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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Step-by-Step Instructions????

I just finished up a communication to the editors of McCalls Quilting magazine. The point of the communication was the lack of clarity in some of the articles that feature step-by-step instructions. The magazine, to its credit, rates the "how to" projects by their level of difficulty. One star is beginner, two star is intermediate, three star is.............I consider myself a solid intermediate. However, others may think otherwise. I like to read all the articles, but pay particular attention to the beginner and the intermediate articles. I have noticed that the writers and/or the editors are increasingly making great leaps between the steps, and leaving out information that is needed by the beginner and the intermediate quilter. Additionally there seems to be a lack of clarifying illustrations that would help the reader. I am sure that an advanced quilter does not need this level of detail, but the beginner and the intermediate level quilter may.


I shared with them a technique that may serve them well. With this technique the writer or the editor would have a person that is at least one level below the articles intended audience read the article, and underline anything that was confusing or they did not understand. Have that same person try to complete the step-by-step instructions precisely as they are written. This done, note where difficulty occurred and make clarifications.

Anyone else have trouble with step-by-step instructions?

4 comments:

Tracy said...

Oh geeze.....this must be another thing I inherited from you. I don't do instructions. That is why I never learned to sew clothes or follow a pattern. If I buy I pattern,it's mostly for the picture or the illustrations. Perhaps this is why I like the old traditional "you don't need no stinkin pattern" type of quilt! Hee Hee!

Holee said...

I'm with Tracy. You need Math to quilt and common sense. They can keep the over priced magazines with limited instructions.

I learned to quilt by making patterns with cereal boxes and cutting with a scissors. You can't teach an old dog new tricks anyway!

Tom H said...

An old dog!.....I resemble that remark! After spending 18 years developing detailed step-by-step instructions for highly technical jobs; I look at things with a critical eye...That, does not however, mean that I ever follow directions...

Neabear said...

Found your blog through "Brown Bag Studio". I had to chuckle about your instructions stuff. My daughter is half way across the country from me and is still an advanced beginner/early intermediate sewer. She was trying to make costumes for a play and had gotten bogged down with instructions. What made it hard is that I am hard of hearing and no longer use the telephone. The questions and answers were too detailed to text message. So she talked to her dad, he explained to me, and then I answered back how to do something loud enough she could hear me. And round and round we went. I even had to look up the pattern on line so I could visualize what she was making. Then one time I even went and bought the pattern so I could look and the directions. Definitely confusing directions. No wonder she was having problems! By the way, the costumes did get made on time for the play performances.