Crafts Gone Wrong

Y'all remember last week when I posted about doing our Crafting for Charity day? Well, let me tell you... our normally laid back event was an adventure in pure frustration.

As I mentioned, three of us decided to make baby kimonos this time around. We've been using the book Craft Hope by Jade Sims for months and have really liked everything we've made from it so far. For example, the Take-Along Quilt pattern was super-easy and allowed three non-quilters to get our hands wet with a new craft. So, the baby kimonos seemed like the perfect project - small supply list, weirdly simple pattern, and only a few steps in the actual instructions.

Lesson #1: Never assume that, because every other pattern you've worked from a book is good, that the one you're working on now is going to be good.

Seriously, the "pattern" itself should have been a big red flag.  I sew. Cassandra sews. Our third charity crafter sews. Why any of us thought that THIS pattern was remotely complete is beyond me:

Please note that the pattern instructions say to "Enlarge 500%". Yeah. This is all fine and good except that the average office copy machine will only enlarge 400% and there's no standard paper large enough to accommodate the full-sized pattern.

Now, I'm sure that our math-inclined readers (or our readers with better abstract analytical skills) will immediately have a solution to this little problem. In the aftermath of our sewing adventure, I've managed to think of a variety of ways we could have approached this dilemma. However, in the throes of having to have this pattern ready for a scheduled event, I took the "easy" route and enlisted the help of someone at Company X who has access to a plotter.

We arrived at our local fabric shop and set up in the big sewing room. Then, the three kimono makers started to cut our fabric. In the middle of cutting, we realized that something was amiss. The description of the kimono mentions "...special features, including fold-over sleeve cuffs that will protect a baby from accidental scratches." Unfortunately, there was no pattern piece for the fold-over cuff. No worries! We can improvise the pattern-piece. And we did.

Our next hurdle came when we started piecing the pattern together and begin sewing. The instructions were just short of gibberish - leading us to wonder aloud if anyone had bothered testing this pattern before it was published.  Let me provide a sample of what we experienced:
3. Lay the back piece right side up on your work surface. Note: if you're making the version with the envelope, lay the folded envelope on top of the back piece with the raw edges aligned. The fold will be facing toward the top of the garment. Lay the front pieces, right side down and one on top of the other, over the back piece (and envelope, if applicable).
Again, I'd like to direct your attention to the actual pattern pieces. Does anyone see instructions for a "fold" on the envelope piece?? So... how is the envelope supposed to fold and why? If we fold the envelope and align the raw edges, they'll be sewn into the garment and the envelope won't turn correctly.

Oh! and pattern has you finishing the the raw edges AFTER you sew the entire kimono together - which makes absolutely no sense.  Of course, we learned (the hard way) that, if you finish the edges BEFORE you sew this wonky pattern together, the pieces don't fit properly.

We are three, intelligent, educated women and yet it still took us about an hour and a half to figure out how to piece this craziness together to make something that resembled a giftable item. Once we divined the answer, Charity Crafter #3 managed to knock out two of them. I did 1.75 (I have to lay in the ribbon and fix the mislaid fold-over sleeve envelopes. Cassandra finished one.

Cassandra was so angry about the pattern that she, quite literally, couldn't blog about it. Once we've both calmed down, we're going to write to Ms Sims and suggest that she either remove the pattern or fix it before they publish another edition of this book. We also going to suggest that someone TEST every pattern before they go to print.

My issue is with the people who wasted over and hour of our time, including: a pattern designer who wrote a crappy pattern (inexcusable), an author who didn't bother to read/test the pattern before it went to print, an editor who either didn't know or didn't care that the pattern was crap, and myriad other people who touched this book before it went to print. They are directly responsible for putting out a bad product and creating frustration where there should have been harmony and good-will.

Is it wrong to expect people to deliver a basic level of quality? I don't think so. Maybe if we were talking about subjective quality - like, is the finished pattern pretty. But this is not "subjective" this is "does it work or does it not work." It's pretty simple to get that right and incredibly lazy to allow something so ineffective to be part of an otherwise brilliant book.

Quality is important to me and Cassandra. It's one of the things we bond over. This experience is the kind of thing that really upsets me (in case you hadn't noticed) because I know that someone, anyone, could have taken a 1/2 hour of time and prevented the ripple effect that caused us to have a bad experience.

So... my two cents... Always do your best to ensure the highest quality you can provide and remember that your output is going to affect someone, somewhere. Maybe even a little crafting group from Madison, WI.

- Alex


  1. Hmmm, that sounds incredibly frustrating! I've never experienced it with a sewing pattern, but I get extremely frustrated with knitting patterns that are badly written and make no sense without extreme modifications.

  2. @pinkundine - Yes! Same issue. It's just a lack of attention to detail that ends up having consequences for other people. I find it very inconsiderate. ;)

  3. You didn't discuss that the bad instructions contributed to my idiocy of sewing the sleeves shut the first time :) At that point I was about ready to scream!

    I'm still amazed that something so seemingly simple was such a cluster. Next time, it's tied fleece blankets all the way, baby.

  4. Back in March the book publisher put out a new pattern for this one, realising they made mistakes.
    I know it's a bit late by now but take a look at it anyway :) Also they've included full-size pieces with the download, however you still have to take together a lot of paper.

  5. @gjirchards - You are an ANGEL! Thank you so much for providing that information and link. We still have material and need to make a few more. This is going to make our lives so much easier. We are forever in your debt.

  6. Haha, how sweet of you :) I'm glad I could help and I hope the next ones are easier!