Skip to main content

My Quilt Design Process

Most of my quilt sketches start here!
Everyone’s approach to designing a quilt is as unique as their designs. Where does a designer draw inspiration? How does a designer document that inspiration? What design tools do they use? Here’s a look at my evolving quilt design process.

I feel like I draw inspiration from everything around me and I’m sure that it’s a larger influence than I even realize. But specifically, I draw inspiration from several things, including fashion, branding and personal memories.

While my personal fashion is pretty bland (I would wear all black and grey every day if I could and it’s simply because I like the colors), I really like Aztec-inspired fashion design. I am a huge fan of half square triangles (am I alone in this?!) and that’s a common element in this design.

I also like to look at product packaging. I think fresh brand design concepts and simple marketing design elements are appealing. No one brand draws in my eye. I think part of the reason is that we’re inundated with visual branding all day, every day. I don’t really have time to study just one brand, but instead let me eye draw me toward a design I like. I tend to like very simple design, but think that elements that are extremely thick catch my attention (think of thickness of a font like Arial Black).

My #ReflectiveMomentQuilt
The biggest influence over the initial set of quilt patterns I’ve published is my personal memories. I take experiences in my life and try to summarize my feelings in an abstract design. My #ReflectiveMomentQuiltpattern is a look at my past, present and future. The pattern is a mirror from top to bottom and left to right. This is reflective of perception vs. reality and owning the life you live. 

When inspiration strikes, I typically get out my colored pencils and grid-lined notebook. This is where most of my designs take shape. I also enjoy just sketching for fun and sometimes a design comes out of it. The pro for this method is its portability. Going on a long trip? It’s easy to pack and open up a notebook. Inspiration strikes in the middle of the night? It’s easy to grab the notebook and get the idea onto paper quickly. The con is that it’s not convenient to make changes. If I make a mistake sketching, don’t like the color choices or want to see several modifications, I have to manually start the sketch over every time.

This process is evolving for me as I’ve started doing some of my sketches directly in Illustrator. It has certainly saved time making modifications, expanding on my ideas and quickly seeing so many color options. I’ll always sketch but some ideas may move more quickly to an electronic version.

To make my quilt patterns – both the layout of the quilt design as well as the pattern – I use Illustrator. I think I would like the EQ software from what I’ve read about it, but I’m unclear on how that translates into actual patterns and if I need other software. For now, I’m happy using Illustrator as I’m able to use it for other non-quilting related needs too. While I remember using Illustrator a few times in school years ago, I am mostly self-taught (or re-taught!). It’s certainly taken awhile to get comfortable with the tips and tricks I know so I’d like to continue using this tool at least for now.

Once I get the quilt design itself fully constructed in Illustrator, I start building the pattern around it. I have handwritten notes with measurements and instructions so my first step is getting that into electronic format. Then I start filling in the blanks as far as descriptions on technique and other details. Once the pattern goes through testing and feedback and is finalized, I export it into a PDF document and offer it available for purchase online.

What is your quilt design process like?


Popular posts from this blog

2020 Planning

I recently learned about Yvonne Fuch’s ( QuiltingJetGirl on Instagram !) #2020PlanningParty and I thought it was just the swift kick in the pants I needed to really think about my professional and personal quilting goals in 2020. Here are my thoughts leading into the new year. Professional Goals 1. Teach new quilters. The wheels have been set into motion for an opportunity to teach a quilting 101 class in my community in the spring. I’ve spent the last several months developing a beginner sampler pattern and I’ll be wrapping it up in a few weeks. Here’s hoping there are a few people interested in learning how to quilt! 2. Print four of my patterns. A few shops and guilds have asked me about printed patterns for their stores or for upcoming lecturers. Currently I only offer patterns as PDFs so I have a goal of getting a small batch of four specific patterns printed in 2020. 3. Release three new patterns. With some of my other professional and personal quilting goals in 2020, I’

Quilt Project Tracking Document

Have you ever found yourself staring at a WIP not knowing where you left off? Have you ever started to fill out a quilt show form and realized you didn't have all the details needed? There are several missing details on quilts I've made that I sure wish I would have better tracked! A couple years ago, I started a quilt project tracking document to keep better record of my quilts. The document has basic information like project name, year started, pattern, fabric, status (cut, pieced, quilted, bound) and year finished. There's also a general notes field so I can add whatever detail I'd like to have down the road. It's been exciting to look back at the document and see what I've accomplished! I have a current projects tab and a completed projects tab so I have an accurate look at what I'm working on. I tend to work on 10-20 projects at a time, so it's easy to forget where I was or what else I need to work on without the document. Since I am a pattern w

Transparent Squares Quilt Block Tutorial

If you are new to transparency in quilting or need a refresher, this is a simple practice block to make to play around with fabric choices and the effects of transparency. Transparent Squares Quilt Block I posted a video on IGTV that explains the very basics of transparency in quilting. A short simplified version of what I shared is that transparency is the ability to see through layer(s) of an object. It can be real or implied. So in quilting, you can use fabric color choices to make implied transparency. The most basic way to achieve transparency, in my opinion, is to choose dark, medium and light values of one color. Understanding color structure is important, but being a master of it is not required to play around with transparency. For example, if a grey fabric has a lot of cool color blue undertones, then you have to be cognizant of how that specific fabric color plays with other colors. Also, it’s important to realize that while many colors are available in fabrics, it’s