It’s a great idea. Really. I have been using Wild Ginger’s PatternMaster Boutique for years. I love it because it provides virtually unlimited options for combining style lines, necklines, collars, sleeve shapes and lengths, cuffs, pockets, hems, etc. However, it has a rather steep learning curve because the user must master both the software navigation and at least the basics of pattern-drafting. It is a true patternmaking software – you start with your own measurements, click radio buttons for various style options, enter your preferred amounts of ease at key points, and print your pattern. If you like to fiddle with your patterns and create new styles not available in the vast database of features, you can (before printing) take your pattern to the Pattern Editor, the other side of the drafting software, and transfer darts, create asymmetric designs, anything you want. Then you print.
Some people dislike taping sheets of printer paper together but I have not found it to be particularly time-consuming. Now, the one thing that I’d like to see is a mannequin with my measurements who can wear my proposed garments so that I can evaluate the fit. Maybe one day.
Meanwhile, Bernina came out with MyLabel. This fancy piece of software has that mannequin described above to help the user visualize the final result. You can even scan your fabrics in, or use the default choices, to see how you will look in the garment made from your fabric. There are sliders and buttons to help you adjust the color, transparency, sheen, scale, and other characteristics of your fabric so that what you see on the screen matches the piece in your stash. You can also drag various decorative stitches, embroidery designs, and buttons onto the pattern pieces and see them on the mannequin. Position and reposition; change colors, widths, and sizes; play to your heart’s content. When you think you’re done but would like someone else’s opinion, you can save the mannequin in her outfit as a .jpeg file and share it in an email. Pretty cool, huh? I actually think this particular feature would be great for planning a SWAP (Sewing With A Plan) storyboard. And when you’ve made your decisions, you can print your pattern either on your home printer, or at the nearest Kinko’s (or equivalent).
Now, the catch with this software is that there are only 20 patterns included in it, with very limited options for making changes. That makes MyLabel a pattern-fitting software. Not that it’s a bad deal by any stretch of imagination – just take a look at how much professionals charge for fitting and altering a pattern, multiply by 20 and you’ll get a figure far beyond the cost of the software. These 20 patterns, or your favorite choices among them, become your basic tried-and-true patterns. You can then superimpose details from other patterns on your basics, and sew up a wardrobe full of beautiful garments that fit perfectly and look just the way you intended.
I would like these two pieces of software to be integrated but coming from two different companies, this is not likely. So, I’ll do the next best thing. Get my basics from MyLabel, plan all embellishments and color combinations for a coordinated capsule in MyLabel, then grab some of the myriad of lovely details available in PatternMaster Boutique, and morph them onto the basic patterns. The best of both worlds.