Saturday, August 1, 2009

How Do You PR or SG?

Several days ago I was waiting for a technician to come and fix my phones (for the THIRD time – long story). I couldn't spend the time sewing because I can't hear the doorbell when I'm in the sewing room. So I spent the time doing something I rarely have time to do – reading the forums on Pattern Review and Stitcher's Guild. I wondered how my pattern usage compared with that of other PR members. Since I had time on my hands, I studied the numbers and I made a pie chart. The numbers represent the total reviews posted for each pattern company listed as of July 20, 2009. Usually, I only have time to skim over the forums and reviews on PR and SG. So, I only read the reviews of the pattern companies I'm likely to sew and reviews of a few favorite reviewers. I use the "unread posts since last visit" button on the message boards to see what new and interesting topics are being discussed. Since I don't have lots of time to spend reading PR and SG (except when I'm at work - wink wink), I began to think about how to use SG and PR more efficiently and how other sewers use these resources.

Here are my questions:
  1. Do you read only the reviews of favorite pattern companies or members?
  2. Do you read only the reviews of patterns you plan to sew?
  3. If you post reviews, do you post reviews even when everything goes well and the pattern has nothing to teach?
  4. When you have a specific question, do you post it in a forum or go to one of your sewing books?
Please discuss how you use message boards and reviews to enhance your sewing experiences.


  1. OK I'll go first.
    1) I mostly read reviews of Vogue and BWOF.
    2) Of other companies' patterns, I only read reviews of patterns I am considering, which aren't that many.
    3) I only post a review if: a)the pattern hasn't already been reviewed; b)I did something unique and want people to know it's possible or not; c)I had real fitting problems or a very different figure than others who reveiwed it and feel people should know what to expect.
    4) I go to my books first because they are right here with me; I post to Stitcher's Guild if I don't find a satisfactory answer and I usually have a new idea within 12-24 hours.

    I don't use PR much for forums because I find it harder to navigate and manage visually. I use PR mostly for on-line classes and pattern reviews. Sometimes I read the store reviews, never the machine reviews.

  2. Good questions. The answers for me:
    1. Mostly BWOF /Patterns that attract me by the picture in the gallery/Favorite reviewers.
    2. No, but I do often do read the reviews of a non BWOF pattern I want to make before taking the plunge.
    3. I'll post a review when everything goes smoothly and there are no or only a few reviews.
    4. For a specific question I go to the sewing books first, I don't post questions on PR or SG, but I'll post a question on my blog, often easier because of the direct picture.

  3. Hi Elaray,
    1. PR I read Vogue and BWOF and any item I am considering making or that I need to research.
    2. Wish I knew more about SG,is it easy to navigate?
    3. I haven't but I would post to my blog if I need help, or contact another, or check my books or searches for questions.

  4. I'm an everyday visitor (often several times a day) to PR. There are a few threads I keep track of like the Plus size sew-along and the Contest Committee since I'm a committee member. For reviews, if I buy a new pattern I pull up all the reviews for that pattern. If I'm getting ready to sew a new pattern, again I pull up the reviews and read them again. I usually peruse the review gallery and look for garments that appeal to me or ones that are plus-sized and leave comments. I will also do this for reviewers that I know from the threads or are my favorites. I don't usually use the extra goodies like keeping track of my patterns, etc. I will use the PM feature when I have questions or comments that I want to keep private.

    As far as SG, I am a member but I visit infrequently. I haven't become as familiar with how to use the site and feel a little uncomfortable with it. I really should spend more time there since PR membership is becoming so large that I don't know most of them any more. I probably know most of SG members from PR anyway.

  5. As far as posting reviews, I don't do it very often since I use so many TNT patterns. However, for a new pattern I always post a review. I try to photo difficult things about the pattern and discuss my alterations so as to help other plus-sized sewers. That's probably why I won the "Most Complete Reviewer" Award.

  6. I use PR to search for reviews of patterns I plan to make. I used to post questions on the message boards but now I'm more likely to ask a sewing expert directly. I still think it's an excellent resource and especially helpful to beginners or those reentering sewing after an absence, like me three years ago.

  7. 1. I seldom read reviews out of the blue.
    2. I use it as a guide for patterns I want to buy. An example was a skirt I wanted, and changed to another after the suggestion by the reviewer in addition to the one I wanted. I made both, and found the review to be right.
    3. I post reviews seldom, and then it's for one that's not usually reviewed, even if it went together perfectly. I figure someone can use the info. Since I make a large number of vintage ones, I never post those.
    4. I got to my books. I don't think I've used the forum for that at all.

    I've been a member for a while, but I'm not overly active there.

  8. On PR I only read reviews, and then only if I'm specifically interested in making/buying that pattern. I've never posted a review.

    On SG I read the general Vogue, Sewing Workshop and Petite Plus discussions. Otherwise I mostly look at the pattern questions/reviews if it's a pattern that I already know or am interested in.

    Hmmm... I rarely ask questions (don't know why), but I think that if I were to ask a question it would be one that wasn't easy to find in my books.

  9. 1. I generally don't read random reviews.
    2. Mostly, or ones I'm considering sewing (particularly if it's BWOF or a trickier-looking Vogue.)
    3. Since joining PR, I've been using their method as a guide for the finished project post on my blog as well. So yes.
    4. I tend to check places like BurdaStyle or old Threads magazines first.

  10. I tend to read BWOF, Vogue and people whose work I like. I do like to search the reviews to see how a pattern looks on real people. I will look in my extensive sewing library before I pose a question except if I think that it is an intersting or challenging problem.

  11. I read PR and usually only BWOF and some Vogue reviews or if it is by someone whose sewing I admire. I do post reviews, but not of things I've made more than once.
    I will search the reviews if I am unsure of a pattern or I am looking for something in particular and I want to see how it fits or worked out for others.
    I tend to research a sewing or fitting question in my sewing library unless it is something I think is an interesting problem and want to share it. These days I'd probably pose the question on my blog.

  12. I read reviews of favorites and of patterns that I know by heart. But I primarily use PR for the database to see if a pattern has been reviewed and if the reviewer had any issues. I use so many TNT patterns that I only post a review every now and then. I need to use more of the patterns Ive accumulated but my goal is to own clothing not review garments I wont wear!

    I do go to the boards around the middle of the month because there is always a folder on when the new Burda or Burda Plus will be out. And occasionally I will check out the plus size boards but other than that I leave the boards alone.

    Your chart is very interesting. I would have thought that there were more BWOF patterns being used so to see that Simplicity is king is intriguing. Thanks for sharing that!

  13. Great questions!
    1. First I look at the reviews of any of my favorite reviewers. Then, I like to look at reviews of unusual pattern companies (some of the independents) and then I look at the gallery and see what looks interesting. I used to read ALL of the reviews, but there are so many now that it's just not possible.
    2. When I think of it (which isn't all that often) I will read the reviews of a pattern I intend to sew. More often than not, I read these reviews AFTER I've sewn it - and then wish I would have read them first!
    3. I post reviews on most things I make, even if I've made it before. The feedback is always encouraging, and I try to find new tips to share for each new thing that I make.
    4. I'm all about getting the fastest answer, so I go to the books first. If I can't find what I'm looking for, I'll post on the boards.

    I usually read PR, but I like SG too. I'm not as familiar with all of the boards things on PR, and it's not as technologically user friendly as PR, but I do like the boards that I have been part of in the past. I find the boards/forums on both sites to be very helpful.

  14. Ok, here are my answers (PR):
    1 - I read the reviews as they apeal to me from the picture gallery and also from my favorite members. I don't often get the time to browse through PR reviews but I always check reviews for patterns that I intend using
    2 - I read any review that looks interesting, when I have the time
    3 - I don't post every garment that I make; If I find the time and if I find that my review will be helpful for others, then I'll post it
    4 - Usually I go to one or several of my sewing books :). I've never used forums

  15. I use PR infrequently and only then to look up a review of a pattern I'm about to make, or if I'm deciding between two patterns. I've never posted a review of anything because I don't feel competent enough to write a worthwhile review. I use SG a little more as I've actually found some great tips and I find the boards easy to navigate and a little more friendly. I find I use my sewing books and the internet for help more than I use the boards.

  16. Hi--My name is Em and I'll help you with your survey!

    1) I don't read PR reviews everyday, but when I do read them, I visit every review on the gallery pages that I look at, except for costumes and children's things. I appreciate the time that people take to write reviews, whether I recognize them or not, so when I'm reading reviews, I try to read everyone's reviews on the pages that I'm looking at.
    2) I look at more than just the reviews of the patterns that I'm planning to sew.
    3) I think every review has something to teach, even if it's that the pattern didn't have any problems. So yes, I appreciate reviews of problem free patterns and I post reviews even when I didn't have a problem with the pattern.
    4) When I have a question, I refer to my books. I share sewing/fashion info on certain PR threads, but I rarely ask questions.

  17. I'm a regular PR viewer. I got multiple times a day, even on my phone. I am sucked in by the image of the FO, not the pattern company, although I don't usually spend as much time on Jalie or KwikSew since I use the Big 4 or BWOF patterns, mostly.

    Interested stats. I'm surprised that Butterick and BWOF are neck and neck with reviews, and that NL is so small.

  18. Great questions:

    1) It's a combination of favorite members, patterns I may sew and what appeals to me in the photo gallery. Most times I'm interested in learning a new technique or better fitting.

    2) Sometimes I check to see if someone has sewn with a pattern I'm going to try. Other times, it's to see what others are sewing, which is great inspiration.

    3) Yes. Sometimes it's good to know that there are no issues with a pattern. A report of "how great a pattern is" is just as good as a report of the poorly drafted patterns. Sometimes I may incorporate a process or design that isn't include with the instructions or pattern.

    I don't post questions to the forum. I usually consult my books or search other blogs for an answer.

    Thanks for asking!

  19. Delurking in case it helps...
    1 and 2/ I check PR too often :-). Generally every day, even in passing, or every two days. I go through the gallery and check out patterns I am attracted to (or that I have or plan to buy), members I recognize, or, more often, an intriguing picture. I am sorry I don't comment more, but I appreciate the time the members put in their reviews. When I want to buy a pattern, I check most of the reviews.
    3/ yes, I have often bought patterns where there were several reviews saying just that !
    4/ I generally go google, as there are thousands of great tutorials on the web.. If I can't find what I am looking for, I also generally go to a book. I don't know why I am shy to ask on boards...