What is involved in pattern testing; the things you need to know

I was scrolling Instagram, when I saw the post from Becky at Pattern Paper Scissors, asking for pattern testers. The pattern was for family matching pyjamas, which sounded right up my street. Pyjamas are my favourite clothes, and I love a bit of twinning. Perfect. I applied, and got the job. Woop! I’d been fancying pattern testing for a while, and since this was the sort of pattern I would be likely to buy for myself anyway, it seemed ideal for me. This was my first time being a pattern tester, so I thought I would share my experience of what is involved in pattern testing, in case it’s something you fancy doing.

Fabric choice

As I wanted our pyjamas to match, I needed to get enough fabric for all of us. I discovered that I would need around nine or ten metres, to be safe. Now, that is a lot of fabric. In my excitement over getting new jim jams, I hadn’t really considered that. I didn’t want to spend a fortune, and because this was a test, I knew there could be issues with fit or, more likely, user error. I scoured the interweb, looking for something stretchy, cheap, and not disgusting. Fabricland came up trumps with this flamingo print, which was in the sale for just £2 per metre! I ordered some plain grey jersey too for the adult PJ bottoms, so we weren’t too full-on flamingo. A few other bits fell into my digital basket, too. All reasonably priced. Definitely worth a look.

I actually need to give Fabricland a bit of a shout-out, as there was an issue with an incorrect item being sent in my order. I contacted them and they were fantastic at sorting it out, letting me keep the “wrong” fabric, and sending out a replacement. 5 stars.

Jersey fabric with pink flamingoes anfd green foliage on a white background.
£2 per metre. Flaming(o) bargain.

The pattern

Becky sent the PDF pattern files to my email, and I had a couple of weeks to get my testing done. I regularly use PDF patterns, so have no problem with the printing/sticking/cutting process. I had, however, underestimated how long it would take me to assemble the pieces for four tops and four bottoms, and then to cut out the fabric. It took AGES. Luckily I had wine. The pattern is layered, so I could print the two kids sizes that I needed onto the same paper, then trace the smaller size, and cut the bigger size from the original. This saved paper, and I didn’t have to assemble and cut out both kids patterns. The pattern itself was straightforward and easy to understand. Even after the wine.

A pattern piece with the wirds "handmade with love by us and by you" printed on it
Cute details on the pattern pieces

The making

Aside from a couple of alterations that Becky made to the pattern during the testing process, this was a simple sew. It wasn’t quick, but that’s because I’m not a quick sewer. I ended up with a little pucker in my waistband, that I could unpick and redo, but very likely won’t. I could have shortened the leg length on my PJ bottoms too, I’m 5′ 3″ and they are quite long on me. Since they’re just for lounging in the house, I don’t mind.

The testing process

I contacted Becky a few times as I went along, to check bits and bobs in the pattern and instructions. I had a couple of issues that Becky sorted for me straight away so I could crack on. At the end of the testing period (I had two weeks, but this totally depends on the designer) I had to submit feedback for the pattern, instructions, fit etc, using a feedback template. I hadn’t taken any photos by this time, as I wanted some of us all together (the timing of this was totally reliant on the mood/cooperation of the smallest one). Photos weren’t an essential part of this test, but for other pattern designers they might be. I let Becky know that I would upload some pics to Instagram once I had them, and she was fine with that.

The result

A set of comfy, cosy jim jams! I’m really happy with them, and have since made some Christmas ones for Ava to wear for Movie and PJ day at school. They’re super quick to make, now I’ve already got the pattern printed and assembled. I really enjoyed testing the pattern, and would like to do more testing. In future, I might just commit to one garment at a time though, so it’s a bit more manageable!

Ava stands in front of a christmas tree, wearing fun christmas patterned pyjamas. There are festive llamas, pigs, with antlers, and other christmassy pictures on them.
Festive PJs for school Christmas movie day

Pattern testing tips

Make sure you have the time to commit to what is involved in pattern testing. The deadline should be made clear during the application process. You will need to be able to print and assemble the pattern yourself, and may not have time to buy fabric (especially if ordering online) if the deadline is tight.

Some designers have discount codes available for certain fabric shops, some don’t. If you have a bit of a stash/ridiculous stockpile going on, then sourcing fabric probably won’t be a problem. If you don’t, or you need a type of fabric that you don’t have, you will need to buy this yourself. There are some amazing bargains to be found, especially online, if you have the time to wait for delivery (see tip above).

Allow time to carefully read through the whole of the instructions. Ensure they make sense, and there are no obvious spelling mistakes or other errors that may have been overlooked.

Sew up the pattern exactly as described in the instructions/tutorial. It’s the only way to find out if everything is described correctly, or if alterations need to be made. Some designers are happy for you to “hack” the pattern and make your own, unique, version. Some will want you to make the version they have given you.

Let the pattern designer know if you encounter any problems or don’t understand something. If you have issues, chances are others will too! Letting the designer know gives them the opportunity to fix it.

Give it a go! It may give you the chance to try a pattern that you wouldn’t normally choose, support a small business, and use up some of your stash! Let me know how you get on!

If you’d like to make your own set of matching PJs, these are the Perri family PJs by Pattern, Paper, Scissors

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