We have meant to talk to you ladies (and gents?) about Pattern Reviews, Pattern Tests, Blog Tours & Affiliate Links for sometime, but have always been preoccupied by sewing projects or family life. But with the number we have done lately it seemed like the right time for us to write about it and make some promises to you. And explain why you have never seen a scathing review of any pattern. This post will explain why; along with information as far as our processes for reviews, tests, blog tours & affiliate links.
We are throwing in a few random pictures because a blog post is LAME without something pretty to look at. They are all my own pictures that I took before I became a sewing blogger.
We are currently working with a few designers to review their pattern. These reviews are not part of a blog tour, a pattern test or have affiliate links. We loved the design and it is something we were already looking into purchasing. We ask them if we could review their pattern and our only compensation be a complimentary pattern. We will disclose these specifically when the review is published.
We promise to maintain honesty and will illustrate or describe any changes we made to make it work for us.
When we first started testing a year ago, we decided as sisters that we would only share those tests where we felt like they went well. A lot can go wrong in the testing process and we knew it was not fair to the designers to give an unfair evaluation & illustration of their work. Now sometimes it is our fault (with fabrics that we chose or just plain missing steps) & other times it is theirs (sizing issues that need to be adjusted or techniques that weren't up to par). We work with the designers to get these fixed. At times we don't feel like the issues have been addressed and for that we won't post about it. When it is our fault we don't share because we feel like our mistakes might keep someone from buying the pattern. We really only want to showcase the best of ours, paired with the best of theirs.
We are coming up on our 1 year mark for our first blog tour. With most blog tours the designer provides the pattern free of charge post testing for review. We have been very lucky in the blog tours we have been invited to because almost all of them were patterns we would have purchased anyway. It has been nice to be able to save a few dollars by being part of the tour. That said there have been Blog Tours that we have declined because it didn't work for for us (not a need, a design that didn't work for us, or just bad timing).
Often times in Blog Tours we do make adaptions to personalize the pattern to our needs. We will describe these changes in our posts so that if you are wanting to replicate the results you will know how to. Often times you will see small suggestions that we would have in making the pattern easier for yourself. Often times this is just a simple change in step from how the designer put it together. This does not mean that the designer has done anything wrong, just we have found a different way to skin a cat so to speak.
We have also dropped out of tours because we didn't have much positive to say about pattern. When this has happened, it has been in private conversation with the designer to tell them why we can not represent their pattern. We feel like this gives them an opportunity to make their pattern better but without the public discussion that might sink their business.
We participate in several affiliate programs, with these we make a small percentage (ranging from 10% to 30% depending on the designers specifications) of the sale. Which usually we can make anywhere from a $1 a pattern to $2. If they are doing a sale then our commission amount will decrease because the total price of the pattern is down. Not all designers have these or have the ability to have these depending on how their shopping cart is set up. We give equal priority to all patterns with or without an affiliate program.
As sisters we have decided that some pattern companies that we will only participate on a pattern by pattern basis. This is either because we have not sewn a majority of their patterns to know if we can stand by them or we have loved some and disliked other of their patterns. Either way we don't want you to waste your money on a pattern that you won't love.
For a very select few pattern designers we have chosen to affiliate with all of their patterns. This is not because they have the highest paying commissions, it is because we have worked with these ladies enough to know their standards are of the highest level and that our design tastes are complimentary to theirs. This position is not bought, it is earned by these ladies dedication to their craft.
Our Promise To You
When we first started sewing/blogging for our kids we owned very few PDF patterns. My husband and I were selling plasma twice a week to be able to buy toilet paper & pay car insurance. I am sad to think how much I fabric=money I wasted in sewing by not using patterns. Not even to mention the days that were spent trying to get it right. Sewing from PDF designers that I trust has helped me waist less fabric and time.
We are just like you. There are weeks where we are anxiously waiting around for payday so we can buy groceries. We get that your money and resources are limited; we would never want to waste your precious money on a pattern and materials for a pattern that we believed not to be up to snuff.
Even though our blog has been around for a while we have yet to make enough money or pattern compensation in one single month to balance out the amount we spend in fabric (this is with no accounting for amount of time). Even if we receive an $10 pattern for free, most of the time we have at least that in supplies. When we do a project we usually have a minimum of 3 hours in sewing/cutting time, 1 hour in photography time, 1 hour in photo editing & 1-3 hours into writing a post. So for our "free pattern" $10 pattern we are paid at the most $1.66/hr. Once we account for fabric, we are left in the hole. Simply we are still here nearly 2 years later because we love sewing, not because we are living high on the hog.
We know from our own experience and the experience shared to us by our designer friends that when a pattern designer sits down to write a pattern then they are spending their precious time trying their best. They spend weeks in designing, writing & testing these patterns until they get them ready for release. We try to honor this time spent by the designers who allow us to work with them by giving our best efforts to show the potential of their pattern.
For this reason I would never want to publicly defame their name or their design. We feel like if we were to drag a designers name through the mud it would be in direct opposition to our mission statement.
Al, Jo & Scary