A Survey for Sewists

I want to know how sewists use digital sewing patterns.  I wonder what my potential customer’s expectations are, what they expect to see within my digital pattern.  I also wonder “what are the little things that annoy my potential customer about digital patterns”.  How can I make my patterns better so my customers will keep coming back to my patterns?  I know there are a few things that annoy me about digital .pdf patterns.  Do they annoy other sewists as well?  Should I make an effort to try to solve some of those annoying little things in my designs?

The best way, I determined, to learn user behaviors and get a feel for how home sewists are using digital patterns was to ask my questions by conducting a survey.  The survey would be short, nothing scientific or worthy of a research prize.

First, I needed to identify a group of users.  It’s easy at an academic library or department store or a local restaurant to survey your customers.  One simply adds a survey to the bottom of the sales receipt or emails users an online survey.  How do I locate digital pattern users?  The pattern’s very nature causes their users to be isolated.  Facebook groups are formed for fans of many pattern authors but how do I reach out to a broader group of pattern users?  When identifying an easy group of digital pattern users to reach I thought of pattern testers.  There is a general Facebook group for pattern testers.  It is a group of over 1000 members that connects independent pattern designers with pattern testers. This is the group that I chose to survey.

I wrote up a survey of questions and posted a call within the Facebook group for anyone interested in answering a few questions. The survey was far from scientific.  It contained some very basic questions about how a sewist typically uses digital .pdf patterns and what may or may not be a source of frustration for them.

Here are my questions:

  1. Do you print pdf patterns?
  2. Do you print all or selected pattern pages?
  3. If you print, do you print in black & white or color?
  4. Do you tape the printed pages together?
  5. What device do you view your digital patterns on?
  6. Do you prefer a visual illustration of some type?
  7. Do you prefer line drawings or high-resolution photos?
  8. If you could have one wish granted to make .pdf patterns easier to use, what would it be?
  9. If you could tell pattern designers one thing, as a pattern tester, what would it be?

The response to my survey was amazing.  There were over 80 respondents and all of them had something to say about various aspects of .pdf patterns.

A pattern tester’s objective is to sew the item using the pattern instructions.  Their feedback to the designer is centered around the construction and errors in the steps or typos.  I don’t believe pattern testers often get the chance to comment on the entire digital pattern process as a whole.

So over the next several posts, I will be revealing my findings in an effort to, if nothing else, start some very real conversations about how modern technology needs to be applied to sewing.

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