Again, we are back to the routine of enlisting non-professional "testers" for a new Indie pattern in the hopes of great reviews, great photographs and volume sales without a shred of knowledge of grading, draping or pattern production. Personally, I am tired of these where the sewer states, "I was given the fabrics, patterns and notions but the views and comments are all mine"...really? If you get invited to sample a free meal at a new bistro, do you give it a bad review...not if you want to be invited back.
I agree. It's at a sub-conscience level, but 'free' is 'better'. I don't like Jimmy Johns. I would never spend my money at JJs. But whenever my previous employer would provide free lunch and order in JJs, I ate it. And it was fine. But I would still, not spend my money on JJs! :) It's like all of this just turns me off of "Indie patterns" in general. I mean, I know, intelligently, that there are good ones. But there's so much fluff that I don't want to decode. Not when I know pretty much what I'm getting when I sew B/M/V/KS, S/NL and Burda
Such an interesting discussion, and I think the argument can go both ways - right and wrong.
Personally, I think there is a lot of grey area in between and why discussion is necessary.You are right. It is really interesting.
The first time I came across this sort of goings on I was amazed at the level of time, skill, ability, and money "testers" were required to put forth for no remuneration of any sort...and all for a poorly done pattern with little style.
Unfortunately, this is typical female behavior. Can you imagine large numbers of men putting up with this?And if you raise this as an issue, you're "negative". :-)
I'd love to hear more about it being "typical female behavior." I'm intrigued as I never thought of it that way and I'm a staunch feminist. FWIW, I welcome discussion and thanks so much for your comments. Provocative thoughts and thank you.
I think that the "typically female behavior" that Reader is referring to is testers doing a lot of work with little to no reimbursement - that men might expect to be compensated for their time (and compensated with more than just the materials to do the job in the first place). I sometimes sell my sewn work, and I get frustrated by women who are selling handcrafted goods for very little money - paying themselves $3-4/hour for (in most cases) skilled labor. When they undervalue themselves, they devalue the skill for everyone. I don't know if this is a woman thing or an artist thing.
OK, I totally get that and agree. I guess what struck me about the comment most was the priority of what was needed to be a tester. Skills was third back on the list. One of those things that makes you go hmmm......
For the sake of argument, I'm going to give some benefit of the doubt here. If you want the pattern to be sewn by people at a variety of skill levels, it might be helpful to know in advance what their experience will be. People who sew a lot don't always read/need the instructions, but those who are just starting out really depend on them and might give you better feedback on what's unclear. I think the bigger question is why the pattern is being tested. If it is to improve the pattern, then skill level might need to be higher up on the list so that you can get more technical feedback. If the pattern is being tested as a marketing exercise, it makes sense that size and photography would be more important skills. And there's a reciprocal marketing thing going on here - a blogger who tests a pattern drives traffic to the pattern maker's site (and hopefully increases sales), and the pattern maker then also usually drives traffic back to the blogger by highlighting their make (which brings them income if they have monetized their blog). I feel somewhat ambivalent about the issue of pattern testing. The only thing I don't like about the explosion of the indie pattern market is that I have students who will sometimes buy an indie pattern or use a free tutorial and fail at it due to no fault of their own (bad pattern/tutorial). They tend to blame themselves even when they don't deserve it because they don't know any better. But I also figure that the good indie patterns will eventually come out on top because more people will experience success with them.
Some men, a lot of men, seem to believe the line about making GitHub your resume. Umm, no. GitHub is giving your labor (in the form of source code) away for free.
I don't see giving positive reviews after receiving a free pattern as specifically female behavior so much as a subconscious reaction that all of us share when we receive a gift. That is why doctors are so influenced by the freebies the drug companies give them--they feel positively towards the company and its products. I have pretty much given up on using indie patterns with the exception of some of the more professional ones that I have already used successfully. I had bad experiences using some of the newer indies over the last few years and don't bother with them any longer.
I have not formed a logical opinion on pattern testing. At this time I choose not to do this, not even for money or other freebies. I agree with some of the comments posted here. Maybe I shouldn't, but I group this subject with sewing blogs and facebook sewing posts with photos of garments that make it difficult to give an honest opinion. We've been taught 'if you can't say anything nice...' and we don't want to offend or discourage fellow sewists. I've even seen sewists post 'no negative comments please'. Are we living in Oz? I find very few indie patterns that are interesting enough to purchase. Most are attempting to reinvent/duplicate the wheel. Reader is correct in her summation that this is a 'woman' thing.
Given the popularity of reality shows, I think some people will do anything to be in the spotlight for a few minutes, male or female! :)
What is an 'indie' pattern? I've heard the term used in blogs, specifically sewing blogs, but don't understand the origin or how it's used. The patterns I have seen specified as 'indie' are ones that I would say are from someone with little or no sewing skill, who can't follow a big book pattern because they don't have the sewing skill, who want to sew but don't want to learn - so let's just wing it and if it looks okay when I get done, I'll tell everyone how I did it and call it a 'pattern' because no one can tell me I can't sew or even more create! The tutorials I've read are always missing something - as is their 'pattern'. They (to me) look sloppy and something I did when I first began sewing at 7 on my own. (you know, cut a rectangle and two holes for arm slits, put it on Barbie and tie a ribbon on it BEHOLD I have 'sewn" a Barbie dress. So back to my original question - what is an 'indie pattern' and where or why are these??Thank you Bunny, for the tutorial you did from Kenneth's narrow hem information. I tried it on several silky scarves and they turned out beautifully. I then taught the technique to a sewing class and they are turning out muslim head scarves for sale by the dozens. They were so excited to learn the technique. So here's a huge T H A N K Y O U.R Smith
I am really honored that you chose that technique to help your students, although really, it's is Kenneth's original idea and I always give him credit. He's awesome and a very generous person, sharing his amazing skills with all of us. So, you are welcome!You pose a good question and I bet we all have differing opinions. For me, an Indie pattern is anything not made by the Big Four, aka, McCalls, Butterick, Vogue and Simplicity and Burda as well. So it could be Style Arc, Collette, or any number of bloggers that have decided to venture into this marketplace. I believe there are varying levels of expertise and business experience being used to produce Indies as in any commodity. But being a commodity, over time the market place does its magic, leaving some to survive and some not. I do believe that testers, a demographic that did not exist very long ago, works very very hard to test patterns for the pattern makers. I have seen this through various groups I have followed on FB. They put their heart and soul as well as own finances and time into testing in exchange for free patterns, blog hits, and potential income through affiliations. I admire them for that. I just don't quite understand why they don't see the economics of it all. I hope the testers make money but only time will tell.My reason for publishing this quote was because I found the reasons for picking pattern testers an interesting amalgamation of qualifications. I wondered if others felt the same. Thanks, everyone, for your erudite comments. They are shedding light on something many of us don't understand.
Wow. What a thoughtful and intelligent discussion. Thank you, Bunny, for this. You add to the joys of the day, as you always do.
How, sweet! thank you.
My question is: why does a pattern designer need a pattern tester in the first place? My day job is a patternmaker, I'm experienced, check my own patterns for accuracy and fit and they never have a mistake. I don't need anyone else's input, and generally wouldn't trust it above my own judgement either. In my opinion the whole concept of pattern testing is either 1) a social network promotion, or 2) necessary because the pattern designer is too inexperienced to be selling patterns in the first place.
I think you may have nailed it.
Amen, and amen!!! My thoughts exactly!!!
I agree and disagree. I'm not sure how more input would hurt, but a professional shouldn't NEED it. Its the same way you would have a friend proof read a paper or resume. Sometimes you work on something that wen you read it over again your brain doesn't pick up on any problems. Also, I think someone to look over your pattern instructions is important, because they are looking at it from a different perspective and what may seem obvious to you will not be obvious to someone else. Unless you are writing Louise Cutting level instructions you probably left something out, but if three of your eight testers tell you they found something confusing, then you know its for the best to add more info/clarify.
If you look at the 'Indie' pattern companies that have been successful and stood the test of time - for example, Style Arc and Hotpatterns come to mind - I don't believe they have solicited 'pattern testers' in the sewing/blogging community. Just an observation.
I take your point about pattern testing. I think you need testers at two levels - to evaluate cut and style on the one hand, and to evaluate instructions on the other. It can be so hard for those of us who have been doing things almost all our lives to understand how baffling even "simple " instructions can be to those without experience. And I think it needs to be recognised that in pattern production, as in all commercial life, there is scope for market entrants and competition. Style Arc seems to me to be one example: an attempt to develop a fairly large scale native Australian product suited first to its home market (but now proving to have a wider appeal) - for example seasonal patterns that actually match the southern hemisphere seasons. It must otherwise be so frustrating to see lots of lovely new spring/summer patterns appearing just as winter is setting in! And I think there is also scope for well made patterns with a particular twist. Sewaholic, for example, designs for people just like me - not too tall with small bust and broad hips and for me those patterns really work. And some indie designers fill a very specialised niche. If you need running/cycling/workout gear Fehrtrade does produce a many patterns that may be just what you are looking for and she is her own chief pattern tester and runs marathons in her prototypes to make sure they work! So whilst I heartily agree that some small (and even not quite so small) pattern producers seem to be recycling ideas that the established firms do much better, and marketing substandard products via poorly sewn samples and uncritical blogs, I think we have to acknowledge that the picture is really quite complicated. Thank you for stimulating such a thought provoking and intelligent discussion.
Your welcome, and, yes, it's very complicated and I appreciate your informative input.
Oh boy... "skill level" needs to be top priority if you really must be dependent on crowd sourcing for testing. Earlier this year I tested a pattern that had a significant pattern error, which stopped me in my sewing tracks. I contacted the designer (who has a serious pattern company, with education to back it up) about the error, which she investigated with her pattern drafter. Turns out it was a mistake from the drafter who probably confused a centimeter measurement for inches. The designer was very grateful for my feedback. Why? Because nobody else noticed!! All the other testers had just stretched and eased their fabric to match. The tester had wondered why everyone had weird drag lines in the same area... Had I not noticed the error it's possible the pattern would have gone to print.
I don't believe in people working for free for someone who is going to make money with your assistance. If Indie pattern designers want to be in business and feel they need pattern testers, they should hire people to do that in house and consider it part of the cost of doing business. I would want it in house so I could evaluate their skill and aptitude. I don't think operating in the dark is a good way to run a business.
If I understand the discussion, indies ask for testers not always knowing the skill level of sewists they enlist. But my understanding is that the Indie only uses photos and commentary from ones who submit good results and nice pictures (?). Maybe not. On the rare occasion I've been a tester, I did it because I wanted to help the person starting up her business. It was a favor I did gladly. I'm not desperate enough to be a tester just for the freebies...maybe some are. In order for me to do it for one I didn't know, I would need to be paid for my work. Just my two cents worth! Linda Snyder
I can understand that there are designers who need testers, and home sewers who are happy to serve as testers. The sewing community tends to be a helpful, sharing group. However, if I were a professional seamstress or tailor, I would not offer my services for free, as it's a slippery slope. It seems to me that a lot of the requests for pattern testing tend to come from non-professional pattern designers, but I could be wrong.I also agree that some of the pattern testing seems to be more of a marketing ploy in which the good nature of home sewers is taken advantage of -- Tom Sawyer's fence painting scene comes to mind.Good discussion,Susie
This patternmaker is not seeking a tester. This person wants exposure and promotion, hence the insistance on size (read small), sewing skills and photo skills. Nothing wrong with that; just quit calling it pattern testing.
I'm late in joining this discussion but am happy that I stumbled upon it. I'm 65 years old and have been sewing since my age was only a single digit. I keep seeing blogs, tutorials and indie patterns by people that have no business doing so.