Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Designer Dish

Today we are going to take a little break from the AD Challenge to talk to a few of our designers.  Several of these designers are former AD's themselves.  They started in the Betties group as Aspiring Designers (AD) and have worked their way into becoming great mentors and friends.  We asked them a little bit about their experience as designers as well as being part of the Swhetty Betties.  Check out all their inspiring stories and experiences below.

What was it like releasing your first PDF pattern?
Iridis Wrap Dress from Sofilantjes

The AD Challenge was trilling. Having the Betties on my back was really a nice thing, I was supported by other and I tried to do my best to pay forward to make all others having a great experience like mine.
-Mel @ Filles a Maman

Super scary, exciting and rewarding.  There is nothing like of putting yourself out there and hoping others will love what you do.  Some do and some don't but it is great to know others support and love your product. 
-Chelsea @ GYCT Designs

Scary but fun. I was very much afraid nobody would like my pattern or that it would be really bad. But when the comments and sales started it was so much fun! Made me proud of getting it out there. I can honestly say that I could not have done it without thethe support of the berries designers and betties testers. They where awesome. 
-Anne @ Sofilantjes

Rival Raglan Top, Tunic and Dress from GYCT Designs

It was scary, nerve wracking, emotional and whole lot more. BUT it was also a relief to get that first pattern out there and I loved the feeling of accomplishment! 
-Amanda @ Mandy K Designs

Scary but thrilling. I got a complete rush when the draft was finished, when testing was finished and when it was released. But it's a little intimidating because you never know how the pattern will do or if there's a market for your stuff. It was really nice having the Betties to springboard ideas off of, and for support along the way. 
-Rachel @ Golden Rippy

What is your favorite part about designing?  What is your least favorite part about designing?

Holiday Cutout Dress from Bella Sunshine

I love creating something from nothing. Seeing an image in my head and making it come to life. The only thing I don't like is the late nights. Because I have a young baby and a toddler, most of my work has to be done after they go to bed.
-Melissa @ Bella Sunshine

My favorite part is the collaborative effort made during the testing phase where the fruits of our labor finally start showing. I love seeing my designs sewn in so many different ways and interacting with other creative sewists:) My least favorite part is actually doing the photography of finished products! I'm much better at sewing than taking pictures.
-Kelly @ Ruby and Jack Pattern

The best part is when your fit is perfect. My least favorite part is editing the tutorial for spelling and grammar. I hate when I miss things, but am always grateful for testers who find mistakes.
-Frances @ Muffin Head Patterns

Games to Go by Shannon Mac Designs

It's a creative outlet for me, and it's awesome to think that people like the things I have made enough to buy my patterns so they can make them too!  I forgot to say my least favorite part. My least favorite is when I mess up and I have to start over. I feel like I have wasted a bunch of fabric lol I'm too cheap for that!
-Shannon @ Shannon Mac Designs

My favorite is running across something made with one of my designs on Pinterest/Facebook/Instagram. My least favorite is taking photos for the tutorial.
-Lisa @ Stubbornly Crafty

Why did you decide to become a member of the Swhetty Betties?  How has this helped you as a designer?

Strawberry Shortcake Purse by Ruby and Jack Patterns

 I wasn't sure where to start on coming a designer. I knew what I wanted to do, but not how to accomplish it. I was overwhelmed by how sweet everyone in the Betties group is. They are all so supportive and uplifting. It's nice to know you have someone cheering you on in your corner.
-Melissa @ Bella Sunshine

I joined the Betties because I was looking for a group of designers that I could talk with and learn from. I had heard about the group through some of the designer that I had met in the Pattern Workshop group. I'm so glad that I have joined because this is an incredible group of ladies and we really try and pull together to help each other be a success. I have learned so much and I have had the chance to contribute to others as well. The November AD challenge really helped me gain some footing as a designer and I will always be grateful for that opportunity.
-Linda @MCM Studio Designs

I had a few designs that I was working on but I had no idea how get started putting the finished pattern together and marketing it. I found the Betties group completely by chance and joined not quite sure what the group would be like. What I found in the Swhetty Betties is an amazing group of designers that help and encourage each other. I think it's safe to say that I probably would not have released any patterns if I hadn't found this group. Not only has the group been a great resource for designing and marketing advice, but also a great network that encourages each other and promotes each others' patterns.
-Kelly @ Kelly J Designs

Old Tyme Baseball Shirt by Dandelions N' Dungarees 

I found out about Betties Basket Sales and Promotions group first. I wanted to post on that group and accidentally found that there's a designer group behind it. After I joined this group, I realized that this group is much more than I expected. I love the support and camaraderie in this group. I love to learn and share tips with other designers.
-Kennis @ Itch 2 Stitch

Frances invited me in the beginning so I have been here from day 1. The challenges help me to stay motivated in the right direction. It is also nice to have a safe place to discuss problems and challenges that arise in the design process with other like-minded individuals. It is almost like have a group of close friends in your kitchen when you need an ear. 
-April @ Dandelions n' Dungarees

Great PDF patterns have many features, but one is that they are tested.  What advice would you give to an individual that is interested in becoming a new pattern tester?

Omega Angel Jacket from Golden Rippy

Know your limits. If you've never sewn a zipper into a garment don't sign up for a test that uses them. While designers try to make patterns easy for all levels it makes the testing go a lot easier and smoother if they aren't teaching new techniques during the test. Tests aren't the time to learn to sew with knits if you haven't before, not the first time to make a buttonhole, etc... It's heartbreaking to watch testers struggle with patterns if they are literally learning a new technique during the test. If you want to learn a new technique do it after the pattern is released...by then the pattern is perfect and they can focus on your questions.  If you still want to test, email the designer first and let her know if something is new to you or beyond your abilities...it's ultimately up to her to say yes or no, but honesty like that would go a long way.
-Rachel @ Golden Rippy

Don't be afraid to try something new. Try a zipper, but use scraps first. Practice buttonholes on scraps. ***If something comes up and you can't finish a test, pm the designer. We don't like to nag and tag. We do understand that things come up beyond your control.
-Frances @ Muffin Head Patterns
Mimi Top by Filles a Maman

Remember that a designer depends on you. Testing is more than just a challenge. A deadline or a free pattern. Testing is about fit. About instructions. Be honest about your sewing skills and expectations. And give feedback on construction,fit and everything else. You are an important part of a process that leads to pattern release.
-Anne @ Sofilantjes

Be yourself.  I know that sounds silly.  But when I look through the many individuals that sign up to test one of my patterns, I always look for those that aren't trying to hide something or pretend they can do more than they actually can.  If you have never sewn a button and I ask you if you can, tell me "No"!!  That doesn't mean I won't ever choose you, that just means maybe this test isn't for you.  I want a wide range of sewers in my testing group and  I always try to pick at least one or two testers that have never tested for anyone before.  Fresh eyes are always good eyes.  But if you aren't able to do the technique, perhaps wait until the pattern comes out to try it.
-Chelsea @ GYCT Designs

Vintage Baseball Uniform by Muffin Head Patterns

First I would say that without testers, finished pdf patterns would not be as great as they are. I appreciate the testers that let me know up front their skill set. I appreciate testers who when the test is failing, are willing to make up another sample for improved fit to make sure the pattern works once adjustments have been made. I also appreciate an honest tester who may tell me something I don't necessarily want to hear, but I need to hear . Even though I have been sewing 30 years, there may be a different way to do things.
-April @ Dandelions n' Dungarees

What advice would you give to someone looking to start designing or digitizing their designs?

The Love Bird Dress by MCM Studio Design
A someone who's just about to release her first pattern: join a FB group! Seriously, finding a group of people who will support you, encourage you, help you, and help promote your patterns is the thing that gave me confidence to take the plunge. 
-Amy @ Momma Quail Patterns

Start slowly. Be willing to learn how to digitize or hire someone to do the digitizing. Be true to yourself, don't try to please everyone. Don't be afraid to design for intermediate and advanced seamstresses.
-Frances @ Muffin Head Patterns

Don't be intimidated by a design that is similar to yours. YOUR hard work goes into YOUR pattern!! Many designers find similar designs out there AFTER they have already put an enormous amount of work into it!
English Rose by Mandy K Designs

-Denise @ Whimsy Couture

My advice would be to jump in! Everyone is new at some point. But talk to those that have done it and get advice. Proofread, have others proofread. Set it aside for a few days, or a week if you can, before you proofread, so your eyes are a little fresher.
-Shannon @ Shannon Mac Designs

Take classes and work(play) at it constantly(daily if possible) to learn, build and improve your skills, accepting you will make mistakes and that learning a the multiple and complex skills needed to make a success as an independent designer take time to accumulate.
-Pearl @ Pearl Moon

Don't let fear hold you back. Learn all you can and put yourself out there and you will succeed!

-Melissa @ Bella Sunshine

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