The value of a pattern editor

When a designer develops a new knitting, sewing or quilting pattern to bring to the marketplace, they generally enlist the help some pattern testers and a pattern editor.

The testers follow the steps exactly as written by the designer and construct a sample project from beginning to end. Feedback is sent to the designer who then incorporates the suggestions into a draft that is then sent on to the pattern editor.

The primary goal of a pattern editor is to make sure that the pattern designer’s instructions MAKE SENSE!

As a pattern editor, I check 3 areas:

(1) Grammar, spelling and punctuation;
(2) Sequence, flow and wording of the designer’s directions and visuals aids (plus I check math calculations); and
(3) Overall presentation against the master style sheet (font choice & size, vocabulary, format, etc.).

For a new pattern designer, a large chunk of time is spent developing a style sheet – or what do they want the final product to look like? A pattern appearing in a quilt magazine will look different from a printed pattern purchased at the local quilt shop.  You have to make certain to follow the publisher’s guidelines.

Once all of these decisions are made, the bulk of my time is focused on the instructional aspect of the pattern. I print out a hard copy of the pattern draft and go through it line by line with a colored pen.  Depending on the designer, I will either make edits to a Word file using the track changes feature, or simply scan and email my handwritten notes as a pdf attachment. Occasionally, I will make a sample block just to check things. The designer and I may go through this back and forth process 2-3 times before we declare it “done.” Usually, the final pass is just a quick once over before the pattern goes out for publication.

I always keep in mind that this the designer’s pattern – not mine. They may accept all, some or none of my suggested changes. My goal is to help the designer sell cute patterns with well-written instructions. It’s a win-win for both of us. The more patterns she sells, the more likely she is to develop future patterns and hire me again as her pattern editor.

If you’d like to see the results of my most recent collaboration check-out Summercrafter’s patterns.

P.S. The reason for all of this is that I downloaded a supposedly “absolute beginner kid-friendly project” to make as a sample for our upcoming kid’s sewing camp and I now have to re-write half of the directions. I have been sewing for 30+ years off and on and I couldn’t figure out the construction method featured in the project directions. Someone call a pattern editor stat!!

One thought on “The value of a pattern editor

  1. Great post in letting people know what you are doing Teresa! Thanks for the plug too. 🙂 I had a couple of Instagrammers ask “how I did it” so maybe soon you’ll get more business. I sent them to Morna too. Everyone thinks it’s a snap! I COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU. The OTHER eyes see everything. Looking forward to sending you more patterns as soon (not that soon) as they are ready.

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