My Design Process

As I start writing up my patterns to publish , I started to really pinpoint how my design process works. There is room for improvement as with any process but it was nice taking the opportunity to focus on how I do things. To show you how I progress I will use pictures from my latest swap quilt. 

Step 1. Gain inspiration. 

I am a member of various FB groups including “Quilting” “UK Quilters United” “EPP Addicts” “Gotta Love Quilting”. Also I am an active member of Instagram where I follow a large number of crafters and designers. PINTREST- I don’t need to explain more than that. Then there are magazine and books. I don’t really have a particular style. I see quilts I like and save them for a later date. 

Step 2. Draw the design. 

I have several methods for this. 

A. Square Paper 

My square paper notebook is never far from my side. In fact, I have two. An A4 hardback that stays at home and a small paperback that is kept in my work bag for when inspiration strikes on my commute.

 It is an utter mess and this quilt especially taught me that leaving it like this ends up with me making more mistakes. 

B. Quiltography

This is a quilt design app on my iPad and totally worth the £10 I paid for it 2 years ago. In itself I think this needs an entire blog post to itself. I tend to use this when I want to work on layouts of traditional blocks with varying colours. It also allows me to test different fabric ideas.   

3. Calculate fabric and cutting requirements.  

Most of my quilts end up as a series of Sall sketches. This allows me to focus on how the pieces fit together. The best way to piece them and the best way to cut the fabric.  Once this has been done I add it all up and work out total fabric requirements. 

4. Choosing the fabric. 

When using quiltography it can be as easy as auditioning all my possibilities in the blocks within the app. Sometime that isn’t possible (as with the Darth Vader quilt I’m using as an example). Most of the time auditioning fabric for my designs requires most of my suitable stash being pulled out of its drawers, unfolded, and laid out with anything else I initially think is useable. Slowly but surely I will discard fabrics until I am left with final choices. 

5. Iron, Cut and Piece. 

My number one, will not work without, tool is Spray Starch. I used to use it on my judo suits as a teenager and now I use it on all my quilting fabric. There are other brands and types but I am fond of Dylons Spray Sparch. The advantage to using things like spray starch is that it gets out all those pesky creases but also stiffens the fabric slightly making it easier to cut and piece. Using the sketches produced early I will piece my “blocks” together. 

6. Press and layout. 

From various attempts to cut corners and speed up my process I have ended up wasting lots of time unpicking. This causes frustration, extra time, and wasted thread/possibly fabric. The only way around this in my opinion is to ensure you press as many times as necessary to ensure seams are flat then to layout each piece/block to ensure they are sewn together in the right order/direction.  

At this stage Darth Vader required a lot of unpicking because I didn’t do that! It is one of the reasons I long for a design wall. 

7. Finish the top.  

I piece my top together and give it another thorough pressing. I inspect all my seams. If something has been too short or not matched up as I designed, I will make a note on my pattern to see where I need to make adjustments etc. 

 As you can see…I have made a bit of a mistake here….so I make a special note of that on my sketches too because if I can miss it then so might others. 

8. Correct pattern and make again. 

If I have suitable recipients I will try the pattern again to ensure I made the right adjustments. If I don’t I try and find a willing volunteer. 

Over the next few months I will be aiming to make more of my patterns available…in some cases that is going to involve call outs for volunteers to test blocks and patterns. So if you are interested then keep a lookout for future posts. 



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