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A Beginners Pattern Testing Guide

Recently I have been able to do a little pattern testing (Pleated Playsuit Pattern & Bubble Top and Spin Skirt Pattern). It has been such a fun/hard/crazy learning experience. So today's tips are for those of you that would like to pattern test but haven't had the chance.  Now my opinions are based off my own experience of having two small children (almost 4 year old and a 18 month old) with a husband that works a ton.

 1. STAY ORGANIZED! You don't have time to loose stuff. I like to block out one night to cut out the pattern pieces then put them in zip top bags for the next day.  I like having a computer or tablet open with the instructions (this saves a lot of paper).
Stay Organized with Pattern Testing put pattern pieces in zip top bags and use a tablet for instructions
2. Be prepared for quick turn around on the pattern. The pattern designer is counting on you and the other testers to get back information to them before their release so they will usually give you some crazy deadline that will probably require a few fast food nights for your family.
3. Pattern testing is a great way to use your stash of fabric. I like to choose something that will photograph well and is something that I like I wouldn't suggest using any very special occasion fabric (well unless you have a ton and then go ahead) because there is a chance there might be a mistake in sizing or instructions that will cause it to not fit right. But then again you might end up with a garment you love so using fabric that you will like the look of for a while is a good thing. With the Playsuit I used some quilters cotton that I got for $2/yard at the Home Fabrics Store, so when it was a little tighter in the crotch than I would have liked I wasn't devastated it will fit Boston as long as it does but I wasn't out more than $2 dollars so no big. Another reason I like doing this is then it speeds up your pattern testing time because you don't have to go to the store (PS. Who are your favorite online fabric suppliers? Come join the discussion on Facebook)
Use your fabric stash to pattern test saving you time at the fabric store and you won't be bummed if it doesn't work out perfect.
4. With the permission of the designer ask if you can add your own flair. I did this with the Spin Skirt by adding bloomers, Heidi liked the idea. Remember it is about designers vision but if something serves your need it might be something that could add to the pattern.

5. If you are confused by a direction (or set of directions) send an e-mail immediately to the designer and they will be able to clarify for you. This is something that was taught to me by both Jo (for the Playsuit) and Suzanne Winters of Winter Wonderings & Whatnot (for the Bubble Top and Spin Skirt). Now I will admit the independent learner in me has not quite gotten this one down but I WILL DO BETTER NEXT TIME. Both Jo and Suzanne as a question saved the rest of the testers a lot of headache and annoyance.
6. Look over the list of pattern testers and find a friend. It was nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of both times, without having to bother the designer too much.  
7. Make notes along the way, of little changes and suggestions. On a word document or even a physical note pad write what page or category and then which step needs clarification. This will make it easier for you then trying to remember every step, that you struggled with.
8. Have a plan for a photoshoot before you finish your garment. You are probably going to be exhausted and be so emotionally done so have a plan in mind. Professional looking pictures are important to the designer and will help you be chosen again.
Have a plan for a photoshoot before you finish the tested garment.
9. Write a blog post with all of your pretty pictures. Sometimes designers will send traffic your way so make a place to catch that traffic so the visitors know they are at the right place.
10. Enjoy the labors of your hard work, when the designer sends you the finished pattern. It isn't a free pattern it is a pattern than you have worked for so give yourself a pat on the back, you survived!
With Love,


  1. Good advice! I particularly like #7... that would make things much easier than trying to figure out what I struggled with afterward. =)

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  3. Thanks for the tips! I would love to pattern-test sometime...

  4. Great tips! I've pattern tested a lot, but I only recently figured out the make a friend tip. It really is nice to be able ask someone "did that happen to you too or am I crazy?" Haha


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