App Review: Pattern Pal (Blueshift Software)

App review: Pattern Pal (Blueshift Software)

Is it a fall thing? Over the last couple months, I’ve noticed a few bloggers writing about how they organize their patterns, fabrics, and notions. Tasia’s post from earlier this month – asking whether we start our projects with the fabric first, or the pattern first – really got me thinking about getting on top of my pattern collection. I know that some have binders, others have databases. I want something I can have with me in the shop. And I’m not going to maintain – let alone carry with me – a binder of info and swatches, as beautiful as it could be. And so with an iTunes gift card (bless!), I downloaded Blueshift Software’s Pattern Pal application ($4.99).

not my screenshot; a typical pattern entry

Pattern Pal is a sewing pattern database, and a great complement to their Fabric Stash app, which I already bought and started using. I’ve enjoyed inputting my pattern info – and then searching Fabric Stash to see what I already have in store. I love that I now have sewing projects in the queue, made entirely from things in my stash – patterns and fabrics that I would never have put together! I wish both databases were in the same app so that I didn’t have to keep jumping around form app to app. I understand that the Sewing Kit app does let you keep track of both, but it’s not been particularly well reviewed.

My issue with Fabric Stash is that it’s really designed for quilters rather than garment sewists (Yeah, I know, quilting is really driving the ‘renaissance’ of sewing, esp among young people. Still, I want things for meeeeee). Pattern Pal is obviously directed towards garment makers, but I still don’t feel that a garment maker designed the app – and I don’t get the feeling that they had very many test drive it before putting it out on the market. Useful though it is, it has some hiccups that could be ironed out – fairly easily, I expect. These aren’t – I don’t think – major architectural issues.

There are a few places where PatternPal could simply add a few more data fields:

  • So many patterns require more than one fabric – they have linings, and contrast fabrics. Sometimes two. I wish Pattern Pal gave us room to input more than one set of fabric requirements – though it does helpfully provide fields for both 45” and 60” width bolts.   I’m getting around this by typing in something like “1.5f, 1.2l” (f and l standing in for fabric and lining respectively) in the single field they give us, but it can get unwieldy.
  • Nearly all patterns have multiple views. However, Pattern Pal only really accommodates one view per pattern.  You have to choose the view/piece you’re most likely to make, or create new entries for different views or pieces.Which makes my database longer than it need be.
  • Most garment patterns require some interfacing. I wish Pattern Pal had a field to input the type and amount of interfacing needed. To be honest, I’m pretty shocked that there’s nothing about interfacing in an app for garment sewers.

My other issue – which I imagine would be fairly easy for the developer to solve – has to do with the lists of options for a given data field – fabric, for instance. They provide a short but eclectic list (though why they include velvet and not, oh, jersey or crepe is beyond me), which users will have to add to. No worries.

Who sews velvet!?

However, when I add something – like Sateen which I use more often than Seersucker (!?) –  I expect it to then automatically show up in the pattern record. It doesn’t. I have to go through that extra step to click on it to get the magic checkmark (shown above). I know – I really sound like I’m grousing, but it’s a basic usability feature. It could be really easy to type in “double knit” for a pattern, forget to also click on double knit, and then have it not show up in the pattern record. As for the notions list, it would be nice to have a field where we could include the required amount. I want my drop down list to be as concise as possible – I’d rather simply put in grosgrain 1/2” than to clutter that list by adding the amount as well (grosgrain 1/2” 1.5 metres). However, there’s no place in PatternPal to specify how much (e.g.) grosgrain or how many buttons a pattern calls for. Again, I wonder, how many sewists did they test this out on? These issues became apparent to me within the first half hour.

Overall, I’m happy I downloaded PatternPal. I am happy discovering that I have fabric that goes beautifully with patterns I own – but that I just never thought of putting together. I’m looking forward to putting in all of the line drawings so that I have them as quick reference. It’ll be awesome to have it with me next time I’m in the fabric store and see that perfect piece – and want to see how much I need for different patterns – keeping me from wasting $, especially as I’m moving into sewing with higher quality fabrics. Overall, it adds happiness *and* $ value to my sewing, and it’s already saved me more than the $4.99 I paid for it.

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5 thoughts on “App Review: Pattern Pal (Blueshift Software)

  1. Do you own a Mac? If so, you could check out Bento, which I use–it’s a desktop database program that will sync to Bento on the phone (or just try Bento on the phone, but being able to enter stuff on the desktop is so much easier). It’s totally customizable, so it’s a bit more more trouble to set up, but you can get just about exactly what you want. Couturesmith has blogged about it:
    http://couturesmith.com/?s=bento

    (here via your comment at Sewaholic)

    1. Ah – I didn’t realize that I could use Bento on my iPod as well, because I definitely thought of it! But I thought it was a mac only thing, and I really wanted my catalogue to be portable.

      I’ll definitely keep it in mind… I’m not so good on the organizing thing – but trying to get better – and so I didn’t want to make the $50 (in Canada) commitment – I’m a little short on $ at the moment. $5 for an app is much easier. But, if I improve, I might get it. Thanks for the recommendation!

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