Eight Good Reasons to Test Sewing Patterns (and a Couple Bad Ones)

Ever wanted to be a sewing pattern tester or sew fabric strike offs? Mac & Katie have been down that road and share some good reasons to go for it!

Do you ever wonder what happens during the sewing pattern testing process?  Katie and I have both had the opportunity to test for multiple designers and wanted to kick off this three-part series on a behind the scenes look at the pattern testing and fabric promotion process.

    Good reasons to Pattern Test

    Build Relationships with Designers and Sewists

    Sewing can be a REALLY lonely hobby!  I can’t tell you the number of sewists we have come across who say they know very few people in real life who sew clothing.  When you become a pattern tester, you have the opportunity to meet others who are just as passionate about fabrics and designs as you are!  I have built so many friendships through the process. I’ve also gotten many opportunities based on those relationships.  Those include testing for other designers, fabric promotion, being a shop ambassador, etc.  We talked all about connecting and gathering with intention here, and pattern testing is one way to do just that!

    Learn new techniques

    While Katie and I pattern test very infrequently these days, we do appreciate the chance to use it to up our skills game.  I tested the Sew Liberated Arenite pants, and I was THRILLED to learn to sew flat felled seams.  The insides of these pants are as glorious as the outside, and it is all thanks to that technique!

      Giving yourself a hard deadline

      We all know how this one goes.  You start with a bucket list of sewing patterns that you couldn’t accomplish in a year, let alone a month.  And yet the list gets longer and longer – and very little gets accomplished because… Life – am I right?  So many other testers we spoke with highlighted the deadlines (for sewing the muslin, final version, photography – and in some cases blog posts) as being one of their top three reasons for becoming a pattern tester.  We get it – it used to be one of ours too!

      Sew a bucket list item

      Have you ever wanted to complete a fancy dress – but have no where to wear it?  What about a pair of jeans – but can’t seem to get yourself started?  Sometimes the right pattern test comes along at JUST the right time to push you over the edge and MAKE that dress or CRUSH that pair of jeans.  All with a group of friends who are navigating the same tricky steps and fit issues.  Way to cross a goal off your to-do list!  I wanted a summer maxi dress that was nursing accessible and made from gorgeous rayon challis.  But I was too scared to do it.  The New Horizons Venice Dress pattern test was the PERFECT opportunity to get me over that hump!

        Bust your stash

        Pattern testing is a great way to use up that fabric you have sitting around but have no clue what to use it for.  HOPEFULLY you remember its contents though – or it may not work for the test!  If you’re anything like us, you may have collected a LOT of fabric.  And if you’re like us and collected a lot when you first started sewing, a good portion of your stash may not be the best quality!  But those lower-quality fabrics are great for muslins and test garments that may not be perfect.  So long as the fiber content is correct, use those cuts for test garments that may need tweaking to get the pattern just right.

        Direction on what to sew next

        Ever have a burning desire to sew … something?  No specific plan, just time and a desire to put that machine to good use?  Yeah, neither have we, but we heard it happens to other people!  What’s more likely to happen to us is that the sewing list gets so very long that we can’t decide which amazing project to tackle next!  Pattern testing in particular can help with that indecision as the designer will tell you exactly what to sew and in which view – ESPECIALLY when you are on the regular testing team, sewing up an entire pattern line.  It’s also sooo easy to use this next project as…

        A Chance to sew for someone else

        So while it might be selfish sewing the MAJORITY of the time around here – occasionally we make something for someone else. The only challenge is, sometimes you are bored with what you have and you don’t know if you will use the pattern much.  This is an excellent opportunity try out a new to you pattern AND to make something for someone else. Potential win-win here!

          Opportunity to get nice photos of yourself

          I so rarely got good pictures of myself. Blogging gave me a “legitimate reason” for my husband and I to head outside most weekends to take nice photos. I seriously adore going back through old makes (especially Mommy and Me photos like this photo of the Love Notions Oakley vest I tested). I recognize that I would never have those pictures without my sewing/testing/blogging hobby.

            Bad reasons to Pattern Test

            Just to get a free pattern

            When you commit to completing a pattern test, you are investing your fabric and time – with the hopes that you will reap the rewards.  Sometimes, though, what you invest – is not worth what you receive.  Your time and resources are limited – and sometimes purchasing a tested/proven pattern is better than spending money on multiple muslin fabrics throughout the process.  Obviously, if the pattern has already been pre-tested, this is less of an issue, but everyone runs their tests differently.  I have been in tests that have gotten to 5+ versions throughout the short testing window!

            Get your “sewjo” back

            This might be controversial – and for some – it ABSOLUTELY helps them to get their “sewjo” back (see the good reasons above for ways it can help).  However, Katie and I would both agree that sewing something that ALREADY fits you well, and is a quick pattern is probably far better than chancing a bad test when you are in a funk.  If you need to get out of a funk, we rounded up a few of our favorite “sewjo-boosting” patterns here.

            What’s Next?

            So…  What did we miss?  We plan to add two more posts in this behind the scenes series at pattern testing and fabric promotion (“How to Become a Pattern Tester and Fabric Promoter” and “Photography Tips for Pattern and Fabric Promotion”).  What part of the series are you most excited about?  Leave us a comment below!

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