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Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3!

Of all of the things to focus on in starting a business, there is one that is at the top of my list. It’s not logo or website or marketing. It’s not the fabric choices or picking the right commercial printer.

For me, it’s pattern testing.

No one wants to make something from a pattern with errors. Especially not a pattern that they’ve paid good money to purchase. And definitely not an error that is found after cutting into out of print fabric.

I feel incredibly fortunate to know some wonderful and detail oriented women who happen to know how to sew. For the seven patterns I have out now, I’ve used a different combination of people for each. In all, I have twelve people who have tested patterns for me. It’s a magical mix of guild friends from the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild, former teaching friends, everyday friends, moms of friends and my own family members. Women who are new to sewing, women who have sewn for decades and everything in between.

It’s a big responsibility and I am incredibly grateful that they don’t take it lightly. Testing a pattern for me means much more than just looking it over. It means actually making the project. As crazy as it sounds, I’ve learned that that’s not always how patterns are tested.

Each of my patterns has been made by me at least twice (only after I’ve written the directions) and tested (a.k.a. actually made!) by multiple other testers. Each quilt is made in all of the size options. Is this more expensive on my end? Does it take a lot longer for a pattern to be ‘released’? You bet. But it is worth it and it’s something that I will always do.

The thing I love is that they trust me to take their honest feedback. I tell them to give me the nitty gritty. Is there phrasing that doesn’t make sense? An illustration that is needed?  Even things like the layout of the pages and the way the steps are numbered. I know that if one of them says, “It’s probably just me, but….” that it’s NOT just them. It’s an issue that someone else will have, too. One of the women told me, “I am very literal, so I hope you are OK with that.” I am more than OK with that…. that’s exactly what I want.

I am not naive enough to think that there won’t be something that is found down the road. No one who writes patterns wants that phone call or e-mail. But thanks to these women, I feel confident hitting ‘submit’ on the printing orders.

To Melissa, Jaime, Paula, Carla, Mary Anne, Amanda, Carrie, Allison, Krista, Denise, Nancy and my own beautiful mother….. I am beyond grateful. You are each so skilled in so many ways and I feel tremendously fortunate to have your careful eyes and talented hands involved in this business.

9 Responses to Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3!

  1. Asiyah November 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Amen and amen. I just attempted to draft my first quilt pattern and, boy, did I underestimate the work that goes into producing an errata-free pattern. Like you, I am making a quilt from the pattern I just wrote and found a lot of issues.

    It does take extra time to write, test, rewrite, re-make, etc…but in the end you have a finely executed product. Plus, I just can’t imagine that Michelangelo cut corners on the Sistine Chapel. LOL!

    Thanks for the timely post!

  2. Paula November 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    My pleasure….really, I love testing your patterns!!

  3. Mary Anne November 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    I’m with Paula – it’s a thrill to be a part of the process – and so exciting to see your business grow!!!

  4. Elle November 9, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    If you are looking for another pattern tester, I’d be happy to give it a try. I once ran an environmental non-profit (for several years as the lone employee), and I now edit for a living in an incredibly detail-oriented profession (an attorney for Congress drafting laws), but I’m hoping to one day also do some pattern/book writing, and it would be great to see the process from the perspective of a tester and to learn more about the business-side of this industry from you. I know you’ve said you don’t plan to, but if you ever change your mind and decide to do a pattern for the quiet book, in particular, I’m very interested in starting to make one of those (pre-conception planning for how to keep our to-be child entertained!)! :)

  5. ina November 9, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Good for you! I’m continually disappointed when I buy a pattern and find the directions are poor and pictures are non-existent. It’s frustrating and it shouldn’t be that way. :(

  6. Jaime November 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    I love testing the patterns…it means I get something “new” and in a timely manner.

  7. Carla November 12, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    You are soooooo welcome, Shea! I love being a part of your success!!

  8. Auntie Pami November 17, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    As a small shop owner, thank you. I understand we are all human, but sometimes customers aren’t. I think your Seeing Squares would be lovely in Flea Market Fancy. Can’t wait!

  9. Junebug November 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Good for you for covering all your bases! It’s great to know that you take care and effort to make things as right as possible. I’ve pattern tested before and I know that it can make a big difference.

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