Inside a pattern designer's head


So, you want to know what makes a pattern designer tick? I'm afraid I can't help you with that, we're all weird and wonderful individuals. But I can tell you what it is I look for in a pattern tester. To a pattern designer, they're the most valuable part of the process and from that you may be able to see what makes me tick! (yes, you're right, it's mostly chocolate but that's not very professional so I've left that out of this post!)

I got together with Christine and we decided we'd write a post each for each other's blogs about what we want in a pattern tester to give you a bit more insight into us indie designers. It's around now that you're starting to think, wait, who are you? Pretend I started with my introduction, I'm very good at rambling!

So I'm Samantha, aka Mrs H and I live in the South Wales valleys in the U.K. It's very lush and green here and rains pretty much all the time. Sometimes the sun comes out though and that's when I write my patterns. Hence why I've only written three. I'll be honest, I have a fourth ready to be written up but I'm waiting for some sun. Look out for it around about August! (I jest, it'll be out within a month even if I have to get my husband to stand on my desk with the big lamp).

So I have a merry band of pattern testers, some I've used just once and some who have become very close friends with me and I ask their advice constantly! As I'm still finding my feet I have a fairly large group of testers and with each pattern that gets narrowed down until I hope to end up with a group who embody all of my wants in a pattern tester. I like the mean testers most ;)

Here's my list of what makes a great pattern tester for me, I suspect it's similar to Christine's list so we're obviously a similar type of person us designers! She may have been nicer in her list though, I'm rather blunt at times!

Firstly, and most importantly for me is timing. Once a pattern has been tested, the testers are keen to blog about it and share with their readers. If a tester doesn't meet a testing deadline it puts the release date back and is annoying for me and the other testers. I usually plan my week around the testing feedback allowing me time to make any edits or changes necessary and it puts me back having to chase people for their feedback.
Rosie Patchwork bag PDF - £3
Secondly, I want you to be detailed in your feedback. "Yeah, it's a great pattern" doesn't help me a jot, I might as well have had my cat do the testing. I don't have a cat but that's besides the point. One of my favourite testers is a teacher and you can tell in her feedback, it's probably the most useful and detailed. She writes me a short summary of things she liked, didn't like and then writes me a long list of bullet points referencing step numbers, illustrations etc that she feels are good or could be changed. Sometimes I wish she'd write them in red pen so I can reminisce about my good old school days.

I want you to tell me, and be brutally honest what you didn't like and would change. I want you to tell me what you liked and why. I want you to tell me which step you struggled with and what I could do to improve it and most of all, I want you to be a little bit mean. Being nice and kind with your feedback doesn't help my pattern to be the best it can be although it might save my feelings. Don't worry, I'm fairly thick skinned by now!
The Stella Pleated Purse PDF - £3
Thirdly, I'd like you to follow the pattern. Unless something's very wrong or awful and you can't bring yourself to do it, just follow the pattern as instructed and then feedback. Pattern testers who look at the instructions and think, I don't want to do that so I'll do this are not testing my pattern, they're testing their own knowledge and experience. The seamstresses who buy my pattern to test won't have your knowledge to fall back on and would have rather you followed the pattern, tested the instructions and fed back if they didn't work or weren't easy to follow.

The Bow Pleat Purse PDF - £3
Finally, the thing I want most out of my pattern testers is that they are enthusiastic sewists. I love to see the finished bags from my patterns and I love to hear that someone's learnt a new skill or fallen in love with zipped pockets all over again. I'm a fairly unsympathetic person, but I am like a puppy with a new bone when I see the testers bag pics flood in. There's something just so lovely about enabling a group of testers to produce bags they are proud of. 

True, being a pattern tester isn't going to pay the rent. It won't pay anything, but you do receive a copy of the pattern that you've tested and you have really helped me to ensure the product that I'm putting out is a good product. I hope that I show my testers just how grateful I am for them, they really are the best in the whole wide world!

1.25" Antique Brass Triglide & ring set - £3.30

If you'd like to pop over and see more of my ramblings I have a blog called At home with Mrs H which you're welcome to browse. If you want to purchase any of my patterns or adjustable strap kits then pop over to my etsy store and use the coupon code ATHOMEWITHMRSH10 for 10% discount on any of my products.

Thank you for having me to visit Christine!

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  1. I think this is fascinating. I don't know how you can bear so many sunless days, but evidently it doesn't hamper your creativity! :-) Thanks for stopping in this morning. I'm looking forward to Season Four of Downton!


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