The Blog

Fabric Tester, WTF Is That?

Blair Valley

Have you ever heard of fabric testing? I'm not sure how new this term is but when I stepped into the dark underbelly of the Facebook sewing world in 2013 I saw how it became a coveted position. 

Let me explain fabric testing as I've come to understand it. 

Back in 2012/13 I was deep in the co-op world for cloth diapers and baby legs when I saw a Facebook post from Bamboo, Hemp, and Reprints about their pre-order for a custom knit fabric called Unicorns in the Rain.

"Are you freaking kidding me?" I thought "What is this magical shit?" I quickly joined the group but as a cautious, penny pinching, mom I waited to see how the preorder played out. 

Unicorn in the Rain

(The print that sucked me into the world of custom fabric. Please note that the quality of custom knit has come a long, looong way since this print. Fabric bases and print quality have improved 1000%.)

It, the preorder, didn't go well. When the fabric came in it was realized, a bit too late, that it was poplin and not the jersey knit everyone thought they were ordering.

And slowly after that more problems in the custom fabric world emerged and the potential customers became more hesitant to purchase from a new fabric designer. How could the customer tell if the designer was telling the truth about the quality of the fabric? I mean, of course the designer is going to say it's the most buttery soft,  delicious, *fabric ever. There was a lot of mistrust, and rightly so but I won't get into the nitty gritty of that right meow.

*For awhile there, in the Facebook sewing community, fabric was described very similar to food. Please enjoy, or detest, the memories that this description may bring up for you.

So new fabric designers were faced with some serious trust issue from their potential customers. How could a new fabric designer prove they had the good stuff and get customers when the customers weren't giving them a shot?

Now I'm not sure if fabric quality issues were the sole reason fabric testing became a thing. I'm sure the amazing advertising potential also had something to do with it.

Okay, so what is fabric testing? I mean if you don't know you're probably getting frustrated if you've managed to read this far. Here's is my very generic description of it.

Fabric Testing - Fabric is sent to seamstress to sew, photograph, and spam (aka advertise) during the preorder and retail sale of the fabric. The seamstress provides feedback to the fabric designers on quality. The ultimate goal is that the fabric tester will be able to let the designer know if there are issues with the fabric prior to the preorder opening. Some issues these amazing seamstresses catch are grainy images, spelling/grammar errors, low quality fabric base (doesn't hold up to washing and immediately pills or fades), etc. 

Fabric testing is pretty amazing and most seamsters I know jump at the chance to test fabric and those that don't get chosen are sometimes quite bitter. 

I've seen a lot of complaints over the years from seamstresses that don't get picked. They post about how unfair it is that the same people get chosen or why did so-and-so get chosen when they're pictures are awful. Sometimes the dark underbelly of our sewing community can be quite **cruel.

I never understood how a fellow seamster could bash a tester's photo.They must not realize how much time and effort went into not only thinking of something to sew, but to sew it and then photograph it? Maybe? Maybe they're just a bitter asshole. I don't know. Okay see, now I'm rambling. Sorry it's always bothered me when someone shits on another works. 

**Please don't take away from this blog post that the dark underbelly of the Facebook sewing community is cruel. Like all things in life there is good and evil. I've seen some pretty amazing and loving acts emerge from our community and perhaps later I'll get into that. 

I currently test for The Fabric Cottage ( but have tested for a few other designers in the past. I don't take my testing lightly. I can't. This designer is counting on me to make something, photograph it, and then advertise it in a way that will entice customers to preorder it. 

It's a big deal!

So this week in The Blog I'll be writing about working on finalizing the draft of the Seattle Sleep Mask pattern that is inspired by my latest ***strike off from The Fabric Cottage. And, guess what, the Seattle Sleep Mask will be a free pattern.

***Strike Off - The bit of fabric the fabric host purchases to test quality. 

Okay, I love you, bye!


fuck off sleepy panda knit fabric and sewing scissors

(The strike off from The Fabric Cottage that inspired the Seattle Sleep Mask.)


Continue reading about my adventures in fabric testing!

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1 comment

  • Wow, I love this blog!! You’re so real and down to Earth and…I seem to like smart funny intelligent and genuinely good and nice people …I know you’re telling ALL about FABRIC TESTING here but you’re personality also stands our so much!!! Luvvv it!! Thank u for a better understanding of fabric testing!!

    Stacy Ryan

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