to make that handbag one day …

    • Let’s do that. We can live tweet drunkenly from the beach. It would be awesome.

      I get that… Have you seen Amelie? You know how they film that section where she’s forging a love letter? Every time I put together a pdf pattern, I imagine I’m in that scene… Super fun.

      oh! please make that handbag and flood the internet with the how to. Wow. It would take a lot of work, but the same way knitting a sweater takes a lot of work… Hmm…

  9. I’ve only put together pdfs running to 24 pages before…I don’t know about 55 it would depend on how they went together. The pdfs I’ve done so far have been a nightmare (Vintage Style for Kids book) but I think it is partly due to the faults in the patterns and partly due to the way the markings are meant to fit together (which doesn’t make sense)

    Sorbetto seemed to be more logical, although I haven’t actually got as far as sticking that one together. I also loved the fact it gives a test panel to ensure your printer is printing to the right size.

    I think I would be ok with 55 if they went together sensibly (and I’d had the energy to wash the kitchen floor so that I had the space to put them together !)…

    Frosting is fine with me, my natural taste is slightly theatrical but I lack the confidence to wear them in public often, which means the clothes that make me happy stay in the wardrobe… (also doesn’t quite fit with the work wardrobe…I’m a lawyer)

    Swag…cool, good for you. Everyone deserves the occasional perk to their working life, so go ahead enjot it. I think if you were endorsing things (which you are not) then that is a different matter entirely

    • Yes- I would insist on a testing gauge or put it in myself. That’s what impressed me about the Oliver + S pattern- the entire background was a perfectly faint grid of 1″ squares. Faint enough to blend into the background, but discernible enough to measure. Perfect.

      It’s so fun to be theatrical, isn’t it? It took me some time to realize that some people aren’t into being noticed and standing out, which is col. I think to a certain extent I can’t help being a bit dramatic… And I’m kind of to the place in my life where I embrace it, too.

      I think it would be outside of my nature to endorse something I didn’t have a hand in creating.. I can be a real control freak sometimes… :)

  10. I’ll ditto everyone else. We trust you, thanks for your honesty, swag is fine. I miss the inter-generational schmoozing from my last job too. I don’t do downloadable patterns usually, but I would for Tiramisu! In the evening I could enjoy taping the pages together, and I may use a glass of wine as one of my weights. The added fear of your postal system would be further incentive to download. I’m excited to get my hands on it!

    • Well- I have had a bad run with the postal service, but we had a heart-to-heart chat about that yesterday and I can offer tracking, etc for extra security. It doesn’t cost much. Also I can do expedited service that comes in a very important-looking envelope that would be hard to misplace, I should think. :)

      I love the taping image you conjured in my mind!

  11. ah, no, I am almost crying here! I was so happy when you said the other day that Tiramisu would be available as a digital download, but now you are not so sure… I don’t mind printing lots of pages and taping them together, first of all because I don’t like working with paper patterns, since I want to keep all the sizes, so I always copy all the pattern pieces into another pattern paper (it’s really boring, I really hate that). With downloadable patterns I don’t have this problem, if I need another size, I will just print the pattern again… Also, I live in Brazil, and although shipping won’t be very expensive (your prices are really good…), I don’t like to wait, and I had my fair share of things lost, our postal service is not so good. Once I ordered something from Australia and it took me 3 months to get it! These are my own reasons, so please, please, please, release Tiramisu as a PDF… I am so looking forward to sewing this dress, I already have thress versions (and the fabric) on my mind…

    • Ok- I will make her a pdf. Thanks for letting me know that it’s important to you, sometimes (like I said) I end up having to make decisions about Cake and sometimes I’m not sure what y’all would prefer. So I ask. :)

      You’re so kind! :) Thanks!

      3 months is abominable.

  12. 55 pages is pretty tough! with the postage figures you quoted i think i would probably go for the paper version. i don’t mind pdf patterns (as long as they don’t have that irritating you can only print 3 times thing, or you can’t have on more than one PC). if i buy a pattern i reserve the right to sneakily print it at work or make it more than once! the most recent one i did was hard as there was no grid, but i have used oliver+s before and they are really easy to put together.

    re free stuff, i have stopped following a few bloggers (largely the kid-focused crafty bloggers) as loads of their posts starting being “written for me by xxx but all the views expressed are my own”. but if you get sent something, you try it and you would genuinely recommend to me if i knew you IRL, then i have no problem being recommended it via your blog! but as casey says, it works if it fits with the stuff you do already and is of interest to your readers.

    i love to sew frosting. but i plan to sew cake, the frosting is just the stuff that happens in between when i get distracted in the fabric shop or looking at someone else’s blog and seeing a pretty dress they’ve made!

    • Yeah! Oliver + S really do an amazing job across the board.

      Hahahaha! I always considered myself a writer first, a sewist second, so I guess I dare anyone to try to write my posts for me… Bahaha. That’s a good litmus test, I think- if I’d recommend it irl then on the blog is fine. :)

  13. Take your free things & enjoy them. You’ve set good parameters for what you will & won’t review on your blog & are honest about it. Nothing wrong with getting free things because someone appreciates your work.

    As for PDF patterns, I’ve been thinking about the same thing as I’m trying to make a few. What I’m going to try- it might not work- is for dresses just cut out the blank pages in the center so only the outline of the skirt prints but the entire bodice prints. It’s kind of weird, but I’m hoping it will help.

    MMM frosting week is on!

    • Thanks for that! :)

      I thought about that, too, but never got around to trying it. If you have any questions or etc about the process and maybe I can help you, don’t hesitate. :)

      Frosting Fortnight? :D

  14. I toast you with a almond milk vanilla rooibos latte. Cin cin!
    I probably would buy a PDF with that many pages but then I’d never print it out and be totally overwhelmed by it if I ever got around to it. And really, $4.70 does not seem all that crazy expensive for coming from Australia.

    I think the sewing community as a whole is a rather generous bunch. If we see that someone WILL use something that we have, I think that most of us are more than happy to pass it along her way–happy that something from our stash will be used and loved. I don’t take it for granted when those opportunities present themselves–I’m really grateful that someone noticed my preferences and those become really special projects often. So I say, enjoy the swag, and pass along some of it to others when you have an opportunity to do so. I have 3 patterns sitting in my room waiting to do just that but I haven’t been able to test them because they all have a sort of fall/winter vibe.

    • Ooooooooh! That sounds so yum!

      Yeah, I was pretty pleased about the price of postage, too. So why is it that when I order a pattern from the US, it’s $10 to ship it? Hmmm..

      I think you’re so right about sewing generosity. I love that. And I really love sending stuff out, myself, so I get it. :)

      Sigh… I usually get the itch to make a coat in November/December, when it’s ridiculously, violently summer time here… Heh heh heh…

  15. I’m perfectly fine with sewing blog swag, most bloggers get zero financial return. I struggle to imagine how Colette, Sewaholuc etc would survive without the sewing blogosphere to support and promote them. Personally I love to see people make up their versions of new patterns, and I love how some indies tie in their release with posts from bloggers. This makes the patterns come alive much more so than a shop catalogue or a styled photo shoot. Most bloggers explain they are pattern testers, asked to post etc. I think it’s a three way street if everyone is honest, the blog readers get inspired, the blogger sews and gains profile, and the company gains sales that might be much harder to obtain. I’m for supporting indie pattern companies in whatever that form takes whether as reader or blogger.

    • Well… Much has been made about how sewing blogging and social media and 21st century technology is basically what has allowed so many people to take up sewing again. I remember sewing “secretly” in the late 90’s/early2000’s because it was so unpopular and it was always so hard to get good answers to my questions. Now, viola, here we are.

      I think the pattern companies you mentioned (and others) wouldn’t exist without that, but at the same time they help fuel the sewing love, too… :)

      • Yes I totally agree. Like I said I think if people are honest and dont’ allowed ‘marketing’ to hijack genuine opinions then all is good. I think the independency of thought that is expressed and shared on blogs, twitter and so on needs to remain. Otherwise the medium loses its power.
        I agree, I probably would not have started sewing again (or at least bene inspired to continue) without the online sewing community – it’s pretty lonely when none of your friends sew and there is noone to ask advice – thank goodness for the online world!

  16. It’s not even nine in the morning right now so I’ll have to pass on the bubbly but I love talking with older people. Most of my friends are 5-20 years older than me anyways so I’m kind of used to it.

    I abhor digital downloads. I hate taping them together and they always get all bubbly and wonky. I’d much prefer a paper pattern even if it means waiting two weeks and paying for shipping.

    I’m also in the no paid advertising camp. I don’t mind giving a shout out to small businesses that I like but that’s because I like them and I want them to have enough business to stay in business! I’ve never gotten any free swag though. I did once post about a pair of jeans I liked from Kohl’s (a department store here in the US) and they emailed me several times to bug me to put up a link to their website on my blog. Kohl’s did not need my help to direct customers their way so I ignored them.

    I love frosting! I think we could all use any excuse to put on those pretties that don’t get worn very often. :)

    PS If you ever do make that rose cake, you have to blog about it so we can all admire it’s fabulousness! :)

    • Kohl’s are jerks. Thank you for confirming my opinion! How tacky.

      Ohhhh I will. I actually went out and bought a cheapo pastry bag with tips to test it out and it really isn’t terribly difficult to get the knack of those roses. They look a bit yuck on their own, but all over a cake is a great effect. I also tried her “vertical layers” tutorial and it worked really well too. I didn’t get photos because I’m not in the habit of documenting my cake baking, but I’m planning to start documenting it more. I like baking cakes more than eating them, to be honest… :)

  17. Oiy! 55 pages. Then again, I had the pleasure of doing an 80 page PDF pattern earlier this year and the jacket was pretty much a bust. I’m not up for doing 55 pages, but can I add some pointers for your consideration? Please make a “print at copy shop” selection. Even if it is $20-$25 to print at the copy shop, I would much rather do that than the individual sheets. However, if you’re a gem – and I know that you are – you would make the printed pages so that there is no bounding box to cut first. Apparently Angela Kane’s pdf patterns don’t have this so, all you have to do is print out the pages and immediately tape the edges together. Now that would be FABULOUS! Ok, ok, these are just my thoughts. You totally don’t have to do any of these.

    Designer swag? I’m with Casey on this one. I think getting free, great stuff is well, great. But always asking for a favorable review in return just isn’t my style, especially if the product doesn’t meet up to my standard. I’ve even had someone contact me about adding their items to my shop – of which I bought a certain amount – and didn’t sell a single one and when I tried to make one it was horrendous. Very bad decision on my part and something I really really regret. So don’t do it, unless a) you’ve tried the product and b) you really really love it. I absolutely will not ever do what I just described above and I sell only those things that I truly love and use a ton in my sewing room.
    This said, please know that I had absolutely no intention of getting more traffic because I thought you might post about the knit stay tape! I seriously think both versions of the stay tape are magical and everyone should have them both in all colors and styles. Since I love reading your blog so much – even though I’m a bad commenter and never do it (sorry) – I slipped in another roll just for you as a thank you for your awesome content. Truly. You definitely don’t have to review it. Just enjoy it!

    I would love a frosting week! Ha! Ummmm….but as per Everyday Wardrobe style, I would have absolutely nothing to wear with them. Expect to see lots of skirts, with no tops, but I’ve got plenty of scarves, but no comfy shoes. It’s not wonder I have nothing to wear!

    • Wow- 80 pages is so much! Oh! Dear me. Especially if the pattern was pretty “meh.”

      It’s so interesting you mentioned the no cutting option… I was at the office working on lines yesterday, and my tech showed me he could make the pdfs margin-less. I wasn’t sure if that would be cool or too weird, so I’m glad to know its been done and I can go ahead with that. I thought it made sense, too. We’d have to make an American and a Metric version, but that’s ok.

      You are SO wise to only stock the shop with stuff you’d love to use yourself. Very wise. When I worked in sewing retail that was how we did our ordering… Which was kind of fun, it meant we the staff often ordered a “new thing” we thought would be cool and we’d test it in the shop. If we liked it, we ordered more and sold them. If not, forget about it. I also love going into art shops that are clearly stocked and run by an artist. You can always tell, good stock selection is hard to fake.

      No no- I didn’t think that at all about traffic… I was really genuinely touched by your thoughtfulness and wanted to expose you. :)

      Heh heh heh… Topless Frosting Week, eh? Hehehe. That sounds exciting… ;)

  18. Interesting — I’d been thinking about those two posts at MPB too. (The one about swag and the one about digital patterns.) I like digital patterns, but I mostly sew teeny children’s things. I probably *wouldn’t* print out 55 pages of pattern to tape together. BUT, I would totally do it for something small, like a bra, for example.

    I don’t mind appropriate swag if people are upfront about it. I dislike stupid swag though. A lot of people seemed to have been sent some kind of hair detangler from Dove recently. These were primarily craft/sewing sites with an emphasis on kids. I get that most people have hair, etc., but though everyone was upfront about it, I got quickly sick of seeing “reviews” of this ridiculous, off-topic product. I think it’s great, though, that you’ve created this nice feedback loop with a product you’re interested in and that person’s acknowledging your interest. That makes sense. I want to see how the bra experiment goes and having more to try means it’s more likely you’ll be able to explain what worked and what didn’t in a more thorough way.

    Ann

    http://www.thevelvetaubergine.com/

    • I’m so strapped for online time, sometimes I miss really obvious posts like the MPB on digital patterns. Ooops!

      Yes, I kind of feel the same. But I can see how pdfs would be very very useful to people in isolated locations, etc… So… I’ll pdf Tiramisu, it’s apparently a really simple process for my scanning-lines-imaging wizard.

      Yeah, I’ll be fully documenting the bra experiment, I’m actually really excited to be learning something “new” “from scratch.” I’m not sure how I’ll handle the fitting posts, I may have a private gallery (like a fitting room?) or something.

  19. I think the downloadable pattern option always makes me feel a little more comfortable with buying from faraway lands, it’s one of the reasons I haven’t taken the plunge to get a Papercut pattern yet. And if I’m paying more than the $2 sale price on Big 4 patterns, I always trace so I don’t ruin the pattern. Digital patterns you can print as many times as you like, so you never ruin it, even though taping all those pages together is about the same hassle as tracing. It evens out.
    As for swag, I say go for it. I’d love to get free sewing stuff! Just as long as you tell us upfront and, like you said, the minute they do something sleazy, you turn back.
    I don’t understand why utility sewing is called cake, when I eat cake (for real) I actually eat it for the cake, I don’t like frosting much… and that’s kindof the same for my sewing anyways. Seems to me we should call it Bagel sewing or something. Not as catchy, I know.

    • I would imagine Papercut is expensive shipping, with the size and shape and weight of the packaging…

      Well… I believe the frosting/cake terms came from Tasia- she wrote a really insightful post about “sewing cake” and “sewing frosting” a while back when I was thinking about putting together a pattern company. And I was like “OH! Hey! That’s the type of patterns I’m making.” The other names I could think of were lame, but Cake seemed right. :) http://sewaholic.net/too-much-frosting-not-enough-cake/

  20. I am on cup four of the morning coffee so no bubbly here!

    First, the patterns. I am a paper girl, through the mail all the way. I know that is a little old fashioned but I am as old as dirt and I won’t be printing, taping, fussing and swearing to assemble a pattern. Just will not happen for me. I know others have had great experiences and really enjoy the instant gratification part, I am not one of them.

    Second, the swag. Only you know how you feel about it. I think dear Casey said it well. If it is unsolicited and given without obligation, that is fine. If you decide to go commercial with ads etc, that opens up the other Pandora’s box of credibility in my eyes, as it relates to reviews. While I really do think most sewing and fashion bloggers are honest. ( Maybe I am naive about all this) but I too am seeing trends and unsubscribing from some blogs that clearly have turned the corner. Actually, now that I think about it, I exited all but one about a year ago. The mind is going you know

    I would love to see a “Frosting” post series. The only thing I Frost these days is dry skin, but seeing you all gussied up would warm my sewing soul and maybe jolt me into something a little more than my basic daily wear.

    Your posts, your style and you presentation is always welcome. What I find most interesting is how clearly personality and values travel through the intere-webs. Sometimes even more precisely than face to face!

    • Mmmm, coffee.. I usually sit down in the morning with a nice vat of coffee and respond to comments, etc. Such a nice start to the day.

      Nah. I hate ads… I was raised pretty anti-consumerist, and I’m glad of that because filtering media and advertising is like breathing… I do want to experiment with another kind of advertising, but we’ll talk about that a little bit later when it comes up. :)

      I love my “frosting” clothes. I really do. Frosting is the reason I learned to draft, so I could make up whatever thing was in my head. :) But there’s always been a need in my wardrobe for more basic clothes, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how fun it can be to sew and wear basic stuff, too…

      Thanks for that! I think so, too. In fact, in person I probably come off a little strange, it can take me a while to warm up to someone and be as open as I am on the blog. Which is probably weird. The first time I met someone face to face who knew my blog, it was quite strange… She came up to me in the chemist and said “Hey, excuse me, but are you Steph Cousins? I recognized your jacket and your bag…” Hehh She was nice, though. :) But I’m kind of generally a fairly reserved person at first, unless I’m teaching….

  21. Oh boy, you covered a lot of territory there over a beer.
    1. I have no problem with you receiving swag. I appreciate being told when it was a gift and when it was purchased, but more than that, I like your honesty. So long as you say it sucks (nicely) if it did, it’s all good. My mortgage broker didn’t advertise, but any referal sent by me, I got 10% of what his commision was. He wanted word of mouth advertising and felt that 10% was an appropriate marketing budget. I see gifts like Sunni’s, a bit like that, a thank you to a friend and customer.
    2. I am not old enough yet to drink with people 40 years younger than me, but I’ve got friends of a pretty wide age range. Perhaps the closest to what you are describing would be my mothers cousins’ husband, I think there is a 35 year age gap. He decided to go back for his Phd about the time I was working on my Masters. The study he chose was really quantitative and needed statsitical analysis – this from a guy who didn’t have email. So he would come out to where I lived, I taught him how to input data in excel, worked with him in SPSS to run the analysis he needed on his survey. We would work until I was dying of hunger and then go split a pitcher of beer. I blame my love of darker beers on him.
    3. I’m not sure I’d tape together 55-60 pieces of paper. I might, but that stack of paper would look pretty overwhelming. I am not very price sensitive when it comes to independent patterns. I know that it adds to your ability to support yourself and shipping is what shipping is. So I’d probably pay to have that shipped over digital. Based on my previous experiences with Sewaholic and Colette, I usually buy less frequently but multiple patterns at once.
    4. Your shipping costs seem in line with pricing in Canada. I also suck at getting my butt to the post office.

    • Well. It was a big beer. :)

      Yes- I see those kinds of gifts that way too. But I wanted to be sure most of us feel that way… :)

      I never understood only having friends around one’s own age.. .Maybe because I was homeschooled and moved around some, I’ve always had much older and younger friends… I think it’s nice.

      Thanks for that! I feel the same way when I purchase indie patterns/etc.

      Well, after yesterday’s truly enjoyable experience, I think I might be less resistant to going to the post office…

  22. I just heart your face so much, especially with that ginormous beer :)

    I think it’s totally awesome to give a shout out to small businesses – I’ve done it before when I talked about a company that made rhubarb wine here in the states, and I thought I’d share my find with other people. Small businesses can use all the help they can get. I take classes at a knitting studio, and I am definitely going to be talking about that in the next couple of weeks, but mainly because I want fun blogging people to go with me if they are in the neighborhood. I think if someone offers you sewing swag from their small business, you should take it, say thank you, and review it honestly (which we already know you do – I love reading your reviews).

    As far as digital downloads go, I am of two minds: 1). I hate taping stuff together, especially huge patterns because it gives me papercuts and anxiety that I’ve chopped off something in my cutting 2) I hate losing things to the post office even more. If your post is untrustworthy, I’ll buy the pattern digitally. Simple as that because I WANT that pattern.

    And yes, there totally needs be a frosting week – those babies need to see the light of day more than once a year!

    • Aw! Thanks Meg! I know I’ve been really “absent” in photos lately, but I don’t really have any new makes to show… :)

      Oooh Rhubarb wine? Sounds delicious. Who were they?

      Thanks for the advice, very sensible I think.

      Well… As for the post… I know it can be something of a gamble, but I wouldn’t expect y’all to suffer for the shortcomings of the post office. If something didn’t show up in a reasonable amount of time, I would quite happily dispatch a replacement. I’ve had other sellers do that for me. It’s heart-breaking when it’s a vintage pattern because they’re more or less irreplaceable, so at least I’ll have plenty of pieces of Cake to dish up. It’s all good.

  23. I have never downloaded a pattern and without any experience, I feel sympathetic to the recent post on male pattern boldness: Things I Don’t Get, Vol. 6 Downloadable Patterns. In the comments of that post, however, there was an interesting suggestion (17 by Heather Lou) about assembling all the pdf pages in photoshop and then printing out on a plot printer at a copy shop. This suggestion makes me more likely to try a digital pattern (and I do want to try Tiramisu, though not particularly as a download).

    As for swag, disclosure makes a huge difference to me. I know it’s naive to assume I’m getting the whole story, and I generally don’t about companies and politicians, but I still do about most people unless they’ve got an obvious agenda. If I’m under the assumption that a blogger’s opinions are uncompensated and later find out about swag, I feel deceived. If a blogger reveals, as you have, that you’ve sent traffic to a company’s site and that company is now corresponding and sending you freebies, well, I trust you even more. I don’t necessarily trust your opinion of the company, but you’re awesome.

    • Yes- Oliver + S also offers a full size printable pattern, which is good. I just need to sort out the logistics. I think my pattern width might be wider than the printers normally found in copy shops, so it might take a little bit of jiggling around the pieces to make a copy of the right width, but I’d do that. Well, my scan wizard would do that.

      I think the disclosure/credibility issue you touch on is extremely important. In a time where it’s impossible to tell if we’re being told the truth by people in power, the least we can do is be honest with each other…..

  24. Have you thought of offering a PDF version that is not tiled but set to print on paper that is at most 42″ wide? That way we could take it to the local Kinko’s and get them to print it on their wide format printer. They don’t charge more than a few dollars for this so it would be cheaper than postage and probably faster too than waiting for the mail.

    • Hmmm my current layout is 48″, which has caused me some logistical problems with printing proofs for testers. I’ll see what I can do. :)

  25. All the previous comments covered my thoughts eloquently, so I will be succinct.
    55 pages for a digital pattern? No
    40 years older than me are dead; 40 years younger than me can’t drive.
    All you need is the standard disclaimer: “the nice people at xxxx sent me yyy to review” and then proceed with your reviews: positive, neutral, or negative. Frankly, I see it as a great service you can provide, if you are willing and have the time.

  26. I don’t mind you enjoying some freebies as long as you are up front about the fact in your review. Go for it!
    I probably wouldn’t print out a 55 page pattern, though I don’t mind on something small like an accessory, or child’s pattern.

  27. OK, I haven’t even read this post but I have to comment and say that the dress looks fucking terrific on you and I REALLY want to get my hands on that pattern :-) It does awesome things to highlight your lovely, curvy figure.

  28. I love your honesty and willingness to say what you really think, so I don’t think the swag thing is an issue. Though I hate reviews for the sake of reviews. I’d rather hear about things that people feel strongly about, or about things they discovered on their own, instead of a mediocre review about something they were “paid” to mention. I personally have hopes that Janome will send me some free sewing machines for mentioning them on my blog….
    I have a love/hate relationship with PDFs. The size/taping thing isn’t an issue for me since I normally use them for my kids (though I’d rather pay postage for a grown-up sized pattern). My issue is with how many PDF designers take shortcuts or don’t have the best sewing foundations when they decide they should be designers. Poor construction techniques, incomplete instructions, lack of finished garment measurements, grrr, they make me angry!
    My favorite PDF patterns have come from people with a solid background in sewing (who also happen to be Pattern Review members!)–Alviana, who started Popolok Designs (http://www.etsy.com/shop/popolok), Cole from Cole’s Corner & Creations (http://www.etsy.com/shop/ColesCreations) and Jennifer from Un Petit Design (http://unpetitdesign.blogspot.com/).
    I should probably add the disclaimer that I’ve done pattern testing for them, but their patterns speak for themselves and I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase a pattern from any of them. There are a number of other designers I would not give my money to, because I’ve been dissatisfied with their patterns (purchased and/or free).
    I do find I have a hard time being negative on my blog (not so much on Pattern Reviews), when I make a pdf pattern, because I don’t want to ruin someone’s livelihood and I imagine people running Etsy pattern shops aren’t raking in the money. I feel my blog is more for commentary and PR is more for an in-depth review.
    Wow, didn’t mean to write all that. This post really fueled a lot of thoughts for me, thank you. And thanks for the great cake link too, it led me to pin what I think might be the perfect rolled sugar cookie recipe!

    • Janome are a great brand… I hesitate to be too rabidly “anti-corporate” esp in the sewing world precisely because I’ve worked with Janome and I know how tuned in they are to the wants and needs of their customers, and how they really do strive to make great machines. That said, if a sponsorship with them came up, I’d be thrilled but would most likely leave it up to y’all.

      Yes- I try to keep things positive around here, or at least constructive… And thanks for the pdf links! :) I’m really really looking forward to re-releasing the BCT and another free pattern that are more in line with the pattern style and standards I’m building for Cake, but I have to do one thing at a time. But yeah… The “best” quality I was achieving doing pdfs on my own was really frustrating… Super frustrating, and I know that often even if a pattern has some little quirks, it can still be a good pattern.

      I love iambaker! And she’s a really inspirational person, too. :)

      I like long comments. It gets me thinking, too.

  29. Me again, I have to say I would very much prefer a printed pattern version than a 55 page digital file that I will have to print and assemble for myself. I will pay and wait for that shipping. I’m going to make it regardless, but I’d really rather get a paper pattern with an envelope.

    Oh, I have utterly no issues with bloggers getting swag. That’s totally different than bloggers who shill on behalf of a brand (or 10) the way many of the plugged-in fashion bloggers do. What makes me want to read a blog is its authenticity. I believe that people read my blog because it’s something that I “give” to them (an article or a piece of info or a perspective). In return, they give so much to me (by reading and commenting and providing feedback and instruction and friendship). A blogger is not so much giving anymore when (s)he starts advertising, IMO, at that point the blogger is taking (in a way) – taking readers away from the authenticity that brought them to blog in the first place. BTW, advertising for your own brand or business is completely legit, IMO, not that my opinion is the arbiter. I also think that bragging about getting gifts (for writing and providing information on a regular basis to a wide readership) is part of the fun! I love to hear about blogger friends getting a gift. I love to get them too.

    I don’t think you can compare a commercial blog (what many of the popular fashion bloggers are Editor-in Chief of) to a personal blog. One is an industry trying to pass for an honest account, the other is a view onto the experiences of an interesting person you might, in real life, actually know.

  30. I’ve been thinking more and more about printing patterns. I am a complete penny-pincher (I know, sorry) and tend to only buy the big company patterns because I can get them in periodic sales at Hobby Lobby or Jo-Ann’s for 99c or $1.49 each. The most I tend to spend on a pattern is via Vogue’s $4.99 sales. I’d rather spend my money on fabric than patterns….especially because I’ve never had a pattern I haven’t had to alter because of my odd shape and size.

    I’ve looked at Sewaholic and Colette patterns and am still trying to work out if they’re special/unique enough to justify me spending 16 times as much money on a pattern as I usually do. I’m going to sound a complete miser here but I’ve come through very hard times in the past and have never been able to fully justify spending money on myself. I TOTALLY see that that designing and drafting patterns is a long, arduous process requiring talent I don’t yet have and that this should be properly rewarded…let alone coverage all the costs. So me to buy a full price pattern, it’s going to have to be special. I did find myself umming and ahhing about finally taking the plunge on Colette’s Juniper wide-leg trousers, and after working out the full cost and postage (over $16), I did consider going for the PDF ($12) until I read Peter’s Male Pattern Boldness post yesterday about downloadable patterns. The thought of printing out 55 pages (of the Tirimisu), sellotaping them together and then cutting out the pieces sounds like too much time wasted………..but postage from Australia…….I don’t know. TBH I’m not going for a Tirimisu not because it’s not lovely, not because I don’t think you’ve done it beautifully……but because I live in Arizona and it looks too warm. I am though VERY interested in what the Pavlova will turn out to be, especially if it’s anything like your 3 circle skirt.

    Blimey, I’m waffling. Swag – take it unless anything they say whilst giving you it makes you feel uncomfortable. I can tell you’re an ethical person, it comes through in your posts so I wouldn’t think the worse of you accepting stuff, because you’re honest.

    Frosting (or as we Brits say icing): well I always say, one person’s icing is another person’s cake…..and you know I think life is too short not to wear things that make you happy. I’ve love a celebration of frosting/cake (otherwise any excuse to wear pretty/silly things). I’m off to read Mari’s blog now….and eat some carrot cake…..not that I’m in the slightest bit suggestible.

    • Haha, don’t be sorry for pinching pennies. I do that, too. :)

      I’d be really interested in working together on pattern development in a few months (once I settle the first releases and the holidays are over), if you’re game. I so hear you on the alteration issues, it’s really close to my heart. I’ve written before about some of the issues surrounding plus sizing, and part of the problem is it’s hard to test the patterns and sizing and etc. I have a nice pool of numbers and ratios I draw on, but it’s also nice to test on a living person. :) If you’re interested, give me a shout…

      Yes, well put. :) All of it.

      • Yes, count me in on helping out (as a living person….I now have visions of all those zombies you have secretly working for you in the pattern-making sweatshop behind your house….can you get the technical development zombie to invent a special printer we can have in the home that accepts tissue paper and prints AND laser cuts the individual pieces out for you in one process? Thank you!)

  31. I LOVE your blog. It feels like talking to a fun friend (are there unfun friends?) so I would totally want you to do the swag thing because I know you’d be honest to us about it all. Speaking of honesty – I would NOT want a 55 page download. Printer cartridges cost LOTS. That being said ….. I would seriously consider doing that for the new pattern. The age thing…… I am in my sixties, feel like I’m in my forties, but would love to listen to some 100 year old. What a kick! Cheers!!

    • Aw thanks! :)

      And thanks for your honesty, too. I really appreciate that.

      When I was a teenager I used to read to this very old lady, she was around 100. So lovely and kind and gentle and interesting, I really loved her.

  32. Great, great pictures!!

    On downloadable patterns, unless it’s for small crafty patterns or childrens patterns, I dislike them, especially if there’s more than 20 or so pages! I’m glad you met a nice Irishman ;-) the postage rates are excellent.

    I’m with you on the Oliver+S patterns – they’re the best I have used. I think one reason is that they try to avoid spreading small pattern pieces across more than 1 sheet of paper. I blogged about using one of their PDF patterns back in June, I was so impressed.

    I love your discussion of blog ethics – it hits home for me because having sewn a lot with ribbons, I got a bunch free to use. I’m happy to use them and recommend them, simply because it fits with what was what I was already doing – freely linking to other pattern, fabric, ribbon sites whenever I used them.

    It is clear from your detailed replies to comments, and the fact that you visit some blogs of commenters, that you put time into and work very hard at blogging. If a blogger writes in an honest and ethical manner – like you do – product recommendations are always very welcome. Also, because you encourage such great inclusive discussions, the comments provide plenty diverging views – overall giving a very accurate and reliable product review.

    • Bahahah! Cheers!

      Yes, I’m super impressed with Oliver + S. Been a longtime fan, and I think they’re really good at responding to customer requests. They’re a really great example of how to do things well, I think.

      Yes- it fits with what’s already going on. A bit of continuity. I love that, too. :)

      Thanks. It’s interesting, I was trying to figure out how to be a better blogger, and one of the things I stumbled across was responding to every comment. I was like “That’s insane!” but once I started doing it, I really enjoyed it. It’s like actively getting to know people, instead of just writing stuff. At some point though I was spending 2 hours a morning responding to comments and 3-6+ writing posts daily, and I thought… No, I have to quit replying or quit daily posts. Daily posts went out the door because I love replying… ;)

      So thanks. Heaps. :)

  33. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with blogger swag, so long as there is honesty in the review of it and where one got it (and I don’t think you’ll have a problem with that). The rise of fashion bloggers being completely paid off by brands puts them on par with infomercials, just an extra-long commercial that looks like it has a plot and real people, but in the end is just someone paid to tell the viewer how great the product is.

    I like the idea of sewing some frosting. Just this week I was looking at Gertie’s Butterick coat pattern and thinking how I don’t really need a new practical winter coat, but how much fun that pattern would be in some sort of flocked taffeta type of fabric. I would wear it to the grocery store.

    • Ooooh. Scathing. But… Well… When you put it that way, I can see it. Definitely.

      Flocked taffeta! I love it! Why the heck not, right? :)

  34. Get and enjoy all the swag you can get your mits on. No complaints here.

    Now, re: digital patterns…. I think 55 pages is excessive.Why don’t you offer a large format version too? Burda does this – you can print at home on 11×8 or print 36×48 sheets at your local copy store for a higher price. Might negate the convenience factor if you are also selling actual paper patterns as well though….

  35. Well, I’ll toast you with my espresso this morning! I’ve shared bubbly with lots of people from all generations – great fun – but, I’m very VERY sad to say, with no sewistas. I’m the only sewer in my very creative group of friends! You covered a lot of topics in this post, so here goes. Fifty-five pages is a lot, and although I’ve purchased, downloaded and taped PDF’s together, I’d probably pay for the postage, however much it was. I like the fun of getting packages in the mail and the sensory pleasure of a new pattern (or a TNT, for that matter). And swag… well, I don’t follow any fashion blogs (just read March & September Vogue), so can’t comment on that, but could really care less whether you share it, review it, keep it under wraps or trash it. You work very hard, Steph, and bring a wealth of information, fun and thought-provoking posts to the sewing blog world, and any extras are rightfully forthcoming, imho (emphasis on the “h”). :) As for frosting, I own more frosting (read impractical for my life right now, although not necessarily frosting in it’s true sense) than necessary, and it would be fun to do a frosting-without-the-cake week. And since I’m mostly overdressed on a daily basis (not wearing the standard north American SAHM workout wear uniform EVER), I’m sure nobody will notice! hehehehehe

  36. Just a quick note, I bought the new pattern from Colette, this amazing jacket, and the pdf including the instructions is 90 pages long! I still prefer pdfs than paper patterns, though…

  37. I have taped many pages of printer paper together to get a finished pattern but the bulk is unreal. How does one store such a bundle? At least thin pattern paper can be re-folded and stored in gallon sized Zip-lock bags(my favorite), manila envelopes or rolled up inside cardboard tubes but 50 sheets of printer paper would not be welcome in the boxes of 40 years of sewing patterns.Interesting thing about swag, people assume you write about them for free stuff? I was featured by Janome.com last month in their meet folks who use their machines section and gals wrote to me and asked what free machine did I get in return for the article…what? It was an honor to be featured with my annonymous blog…nothing more.

  38. I would buy a digital pattern with that many pieces IF there were only a few pattern pieces on each unit to cut out, or if each piece had it’s own section. Does that make sense? I wouldn’t mind putting it together put tracing something that big would blow my mind.

    I think reviews are fine, swag is fine, freebies are fine. If it’s something handmade I think it can help someone new get looked at. I don’t think you would be all “look what I got and you didn’t!” so I think it wouldn’t bother me. But I tend to not be interested in jealousy. :)

  39. Your Tira+beer combo looks perfect for a Friday, only it’s not quite afternoon here, yet! Like most of the other commenters, I probably wouldn’t tape that many pages together, but then, being the intended recipient of that merino (sadness! *sniff sniff*) also makes me want to side-eye the postal service… I think we all know your honesty enough to trust you to critically review any swag you get, and besides, I can live vicariously through you receiving free things! And lastly, you know I would be all over a Frosting Week!

  40. I guess I am not done yet. I love digital download patterns. I live in Mexico, most of my mail eventually reaches me but takes around 3 weeks. The postman comes on a tiny moto and only delivers letters not packages. You get a notice and have to go to the main post office to pick up.
    I am also a fan of patterns that give measurements and you more or less draft them yourself.
    regards,
    Theresa

  41. I actually don’t like downloadable patterns. I don’t have a printer myself, so I have to stealthily print out pages here at work. I’ve printed out Burda patterns here at work before, but usually they’re around 20 pages. 55-75 pages is way too much and I actually wouldn’t make the pattern at all if digital is the only way it will be delivered. :(

    As for fashion blogging and sewing blogging and advertising all rolled into one, I’m fine with it. I went to a few shows at NYFW this week as a fashion blogger, can understand garment construction from start to finish as a sewing blogger, and maybe because my day job happens to be in advertising, I’m not biased or think I’m selling out if I participate in these avenues. There’s nothing wrong with talking about your free or sponsored swag on your blog, as long as you like and it’s part of your personal style.

  42. Well, I’m not quite old enough to drink, yet. :)

    I don’t mind sewing swag at all! I think it’s quite awsome to have the opportunity to try new things, so I say go on ahead! You have my full support. Also: those shipping prices are awsome! It’s too bad I’m not in Australia (or maybe not…I don’t like giant man-eating spiders…).

    I’ve never drank with people older than me (or at all, for that matter), but I have had alcohol-free hangouts with some. Those days are some of the most fun! Oh, and now I want to make a cake like that soooooooo bad.

    • Oh! You’re a baby! :) Don’t let me be a bad influence on you. hehe. It’s very, very possible to have nice times without alcohol. Definitely. It’s even possible to write without alcohol… But I also do like a big beer at the end of a long day.

      Yeah, there’s a lot of weird and scary and terrifying creatures on this continent… And Aussies delight in telling tall tales about mythical creatures like “drop bears” and the like, it can be really hard to separate out the truth from the fiction at first because the sense of humor is so… Hm.. deadpan about it.. And even the harmless animals make scary noises… Koalas are cute, but they sound a bit like pig demon monsters from the abyss. I think so, anyway. Kookaburras really do laugh and chatter, it took the longest time for me to adjust my brain to the noise. I kept expecting to look outside and see little monkeys in the trees…

      Aw thanks! I’ve found hair a bit of a struggle in the past few years, but my husband of all people put me on to a “new” conditioner that seems to work well… hehe.

  43. I prefer printed patterns, especially when the shipping is so cheap, even half way across the planet!

    I have a strange question–but how do we know we are actually on the Cake mailing list?

    • Thanks for the input!

      Well… If you filled in the form here, I put you in the email software (very nice, legit service that will not sell my information, yadda yadda) and you should have recieved a confirmation email. That might have been a while ago. I’ll send out a group email soon, I just haven’t started the newsletters yet because I haven’t launched the Cake site or etc. We’re still in the “prequel” stage. :)

  44. Putting on my lawyer hat: in the US, bloggers (and other reviewers) *must* disclose if a product was received for free and if the reviewer/endorser was compensated. Not sure about the law in Oz. So your instincts are right on, in my opinion: absolutely nothing wrong with accepting gifts, but be sure to disclose that they were given.

    A huge printout would be a deterrent, if only because the resulting pattern sheet would be too large to conveniently fit on any surface. I am guessing that layering the pattern pieces a la Burda magazine sheets would require a level of technology unavailable to the small entrepreneur, unfortunately, because even if the pieces were only doubled it would be a manageable 28 sheets or so.

    I love the idea of a frosting week! Though within reason for the office, alas.

    • Thank you, Trena. :)

      That is a very very sensible suggestion, I’ll bring it up at my next meeting with the Scan Wizard. I have found the struggle with “technology” to be my biggest hurdle, it’s inexpressibly frustrating not to be able to get my ideas and patterns out there so to speak… And it’s been very, very good to be able to work with someone who can easily help me achieve my goals… A tech. :)

      Yes. Reasonable Frosting Fortnight…

  45. >Would you buy a digital pattern with 55+ pages?
    No, I wouldn’t. As others have mentioned, the put-together pattern would be difficult to store assuming I was even able to put it together properly. I’d far rather pay the built-in printing/paper costs to the pattern manufacturer and get a pattern on thinner paper which has all the registration points matching up properly.
    I often purchase magazines from Oz and pay $15 for the shipping, so it wouldn’t bother me much to order a good pattern, pay shipping and have to wait a week or two for delivery.
    > How awesome are those shipping deals?
    Super! What time range are they talking about, though? For the aforementioned $15, I usually receive my parcels in less than a week. More than 3 weeks and I get antsy and whiny.
    >What about sewing blogger swag?
    Ditto the majority of previous responders. One thing I do like about other bloggers who do the occasional swag revue is that I often discover a new-to-me product that is just what I’ve been looking for. Because I’ve been reading the blog for awhile, I feel I can trust the blogger’s opinion on the item a bit more than I would someone writing for the company.
    >And finally, are you in for a Frosting Week so we can flaunt our craziest makes on flickr?
    Yes! I dont make a lot of Frosting atm, but I love to look at other people’s creations and interpretations.

  46. I’ve read the comments on Peter Lappin’s post “I don’t get downloadable patterns”, and downloadables had very few supporters. There is real resistance to printing and taping patterns. You could overcome this resistance if you have patterns digitally prepared for printing on a plotter, rather than tiled. Then you could offer the choice of downloading the digital pattern and having it printed at a printshop ( or on any other plotter the purchaser could access), or purchasing the pattern you had already printed on a plotter. I wonder how StyleArc prints their patterns? They are very nicely done.

    • I’ll need to head over and read those comments… I do wonder how much of that is the type of sewist that likes to read Peter? There’s just all these different pockets of sewists out there, some are very very passionate bout digital patterns… I’m happy to oblige.

      Yes, I’m working with a plotter. I say “tiled” because it more or less means “the pattern will print nicely for you on the other end” without getting bogged down in the details of what we’re doing. We discussed the importance of the user-experience, I showed him what I considered the best and easiest to use pdf patterns and we talked about how to make Tira pdf-printing friendly. The only thing I’m still sorting out is the width of the pattern.. It’s easy enough to make the whole file available, but I need to make sure it’s a common enough width that it’s useful.

  47. I’m very happy with you accepting swag. You’ve explained how you would and wouldn’t use it, and your conditions seem perfect. I figure it gives you an opportunity to try out things which might otherwise be out of your budget and then you share you findings with us, and we all benefit.

    I’m delighted to see affordable postage to New Zealand. I am a 100% paper patterns girl. I don’t even go no near the Burda magazines. Which prompts me to ask another question: you are going to put seam allowances in your Tira dress aren’t you? (please)

    I’m really enjoying your blog and looking forward to sewing the Tira dress when it becomes available.

    • Thanks, and yes… I used to do exactly that kind of reviewing and testing in my old job, and the products I liked and used I sold to my students. I was always really strict about promoting stuff I actually thought was good, not just any old thing… Which can cause some friction when you’re working in retail…

      Thanks! :) Soon. Really soon. It’s just for the first pattern, there’s so many logistical pieces to work out. But very soon.

  48. Random thoughts (as if you need more).

    PDF patterns: 50+ pages does seem like a lot. However, some people have copyshop or other options for large-format printing from an untiled digital pattern… not sure if the market would justify your cost, though. With some patterns you could probably skip the skirt or do only part of it if it’s rectangular, but not so much with Tiramisu, from what I gather…

    Swag: review it, but be honest that you got it free. (And where in the process you got it free—was it offered, did you order it and then get an extra, etc.) Even though we think it doesn’t affect our opinions, it does tend to subconsciously (if only as a great customer satisfaction experience, which all good businesses should strive for anyway)—so it’s good for us as readers to know, as part of the overall context. It’s not necessarily negative, either—knowing that a company is responsive to the blogosphere often makes it feel more personal and reliable than it might otherwise.

    Do you have any reliable family/friends in the States who could perhaps be your distribution centre on that continent? It seems like a majority of the market is there (based on my blog stats, anyway ;) ) and could be a way to keep shipping costs down. Obviously you’d want to recompense the distributor in some way, though, which could cut into your profits… but maybe not as much as the ones lost because people balk at high shipping costs. I guess if you get some wholesale deals for vendors that would take care of it, though…

    Cake & Frosting: I successfully wore nothing but frosting for the majority of the summer—sundresses every day. I only wore my cutoffs and regular shirts when we went out to the water. And you know I’m all about the cake. The thing with frosting is, it’s memorable. I can’t get away with wearing the same sundress three days a week as I can with jeans. I’m even a bit iffy about wearing the same dress every week. So frosting requires a larger closet. Sometimes that’s not a problem, but sometimes it is.

    And I’m not quite sure how frosting will translate into winter gear around here. It’s very hard to wear something that isn’t pants, a top, and a sweater. Some awesome coats are a great start, but also don’t want to have fifteen different coats taking up space.

    • I am always interested in what’s going on in your head.. .:)

      Yep. Honesty always. No bullsh*t.

      I might publish the averages of different countries… You’re right, the US is far and away the bulk of readership. Usually four times the #2 country. #2 is Australia, Canada or France (?) depending on the day. It’s very interesting.

      I thought about distribution, and it would also sooth my greenie side to save some transport miles. The issue is once again, logistics (and reliability of the distributor), I don’t expect to iron that out *right now* but it’s on my list of things to sort out as Cake becomes more established.

      Your summer clothes sound lovely, and in your climate you richly deserve to savor that summer frosting. :) You bring up an excellent point about re-wear-ability… Last week my mom brought up a similar point in response to my print fabrics post (I’m trying to get her to comment here instead of in emails to me.. She’s a cool lady.)…

      Hmm. Do you knit? There’s some severely fun and quirky knits accessories I’d be all over if I lived somewhere I could wear them… And tights/socks? American Duchess’ clocked stockings have been calling to me….

      • Hehe. I do not knit. I almost-sort-of know the very basics, but I am very, very leery of adding more crafts/hobbies to my list. Also my husband has threatened to leave if I get any more hobbies. I don’t think he’s serious. I hope. ;)

        Making stylish winter gear is one of my major sewing goals, although getting it warm *enough* can be a bit of a challenge… I especially love kneehigh socks. ;)

        • Wow. I’m really surprised. Really! You don’t knit? You might find the field for winter frosting opens up if you pick up some needles… There’s so so so much winter stuff I get sick wishing I had a reason to make…

          Have you seen American Duchess’ silk clocked knee socks? Swoooon… I think I need to get some… I bet they’d be warm, too, silk is a good insulator.

  49. Are you sure you don’t want to have a chat WITH a beer? It might have something interesting to say! Sometimes I talk to my cointreau when the lid won’t some off.. I dont think the expletives work, but its a good listener, very patient.
    My mum is almost 40 years older, I spend time with her and her friends listening to them talk about being young, and the stupid things they did.. does that count?
    The only thing that annoys me about bloggers getting swag is when every post is a swag post, and is only about 100 words – just so they can say ‘I got this thing, it was cool, go buy it.’ A thoughtful, in depth review of a thing, highlighting the good AND the bad, on an occasional basis – so, not nine out of ten posts, which blog I have stopped ever visiting – is perfectly fine, and often brings to light stuff you wouldn’t have known about before. The fact that the reviewer didn’t buy the thing doesn’t bother me at all.
    I only have one piece of frosting, and wearing the same silk dress every day for a week might get a little stinky.. so I’ll just watch and sigh enviously if that happens.

    • HAHAH! I laughed outright at that. Yes, well, it happens to everyone right? ;)

      Yes, yes that counts for a LOT.

      Thanks for that, you’re so right. Those are things that put me off other blogs, too.

      Hehe. You could still jump in for a day or two if you wanted. Mari and I will sort out the details and post something soon… Too fun!

  50. I don’t have any issues with blogger swag. To me, it’s just the market at large acknowledging the impact of sewing blogs.

    As a rule, I prefer printed patterns and would happily pay for them, plus a bit extra to insure the package. 55+ pages to put together for a digital pattern would be a turn off for me (sorry!)

    • I think so too, Sarah. Thanks! :)

      Well… The post office charges $9 to insure anything under $100 value, which is kind of silly for a $17 pattern. I’m happy to build “post office gamble” into my business costs, and lean more and more heavily on the local post office (or bother my member of parliament, they’re very accessible here, comparatively) if it seems like too big a proportion of the packages go awry.

  51. Have you ever split a bottle of bubbly with someone 40 years your senior? Yes, it was awesome. Everyone should do it. You might realize we’re more prudish now than they ever were ;)
    Would you buy a digital pattern with 55+ pages? Nah, but you might nab me on the separates if I’m itching to sew.
    How awesome are those shipping deals? Pretty awesome! So awesome I’d be more inclined to just order them and save myself trying to tile 30 pages with 3 kids and a cat! ;)
    What about sewing blogger swag? I posted on FB but so long as it’s above board and reputable, like you’ve been, I say you’ve earned it. So long as we can keep watching you light things on fire, hmmkay?
    And finally, are you in for a Frosting Week so we can flaunt our craziest makes on flickr? I don’t have any frostings, sorry to say, so it’d likely be naked pictures of me all week. (which might be frosting to some people, but let’s not go there) I would be delighted to see other people’s frostings, and maybe be inspired by them myself! Yay!

  52. Our Friday Night Drinks are aptly named ‘Choir Practice Time’ – yes, I’m a teacher – and a beer or wine at the local pub is always well earnt each week. Mind you, my class must think I am a very, very good singer!!!!
    As for swag – if someone thinks you are deserving of a ‘little extra’ then you probably are! And if you can pass on a true opinion about the product for the rest of us, then that is a double bonus.

  53. I love what you said about your former work colleagues. I miss after work drinks too but have replaced them with tea and cakes with my knitting buddies. My current circle of friends starts at 33 and goes to 60+ and they are a wild and hilarious bunch. Fabulously clever, well travelled, multi skilled and generally amazing people. We have a blast and I learn loads!

    Regarding Cake – if you were charging $15 for shipping I think I’d probably tape the pieces together myself, because it effectively doubles the cost of the pattern. However, at about $5 a pop…I really have no problem with that. Please note that I have absolutely no problem paying the prices charged by independent pattern companies like yourself. I know that there is a boatload of skilled work going into these patterns, and as I don’t have the time at the moment to draft my own patterns I, for one, am more than happy to pay a reasonable amount for someone else’s time and expertise.

    Regarding freebies…you go, girl. I think there is a huge difference between receiving a pattern or some fabric when you’ve already put plenty of traffic someone’s way and they are gracious in sending a thank you gift and not disclosing something that’s been sent to you by a marketeer. I think the former is lovely and you should enjoy it. I am less comfortable with latter, but that’s just my personal choice. I prefer transparency in the latter case.

    And if someone send you something to try and you choose to review it, well, again I don’t have a problem with that. I’m pretty sure you always disclose the provenance of the item in question, and I am a huge admirer of your ethics in such cases. So again, enjoy.

    And just remember that you share an awful lot with the sewing community…tutorials, knowledge, patterns, giveaways. It wonderful that you are repaid in kind on occasion…you deserve it.

    As for a Frosting Week…what a splendid idea. I don’t have much frosting in my wardrobe, only because I don’t have much cake either. Not long now, though, and I’ll have time to make a bit more of both. :-)

    • Ah. I do love groups of wild women who have a shared passion for textiles…

      Thanks. :) I think “boatload” sounds about right, but the fact no one else is bossing me around, I set my own hours, and I’m doing something I love in the best way I know how means a *lot* to me. I guess I’ve always been stubborn and headstrong..

      Thanks so much, Evie. You’re so kind!

      I dunno if the Frosting has to be me-made. Mari and I will sort out the guidelines and make a button, it’ll be rad. :)

      • Not stubborn and headstrong, just independent and confident. Doing something you love is so important. Living a full life is so much more valuable than having pots of money and being miserable. And what an example you’re setting for Lila on how to live a rich life, follow your dreams, and be part of the world. Bravo!

  54. About the freebies– I don’t see any problem with you getting swag from retailers that you’ve given favorable reviews to. I’ve noticed that the more independent retailers are VERY generous–there’s been multiple occasions that I’ve gotten a little extra something as a thank you when purchasing things off of Etsy, some of my favorite indie pattern designers offer great deals on shipping and such when releasing new designs, etc. At the same time, word-of-mouth on sewing blogs is the only way I’ve heard of most of these small companies, with the exception of Sewaholic and A Fashionable Stitch, because I was already following those blogs before they started those businesses. I’d never even heard of MakeBra until you mentioned it. So if she got a jump in sales because of your unsolicited review, I don’t think you should feel guilty about her thank-you!

    Frosting Week sounds fabulous. :)

  55. I couldn’t comment from work yesterday, so here it goes…
    First and foremost, you look delightful in your Tiramisu! Bottled beer? Classy! But more on this later.

    Top marks for using the word swag! Your posts are always honest about what you use and where it came from, so I am happy for you to get swag and write about it.

    I have bought downloadable patterns up to 60-70 pages and after putting a couple together I just gave up and I have several that I must remember to print off before the 12-month period is up, even though I doubt I’ll do owt with them.
    The trimming prior to glueing is the worst, so I am with those who voted for margin-less. I use a craft knife, cutting mat and a rafter square, and it still takes forever. Not as long as the aligning, which is second-worse
    Also, I trace and do slight alterations to any patterns anyway because of my hips, and only have limited time to sew. I don’t want this limited time to be shortened by having to put the thing together, whilst I do not mind paying for shipping or waiting for the post – I can trace or sew something else in the meantime!

    Love the thought of a frosting fortnight, even though it’s getting colder here and that means I usually wear less cute things (dresses and / or skirts). I love frosting though! I often look at my outfit and remember the parts in 30 Rock where Liz Lemon suddenly turns to wearing frocks to work because she thinks her personal life is finally sorted (there is a theory that show is made by spying on me. I agree with it).

    Finally, I haven’t spilled champagne but plenty of Prosecco, since I grew up where the stuff is made and my family is involved in the wine-making scene.
    At 37, my youngest friends are 24-ish, but my oldest is 61 and a fantastic friend to boot. He loves music, was a Mod the first time round and is also a semi-pro athlete, so we’re never short of things to talk about. He’s full of stories and great advice at the same time, and he drinks Peroni! I guess cool people like beer in bottles and I need to catch up.

    • hehh… I always liked the cache of drinking beer (well, honestly, whatever it is) from the bottle. I have some steins around here, but who am I kidding? I’m working class, I’ll drink my beer from the bottle and not worry about it too much… ;)

      It’s a little swag.. Not as swaggy as some swaggee’s swagtastic swags, but swagtastic enough for now. :)

      I never saw that episode of 30 Rock, but it sounds hilarious! :)

      Your friend sounds so cool.

  56. Swag…If someone sends you something in the hopes you will like it and talk about it here….I’m thinking it is OK…as long as they know that there is a possiblility that you wont like it and wont write about it or worse yet…you will! At this point, your avid readers know you well enough to know you wouldn’t say you liked something you didn’t just so you could get free crap that you don’t like! Sounds like the undies thing was a thank you after you sent traffic her way. It would almost be rude if she didn’t wouldn’t it!

    Digital is nice because you can have it today but….55 pages that I have to organize and tape together….nope. I’d rather wait for the mail to eventually get there.

  57. Read the post over a beer and the comments over porridge and i wonder why it takes me so long to get anything done!! Anywho, beer direct from bottle sometimes just tastes better!
    On pdf’s 55 seems alot but if i was gonna go that way i’d go to printers and just get then to do it so i also like idea of having the large format option. I’m on for no margins to cut off too but would probably mean you’d need more versions of the file due to paper size differences. The most important thing with a paper pattern is that it fits our paper. Standard here is a4, i tested minoru for sewaholic and it was set for us letter so i had to get it printed on a3(the size of two a4s side by side) and cut back off ALL the excess…
    Yay for Irish people helping you out at post office, glad to see we’re not just making a nusciance of ourselves over there as i’ve been seeing reported in news lately.
    Re swag, what you’re talking about i find fine, would appreciate the heads up but you’d do that anyway… what i do not like is when i open up my reader to see yet another post from a sewing blogger who is so excited to be hosting a giveaway from shabby apple 1) know your audience, most sewistas like to sew their own dress 2) do shabby apple actually sell any dresses they seem to give so many away and 3) is it really right to host such a sponsored giveaway on your blog if the company won’t even ship to the country you live in and blog from? Thinking specifically about a uk blogger who hosted the s.a giveaway but was only open to us readers, that was off putting. And after that little rant i think i’m done!

  58. I just want to raise my hand in class and say \”yes!!!\” to digital patterns available as downloads. For those poor souls like me that don\’t have access to a safe mailbox because we live way off the beaten track in West Africa, a pdf pattern makes a sewing girl happy. At least when her printer works. Mine doesn\’t. But that\’s an entirely different matter and not what you asked. (I am getting a new print head next week so hopefully I can print the pants block you\’ll be sending me, yay!)

    As for the questions about swag, I have to admit I have no clue what it is as English is not my native language. But as far as I do understand… I appreciate an honest blogger that\’s not \”bought\” by anybody. If you like a product or service, write that. If not, then write that. And if they want to send you stuff afterwards, receive it! It\’s not like you asked for it, right?

  59. I like the idea of digital patterns in theory, but the reality is, I never buy them because I don’t like the idea of having to print and put them together first. Anything over, say, 4 pages is a deal breaker. The extra step just makes the whole project seem too daunting, since the hardest part of sewing seems to be letting myself have the time to sit down and do it. If I have to do all that prep, it makes the project feel to overwhelming. So while I’m kind of a cheapskate when it comes to most things, it feels reasonable to me to pay shipping to have a pattern sent to me if it is something that I see as high quality, (i.e. worth some extra cost because an independent designer has put a lot of time and effort into it that I will benefit from.) Knowing I will be able to sit right down and begin to play with it instead of having the PDF but possible procrastinating and letting it sit on my computer forever (which makes me feel guilty if it’s something I bought) is definitely worth it to me.

    • Good to know, Angela! Thanks for your perspective. :)

      Having had to spend too much time on sh*tty projects in the past (making a silk purse from a hog’s ear so to speak), I’m really enjoying doing something well. With this pattern.. I’m being careful, etc, going over the details, double checking… and it’s awesome. So yes… I’m putting a lot of energy into making a good quality product because I think the work deserves it. :)

  60. I’m a little late on this one but here goes:
    *You’re so photogenic! And the dress looks so good on you and comfy. I would like to make one for myself :)
    *I don’t think I would buy the downloadable version. I would rather buy the printed version and wait for it to arrive in the mail. then I would trace it because I like to preserve any of my indie pattern purchases.
    *Swag – I think it’s awesome if you receive gifts – what you choose to do with them is up to you :).
    *I’d read your blog regardless because of everything that goes into it. It’s very thoughtful and detailed. I can actually grab a cup of coffee and read your blog like a book and enjoy it just as much as a good book and cup of coffee!

    • Oh… Thanks.. Haha. I never thought so, but thanks! :)

      No, I wouldn’t buy the downloadable version, either… But I’ll still make it available because those who want a download are passionate about it. Why not?

      Thanks! I love to know that. :D

  61. well you already know my ideas on some of these issues and I weighed into the FB post….

    Frosting – I want more frosting – frosting makes the world happy. My wardrobe is the utilitarian mummy wardrobe. Although I did wear a skirt about 12mths ago and my then 2yr old started the laugh and said “mama whats that” – sad but true!

    But entirely off topic – I love your blog cause I love reading your other readers comments – I find out all sorts of ‘stuff’ about ‘things’…. lol

    • Wow…

      I mean…

      Really? I’m surprised…

      Go get you a nice maxi circle skirt and wear it for a week on end. You’ll be converted. I don’t want to hear any excuses about wind blowing it up or etc, you will love it. You will. ;)

      Yes- I really enjoy comments, too. Lots and lots of “stuff” about “things”. It’s nice, such an international group around here…

  62. No beer for me, I’m on my lunch break! Wait, that’s unAustralian to say that. I’ll have one tonight to make up for it.

    I would consider buying a download with 55+ pages. I would probably prefer to buy a printed pattern from you, since I am in the same country (for once!) That said, my post office is so patchy with its service – the past six months have been good (knock on wood) but they do go through patches of just losing things. I have never once successfully received a gas bill, for instance (this is 50% the gas company’s fault, admittedly). It seems to be based on the people they sub-contract out the delivery to. So, I’d definitely consider buying a digital version of a pattern. I feel like 30 pages is about where I think about whether I REALLY want to sew that pattern, or if it’s less work to draft it myself. If I do really want to sew it, 80 pages is about where I decide that that’s too much pre-work.

    As for swag, my personal line with any kind of swag is that I want to know about it. If it’s a recurring sponsor, I want there to be a note in the about or the sidebar, as well as on the post, otherwise I feel like I’m being fooled. If it’s a once-off bonus, like the extra tape, I’d want you to mention that if you were talking about the shop, but otherwise I’d put that under ‘people being nice to each other’ and not worry about it. Total freebies or things to review, I’d want to know that you got given them, and to know that you will admit any flaws if and when you find them – which I know you will! For me it’s about trust. Can I trust your opinion? If you say something is good quality, will I find that to be true, too? Matters of taste are open, obviously. And if it means this blog can be an even BETTER source of information, because you yourself have more information, then I can only be for it!

    • Thanks for that… :)

      Well… I figure lying is a waste of time on the blog… Like… If I fudge the truth about a technique or product, it won’t be long before someone tells me so. Nitpickers abound. And that’s cool, nitpicking is cool and so are nitpickers, they really help me keep everything clear and well-referenced/documented… :)

  63. food for thought! re digital patterns, I’m not entirely opposed to them, neither in favor of them. They are a pain to assemble, what I do usually is trace them anyway as I don’t want to have to deal with multiple sheets of thick paper. I use BluTack to place them then trace, after that I remove the BluTack and store A4 sheets in a big enveloppe. I then play with my traced copy; it’s a long process and it means that I have to be extra careful when I tranfer all the markings and info from the pattern. On the other hand, it means that you can purchase a pattern from overseas for which the shipping might be very expensive. Typical example is a Colette pattern: the shipping is nearly the price of a pattern. I suppose it depends on the postal services: Sewaholic’s patterns get shipped for around 7 CAD to Europe, which is fine for me. Your shipping deal sounds great!
    As to your question on blog ethics, I’m totally ok with having an honest review of a product, as long as the way you obtained the product is clearly specified at the beginning of the post, be it a sponsored review or not. I reckon you can be honest even if a company/designer/book editor has sent you the product. For example, Jasmine and Gigi of the Knitmore Girls podacst (knitting podcast), are always very honest about the book or product they review: sometimes they love it, sometimes they don’t and they always say where the got the product from. I suppose if you spent your time doing hidden advertisement, you would lose your audience – but it doesn’t seem like that’s what you want to do.
    Thanks for linking to Mari’s blog, I’m glad I discovered it: you all raise very good questions. Most of us have probably thought about it already and it’s very interesting to hear everyone’s point of view on cake vs frosting debate and how much of which to include in your everyday life. I resolved the problem for now as I like to make clothes that I can also wear to work and my workplace dresscode is less than casual: hardly any woman wears skirts for example and I look already very dressy when I wear one – that and my shyness meant that it took me years (I’ve been here for 6 yrs) to be confident enough to wear a skirt. Most woman don’t wear make up or jewelry and it’s common in the summer to see colleagues going bare foot wearing something I would keep as pyjamas at home (one of my male colleagues is currently walking around the building in socks). This just to explain there is only so much frosting I can incorporate in my work clothes – and as I spend many hours in them, I might aswell sew specifically for work. The fieldwork part of my job is totally different problem of course – I’m not ready to sew fluorescent vests :)

    • Thanks for that, Sophie. I’ll have to look up that podcast!

      Your workplace sounds so interesting… I really don’t like to see bare feet out of context, my husband teases me about it… But.. Sigh.

      Oh! And that’s an excellent idea for using pdf patterns. I hadn’t thought of that.

      • I see what you mean by seeing bare feet out of context, sometimes I feel regarding my colleagues like I’ve seen way more of their skin than I wanted to. And we’re not even in a warm climate! I can’t imagine what it would be like in the warmest places of Australia!

  64. I don’t mind pdf patterns at all. In fact, I like knowing I can print it off again if I goof or gain weight or both. Especially if can choose to print only certain pages. I also really really like it when small pattern pieces (collars, facings, sleeves) are on one sheet of paper, because then I don’t even bother taping those together. I still don’t know how to store those cut pieces, but I imagine a gallon ziploc bag will do.

    Also, taping all those pages together makes me feel like a mad sewing scientist, constructing plans that will amaze the nation. : )

    Also, on the swag, I’m with the people who say it’s a gift. Say thankyou and don’t stress. I’m pretty sure you would only review it if it were awesome or close to it, or abysmal, and your experience with the product could help prevent someone else from a sewing tragedy. Just saying that Sunni threw something extra in says great things about Sunni, and that she’s a reputable person to do business with, which is nice to know. When you are looking for products, you don’t always know about their service, which honestly, is sometimes more important than the product.

    • Thanks for the input! I think some people store their printed pdfs in rolls, that makes sense to me. :)

      Hehehe, Mad Sewing Scientist indeed! :D

      I am ssssuuuuper happy with the tape Sunni sent me. It’s wonderful stuff.

  65. Hello! I found your blog a little while ago and have really enjoyed it. I am so glad to read this post for several reasons. I recently started a blog and am wondering about copyright and disclaimer issues. Do you have a disclaimer on your blank tee pattern?

    Now that you have my email can I hear the whole story on how you started making digital patterns? I think your blank canvas tee and hacks are AMAZING!! I am tall and want to try a few patterns specifically for tall people. I don’t want to copy you or steal your ideas. Your story of Cake was so inspirational that it made me think maybe I can do it too. I am new to the blogging and commenting world and I want to do it correctly.
    Thank you!

    • Hey! That’s awesome. :)

      Well, I’m a little, tiny bit of a geek and my thinking about intellectual property has been influenced by “open-source” programming work. I see the BCT as “open-source,” to be played with an messed with and made. I do LOVE to see finished BCTs and hacks, so I appreciate additions to the flickr group http://www.flickr.com/groups/1941733@N21/ or blog posts with links back. I really want to do another hack or two… Hmm…

      Ideas belong to everyone. The internet is a great big copy machine and I figure if someone doesn’t like/accept that, they should get off the internet. The upside of that is you can share ideas and learn and refine the ideas at a remarkable pace. However, if someone goes around making things from my ideas and tries to pass them off as their own, I *will* point and laugh at them with the aim of humiliating publicly the sneaky uncreative person who thinks they can pass my hard work off as their own. :)

      Yeah, give me a few days and I’ll write to you about the process of making digitals. If you don’t hear from me, email me.. It is a lot of work, I won’t kid you.

  66. Steph, (and sorry if i’m rehashing things people have already said, but 139 responses are a lot to read). When you say that you are thinking of offering the pattern digitally, are you only offering it as a A4 pdf? I mostly ask becuase I have recently discovered that the backwards-sewing-town that is Canberra has at least one place that will print the digital patterns on A2 or A1 paper, depending on the digital format… and if Canberra has something, it must be more common elsewhere (I think they may be an engineering type place as well. and yes, if i loved the pattern, and it meant not paying shipping from overseas (which isn’t a problem for me and your patterns) I would buy a 55ish page printed pattern. I think the longest I’ve bought to date is maybe 40 pages?
    And frosting week sounds TOTALLY AWESOME!!!

    • Well, half of those are me anyway so don’t worry about it too much. :D

      A4, American, and full-scale.

      Frosting Fortnight is in the planning stages. :)

      Thanks so much.

  67. ever so late to the party, but WOW. THAT BEER.

    i think swag can be good and bad. if you’re taking an offer because it’s free, and not because it’s something you would venture out and purchase yourself, it’s an obligation instead of an honest view and trial of the goods.

    for the fashion crowd, the blogs that sport coach and all, i see why some like that, but it’s not my thing. like you said, we’d rather make it :). in our blog realm i feel like taking offers of the things you love, or are intrigued by, is like supporting a mom and pop store. pattern testers, tool triers, book readers, course takers, yardage makers… to me it’s about sharing true experiences with all of these things and keeping the businesses which keep us sewing fresh, open, and in the public eye.


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