Hi there! Welcome to the much anticipated interview portion of the Quilt Pattern Testing blog series. This week we’ll get to know more about a designer, a tester, and a tester that blossomed into a designer. I am confident you’ll be just as enamored with each of these ladies as I am, if you’re not already!
To begin, I’d love to introduce you to Brittany of White Plains Quilts. Brittany is a dedicated wife and mother to two boys. Her quilting journey began four years ago. She jokes that it was an “Instagram made me do it” kind of push, more appropriately a “Suzy made me do it” nudge. She finally took the plunge and has been hooked ever since.
Brittany credits writing quilt patterns as a natural step that has allowed her brain an alternative creative avenue. She has degrees in Fine Arts and Human Resource Development and has previously worked in local government as an HR representative. Currently, she is a stay at home mother and has embarked on her first year as a homeschool family. In addition to writing quilt patterns, Brittany enjoys stretching her artistic muscles by drawing digitally. She’s currently taking a CreativeLive class lead by Bonnie Christine and is investing time to learn more about Adobe Illustrator. She hopes to be able to make a quilt with her own fabric designs one day soon.
Brittany has had quite the breakout year as a Quilt Pattern Designer. She’s released two quilt patterns, “Dusk and Dawn” and “Dandelion Breeze“. On September 15th, she will celebrate her 30th birthday simultaneously with her “Autumn Harvest” quilt pattern release. Personally, I find Brittany’s style light and refreshing and I believe you’ll find, just as I did, that her personality truly shines through her designs. I am so honored to share Brittany’s take on pattern testing in a series of questions I compiled that she so kindly answered. Please enjoy!
Jordan: Roughly, how many testers do you accept per pattern?
Brittany: This has evolved through each pattern I’ve created. I have a hard time turning away anyone that wants to test for me, so I usually will take as many as I can handle. Right now I think I have about 17 testers, which from what I’ve seen is probably on the high side.
Jordan: Do you require certain skill levels of your testers? If so, what are they?
Brittany: I love having a variety of skill levels across my testers because it makes for really great feedback for me to be able to tweak the pattern. I do take beginner quilters on as testers. Their feedback is unique in the sense that they usually won’t “auto-correct” things in a pattern that an experienced quilter would look over. I do look for basic quilting/sewing skills, things like being familiar with 1/4″ seams and pressing seams correctly. I wouldn’t want anyone to take on testing a pattern as their first quilt (especially if they are completely new to sewing).
Jordan: Do you use repeat testers?
Brittany: I do! I have some amazing repeat testers!
Jordan: Share a few expectations you have for your testers.
Brittany: I’m always a little blown away that people would want to invest their time, effort and fabric to help me test a pattern. So in regards to what I ask for, I try to keep everything as simple as I can. I keep my deadlines easy to meet, I’m super flexible about what size quilt testers want to make, and I’m always fine with whatever fabrics or colors testers want to use. What I expect is feedback on the pattern and I ask for at least one well-lit photo of the quilt top. It doesn’t have to be quilted or finished by the deadline.
Jordan: How often and what format do you prefer to receive feedback?
Brittany: I used to request it in an email after the quilt top was completed to help me keep it organized. But honestly, now I really don’t mind receiving feedback in any format. I’m very informal, so I’m totally fine with any of my testers just sending a quick message on Instagram. Especially if someone thinks they’ve uncovered a math issue or an issue in the instructions that I can fix before other testers hit it.
Jordan: Can you briefly describe your tester selection process?
Brittany: I usually send out an email to previous testers first to see if any of them want to join in. I will add to my contact list of testers every once in a while to make sure my current testers are not overloaded by my patterns. Right now that just looks like a quick shoutout on Instagram.
Jordan: What are some qualities that would make you select a tester?
Brittany: If they have tested for me before. Detailed and thorough feedback. My testers that write me notes for every page of the pattern are SO appreciated. Also, testers that I can tell go the extra mile to grab some beautiful photos of their quilt tops.
Jordan: What would make you not select a tester?
Brittany: Again, I’m really flexible, and I’m a mom of two young kids, so I get life happens and people get busy. If you don’t finish a quilt top by the deadline and you let me know about it, I’m very understanding. But, completely ghosting out on testing without following up with me isn’t cool.
Jordan: What are your views on follower counts? Does the number truly matter?
Brittany: I guess it depends on why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you’re in it for business then absolutely. Bigger audience, means more exposure, means more sales. Personally, I’m just having fun with a passion project of mine. So for me, no it doesn’t matter. I love having people following along with me and making new quilting friends, but I’m definitely not focusing on that followers number.
Jordan: What benefits do your testers receive from you in return for their test contribution?
Brittany: Honestly, not much. Which is just another reason why I’m so amazed people want to help test my patterns and I’m so grateful for all my testers. They do receive a copy of the final version of the pattern they are testing for free. They don’t know this yet (surprise if you’re reading this, haha!) but I do plan on offering anyone that has tested a pattern for me in the past a special secret coupon code for the foreseeable pattern releases.
Jordan: What are some of your testing pet peeves?
Brittany: I’m not sure I have any of these yet. My biggest worry in testing is always that I’m going to send out some kind of huge error that results in people wasting and/or not having enough fabric.
Jordan: Describe your dream Tester.
Brittany: Great attention to detail. Shares great progress shots and final quilt top photos. Someone that just enjoys the process. I want people to have fun testing for me, I don’t want it to feel like an obligation or a race to the deadline.
Jordan: Do you have any advice you can share with fellow quilters that want to test patterns?
Brittany: Be on the lookout for any calls for testers and see if you can jump in! I think I am on the more informal side when it comes to pattern testing, so it is not something I require, but I have heard of designers preferring to see you have tested before. If you don’t already, start sharing photos of your work! It helps give designers a feel for your skill level and what kind of sewing you have worked on in the past. Find a designer you like and just start a conversation! I would say you may have a better chance with someone that is just starting out designing or has a smaller audience because they may not have an established contact list of testers.