What goes into a review?9:52 PM
Have you ever wondered how I decide what things to include in my reviews? Have you ever wondered how I decide what patterns I review? Take a...
Have you ever wondered how I decide what things to include in my reviews? Have you ever wondered how I decide what patterns I review? Take a look behind the scenes (or inside my head so to speak) to see how I build the content here.
So let's start at the VERY beginning. The Pattern. When I'm deciding on a blog post I need a pattern.
Sometimes, it is a pattern I've been testing for a designer. The truth is, I don't always blog the patterns I test. I do try to blog many of them. I think it is part of the reason designers choose me to test. BUT, sometimes I don't. Sometimes, the design doesn't turn out the way I expected. Sometimes my model hates the look and therefore the modeled photos are complete crap. Sometimes my life happens and I'm just unable to complete my job. Sometimes the design is bad... o.O Now when I test, I'm sure to give all of my feedback to the designer. It is up to them to decide whether they want to take my suggestions or not.
As a kindness to the designer's that have me test, I won't write a bad review when a pattern first releases. I also won't actively promote it if I can't say good things. That seems a happy middle ground. Now, chances are, I'll never sew up the pattern again, so it is safe to say, my review for that pattern will never see the light of day. Is this a disservice to you my reader? Maybe. But I don't want to burn too many bridges.
Now other times, I've actually searched out a pattern and said, I want to review this. I will ask the designers for a free copy to review. They're often very generous. I appreciate their generosity. Much like a test, if a designer gives me a paid pattern for free for review, I will do my best to provide a good honest review. If I run into problems with the pattern, I'm sure to put small things in my review. BUT, if there are big glaring errors, I bring those issues up to the designer. They have the option at that time to have me go through with the review as is, all negative comments included, or wait for them to make revisions. I can't make anyone make revisions and sometimes they believe their pattern is too awesome to need an update. Up to them. If I can manage to create a finished garment from the instructions I try to still do the review. Sometimes I can't even get that far. :/
Rarely, I do use patterns I've paid for. Those are mostly things I've purchased in the past, but a few more recent ones because I didn't want to wait and miss a sale! I would still contact a designer with any issues with the pattern.
If you really want to know about how I feel about a pattern that hasn't been reviewed here, PLEASE, send me a message. I'll be glad to disclose whether I've sewn a pattern and my thoughts on it. If I haven't, I'd be very glad to check with the designer to see if doing a review is something they'd be interested in.
When I'm picking fabric for a review/pattern test I try to follow the designer's suggestions for fabric. Usually, I'm doing a triple review (using each of my 3 willing models), so then I'm more willing to do more playing with the pattern, because I can be sure that at least 1 of those items will turn out "right."
In my ideal world, I try to use fabrics from different fabric shops in my reviews. That's mostly for my own self promotion.
Good patterns should have a good measurement chart in the instructions. Depending on the garment, this can include height, chest, over bust, full bust, waist, high hip, hip, inseam, outseam, arm length, shoulder to hip, knee or ankle, etc. I ALWAYS remeasure myself or my kids before I start a new review. No doubt, this is a pain, but my kids keep growing. And nothing will make me madder than spending time on a garment that doesn't fit! So measure, EVERY time. Even if you just measured your kid yesterday, measure them again. And of course, match those measurements up with the chart in your pattern. I NEVER just go by their RTW size, or the size they wore in another pattern from the same designer, etc.
When I'm doing a review, I do my best to follow all of the instructions like I was a complete newbie. If a pattern doesn't say to top stitch, under stitch or stay stitch, I don't. I follow the exact seam allowances and construction according to the instructions. I'm experienced enough that rarely do I need to follow any instructions, but I feel like my readers need to know whether they can realistically put these together following the instructions. I know for many of you, you aren't ready to go forth without instructions. That's ok.
When I do stray from the instructions, I try to point out what things I did differently. Usually my variations are simple things that anyone could do. Most of my variations are shortcuts so that I can churn out more garments more quickly.
Photographing and Typing the Review
My notes are the most important part of the review. The things i take most note of:
- Do the pages tape together properly. If this part fails, its guaranteed the rest of the sewing process will go wrong.
- Do the pattern pieces match up at all seam lines.
- Do all intersections use proper angles? Did you know the reason why so many patterns have little triangle bits that need to be cut off is because the intersecting lines don't line up properly? No doubt it is easier to just trim these little bits off. But that is the sign of a less experienced pattern designer. Not necessarily a bad thing. Just something to take note of and see if it effects other parts of the design.
- Can I follow the garment from start to finish using the instructions? Where were there problems?
- Does the garment fit as expected from product descriptions and marketing photos?
- Are there fit wrinkles? Are these wrinkles due to the model or the pattern?
Once I've got my notes all done and photos edited, I start the blog post. You know how those look. I try to include anything that really stands out about a pattern. Positives and negatives. I try my best to give EVERY pattern a list for improvements. Some of them are personal preference finishing techniques. These are mostly notes for me to remember for the next time I sew the pattern. Some are simple modifications that anyone could do to make the pattern either faster or easier to sew.
I hope this helps both designers and my readers understand what I'm looking for in a good pattern. Check back tomorrow as I'll again be reviewing a free t-shirt pattern.