I have been playing around with Seamly for a few days now. I am new to patternamaking and sewing but I have some prior experience with various CAD software and a bit of manufacturing/engineering knowledge. I am a huge supporter of open source code and more importantly open licensed content made with that software. I am thrilled to see that there is a community forming around opening up clothing design in a sharealike way as has previously been done with things like wikipedia, maps, music, games, etc.
However, as powerful as the seamly program seems to be (once you learn its few quirks), I was really surprised to find that it does not ship with any example patterns. Having read through the forums a fair bit, it seems like this is mainly due to a lack of redistributable patterns - i.e. ones that are not just rote repetitions of systems found in copywritten works. The existing bodice blocks, etc, by Joseph-Armstrong and Aldrich are great starting points but it is questionable (probably unlikely) if we could distribute a bodice block based on these systems without running afoul of copyright law. I am not a copyright lawyer, but the question of whether you can copyright a method like Aldrich’s is an interesting one - in my mind it would be patentable, but not copyrightable. But that is purely my opinion and obviously not enough to distribute that with the default install of Seamly.
To remedy this I have decided to produce a series of pattern block designs based on my own methods developed by me. This means that they are free of any messy copyright issues since I can liscense them however I want and therefore can give them a GPL or Creative Commons license (or both) suitable for allowing them to be bundled as examples with the software.
I do have to say, that there is a big caveat - I am not trained as a tailor, and am only beginning to learn this very, very complicated subject, so my layouts will very likely have some issues that more experienced people here can likely help resolve. That said, however, I do have a very strong background in math, computers, CAD, and 3d stuff, so I am starting from a much better place than most people would.
As a first start I am building a bodice block pattern. It is going to include variables for ease in the most common places, as well as some basic darts (which will be automatically enabled or disabled as the measurments require) Currently I have the bodice front designed (with no darts yet, but I have plans for how to work them in). Last night I cut out a paper bag using the derived coordinates from my pattern and it fit nearly perfectly when pressed against my body. I plan to finish up the back of the bodice today or tomorrow and I have some muslin ready to go to do a test fit. If things go well I plan to post it for others to review once I am sure it actually works more generally (not just for me specifically).
Going forward I have a few questions though.
Where to post the .val files? I know there is the pattern cloud, but it looks like early beta code and only has a few patterns on it. The forum here has a few more but they are really hard to find. I couldn’t find any on the wiki, but that or github seem like a good place for more finalized versions (that have been thoroughly tested first). Github obviously is the best choice for final ones to ship with the software.
I would need to know what licenses the files should be published under to be distributable with the software, and what the criterion for doing so would be. Basically like the coding standards for open source projects, but for a pattern. I think rules like “all body measurements must be done as standard measurments in the included library, with custom variables only used for things like ease, neckline height, etc”. I don’t expect a formal list of rules/guidelines to come out right away, but I think this is a good discussion to have.
Lastly I think it would be good to put together a list of what patterns should be shipped with the software (and what ones should not be). Bodice, skirt, and pants blocks are the obvious starting point, but there are many other things that would be good, both from a “learning to use the software” point of view, as well as patterns to show off different functionality of the Seamly system (stuff like the custom backpack I saw in a tutorial video). Lastly I think it would be good to include some simple “useful” patterns as well - a pincussion is a great example. A very simple thing to make, a simple pattern for a new user to understand and see how Seamly works, and something that is useful to them to actually print out and make. A pincussion is also small enough to print it on regular paper without taping sheets together, etc. Other things would be stuff like a pressing ham design, or maybe an ironing board cover, etc. Stuff that is simple, shows how the program works, and is something that is easy to understand (unlike a full bodice block which is too much for a novice to grok right off the bat). Lastly, what kinds of patterns should not be included? I know there is a video tutorial to design a pair of panties - should designs like that be included by default? What about lingerie, etc? Obviously we don’t want to include anything too questionable, but where is that line.
Anyway, this post got a lot longer than I planned, but I think it is a good starting point for the discussion. I think the software is great so far, but it is currently very unapproachable due to how complicated patternmaking really is. Some good, very clean, very well thought out examples would go a tremendous way to showing people what can be done with the software, and what they might use it for. Looking forward to seeing where this discussion goes and hope I can really get the ball rolling on some tutorial/example patterns.