This is Marta from @the.pickle.and.the.banana on Instagram. I hope you are all doing well and staying safe. I’m here to talk to you about what it means to be a pattern tester. I’ve been testing patterns for a few years and I’ve worked with lots of different designers. Hopefully this blog post will give you a good idea of what this entails so you can decide if it’s something you’re interested in.
Before we get into the how, I want to touch on the why. Why do I test patterns? Well, it’s not for the “free” pattern. After you factor in the time and fabric, you have definitely “spent” more than you would buying the pattern. BUT, in my opinion, it’s still a worthwhile endeavour. I love the friendships I have made thanks to testing groups. The support is fantastic. I like to test patterns that scare me a little because I know that I will have lots of support to get me through it. I love learning something new and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I also work way better under pressure, deadlines are my jam. If I’m in a sewing funk, a test is a great way to get me out of it because it pushes me into action.
All designers have different expectations and go about the testing process in their own way. So the most important thing is to stay up to date with the information they are giving you. Most designers test using Facebook groups so that’s the platform I’m going to focus on. I’m also going to focus on the way Kristy, here at Buttons & Bibs, runs her tests. We all know that sometimes Facebook logarithms are against us, so checking into the group regularly is key.
The initial pattern you get might be missing some elements, like finishing touches or complete instructions. If you have a question or something is unclear, it’s always OK to ask. Try checking the feedback thread first to see if there is already an answer. It is really important to get your fits and finals in by the deadlines set. This way the designer has all the information they need to make adjustments.
In order for the designer to make sure the fit is correct, it’s really important to make the pattern as-drafted without any hacks or modifications. Make sure to measure right before you cut to ensure that you are making the correct size. Do not size up or down. The designer needs to know if the pattern achieves the intended fit for their size chart.
However, if you need to adjust for height or do an FBA (Full Bust Adjustment) those should definitely be done. For instance, Buttons & Bibs Patterns are drafted for a height of 5’5”, so if you are shorter or taller than that, you will need to add or subtract at the shorten lengthen line. The same is true for grading. My body fits into about 4 different sizes depending on the pattern. I have a very small chest and large hips. So I grade out, usually two sizes at the hips. Kristy has added grade marks at the chest, waist, and hips so using those makes it easier to get a great fit.
When you post your fit pictures make sure to give all important information such as the size you made, and if you’ve made any adjustments.
HOW MANY GARMENTS DO I MAKE?
The expectation is that you will make two garments. A fit test, which can be made out of muslin fabric (as long as it is one of the recommended fabric types), and a final version, once the pattern is completed. Often there are more than two versions or updates of the pattern during testing. You are NOT expected to make all of them. Do try to make the most up to date one.
For the fit, you will be asked to post pictures in the group from all angles so that the designer knows what adjustments need to be made. These pictures do not have to be pretty, they just have to be clear. Here are some examples:
For the final pictures you should be using the latest version of the pattern. These pictures need to be clear and focus on showcasing the pattern. However, you do not need to be a professional or have expensive equipment to take good pictures. I take all of mine on my cell phone, a Google Pixel 3, and use the editing that’s right in the photo app. I didn’t even buy any other editing apps. Here are some points to remember:
- Make sure the background isn’t cluttered to distract from the pattern.
- Some good backgrounds can be a fence, a field, trees, a field, a blank wall, a field, or (my personal favourite) your front door.
- Show various angles so that customers have an idea of what the pattern looks like from all sides.
- Pair the tested garment with another garment that does not distract from the tested one.
- Make sure pictures are clear and not blurry.
Make sure to provide all relevant feedback. Focus on things like fit, ease, instructions, comfort, and the tutorial in general. All constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated. Designers rely on testers to make sure they’re putting out the best product they can.
Testing can be a frustrating process for everyone involved if there are problems with the pattern. That’s why kind communication is key. It can also be super fun and rewarding. I love knowing that I was part of making a great pattern come together.
I hope that was helpful and gave you an idea of what being a pattern tester means. I know it might sound intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but I promise it’s also really fun! If you ever have any questions feel free to hop over to the Buttons and Bibs Fabric and Patterns Facebook group and tag me (@Marta Gloger) and I’m happy to answer them.