Wednesday 29 April 2015

New pattern

Good morning!  This is what I've been working on most recently: it is a new design for an unjointed grizzly bear.  I'm not quite certain how he is going to turn out.  It has been one of those things - like with the mistle thrush - where I've gotton hung up on silhouette, and probably neglected other, more important, aspects.  I shall try making him in fur fabric today, and see what happens.

I first had the idea for this bear when I was thinking about selling patterns.  I thought I ought to start with something simple and unjointed, on the basis that the buyers would be people who liked my bears and wanted to have a go at making them, without having had much experience in this area.

I'm changing my mind though - A and 1 because I remember that when I first started making bears from published patterns, I bypassed the simple stuff and went straight for the gorgeous, fully-jointed bear.  The results suggested I probably should have started with something simpler(!) but you couldn't have persuaded me of that at the time.

So, I am thinking of selling patterns for my little vintage Cheeky-style bears.

I'm not sure where to start, but last night I thought I'd sit down and have a go at writing instructions.  I ended up with 7 sides of A4 paper - mostly solid text.  That seems way too intimidating, and completely wrong for a pattern release!

I think part of the problem may be that I'm adding too much detail.  Essentially, there's a straight-forward, mechanical process at the heart of it and you can write it all down much like a knitting pattern - although the steps are more varied and you need a greater number of tools to complete the task.  Obviously though, I want people who make up my patterns to produce fantastic bears, so I try to add in all the things I've learnt through trial and error, and the resulting instructions are far too long and unwieldy.

The key I think, is to provide the basic instructions in the pattern and then produce a number of blog tutorials, explaining things in more detail, with all the extraneous advice I've been trying to cram in.   Then I can simply give a list of URLs at the end of the pattern instructions - so people can come and look for further advice if they need it.

The problem is that I'm still not sure where to draw the line between 'basic instructions' and 'extraneous advice'.  For example, do I just say 'sew up the openings with a ladder stitch' or do I need to explain what a ladder stitch is?

Also when I joint my bears, I don't have the position of the joints marked on the pattern pieces.  Instead, when - for example - I'm jointing the legs to the body, I will sew both pieces, stuff them, then position them together to see exactly where the joints should be.  Then I unstuff them again, and insert the joints.  I think I started doing this because I had so many wonky bears out of published patterns which recorded specific joint positions.  But perhaps this is just a bad practice I've developed?

I think I am going to buy some patterns from other bear-makers - so I can see how much detail they give in their instructions, and so I can test out their use of specific joint positions (if indeed they use them) to see if they work for me.  Market research is what I need!

Edited to add:  
I have just ordered 2 bear patterns on Etsy - one from Emma Hall (who I know for her amazing handmade dogs), and one from Aerlinn Bears by Esther Pepper (one of my favourite bear-makers).  Interestingly, Pepper states in her Etsy listing that some experience is required, and that the instructions may not be detailed enough for a beginner.  I shall be peeved if they are not detailed enough for me!  :-)  But I will be interested to learn exactly what kind of things she omits to describe for the 'experienced' bear maker.

They are PDF patterns, sent by email, so hopefully I will have them very soon.  I'll keep you posted!

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