By Tammy Mitchell, Nancy’s Notions Guest Blogger 

When new products are being developed at Nancy’s Notions, or new books or patterns are being written, a lot of the early meetings are about the creative aspect. What will be most useful to customers? What will look nice? What will they want to use for themselves, or put in their homes, or give as gifts?

When those questions are answered, it’s time to get down to the details of how to make the projects functional, and ensure the step-by-step instructions are correct and easy to understand. Then there’s making sure they actually do what we say they’ll do. And that takes testing. Some of the testing we can do at the Nancy’s Notions office, but not all of it.

Recently I was invited to tag along while Donna Fenske, our VP of Product Development, and Diane Dhein, our Technical Writer/Editor, carted boxes of supplies to Donna’s home to test products for an upcoming book. This new book, Hot and Handy Projects features projects for the kitchen, and their ability to withstand heat is of utmost importance.

They started by preparing sets of fabrics in the way they might be layered for these projects.


Hot and Handy Projects Nancy's Notions Nancy Zieman blog



Each set used a different combination of cotton fabric, cotton batting, polyester batting, Insul-Bright, and Quilted Iron Quick.


Hot and Handy Projects Nancy's Notions Nancy Zieman blog



The purpose of the testing was to determine whether condensation formed underneath the sample sets. If it did, that meant that heat was transferring from the hot item through the fabric layers. That’s bad news, because it also means heat would transfer from the hot item to YOUR hands if you were holding a project made from those layers of fabric. If condensation didn’t form, the combination of fabrics worked well and kept heat from transferring from the hot item to anything on the other side of the project.

So we needed some hot things to test the fabric layers. Here Diane is checking to see how the pots of boiling water are coming along.


Hot and Handy Projects Nancy's Notions Nancy Zieman blog



Once the water was at a rolling boil, the pans were removed from the stove and set on small groupings of the fabric sets, making sure at least 50% of each set was covered by the pan.


Hot and Handy Projects Nancy's Notions Nancy Zieman blog



Hot pan on three samples

The pans of boiling water were left in place for at least five minutes, then returned to the stove to reheat for the second set of tests. Donna and Diane checked each layer of the sets to determine whether there was any heat or dampness and noted it on their check sheets.


Hot and Handy Projects Nancy's Notions Nancy Zieman blog



Next, each fabric set was turned over and tested from the opposite side. After all, who pays attention to which side of a potholder they grab when there’s smoke coming out of the oven?


Hot and Handy Projects Nancy's Notions Nancy Zieman blog



They followed the same procedure for these sets as they did for the first batch. After allowing the hot pans to sit on the samples for at least five minutes, Donna moved them back to the stove.


Hot and Handy Projects Nancy's Notions Nancy Zieman blog



Again, they checked each fabric set to determine heat and moisture levels.


Hot and Handy Projects Nancy's Notions Nancy Zieman blog



Donna and Diane discussed the results they each found, and shared their notes to decide which fabric combinations would work best for the projects in the upcoming book.


Hot and Handy Projects Nancy's Notions Nancy Zieman blog



When the testing was completed, and results tallied, I got two thumbs up from the product testing team. They had the information they needed to recommend the best combination of fabrics, battings, and heat-resistant fabrics for the projects in the new book.


Hot and Handy Projects Nancy's Notions Nancy Zieman blog



Look for Hot and Handy Projects coming at the end of March, or preorder your copy now.

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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