Today is the final day of Pattern Testing 101! If you’re just getting here, check out the first part [1: What Is Pattern Testing?] or if you just missed yesterday, check that out [4: How To Get Picked]. I hope I’ve been able to help you understand what a pattern tester is, what they do and answer the questions you’ve been wondering about. If I haven’t, let me know! Comment below or email me: email@example.com
The last thing I want to leave you with is a few tips and tricks as you start testing. These are things that will be true for any test or designer you will work with. I’ve also provided some graphics to go along with these tips, which you can add on Pinterest or download from Dropbox here:
IT CAN BE FUN, BUT IT’S WORK. Testing seems like a lot of fun, you get a free pattern and it’s something no one has seen yet. The groups can be full of lots of laughter and support. But, remember, testing is a lot of work. Sometimes you may need to make 3 or 4 versions to get the right fit. All of this printing, taping, cutting and fabric adds up. It’s a job and it has to be something you enjoy doing, otherwise you’ll end up resenting it. You should be excited about what you’re doing and the pattern – it will show in your pictures and in your posts.
DEADLINES ARE FOR REAL. The designer gives you these deadlines because they have a timeframe for when they plan on releasing each pattern. Sometimes they have an entire collection being released together, which you may or may not know. It may coincide with another release, a sale for a holiday or other event. They may or may not tell you this. Some designers will push these deadlines if needed to make sure the pattern is the best it can be, but they have deadlines for a reason. This is their business and their (possibly only) source of income, you have to respect that and complete your end of the agreement.
BUILD A STASH. Testing usually happens fairly quickly and you won’t always have time to place an order online and wait for it to come in. It doesn’t need to be the most expensive fabrics, in fact it’s good to keep some lower quality pieces on hand so that if something doesn’t work out you aren’t upset about trashing the fabric. Think about the styles you will probably sign up to test as well as the time of year, and buy accordingly (medium weight knits, swim fabric, wovens like georgette and crepes, sweater knit, denim or stretch denim). If you’re in a tester pool for a designer, some may give a heads up for an upcoming pattern that needs larger quantities or supplies most people won’t normally have on hand.
GET TO KNOW YOUR BODY. Or the body of the person you’re sewing for, at least. Most designers will want you to blend sizes and make any shortening/lengthening (or other) adjustments you would typically need. For example, I know that I’m short but my torso is actually an average height. For one designer I test for, my torso and my crotch depth are at exactly their drafted block’s heights. When I make shirts for them, I do not need to make height adjustments, but I do have narrow shoulders and need to make that adjustment. When I make pants for them, I don’t need to change the rise but I do need to shorten the inseam significantly. I will always note this when posting my fit feedback.
DO IT THEIR WAY. Reading through the instructions and following their steps as written is especially important. The designer needs to make sure the instructions and order makes sense and there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Know what the audience is for the patterns and try to read through as though you are that customer. If they cater to beginners, they want to know that everything makes sense to a beginner – if something is confusing they want to word it in a way that is very clear. If they market for advanced skills, detailed instructions on how to sew a sleeve or side seam won’t be included or needed.
LEARN TO TAKE CRITICISM. You need to be able to take constructive criticism. Most designers will welcome a range of skills (both sewing and photography) since they will want to show their patterns are beginner friendly. But, they still want to show their work off to it’s best and they will also want to see you grow and get better, so they will give some feedback and pointers. If there are problems, they may ask you how you did something and to measure things to check. Most of the time this is only because they aren’t there to be able to check themselves and they’re not trying to accuse you of doing something wrong. They need to rule out all possibilities in all sizes before making pattern changes. Don’t take it personally.
DON’T HACK THE PATTERN. Do not plan to make any modifications. A good general rule of thumb is you can add trim but you cannot do anything that would need a new or altered pattern piece for someone else to recreate. For example, you could add pom pom trim to the bottom of a girl’s dress, but you cannot add pockets or make a neckline lower. Not only do they need to check the fit as drafted, but the pictures need to represent what is available for purchase in the pattern. Also, when spamming, if you do share a photo with a modification, make sure to state that up front so you don’t falsely advertise.
KNOW WHERE TO POST. Posting about a pattern release is often called spamming, even though that’s usually considered a “bad” word online. You will need to be in quite a few sewing groups, if you aren’t already. There are groups dedicated to promotion and groups that are very strict about not allowing promotion. If you post in groups that don’t allow it, not only can you chance being removed but it can risk backlash on the designer, as well. It can be confusing, especially remembering where you can post what and sometimes how often. Check with the designer about a list of where you can spam if you’re unsure.
KNOW THE PATTERN. When you spam, people will ask questions; size range, required materials, fabric requirements, sale dates, amount of sale, regular price, website address, how it fits, etc. They will expect you to be able to answer their questions. Make sure you can either easily answer their questions or find an answer for them. We all understand that we’re not online 24/7 and there’s usually someone willing to jump in and help answer these questions, but people questioning still want to hear from YOU.
Thank you so much for joining me in this mini series and I hope it’s been as fun for you as it was for me! If you’re reading still reading, get ready to be one of the first to hear about next weeks surprise – I’ve begun a collaboration with some other plus size bloggers – who also test – and we’re going to be bringing you our Personal Stories! How we got into our first test and what it took, our favorite memories and some failures, why we continue testing… AND… There’s a giveaway. Check back next week, it all starts right here.
Happy Sewing, See you next time!