A lot of blood, sweat, and tears goes into every pattern I release (and maybe a few cookies too…brain food!). I make each design at least once (usually twice), and sometimes 3 times to make sure that everything is perfect when you purchase a hard copy or PDF pattern from my shop. Every time I release a new pattern my release and pattern say “tested for accuracy.” But what does that actually mean? Today, I want to share with you how I ensure that every pattern comes out picture perfect: fabric requirements are accurate, cutting instructions make sense, and everything as clear as possible. I want sewing my patterns to be fun and relaxing—and that means that every part of my pattern matters. None of my patterns would be quite so polished without the help and varying skill levels, techniques, and ideas that come from my pattern testers!
So, what does a pattern tester do? And how can I become one? I’m so glad you asked…
Who Tests my Patterns?
Becoming a pattern tester is easy! First, make sure you follow me on Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to my newsletter. This is where I post all of my testing calls, and you won’t want to miss out. When I post a testing call, I always include a link for you to apply. So, wait for a pattern that you love, make sure my deadlines work for you and then apply — It’s very simple! I like to get a variety of skill levels in each testing group to ensure that the pattern doesn’t move too fast or too slow for anyone. And typically, give people one week to get the application in before I choose my final testers.
If you are chosen as a pattern tester, I add you to a secret Facebook group— it’s a pretty fun little community that we’ve created! Once you join the group I give you the PDF version of my pattern to test and then you can get started!
How Pattern Testing Works
My testers keep careful notes on yardage requirements in cutting instructions to ensure that everything is accurate and that you have enough fabric to complete the project. They also pay close attention to how directional fabrics work within a design.
Notes, techniques, and other useful ideas always flow throughout the testing period; many minds makes for a fantastic end product. We often discuss and take polls in our Facebook group.
Major changes that would affect other testers are discussed within the group. When necessary I make early revisions of the pattern. Smaller fixes, such as typos, suggestions, and preferences are noted and explained in a questionnaire that testers return to me at the end of the testing period.
All of my pattern testers work on a strict deadline…sometimes us quilters need deadlines to get anything done! Typically, testers have about one month to finish a quilt top and give me feedback on the first part of their project. I allow another 2 to 3 weeks to have it quilted and bound. After that testers take incredible images of their beautiful work, which I then display on my blog when the pattern releases (if you need help improving your project photography skills, I’ve got a great tutorial on getting better pictures of your quilts). I love seeing all of these images and how each pattern is so unique with each person’s creative flair.
The Fun Part
Once I receive all of the testers feedback, suggestions, ideas, techniques, and varying preferences I grab a glass of tea, and get to editing my pattern from start to finish!
Then I work on a hard copy of the pattern and have that tested in the same manner.
All of my testers receive the final pattern as a thank you for testing, giving feedback, and providing me with wonderful images. I also throw a little something special in for each group!
The most fun part for me and my testers is when the pattern releases. We get to brag on each other about the fabulous fabrics and creativity—Instagram and Facebook posts galore…it’s really a good time!
It’s What Makes a Good Pattern Great!
Pattern testing is a long and daunting process. It’s probably accounts for about 50% off the time and effort I put into each pattern. Some parts I adore and some parts I don’t love so much…but it’s what makes a good pattern into a great pattern! I want to know that all of my patterns are clear and concise and I owe it all to the wonderful group of people that test for me!