When I tell people I pattern test, non-sewers are the first to say, “you what?” while others who are in the sewing world may say “why?” So here’s your lucky four leaf clover, because I’m going to answer both for you in this blog.
A pattern tester is just what it sounds like. Pattern companies are constantly creating new patterns and need many people to try the pattern first to make sure it will fit a variety of sizes. Also, they need to ensure the consistency and shape of the pattern throughout the size range. They are looking for people to proofread the pattern pieces and tutorial for spelling, missing information, and overall flow. There is usually a large pool of people for each pattern company who *volunteer their time and resources to work on the latest patterns.
Testing is a great way to build your skills and confidence. Really pushing yourself to try new fabrics, trims and ideas helps to make you a better sewist and also allows you to understand what you like vs what you don’t like in your craft. For example, I absolutely hate rayon anything. I’m not sure that I would have discovered this hate on hate relationship with rayon if I had not chosen it to test the Boundless by Patterns for Pirates. That being said, I also discovered that I LOVE how rayon feels and drapes so every so often I pull it out when I feel like cussing all day because 1) it is a cheaper fabric with many prints to choose from and 2) I feel like one day I will master rayon and be able to whip it in *drape* with a pinch from my needle.
Being a tester can be demanding. It’s important to know your and your child’s limits prior to signing up. I once signed up for five tests in one week and thought I would lose my mind. That helped me understand the importance of setting boundaries and weighing my time against my and my children’s sanity.
I understand I am not “the one” for the companies I test for. Although I take it seriously, I also recognize that many of the people I test with are master seamstresses in many regards. Some also have a photography background. I am/have neither. I enjoy helping proofread the patterns and taking my children on adventures to produce interesting photos in new places. The opportunity to learn from others and push myself to try new ideas and concepts is one of the best advantages. Testing allows me to connect myself to sewing communities from all over the world who have differing concepts and perspectives on clothing/photography. This community is worth it in my eyes.
It’s fun to test! I’ve not only sewn some gorgeous outfits, but I also have a catalog of beautiful photos of both my children to cherish – photos that would otherwise not have been captured. Memories have been made in those outfits on our many adventures and for me that is the biggest win of all.
Join me next blog when we will discuss what you need to think about and do to become a tester. Until then, happy sewing!