Whilst making the St Clements Cambie dress, my mind was buzzing – not only with thoughts about the process and tips to share, but musings about pattern production in 2012 and moving forwards.
The sewing online community is fabulously healthy, supportive and engaged. It’s a power to be reckoned with. At the same time, new, independent pattern makers (often bloggers themselves – certainly no coincidence) seem to be thriving and are enthusiastically supported by Creatives eager for fresh material to engage with.
One of the first things bloggers do after working from a new pattern is share FREE information. In the blink of an eye a pattern gains word-of-mouth traction, we know its pros and cons, see myriad variations in real life makes (no unrealistic line drawings or staged photo shoots here) and enjoy the privilege of gratis tips, tutorials, short cuts and warnings. Except we don’t see this as our privilege any more – we expect it.
At some point the line between producer and consumer became really blurred.
So, here’s my question. If you were to produce a line of sewing patterns, would you factor the online community into your business plan? (This isn’t a loaded question – hell freezes over before I go down that particular path.) But as someone with a career in publishing, I’m absolutely intrigued by this wind of change.
I’ve seen some bloggers comment on the brevity of Sewaholic‘s printed pattern instructions. For myself, I’ve never had a problem with the printed material and I am certainly in awe of Tasia’s exhaustive sewalongs to date. (I know she’s stepping back from that particular rich vein of workaholism, and I don’t blame her!) But if you were faced with the harsh overheads of producing paper patterns, would you keep your printed instructions brief, knowing that bloggers would undoubtedly fill in the gaps – and then some? Or that you could produce supplementary material yourself in a blog post for free? If 50 extra printed words could explode a business model, should the canny pattern producer leave those words out and work collaboratively with her readership and blogger fan base? If that was my money and my future and I had faith in my fan base? Hell, yeah!
Of course, you need said fan base in the first place to pursue this strategy, and it’s a potentially risky one – if the word on the online street becomes that your pattern is unreliable, there’s no reprint that can erase that! But I think all of this throws up some really interesting questions about publishing, production, collaboration and engagement. The faceless corporation and the meekly-led shopper don’t seem to be the picture any more – the old way is being replaced by something much more exciting.
I don’t know. Muddled thoughts. What do you think?