Dear Indie Pattern Designer,
First, I want you to know that I LOVE that you are out there, providing more choices and variety. As a stitcher and habitual pattern buyer and stasher, I very selfishly want you to succeed. And, as a former business owner, I know running your own company is not as easy as it looks from the sidelines. So please know that what follows are suggestions and constructive criticisms that are meant to be helpful and not mean-spirited.
So, deep breath, here we go ...
You have a website/store, so please carve out a spot there where I can learn about your processes, your training, your vision. I want to know if you're the designer and the patternmaker, or whether you outsource patternmaking, which is really OK, but if so, tell me how you oversee that. I want to know if you're formally trained, self-taught, or somewhere in between (sewing, designing, patternmaking ... all of them). I want to know what inspired you to take this leap. I want to know where you're going.
Test, test, test. And proactively. Seek out testers from all experience levels (and even body types), and make sure you get them. Make contacts directly and don't just wait for volunteers to catch a blog post asking for sign-ups because some of your best potential testers may miss a post or two, or even your entire blog. Provide your testers with an actual process of what and how to test. Make sure you check in with them and encourage an open dialog, even, and especially, if things aren't going well for them. Don your thick skin and encourage them to find errors, in both your instructions and the pattern pieces. Don't wait for your first round of paying customers to be the guinea pigs. Sure you can tease us with pics from your testers, but don't sell us a pattern until the tests (and press checks) are complete and the corrections have been made.
And because mistakes inevitably do sneak through from time to time, plan for it in advance. Create an errata webpage for each design and provide the URL in the pattern instructions as the first step (and keep that page updated).
If you offer downloadable/PDF versions of your pattern, make sure you test that too.Pay attention to where important pattern landmarks fall between the pages and adjust your layout if necessary.
Think about those who blend between sizes with an eye toward nesting different sizes whenever you can.
Tell your customers what body (and bust) type you're designing for, and provide finished measurements for bust-waist-hip so there is a jumping off point for individual alterations and expectations. And then be consistent throughout all of your styles.
And, finally, consider your price points and the expectations created. Do your patterns fully deliver? If they do, I'm fine with the price. But if not ....
Thanks for reading. I'm looking forward to your next release!
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Dear Indie Pattern Designer,