Tutorials: A Rant

I don’t usually complain or rant on this blog, I even try to stay away from reviewing things that I didn’t enjoy or weren’t that helpful – to be honest because I don’t want mean comments thrown back at me for an opinion.  And because I remember the ONE line I had in my elementary school’s play Bambi in grade 2.  I played Thumper’s mother and the line was, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I don’t even think I would say something if this “issue” only happened once, but it happened all throughout my sewing for the nursery.

I love tutorials that people post online, I’m even working on one myself.  I’ve learned how to bake/cook some terrific recipes, done some fun crafts on my Wilting Days with Lauren, and sewed some really terrific items.  The tutorials pull me in with fabulous photos that they’ve taken and pictures that show each step – as a visual learner they are so helpful.

But alas, many of the tutorials for sewing DIY projects don’t include seam allowances – don’t even mention them at all.  And this has become a thorn in my side – so let the rant begin. 

As you know I’ve been making items for our nursery.  I wanted a truly custom nursery – not because I’m snobby and couldn’t find anything better out there, but because I wanted to be in there with our girl and know that this was created for her, that time was taken to make each item just so, just for her.  I spent hours scouring online for tutorials (alright scouring pinterest, then through google) on envelope pillows, fitted crib sheets, bench cushion covers, and change pad covers.  I dug through tutorials trying to find the perfect instructions for each of these items and finally found some that I thought would work.

But yah know something – no seam allowances were given.  No where.  Not in the instructions, not a note on the photo, not even in the comments.  NOTHING!  Why is this such a big deal to me?  It meant the difference between putting something together and then having to rip it apart because the seam allowance was too big or having it fray open because the seam allowance was too small.

I don’t know if people are assuming that there is a universal seam allowance that everyone should use or know, but a note would be handy.  

From what I’ve been taught there are a couple standard seam allowances – 1/4″ for quilt piecing and 1/2″ for clothes.  So which one should I use to make the pillows?  The change pad cover? The bench cushion cover?  The camera case?

I am serious here, I made all of those items and not once was a seam allowance mentioned.  For somethings maybe it doesn’t matter, but when I have to rip apart a change pad cover because I used too big of a seam allowance and caused the cover not to fit?  Seriously.

After sewing for almost four years, I have been able to figure the seam allowances out.  I’ve been able to look at the pictures (thank goodness they had those) and roughly guess what seam allowance they are using.  But what about those “new/beginner” sewists?  Those who want to get into the very cool and hip pastime of sewing/quilting?  They would make those projects with no seam allowances listed and have their envelope pillow cover not fit their pillow.  Or their camera case not come anywhere close to fitting their camera – even though it is the same make and model.  They would use the edge of their foot as their guide and the seam would be huge.  It would discourage them so much, maybe even turn them off (if enough projects failed) – I know, a bit dramatic here.

It is hard to believe that something like a seam could make or break a project – but it can, you all know it.  It has been so frustrating to put these projects together to only have to take them back apart and try again because they don’t fit with the seam allowance I assumed.

All I am asking is when you make a tutorial, please take a second to note the seam allowances.

Thank you for reading my rant.  Again note that this is my opinion only, some people don’t care about this and some people think I am being silly.




Filed under Everyday Life, Quilting, Sewing, Tutorials

7 responses to “Tutorials: A Rant

  1. Where did the 5/8″ s.a. go??? Have I been away for long enough that it’s shrunk to 1/2″????? Just wonderin’ and I’m with ya 100% on this one …..FOR SURE! Hugs, Doreen

    • Jen

      5/8″ of an inch? Really? I haven’t heard of that. Oh my, another seam allowance to consider. I looked into that one… apparently Simplicity and Butterick patterns all use the 5/8″, but if you use a Kwik Sew they use a 1/4″ and the smaller companies are using 1/2″ – which is what I have used to make my clothing pieces. This is just too much to take.

      • Hold on! Breath deep! You can do it!!!! When I had my sewing business (bridal gowns/formal wear) I always used the 5/8″ cuz it gave the gals the option of that little extra room…if needed! You know……”I know I will lose 10 more pounds before the wedding”!!!! Ha!

  2. Karen U

    Ditto for recipes on line or on pinterest. I can’t tell you how many recipes I’ve looked at where dimensions (rolling out dough), serving size, etc aren’t given. Even more frustrating is when the original poster does not respond to the comments section asking for clarification.

    • Jen

      I agree with you Karen about the clarifications. As I mentioned I would look through the comments hoping someone asked questions about a pattern to help clarify something and only see the comments and not the responses to them. I’ve learned through the years of teacher that usually when someone has a question about an assignment or something to do with what you are teaching – chances are someone else has the same questions, but are too shy to ask. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  3. heartsease57

    You aren’t being silly. I’ve been sewing all of my life and clothing patterns ALWAYS list seam allowances every time. Patterns and tutorials should never assume any knowledge on the part of the maker and list ALL requirements EVERY time. I taught and designed needlework for years and all of my patterns were written so that beginner stitchers could expect results the same as experienced stitchers, the experienced ones could just skim over the stuff that they knew, but the info was there for the ones who needed it. Good pattern writing is not as easy as everyone thinks it is, but with a little thought & care can be done to suit all. Maybe sometimes the tutorial writers just get in a wee bit of a hurry and don’t quite think every step through thoroughly. Having someone vet the tutorial before it goes live would be one way to check things before posting. Just my opinion.

    • Jen

      Thank you so much taking the time to read my post and comment. I so appreciate hearing from you. I completely agree with you about the assumptions patterns and tutorials often have. I’ve fallen victim many times to those assumptions – especially when I first began sewing, I have many projects that are epic fails because of those assumptions. I believe that pattern writing is not as simple as thought – I know assignment writing for kids isn’t. Just when I think I’ve included EVERYTHING that people could possible wonder about or ask, someone asks something I didn’t consider. I would agree with you about the hurrying aspect too, I can see it in my own posts sometimes – so anxious to get the post out that I don’t take the time to re read it and notice the errors in it. Good suggestion about someone checking it before posting. Thanks again so much for sharing your thoughts.

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