Friday, October 15, 2010

Test a Pattern, Anyone?


Thank you everyone, for writing in!
Am still dumbfounded by the incredible (and quick)
response, and I think I have enough respondees of
various experience levels from which to pick.
So I'll be closing the responses now and contacting
some of you by email with the pattern and further instructions.

Thank you again, not just for helping me out but
also for kicking me in the backside to get working on
this pattern so the rest of you could have it in time for Christmas!

A teeny bit of interesting news:

The Fairies/Toadstool House pattern is finished. At least the beta version is - it's been spellchecked and proofread and given the once-over for theoretical feasibility i.e. yes, the instructions work on paper. It's almost ready to go!

Now I don't have a fixed method of pattern-testing - every pattern is different, depending on how easy it is, or how many prototypes I'd already made, or even how much time has lapsed between the inventing stage and the pattern-writing stage. Different people vet my patterns, and again, it never follows the same system. I actually like that it is different every time.

With the Toadstool House/Fairies project, I made two Toadstool Houses using two completely different methods/sequences, just to see if one was simpler than the other. I did the same thing for the Fairies. Obviously the simpler method made it into the pattern instructions, but I want to be sure it wasn't simpler only for me.

My sewing friends - they who test-read my patterns - are usually far too busy with tiny children to also test-sew the same patterns, so that becomes my job. The sewing test run usually refines the process further, but it is still me, myself and I following my own instructions, meaning I can completely miss the forest for all the scrutiny of the trees.

So I thought I'd throw open open the doors to you, lovely readers - anyone want to test-sew the Toadstool/Fairy pattern? It's a tight deadline - you'll have one week to do it. In return for your trouble, your fabric and your feedback, I'll send you a free copy of the final pattern when it goes on sale.

Also, I'm splitting the projects: you can request to test-sew the fairies, or test-sew the toadstool house. This way you can pick whichever project you think you have the materials, time or desire for, and not have to finish both.

Here are the details:

Who qualifies to be a tester?
I don't like to label people as "intermediate" or "beginning" or "advanced" seamstresses, so I'll just say that if you are comfortable with your sewing machine, sewing curves, and have worked with bias tape and thicker fabrics like canvas, duckcloth and fusible interfacing, you're good to write in. I'll also be asking you to define your own level of sewing skill/experience so that I'll have an idea of how easily/not-easily the pattern can be handled by different sorts of sewing folks.

And also, obviously, anyone who has the time to get this done in one week.

Do I have to live in the US?
Not unless you want to. All correspondence will be by email, so it doesn't matter where you live. Nothing need be posted by snail mail.

What will I need to do?
1 Print out (if you prefer a paper medium) and read the instructions in the pattern.
2 Procure the materials (fabric, thread, stuffing etc) needed.
3 Print and cut out the templates, cut out the fabric pieces, and sew them together to make the project.
4 Take a couple of clear photos (no need for fancy photoediting or SLR cameras) of the finished project from different angles - more if you want to show me certain bits that were fiddly.
5 Fill out a simple feedback form.
6 Email me the photos and the feedback.

How long do I have?
One week from the date you receive the pattern in the email.

Will you reimburse me for the cost of materials?
No. I will recompense you with my gratitude, the chance to try out the pattern before it goes on sale, and a free copy of the finished pattern.

Do I have to use the exact materials called for in the pattern?
You will need to use the same types of fabrics. If the pattern calls for duckcloth, you'll need to use duckcloth; if fleece, fleece. You do NOT have to use the same color or print. So go crazy with funky stripes or calico or Amy Butler or whoever. Or make fairy dolls with blue arms and purple faces. I don't mind if your finished projects look a bit untraditional.

Here's a list of materials that are needed for each of the projects - the actual amounts/yardage will be emailed to you in the pattern itself. Please be sure you have them or can buy them before emailing me to be a tester.

Materials for Fairy Doll
  • Felt (wool or wool blend; no acrylic or craft felt, please there are small pieces in the pattern)
  • Stuffing e.g. polyfill
  • Regular polyester sewing thread
  • Embroidery floss (or just use sewing thread)
  • Poly beads or small beans/rice.

Materials for Toadstool House
  • Canvas/Duckcloth/Home Decor-weight fabric
  • Regular cotton/ quilting cotton
  • Fusible interfacing (craft weight; aka Craft Fuse)
  • Plastic canvas (12" x 18") - buy from Michaels/JoAnn/craft store
  • Bias tape
  • Stuffing e.g. polyfill
  • Button
  • Elastic cord
  • Regular polyester sewing thread

Do I need a fancy sewing machine?
No. You'll need to use a regular presser foot and a zipper foot (but there are no zippers involved). You'll be sewing only the straight stitch, not those fancy embroidery stitches that even I don't have on my machine. And a needle for hand-sewing. And no, you don't need a serger.

Pick me! How do I sign up?
You email me at
lier.koh(at)gmail(dot)com and say

(i) which pattern (the fairy or the toadstool house) you'd like to test out.

(ii) what skill and/or experience level you consider yourself at. Use whichever criteria you think gives a good picture e.g. how long you've been sewing, or what kinds of projects you've sewn, what sort of techniques you know, what kind of fabric you've worked with etc.

I'm planning to do this on a first-come-first-served basis, but I'd also like to have testers of different skill/experience levels, so I might wait a few days before picking, especially if everyone who writes in seems to have the same sort of skill/experience.

What if I get picked and then I have a family emergency and I can't work on it after all?
Pshffft. Well, then obviously you stick with your family, silly! Just let me know so I can pick someone else. Nobody can predict these things. I'm depending on your integrity, not your superwoman-ness (or superman-ness).

Thank you in advance for your interest and help!


  1. Oh, Pick me! I have the fairy materials on hand, and have made the chicken and pig from your patterns. I sew or knit on a daily basis, so I'd say I'm an advanced beginner at least. And, I make waldorf dolls, so I'm pretty adept at doll making!

  2. That's so cute! I would love to test, but unfortunately don't have time this week :( I may have to buy the pattern when it goes on sale because my little girl loves fairies!

  3. count me in! I have sent you my details via e-mail. Love your work.

  4. Ah, too bad I'm too late ! I love it. I want one copy as soon as they get out for sale !


Thank you for talking to me! If you have a question, I might reply to it here in the comments or in an email.