My second time working with pattern testers was for the Totality Quilt. Seeing how other quilters interpret the pattern and hearing all the critiques about how the pattern is written has been my most favorite part of pattern writing so far!
When I’m writing a pattern, the most important thing to me is that I am serving my audience. The goal of collecting information from testers is to try to get a better understanding of the real-time, real-life experience of what thoughts are running through one’s head as they follow the pattern. With this information, I can make better decisions about how the information is organized to provide the most complelling quilt-making experience.
Here are a couple of interesting changes that I was able to make with the help of my testers:
- The Width of Fabric (WOF) for the Mini size quilt was originally written to use to 18″ side of the Fat Quarter (FQ) as the WOF. One of the testers pointed out that because of the number of pieces needed for each fabric, using the longer 22″ side was a more efficient use of fabric.
- In a new pattern I’m working on, I calculated the fabric needed for the Mini size using both 18″ and 22″ WOF to see which one was more efficient. Turns out using 18″ WOF is going to use less fabric in this pattern. It is an extra step for my process, but really only takes at most 20 minutes so I’m happy to do it!
- The Half-Quarter-Square Triangle instructions now include a photograph showing how to use a ruler and rotary cutter to trim the HSTs. Originally I had included a vector image and instructed to draw a line on the diagonal and then measure 1/4″ to one side and trim. Technically it isn’t much different, but the photograph makes it much easier to grasp the technique.
- I dropped the abbreviation ‘STSQ’ to refer to the Starting Squares used to assemble Half-Square Triangles using the 2-at-a-Time method. I am instead assigning alphanumeric identifiers to each of the pieces in the pattern. For Totality, the STSQs are now called ‘A-Squares’. On its own, I liked using ‘STSQ’, but as I’m expanding my library of pattern terminology it was becoming more difficult to fit new terms into this system without increasing the cognitive load.
A stretch goal I have with my pattern writing is to create a set of instructions that a quilter can follow which leaves nothing to wonder, no confusion about why you’re cutting pieces in a certain order, no diagrams that are hard to interpret, no steps or terms that are difficult to understand, etc. I want it to just make sense.
I think of it less as striving for perfection and more of something I’m paying attention to and trying to continuously push the needle in a certain direction. There is no minimum amount it needs to move, no milestones I need to hit…actually ‘certain direction’ is a bit misleading. It implies that I know what direction I need to go, which I don’t. So maybe a more accurate way to state my goal is just to say that I want to continuously be trying something new, something I have thoughtfully considered and believe will provide a better experience. Whether it works or not, though interesting and important to pay attention to and learn from, I am still meeting my goal just by trying.
By this measure, Totality is already a success!
Here is a look at some of the tester’s work from the #TotalityQuilt feed on Instagram:
Thanks for reading and Happy Quilting!
If you are interested in paper patterns or wholesale opportunites, please send me a message!