I have an idea for a pattern matching website and I want your feedback.
The main purpose of the site would be…
- to collect sizing & shape data for the sewing community
- so that it’s easier for pattern brands to develop better patterns
- and it’s easier for people to find pattern brands that are easiest to work with for their shape & size
- to collate a resource center (links, maybe some free info) for pattern alterations to so people can learn how to alter other patterns to fit
- to provide a forum for people to suggest gaps in the pattern market
- to provide an area for pattern companies to explain their constraints and respond to criticisms
Browsing the online sewing community I’ve come across a fair bit of complaints about pattern company sizing and amount of ease, especially the Big4 (or should that be Big2 now that McCall–Vogue–Butterick is one company, and Simplicity website also sells New Look & paper Burda). Having read about some pattern makers’ experiences, I also have sympathy for them, and wondered if better transparency, communication, and expectation management would help.
Palmer/Alto’s Fit for Real People has a lot of fascinating info about pattern sizing, including comparison of the big pattern brands (McCall, Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity, Burda). Their approach is that once you learn the basics of tissue fitting, you can work with any pattern brand and sizing. And that’s perfectly fine for some of us, especially the more experienced. But if you’re a relative beginner, it might be too much learning curve and effort. Even for the more experienced, there are times you can’t be bothered with that much effort – maybe like me you don’t sew enough for fitting to be second nature. You just want the pattern to work out of the envelope, whatever shape you are!
So wouldn’t it be great if you can find out which pattern brands have patterns that are designed with your size AND shape in mind? I don’t know much about the industry sizing model that these big pattern companies use, how they compare to the ones used by the indies, whether they’re the same general population sizing data used by the RTW, whether the sewing population deviate from the general population standards, and whether any of these standards take into account body shapes. Wouldn’t it be great to find out?
I was inspired by the now defunct Stretch Pattern School. Stuart, the site author, had collected a pool of data via his personalized swimwear / leotard block generator (offline now). You entered your measurements to get the free pattern and he got a pool of measurement data to analyze, which he summarized in a couple fascinating articles about size demographics in general and his findings about women’s sizes.
As I’m not a professional pattern-maker, I certainly won’t be able to offer anything like that. But I thought maybe even a community driven free pattern-matching service would give people enough value that they’d be willing to submit their own measurements and shape info.
So here’s my wishlist…
- Database 1: public data will be stored and presented anonymously, so people will only see summaries of a group (eg 40-50 year old females in USA), they won’t be able to see your measurements and shape info.
- Key measurements
- Shape (select from illustration of different shapes)
- Age & gender
- Country of residence & ethnicity
- Sewing skill level, especially in fitting & alteration
- Pattern brands & sizes – favorite or currently used
- Standard alterations / body characteristics (eg uneven shoulder, full bust, sway back)
- Pattern preferences:
- garment categories (eg dresses, tops, skirts, pants)
- style (eg retro, high street, designer, sporty)
- fit (eg close-fitting, loose)
- Database 2: private data to enable you to retrieve and update your own profile, get personalized recommendations eventually (based on data and preferences you submitted), contact you eventually (eg for recommendation updates and offers)
- Contact info (eg email, social network name or ID, blog URL)
- Login details, maybe allow login via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or some other Open ID scheme (WordPress, etc)
- Database 3: pattern brand info
- Target market shape & sizing info – obviously most patterns can be altered to fit, so this is to identify the lucky group who can get great result without alterations
- Other brand info (eg style, pricing, availability / distribution, site / social / shop links)
- For pattern consumers:
- Infographics /summary of the data collected demonstrating why it’s not so straightforward for everyone to get the right fit out of the envelope all the time
- Pattern brand & size recommendations for your measurements & shape based on other people’s experience & target market data submitted by pattern brands
- Suggestion forum to identify gaps in the pattern market (eg more edgy pants designs for pear-shaped size 16)
- Alteration resources: links, book & class recommendations, maybe some free info
- Reference section with info on history of pattern sizing & alterations
- Updates & offers from pattern brands (eg discount to try out a recommended pattern brand)
- No data submission or login required for generic browsable info, data submission & login required for personalized recommendation
- For the pattern brands & other professionals:
- Filterable anonymous demographic data to help decide target market & develop sizing
- Filterable market gap / pattern suggestions from the sewing community
- Targeted listing / linking opportunity (through recommendations, reference sections)
- Targeted marketing / offers (through recommendations, reference sections, maybe eventually emails or social channels)
- Blog / news area for for announcing new pattern line offering or responding to criticisms
So what do you think? Would you find it useful? Would you contribute measurements and shape data?
Or has someone already done this and no one has bothered to tell me? ;-D The closest I can think of is Pattern Reviews. It already has some of the features I want, but is missing the data collection bit. You can enter text description about your Body Type and Usual Alterations, but the site isn’t able to make use of these to give you pattern brand recommendations. Nor is there a way to find out about the shape and sizing demographics of the PR users. Also the PR site design is a bit old school. I sometimes find it a bit overwhelming to use.
I’d certainly be up for collaboration, maybe tagging on to an established sewing website. Because all these ideas would take a fair bit of time and effort to develop. And that’s not even touching on costs. I’d certainly would like it to be a free resource, or at least a non-profit project. Any volunteers? Comment below or contact me via my web contact form.