Tuesday, March 13, 2012

So you want to write a pattern {part 1}

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After my last post about selling patterns on Craftsy, I got a lot of questions about writing and selling patterns.  I'm no expert but I thought I'd answer some of the questions here.  I'm sure there are lots of ways to go about this... this is just how I do it. :)

How do I get my design and thoughts from my head onto paper?

Carry a sketchbook with you all the time.  My favorite is this kind of Moleskine sketchbooks.  I know that some like the plain paper but I really like the squared pages.  It makes drawing out blocks a lot easier for me. 

If you see a design or something that inspires a design stop and take a picture of it.  Even better, if you have the time stop and sketch a simple design.

Once you have a block or overall design, make a mock-up of the quilt.  I have always used paper and pencils but I finally invested in EQ7 that should be on my doorstep any day.  I'm excited to learn to use this program but I don't think that I will ever completely move away from sketching designs on paper.

Don't be afraid to sketch a mistake!  If you don't draw it {on paper or on computer} you won't ever have the chance to see what something looks like or know if you have a great quilt idea.

How do I get my design from paper and into quilt/pattern form?

First, a side note... I know that some patterns are designed without ever actually making the quilt.  Some of these pattern writers can probably get away with it but some of the most frustrating patterns I've worked with are those that never show an actual quilt; just a mock up.  For me, I need to make the quilt to know that my process and instructions are accurate.

With that being said, once you have your design... try it out!  Make a block with scraps.  Fine tune your process so you can show your reader the most efficient way to make the block and in turn, the quilt.  I always write down each step as I go so that it's easier to write the pattern after the quilt top is done.

The next step after completing at least the quilt top is the technology part of all of this... pictures, PDFs, etc.  I'll include all of that in {part 2} after I consult Steve, my tech support.  And last but not least, {part 3} will include protecting your designs and the fun part, selling them.

I hope this has been helpful so far and answers a few questions!


Shanna said...

Thank you so much for posting about this! I have a sketchbook full of ideas...without knowing exactly how to get it in pattern format. Can't wait for Part 2 and 3!

The Tulip Patch said...

About those quilts that are only mock ups and not a single one is made,I agree...if you don't feel inspired to make it, why should someone else???? On that note- I read on Pat Sloan's blog (about getting your stuff published in magazines) is that you will never get anywhere in the publishing world unless you have actually made the quilt. People are incredibly visual in that industry. Just another aspect of pattern writing- getting publishing.

Live a Colorful Life said...

I am SO glad you are doing this series. With all the latest "stuff" going on with legal issues on pinterest, is it okay to save this on my "tutorial" board on pinterest?

Madame Samm said...

Ohhh Jennifer great advice...I cannot even count how many patterns I have purchased that were never quilts, just drawing....they never came out like you would expect...sew good for you for sharing your tidbits..sew proud of you

Kristie said...

Hey Jennifer! Great idea for a post. I have a quilt pattern I have been working on, and while I have written lots of tutorials, I still have some questions about writing an actual pattern...plus I don't have a ton of process pictures for this one. May ask you for a "consult" to read through if you wouldn't mind! Also very interested to learn what you know about protecting/ copywriting the finished product! Will stay tuned :)


Melanie@Crafty Cupboard said...

I just finished binding a quilt that I intended to write a pattern for... until I realized that my seams didn't match and the points were cut off of my half-rectangle blocks. The idea is cute, it is the quilt math that kills me! Oh well, maybe I can just sell the quilt for cheap :)

Allison said...

thanks so much for righting this series! I'm looking forward to part 2 :)

Becky said...

Thanks for posting this!!

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