Say hi to my models: Inara and Connor. Invariably one of them is not looking at the camera. But the thing to focus on here? See that strange contraption on Inara's head? It's a ruffle. It is in fact the original ruffle collar from the shirt she is wearing.
The shirt is the Soda Pop Polo from Candy Castle Patterns. It may not look like much, but the designer took 1/2" of the width because when I got done and posted in the tester group, we chit-chatted about it and all decided it was a little wide.
Why do you care? Because, I had a couple options when I posted this.
Option one: This pattern is amazing! I love everything about it!
Option two: I love this pattern, but I think the ruffle is a little wide.
What's the difference? 1/2". But oh so much more than that.
I love testing. For me, its a lot of work, and I feel like testers should understand that going in. If you want a free pattern, enter a giveaway. This isn't how you should get them.
So here is my advice if you want to test.
1. Be prepared to be in it for the long haul - some patterns take a week, and are ready to go. Some take a little more love. When I start a test, I know that that window is flexible and I understand that I may be making more than one of the pattern.
2. If it is a fitted pattern, or something different than the designer usually puts out - MAKE A MUSLIN! I feel like this step is lost a lot amongst seamstresses now. You don't actually have to use muslin. You can grab clearance stuff from Walmart for $1.50, and then if it turns out to fit, you've got a cute print (win-win), and if it doesn't, oh well. This is a great step to use when you're making a new pattern by an unfamiliar designer as well.
3. Be a proofreader. When I get a new pattern to test, the first thing I do is sit and read through it with a cup of coffee. (The coffee is important for me lol) I go through page by page and read carefully for typos, grammar, syntax, and general understandability. I keep a little pad and pen next to my laptop to write down my notes as I go. Depending on the designer, I either start a thread in the test group and post my findings, or just wait until feedback time and fill it out in the form. If there is anything glaring that will affect testers' ability to construct the garment, I let the designer know right away. Just think, if you were there to proofread, would Rachel Ray look just a little less crazy??
5. Measure the test square. Minor detail, completely important. If your square is wrong and everyone else has it right, then reprint. If you measure and it's wrong, and everyone else goes to check and it's wrong.... think of what would happen when the pattern is released. People will buy it and everyone will either resize to make it correct, which will make the fit of the garment wrong, or they will think poorly of the designer.
|This box needed a cupcake, he was a little thin.|
4. Follow the directions. Sounds silly, right? Look at it this way. How long have you been sewing? When you sew pants, they generally go the same basic way, so you just jump in, right? Don't do this when you are testing. Follow along each step. Make notes if a step is confusing, worded weirdly, or if you think there is a better way to do it. These are all important things to tell a designer. If I have time, I like to go through a pattern twice: once to follow along the words and once to follow along the pictures.
|Chapsters from PetitBebe|
We all like to make embellishments to give that unique touch to our creations... Make sure you ask the designer before you do this! Changing the pattern isn't what testing is about. Use your fabric and crazy skills to create a gorgeous garment, and if you want to embellish it in any way, ask the designer first.
If you don't follow the pattern, you aren't testing it, and really, what help is that to the designer?
|Panel Pants from Little Kiwi's Closet|
|Canaan's Incredible Blazer from MLPC|
7. Give honest feedback. This to me is really important. There is always feedback to be given. Whether its too short, too tight, too long, has an odd construction method, etc. Do not be afraid to tell the designer when you have a problem. I look at it this way. If I tell a designer where I see any issues, and the designer blows me off, or gets offended, than it probably isn't a good designer-tester relationship, and I would rather not test for a designer who doesn't take feedback.
8. If you've gotten to the end of the test and you say "no issues" you should go through it again. I have tested for a couple more experienced designers and a couple newer ones. And I have not once tested a pattern that didn't have at least a typo or two. Or maybe a line missing on a pattern piece. These may seems like small things, but will help the designer and the pattern look more professional in the end. And don't you want to be part of a GREAT pattern, not just an okay one?
9. If you aren't sure if you can finish the test, don't sign up! No matter what, you end up with a free pattern, even if it is only the tester version. So if you are short on time, or the pattern is something you aren't sure you can sew, or even if you don't have a model you can get to in time - talk to the designer first, and see if they are still okay with you signing up. A lot of designers want sewists from different skill groups to test their patterns, that being said, if you just picked up your first sewing machine last week and someone does a tester call for a clearly advanced pattern - you may just want to wait to see if it goes on sale when it's released. Missing a deadline is never okay in the professional world, and that's what this is. Even if its a hobby for you, it is the designer's profession. We all understand that things happen, but in all the testing I've done, almost every test has had at least one tester drop out because they are too busy or miss the deadline with no explanation. Neither of these are good reasons to miss a deadline, and in the long run, you are destroying your credibility with designers, because they all talk.
Designers, thank you! I've had some amazingly positive testing experiences. And sometimes I watch the testing process and feel for ya'll. There is a leap of faith sending a pattern out to a group of strangers and hoping they do what is needed. And I see tons and tons of people sign up for tester calls, and I'm not sure everyone understands the work that is involved in being a tester. A suggestion for you all? Continue to be receptive - make a tester group and let testers have a place to post questions and issues as they go - and be interactive with them. Maybe next week I will pen an honest post to you from me of what I'd like to see as a tester.