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

Ways to Personalize the In The Right Direction Quilt Pattern

In my patterns, I offer some personalization suggestions. I want you to feel inspired to make something a little different than what I produced. Maybe it's a different fabric. Maybe it's a tweak to the layout. Maybe it's more or less color options than my original design. I want you to make it your own!

I wanted to offer some additional personalization ideas for those who have purchased (thank you so much!) the #InTheRightDirectionQuilt pattern.

1) Make one or more arrows with an ombre affect. I’d love to see the base of the arrow start with a light fabric and darken by the time it reaches the tip. Or reversed! Again, you could apply this to all arrows or just a few. I think arrow 5 or 9 from the pattern would be really neat with this affect.
2) Make the arrows one color and add an ombre affect to the background. For example, you could make the arrows black and the background orange. You could start with a light orange in the upper left corner and increase the intensity of…

Tips for Getting Your Sewjo Back

We’ve all been there. We have a little free time to sew, so we make our way to our sewing room/corner/nook and we just stare. We start feeling annoyed at ourselves for having too much fabric or too many UFOs or too many less-than-perfect seams and we walk away in a funk. Our sewjo is gone and we don’t know what to do to get it back. Here are a few tips I use to level-set my expectations and get my machine humming again.

1) Start SMALL

Make a block. Make a bag. Make the miniest of mini quilts that I can. Just make something. Sew together a few scraps. Make binding (whether I have an actual project for it or just feel like it’ll be a good one to have on hand one day). Find a free tutorial for some project what I can put fabric to the machine and be done. The reason to start small is that there’s an intense feeling of satisfaction that can come from finishing something. If my goal was just to sew together a block and I do it, my motivation level rises – which even if it’s just a little, …

Your New Favorite Quilt Patterns

It’s an exciting time in quilt world – I've released my first two patterns! Okay, maybe it’s just an exciting time at my house, but I do hope you'll take a minute to read about my design aesthetic and quilting principles and peek at my new patterns :)

I released #InTheRightDirectionQuilt and #AroundTheSquareQuilt as PDF patterns via my Craftsy shop. These are two fun and simple quilt patterns. There’s no magic in what I do. I wish I could tell you I came up with a way to make a million squares or half square triangles in mere minutes, but that’s just not the case. My guiding principle in quilting is to make something fun and practice skill building. I firmly believe that the more time you spend doing basic principles of quilting, the more efficient and accurate you’ll get each time. I love shortcuts too and I own lots of quilting gadgets to help improve in speed and efficiency (hello Bloc Loc rulers!) – and some of those will be useful in these patterns, but it’s also some goo…