Quilt Pattern Testing: Etiquette

quilt pattern testing

Hi there! Welcome back to the Quilt Pattern Testing series. I am elated that the introductory post was received so well. Many of you found it helpful and I am so pleased. Keep sending me your success stories, I love hearing from you!

Today, I’d like to gear our discussion towards etiquette. From my conversational research, I’ve gathered that the quilting community is not immune to a lemon or two. Some of the testing stories shared in confidence would earn a lashing from Emily Gilmore herself. Allowing as much grace as I can muster, I lean into the idea that, perhaps, we tend to forget that quilting is actually a livelihood for some.

Imagine that you’re a quilt pattern designer. You’ve finally summoned the courage to release your hard work into the world. Testers are meticulously selected and all have accepted your invitation. Soon, thoughtful and constructive feedback will flood your inbox.

What if I told you that one of those testers won’t be bothered to construct a quilt top? Or one of them disappears into thin air? Or much, much worse… one of them actually steals your blood, sweat and tears and releases it for purchase under their own brand? Queue Emily Gilmore’s wrath.

So, how can we mend the lax attitudes? First and foremost, we can talk about it. I’d bet that those of you reading this are just as appalled as I am writing it. 


Next, we can encourage decency by revisiting basic principles of good manners. With this post, I intend to do just that.

Next, we can encourage decency by revisiting basic principles of good manners.

Want to be an honest and thoughtful pattern tester? Here are a few recommendations.


Don’t accept an invitation if you cannot commit 100%. Sure, life happens. And if it puts you out of the game, notify the designer immediately. A timely notification may allow the designer to tag in a back up tester. One day, that back up tester may be YOU. Show decency.


Don’t disappear. Made popular by sketchy boyfriends, ghosting has actually reached the quilting world. Makers are accepting quilt pattern tests and then vanishing without a trace. The trouble is, well… we still see you. It’s not a good look. So, show up. Sew on. Show decency.


Be Punctual. Being late isn’t cute. When a designer issues a deadline for feedback, abide by it. If life throws you a curveball, duck and then promptly request a reasonable extension. Show decency.


Read all correspondence, emails and group messages, without any tone. Read the previous sentence again. Let it soak in a moment. Sewing is an emotional exercise. It’s not uncommon to read too much into someone’s response or direction. Test groups are often filled by complete strangers. While it can be difficult to communicate effectively in our virtual world, I encourage you to try reading communication without emotion, bias, or tone. Show decency.


Say thank you. I enjoy sending and receiving handwritten notes, but if that isn’t possible, email works too. If you’re a designer, express your gratitude individually. If you’re a tester, voice how grateful you are for the opportunity to assist in the launch of their pattern. Show appreciation for one another. There is power in a simple thank you. Show decency.


Politely decline. I have a cardinal rule for testing. If I don’t like the pattern, I don’t test it. Newsflash! It’s perfectly permissible to politely decline a testing opportunity. Expressing your distaste or offering an improvement idea is not necessary — a thankful response stating that you are unable to participate at this time will suffice. The reason behind my cardinal rule? Morals. These days, most quilt pattern tests are shared on social media as a form of advertisement, for both the designer and tester. Influencing someone to spend their hard earned money on something you wouldn’t purchase yourself is wrong. Exposure is an important part of social media growth but remaining genuine is much more important. Designers deserve constructive feedback from invested makers that believe in their design. Testers deserve to invest their time and materials in a pattern they love and can wholeheartedly support. I don’t care if the Queen of Quilts calls, you do you. Show yourself decency.


Pattern testing is a really fun quilting perk, but should also be considered an opportunity to bestow professionalism and accountability to another maker like yourself.


Bottom line – show decency,


P.S. Do you have suggestions of how we can practice good manners in the quilt testing circle? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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