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

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

Quilted Bookmark Tutorial

I’ve got a new tutorial to share – Quilted Bookmarks !  I recently shared a story on Instagram about a last minute decision to make quilted bookmarks for my daughter’s class as I was the scheduled Mystery Reader for the next day. You can see the set I made for the class in the image above. I’ve been making quilted bookmarks for my daughter for years. She loves them because they’re flexible and don’t permanently crease or break like paper bookmarks and don’t fall out as easy as heavier metal bookmarks. And since they are two layers and batting, they’re squishy and fun to hold!  Quilted bookmarks make great gifts for kids or for adults who still read physical copies of books. If you’re looking for a creative stocking stuffer or gift to give any time of the year, a quilted bookmark is a fun and fast project! It's also a great scrap-busting project, as well as a good opportunity to practice quilting!  Everything about a quilted bookmark can be customized to your needs. This is the gene

Quilt Project Tracker Document

Every quilt has a story - and if you're struggling to capture that story about each quilt you make, I've got you covered! I have a free printable Quilt Project Tracker Document!   This document is for each new project you start and includes fields for tracking project goals, fabric swatches, task completion, notes on the materials you used and what you learned from the project. Whether you're trying to store information in one easy place to make show submissions easier or you want to share this quilt's story with the recipient of the quilt, this document helps you track all the details! Click here to open and print the Quilt Project Tracker Document . ***When you click the link, please make sure to click on the arrow (in the upper right corner) to download a PDF. If you click "Open in Google Docs" you will not be able to access the document.