As of late I have been taking part in many pattern tests, both for myself and kids clothing.
Although many believe pattern testing is a way to get a free pattern, believe me buying a pattern outright IS, actually cheaper in the long run. This is not why I test. I test because I like to be methodical and follow instructions and it’s exciting to see the process of a designer getting the pattern to a stage where they are happy to release it, and selfishly knowing I may have helped to get there.
Often a design will go through alterations, design changes, different versions, instruction changes, basically anything. I believe it is a role as a tester to make up the original version and generally any subsequent versions, or at least the final released version, although that isn’t always possible. That is why I usually don’t like to post items I have tested until I have made a garment with the final pattern and instructions. This often means my posts are running way, way behind.
It is often a labor intensive process as most are PDF’s that need to be taped together. I believe you need a bit of an eagle eye to pick up written errors on both pattern pieces and instructions. Not to mention providing input about techniques, order of construction etc. Often designers will use testers with different skills to identify the difficulty rating of their pattern but also having a large group of testers maximises the chance of errors being picked up.
I guess the most important aim of a pattern test is to ensure a design will work on a majority of body types. As we all know, not everyone is the same shape, proportion, size, and more often than not we require pattern alterations. Not to mention, as a tester, you are generally required to provided all your own supplies during the test, but in return you get the final pattern for free. And there is another issue of life interfering with the testing schedule. There’s been times I’ve tested for 4 different designers with end dates all around the same time, whilst trying to continue my normal life duties. It can get a bit stressful but most designers are easy going and understanding, and secretly I love that pressure and achieving something that just hours before was a piece of fabric.
So in brief, pattern testing is not a cheap way to get a pattern. It’s a process. For me it’s about using my methodical approach to perform a task and being entrusted by a designer to help them develop the best design possible.
It may not seem like it when you purchase a pattern, but a lot, and I mean a lot, of time goes into getting a pattern ready for public release. We really should appreciate the fact there are designers out there motivated and driven to pursue such a career that subsequently help our own sewing addiction.
But largely it’s about knowing I’m helping someone fulfill their dreams/desires to be a pattern designer who’s hard work is appreciated in the sewing community.
So thankyou designers, and I will continue to test for you whenever possible when time permits, or even if it doesn’t, I will test anyway!