Excited to share this next update. We’re into the integration phase of the Creative Informatics (University of Edinburgh) funded project to develop a bespoke quilt pattern generator, and hope to be usability testing mid-February.
It’s been the busiest of starts to a new year so this blog sets out some of the things I’ve been focusing on since the last update.
Traditionally, developing a pattern would mean working on the design and construction instructions, then setting out the fabric requirements and cutting instructions. You would then take the pattern to testers, adjust on the basis of their feedback and release. Easy!
The combination of working with a computer programmer and including data to create to a bespoke pattern generator ultimately makes this process a little more complicated.
In order for the pattern to be integrated into the website, that traditional phase of pattern testing (described above) becomes an initial stage that needs to happen before the pattern passes to the developer. While the whole pattern doesn’t need to be tested, block construction and cutting instructions really need to be correct at this stage. More thanks will follow later but I’m incredibly grateful to all the pattern testers contributing to this project so far, for piecing enthusiastically (and quickly) and offering their considered suggestions.
The second main phase of testing, which I’m organising just now, will focus on the usability of 'Quiltbot' (the quilt pattern algorithm) once it’s integrated into the website. How will quilters experience the website/Quiltbot interface? Is sufficient information given at each stage to understand what to do? How will the visualisations of different quilt sizes be received? What needs to change in the interface in order to make the process as understandable and straightforward as possible?
Handing over a full pattern just after the busy festive period has been challenging. In real terms, this is a part-time project undertaken by a full-time mum with another part-time role. I’m actually not sure how I’ve managed to add so many in-kind hours to this venture in the last month. Although the day I spent 14 hours at my sewing machine piecing the first prototype will stay with me for a while!
My approach to moving forward throughout has been to analyse the assumptions I’ve made, seek advice where I can, and break down the larger challenges in to a series of manageable decisions. Not always that simple and I realise not all of the decisions I make will be the right ones. They might be speculative but they will be timely and based on (hopefully) having the majority of the information available. Baby steps are important. Small movements forward, not always in the right direction and sometimes with a stumble, but progress nonetheless..