Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Testing YOUR OWN Patterns and offering Free patterns.

I mentioned in my last post that I was working on making a plush Pony for my child as a Birthday gift.
Since the pattern was not as I hoped I have had to revise it. and this lead me to thinking about how You as Pattern Maker should test your own patterns before sending them out to pattern testers.

Why should YOU test your OWN pattern?
1. To test a different order of operations,  maybe it works better done in a different order
I put the Pink Zebra together in a order that was complicated, so I need to try a different order to streamline the process, especially if I ever release it as a pattern (which I don't know if I will.)

2. To double check your pattern pieces. If you made the pattern pieces by hand and then scanned them into the computer and cleaned them up, you need to know if they print out appropriately. If you put them in a different format, like a PDF, you need to print from that format just like your customers would.

3. To check your instructions. Assuming that you have written the instructions at this point, if not, you should make it up following your instructions precisely once they are written. If you have ever written a report, you know that the common advice is to print it out and read it from the paper, or better yet, have someone else read it. Sometimes it is easier to miss your mistakes on the computer.

4. To check all variations and sizes. I have heard of clothing patterns that didn't work out in the plus sizes due to grading errors, not only is this annoying, it can be damaging to your companies reputation.

What if the first iteration of the pattern doesn't work?
You obviously need to change it, make notes on the pattern pieces of what needs to change and where the changes need to be.

Should you toss the nonworking pattern or save it?
This is a personal opinion, but I say save it, at least until you have the FINAL finished pattern. DO make sure to label your patterns with a version name or number so that they do not get confused and printed by accident (it happens, even to the bigger companies.) For a paper pattern, use a colored ink, for computer files, change the name just a bit. Version 1, V1, and 1.0 are all good names.
When you have the final pattern you may choose to toss or delete, but my persona preference is to put the previous iterations in a smaller envelope inside the main envelope, that way I have them for future in case I need to go back to them.
Yes my handwriting is that bad, which is why I love using the computer!

Is all this necessary if you are only giving the pattern away for free on your website or blog?
Depends on your end goal, and general view. While there is the common thought that "you get what you pay for" with free patterns, IF you are also SELLING patterns, your freebie is what will draw in or send away potential customers. If your free pattern doesn't work well, why would anyone choose to pay for a pattern? They are expecting that all your patterns are done in the same format, and if they had a bad experience with your free pattern, they are not likely to want to "waste" their money on buying a pattern.
IF you are just a blogger sharing, how well finished your pattern is, depends on the level you want to put into it, and what you expect of your target audience's skill level.

One more word on Free Patterns, IF you didn't test it even though you are 100% sure it will work, put a disclaimer on it. If you didn't test all the variations and sizes, put a disclaimer on it. "This pattern has not been tested at this point" is fairly clear, on the other hand "This pattern has been tested by me (and others if applicable) and works" is a lovely way to give your viewers confidence about your free pattern.

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