Sewing Tips

FREE Alpha-Testing

Public Service Announcement: I am offering FREE Alpha-Testing of one garment sewing pattern for any new designer planning to release a line. This is a completely confidential service, although I will keep a tally of frequent mistakes for use in a possible future post, to help others interested in starting an apparel pattern business know what to look out for.

What you will get:

  • a measurement analysis to determine if your fit and grading need adjustment
  • a walking analysis to determine if your pattern pieces line up
  • a trueing analysis to determine if your darts and corners are correct

How to participate:

  • Send me a pdf-link of your graded pattern AND (very important!) body measurement chart to: [email protected] (if it is not yet scanned/digitized, send me an email and I’ll give you my mailing address where you can send a paper copy)

Why I’m doing this: I heard through the grapevine that a reader knows SAHMs “too scared to venture to be a designer because I will  write a review on them”. Let me reply to that:

  • It’s flattering to think that this tiny, fledgling, baby blog….with under 200 subscribers….has any sort of clout in the enormous world of home-sewing, but I’ll take it. Thank you (sort of).
  • What’s not flattering is the assumption that I am out to hurt anyone’s business. I’ve never written a post for the purpose of trashing or applauding a pattern: I use a pattern as an example to explain adjustments that I would make, based on personal experience or to investigate questions asked of me by other sewists. I don’t accept free patterns, and I have no affiliate links.
  • I’m a SAHM too, with a small business (not this blog, I make zero income from this): I do freelance technical design and pattern alpha-testing, I have an Etsy shop and run an alterations business. I applaud anybody helping to continue the fine tradition of home-sewing by designing and selling patterns.
  • At the same time, I’m looking out for the customers who buy patterns. This blog was started with the encouragement of a FB group of pattern-reviewers who support each other out by sharing their experiences about patterns they’ve invested in, and ask each other  how to fix fitting or construction issues. Just as the SAHM designer wants to make money selling patterns, a far FAR greater number of sewists want to avoid wasting money (and time!) on poorly-made or badly-fitting projects.  I’m on a budget, too. I retired from 20 years in the apparel industry when my (differently-abled) daughter was born, and gave up a substantial salary to be home with her. I have to be careful of what I spend money on just like everybody else. If I can help somebody fix a sewing problem, I will: a blog allows me to go into greater detail than a FB post.
  • What breaks my heart is hearing sewists blame themselves for an unsuccessful outcome of a sewing project, if the source of the problem is not the stitching but rather the pattern. Selling un-tested patterns is not kind.

So here’s a message to any new pattern designers who might find this:

  • If you’re not ready to be reviewed by the public, you’re probably not ready to start your business. You may need more time to build up confidence, or further master your craft. Hint: if you haven’t yet established your body measurement chart, you’re not ready to publish patterns.
  • You’re going to be reviewed anyway, the instant a customer purchases your product, so get used to that idea. Let’s say you start an Etsy shop: every customer receives an automatic email from Etsy encouraging them to review their purchase. Even if you give away a free pattern on a blog, people are going to share their opinion about it. Same as sharing info about restaurants, music, movies, books: good product or bad, word travels fast on FB, IG, Yelp, YouTube, etc.  There are hundreds of sewing blogs, some with many thousands of followers.
  • Feedback is your friend. How else will you grow, and improve your product, if you don’t have any idea what customers like or dislike about it?

Well that’s about it. If for some crazy reason I get inundated with requests, of course I’ll need to cut this offer off (an alpha-review is very time-consuming).  But until that happens, if you or somebody you know wants a FREE CONFIDENTIAL review, the offer stands. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

July 7, 2016 update: Just made a connection with a new designer who has a couple of patterns in the works for a very under-served sewing category….I’m so excited to be part of her adventure!


  • Bunny

    Janet, you never cease to impress me. I can vouch that you neither trash or applaud the patterns you discuss. But your skill at showing us all how to make them better is generous and proven.

    I cannot believe this is FREE. This is a wonderful way to help get better quality designs out there. Thanks for all your efforts.

  • [email protected]

    Thanks Bunny! I’m pretty excited, I already have one request from a SAHM who has a few patterns in the works, and the best part is that her designs are in categories that are under-served. You know, there are many, many sewists who volunteer their time with sewing projects, so why not volunteer some time with design and patternmaking? I’ve been so very blessed with opportunities, and this is a tiny chance to pass along a bit of knowledge…and hopefully give somebody a boost of confidence as well.

  • Joost De Cock

    I am interested in your generous offer, but I’m not certain it is entirely relevant to me.
    More precisely:

    – a measurement analysis to determine if your fit and grading need adjustment -> I don’t have ‘sizes’ so there is no grading.
    – a walking analysis to determine if your pattern pieces line up -> I typically make sure they are calculated to differ 0.5mm or less
    – a trueing analysis to determine if your darts and corners are correct -> For reasons that are technical (I could explain, but it would be lengthy) I have cut that corner. I know it’s not correct.

    That being said, I am certain your knowledge and experience would be useful. I’m just not sure that the patterns I make fall under your free offer.
    If they do, here’s one:


  • [email protected]

    Ah Joost! Your patterns are way beyond need of testing. My apologies for this late reply….I was not familiar with your work, and now I’ve been watching your videos. (My husband asked me what I was watching, because “He sounds like me, a bit” …my husband is from Eindhoven). Also he wants me to make him your shirt, so that is on my “to-do” list! And now I’m fascinated by how you make your patterns. Is this a program that you wrote? I’ve never heard of anyone offering personal patterns at no cost….I’m fascinated and confused at the same time….

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