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.