Photography for Testers Part 1: General Tips


I love pattern testing. It has fueled my passion for sewing and, for the most part, is how I learned to sew. It has also renewed my love of photography! The photography part of pattern testing is what seems to intimidate testers the most. Here at Pickle Toes Patterns, we don’t expect everyone to take professional quality photos. They do, however, need to be nice, clear photos that showcase the pattern. Great photos can be taken without expensive equipment. It’s all in knowing how to use the tools you have!

Think of it in terms of sewing. Yes, a serger and coverstitch will make constructing your garment easier and quicker, but you can create something just as beautiful with a regular sewing machine! You just have to know how! It’s the same with photography. Today begins our series on photography for pattern testers. I will be doing weekly posts on different aspects of photography. We will cover topics such as choosing a location, posing, lighting (both natural and flash), and photographing kids. My goal is not to turn everyone into professional photographers, but to give you tips and pointers to take great photos with any camera. We will ease into the subject with some general tips for testing and preparing to take your final photos.

Prepping to sew


Fabric Selection

Always make sure you choose fabric appropriate to the pattern. Ensure that it has the correct stretch and recovery for knits. For wovens, make sure to use one of the suggested types listed. Not all wovens will work all the time. Also, try to use the same type (or stretch) of fabric for fits and finals. Your results will be much more consistent this way.

I try to plan ahead with my fabric selection and how and where I will photograph my final garment. I say try, because, let’s face it, sometimes life happens and things don’t go as planned. Especially in my world! This is in no way required, but if you think about how you will photograph your final before you sew, you’re much more likely to have some creative ideas (at least for me).


Getting Your Model Prepared for Photos

Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference. Like taking a few minutes to make sure your model is neat and presentable. Make sure your model’s hair is brushed and not covering any important details of the design (collars, buttons, etc). Before you take your photos for finals, get yourself ready like you would if you were going to have your picture taken. Any accessories, including shoes, should be appropriate to the style/design. Last, but not least, wear good fitting undergarments. It does make a difference!

For kids, most of these same tips apply. Hair brushed and not covering important details, appropriate shoes, washed faces. All of the same things you would do if you were having a professional take their photos.


Your Finished Garment

Fix any sewing mistakes you might have made. Yes, it can be a pain, I know! But, it’s necessary and appreciated! Press your garment!! I cannot stress this enough!! It only takes a few minutes and is probably one of the most important things you can do to make your garment stand out. Not doing so can make it look as if the pattern has fit issues when there aren’t any, or even that you sewed something incorrectly. So...iron. Please!

 Flat lay



Let’s talk a little about location in general. I will go into more detail about location and lighting next week. But for now, we’ll go over some things to keep in mind when selecting your location.

When taking final photos, you want a nice, clutter free background. No pictures in your messy sewing room. If outside, try to find an area free of distracting objects. For example, if you’re taking photos on your patio, try not to have outdoor furniture or toys in the photo. Move things if possible. Sweep if needed. If nothing else, clear a spot by a fence or the side of the house. This is much preferable to a cluttered background.

When taking photos with trees or bushes, or even light posts, in the background please make sure that you move slightly to the side so your model doesn’t have a tree or light post growing out of their head! I see this all the time! And yes, I am guilty of this one, too. I have quite a few photos like this because I am in such a rush, usually with my kids.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind as you go through the testing process and prepare for your final photos. Next week I will go into more detail about selecting your location, as well as, lighting. These two topics definitely go hand in hand. I hope you enjoyed my post today and if there are any specific photography topics you’d like to see in this series, please leave a comment and I will try my best to include them.