Good Morning Lovelies!
Judging from the title, I’m sure you can guess that today’s blog post is going to be a little different than just a regular “look what I made” post. I felt compelled to write this post because I’ve noticed recently that there has been quite a few comments and posts made in some sewing and pdf groups questioning the way PDF Pattern Testing works and how pattern designers go about choosing their testers. While I cannot speak from a designer’s point of view, I can shed some light into what I have done to put me in a position to be a suitable candidate.
I’ll be honest, I can’t tell you how many tester calls I applied for, before I got picked, might have been 20 or 30 or more! But it was A LOT. I do understand the disappointment and hard feelings that come with receiving the “I’m sorry to say you were not chosen” email. It’s natural, it happens, but TRY not to take it too personally. If you are new on the scene, if you haven’t posted your work for others to see, more than likely you won’t get picked, that’s really all it boils down to – it’s nothing personal. Applying for a pattern test is like applying for a job, and like all jobs, you need a resume or in some cases a portfolio. You have to show them WHY you SHOULD be picked. And really, the best way to do this is to keep sewing, keep posting your work in groups, keep building relationships with other sewers and designers and pretty soon your work will be noticed. Consistency is key. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen!
And just so you know, I’m not just saying this, I asked a few of my friends to chime in with their thoughts. I asked them: “What is one key advice you would give to sewers who would like to become pattern testers?” , and this is what they had to say:
“Start a blog, Instagram account or dedicate an album of things you have made. It gives you a place to showcase all those makes that you are proud of, and shows off your skills. Don’t forget to get some detailed shots also. Be proud of what you have made. Go ahead, gloat about your super awesome sewing talent!” – Melissa of Rebel and Malice
“Don’t worry about getting rejected or your level of sewing experience! I was chosen to test my first pattern only 2 years after I taught myself to sew. The more you venture out and try new techniques, the better you become. Being a pattern tester is a great way for me to learn and try new PDF pattern designer’s styles. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t chosen. Hundreds of seamstress usually apply and only a handful get selected. Just keep trying!” – Christine of @graceyvedesigns
“When you fill out your tester application, think of it as if you were applying for a job. Essentially, that’s what you are doing. Make sure to check your grammar and spelling, supply quality photos of your past work, and sign up for the proper size to show that you know how to read a measurement chart. Also remember that most designers are friends. We share information on which testers are great and which ones to avoid. Once you get your first testing assignment, make sure you are on that list of great testers. Turning things in late (or not at all), not participating in group discussion, and providing photos that are not in focus or taken in dark settings are all things that can make another designer not want to recommend you.” – Melissa of Bella Sunshine Designs
“One key advice I would say for sewers who would like to be pattern testers is to keep applying, Designers like to have a whole range of different skills. This allows them to see where the design might be too complicated or too confusing. For those who were lucky enough to be chosen as a tester: I would say ask lots of questions. One thing I have learned in testing different patterns is that not one designer is the same. If it doesn’t look right ask, if the steps are confusing, ask. This is something I’ve had a hard time with, mainly because I thought it was just me, but when I finally asked, I learned I wasn’t the only one getting confused. All the designers I’ve worked with are super awesome and they provide help and feedback as quickly as they can. The online sewing community is awesome. In the last year since I’ve participated in the different fabric, pattern, and testing groups, I have grown as a seamstress.” – Cindy of Cindy Parrett
“Create a public space (whether it is a blog or album) where you can display all of your makes, and be sure to include detailed shots of your sewing. I would also suggest getting involved in your favorite designers’ sewing groups where you can post pictures of what you’ve made. That way, they will get to know you and your style as well! Don’t give up — your day will come!” – Emi of Just Add Fabric
“To become a pattern tester, you need to be very active and creative in the pdf pattern world meaning post your creations in the PDFs pattern group, designers group, etc. In this way other designers get to see your creations and work but also by sharing your creations on these groups, customers/other seamstresses get to see your creations and work as well. The last is also good for referral meaning you will be tagged in many testing calls and the chance to get in is also high.” – Mgeni of Sansahash
“Find a designer whose aesthetic appeals to you or who you really want to test for, join their FB group and try to be active on there, post pictures of your creations so designers can recognize you when you apply for their tests. Having a public album or blog with pictures of recent makes and tests will definitely give more credibility when you apply.” – Indu of Kaleidothought
“Test the pattern because you love doing it. Testing a pattern is not always as fun as it seems and requires of works. But even when something doesn’t go right, you’ll enjoy doing it because you love it.” – Heidi of @novemberpilot
“I’m not really an advice kind of person but I can tell you what I do: take it seriously as you’ll be dealing with someone’s hard work and their businesses. But also enjoy yourself and take advantage of all you can learn in the process!” – Andreia of In a Manner of Sewing
“Before and when you’re chosen, be open and friendly. Engage yourself. Every designer has different needs, make sure you know the designers needs.” – Tone of @tonesewandso
“It is important for a tester to be be sure they can meet the deadline. Emergency’s do come up but if you aren’t sure you can get it done on time, perhaps you should wait for the next opportunity. Thorough feedback is important, as much as it is nice to hear that the pattern is perfect, that is rarely the case. Even suggestions for a better way to do things can help tremendously.” – Nicola of Seaside Notions
So there you have it, wonderful insight from a really great group of testers who are all at different levels in their sewing journey. So just keep swimming, be consistent in sewing, keep putting your work out there and building relationships. All these things take time and effort. Once you are aware of this, you’ll soon understand the reasoning behind the pattern testing process.
I do think one of the greatest downfalls for a newbie is the initial approach to applying for a pattern test. Being a pattern tester is NOT (and SHOULD not) SOLELY be just about receiving a FREE pattern. (Although, I have heard of designers asking you to buy the pattern and then refunding you the charge after testing, but I have not done one of these myself). I think approaching pattern testing with this mindset, will only lead to even harder feelings in the event you don’t get picked for a test. Yes, free is nice, and getting to see and work with a pattern before it’s available to the public is even nicer, but there is so much more to it than the title denotes.
Being a pdf pattern tester is a really big responsibility. Just think, a designer picks you and TRUSTS you to literally bring to life in fabric what they’ve spent so tirelessly creating on paper. That’s a pretty big responsibility of you ask me, and it should be taken seriously. But not only are you trusted to sew up the pattern, you are asked to give insight, and or make other recommendations that would make the pattern better than the designer first imagined – thats some level of trust right? The sewing world is really huge, but the camaraderie I’ve found in the PDF world is unlike any other, it’s something I really can’t explain, it’s just better felt.
So in closing, dear sewer, just remember, EVERY EXPERT WAS ONCE A BEGINNER, so DO NOT GIVE UP! Don’t be discouraged. Follow the advice of my friends above, and we’ll be seeing you in tester groups in no time!
Or just listen to this guy! lol!
Thank you for stopping by! Talk to you soon! XOXO
16 thoughts on “If you’ve ever thought about becoming a PDF Pattern Tester, read this.”
Great info. Enjoyed the blog as always. You are correct,we all have to start at the starting line, so thanks for sharing.
Thank you Kat! =)
Candice, this is a great post! Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes to everything here! I think a lot of people see testing as some sort of status symbol. It really isn’t. It’s a lot of work and a lot of attention to detail. If you are applying for the status that you think it might bring, then that is the wrong reason. Apply because you love it and apply because you truly want to help the designer. We designers are just people, too, no matter how many patterns we have sold. We are just looking for honest help in pointing out our mistakes and getting them corrected so that the pattern that is eventually released is something that will be of high quality. I consider my patterns to really be a collaboration of the work that I have done and the work that my testers have done. I couldn’t do it without them.
Thank you Linda! Well said! =)
Candice this is an amazing post. I wish I read this back when I started applying to be a tester!! So helpful with all incredible advices. Thank you so much for having me too xxx
Thank you Mgeni =) I spelt it right this time! hahahaahha! ;P
Such a great round up. You are correct, it took dozens (for me it was close to 4 dozen) of tester call application before I was finally chosen. Never give up. =D
Thank you for your input Cindy! =)
I’m gonna look into testing… thanks Candice great read!
There are so many wonderful PDF patterns for women Lawana! It’s a whole different world! =)
Such a great round up. I loved all the info and tips. I feel so privileged to be surrounded by such talent.
Aww shucks =P -Thank you for your input Melissa! <3
So much great advice here, Candice! Thank you for doing this <3
Thank you for your input Emi =)
Great insight and round up about the theme! Thank you for having me!
Thank you Andreia! =) <3