Quilt Magazines: The Agony of An Error
Donna, this one’s for you.
I got an email the other day from a delightful lady who alerted me to a possible error in the Jan/Feb ’14 issue of Quilty. Here’s what she had to say — and I’ll tell you right now, she was right.
“I decided to make the quilt entitled Twists & Turns on pages 28 thru 31. I cut as instructed, but discovered an error when I attempted to join the blocks.
The directions tell you to cut the E rectangles at 2 1/2″ x 8 1/2″. I did that, but came up with a block that is too short. The block produced by the E rectangles (cut as you directed) produces a 4″ x 8″ finished block. It should produce an 8″ square block. THE DIRECTIONS SHOULD HAVE YOU CUT THE E RECTANGLE AT 4 1/2″ x 8 1/2″.
The square section which is joined to the E rectangles uses four Bs and one 4 1/2″ square and produces an 8″ finished square.”
Drat. I sent this along to the technical team and indeed, Miss Donna had discovered an error. Before I share the message (and the lesson) we take from errors, here are the two corrections pertaining to the green solid in Twists & Turns on p. 28 of the Jan/Feb ’14 issue:
3 1/4 yards green solid (not 2 yards)
From green solid, cut:
10 (8 1/2″-wide) strips. From strips, cut 80 (4 1/2″ x 8 1/2″) E rectangles.
First, note that we post any and all corrections to patterns on the HeyQuilty.com website. Click the Magazine tab and drop down to “Corrections.” There, you’ll find any errata that has occurred in Quilty. There isn’t much, but as we’ve just seen, it happens. This correction will be posted there, too, but it’s even quicker for me to blog about it, so I’m taking the opportunity to do so and to talk about published errors.
I’ve made a lot of quilts, and there have been plenty of occasions when I couldn’t get something to fit or go or otherwise look pretty so I pursed my lips and put my hands on my hips and declared with conviction — and not a little anger: “There is something wrong with this pattern!” I did this, loudly, only to find when I came back to the sewing table the next day the problem was me and my brain, not the directions. Thus, I usually look at a problem with a quilt pattern as an opportunity to sit still, put down the rotary cutter and slowly go through the pattern again to make sure I understand what’s being instructed. I also take sample blocks very seriously; I don’t cut out a whole quilt until I make a sample block. Aside from making sure I like my fabric choices, I ensure I can make one of the darned things at all.
A quilt pattern magazine like Quilty or Love of Quilting is in the business of publishing perfect patterns. That’s our job. Getting incorrect patterns is like going to a nice hotel and finding you have no hot water in your shower. A hotel’s job is to give you a bed and a shower with hot water – that’s their business model. It’s safe to say that 100% of nice hotels pride themselves in being able to guarantee a hot shower 99% of the time. Well, 100% quilt pattern magazines promise perfect patterns 99% of the time, too.
But we’re human. Robots don’t write patterns; people do. And computers can only calculate the numbers that humans give them. Every so often, you turn on the shower in your (nice) hotel room at 5am and there’s no hot water and you have to go down to the lobby in your bathrobe and glasses and speak very sternly to the night desk lady who is scared of you.** Sometimes you find that there’s a typo in a quilt pattern and you spend two hours going nuts before you realize that yes, there’s actually something wrong in the pattern, and you write to the company and they post a blog about it and update the corrections page.
We are! That’s the truth. Whenever a mistake happens, we feel more than bad. We feel sheepish and lame. We feel worse than you do and we know you feel lousy as all get-out, what with the cut fabric and the time spent, etc.
It’s not an excuse, but I do want to play PR gal for a second and mention the fact (!) that F&P publishes hundreds of patterns each year. Hundreds! That’s a lot of seam allowances, friends. We do our utmost and our very best to set the industry standard, and I think we do. It’s honestly a point of personal pride, if I may say so for two seconds: that’s my family name up there, after all. Nice to know it means something.
Donna? I hope you’re still reading. You might’ve just gotten the correction and gotten back to sewing. We support that decision, as always.