This blog is a bit of a ramble through my life. There's a lot about quilting and textile arts, a sprinkle of my family life and some of my thoughts and ponderings. We currently live aboard an old wooden 1945 Navy boat, called MV Cerego, so you'll find me writing about that too. Welcome aboard!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Writing a Quilt Pattern

I'm in the last stages of writing a quilt pattern for a magazine.  Although I've written a couple of patterns (bags and appliqué) before, this is my first time writing for a magazine.  It's been exciting, stressful and a HUGE learning experience.  And whilst I cannot claim to be an expert (one pattern an expert does NOT make!), I thought I'd share with you a few things I've learnt.

I can't share the quilt with you yet, but what is a post without pictures?

  • Either write your pattern before you start stitching or whilst you are making.  It's really hard to go back and write a pattern from just looking at your work.  You don't think you'll forget, but you do!  
  • However you write, either before or during, take really comprehensive notes.  Once again, you don't think you'll forget, but you do! (I should have this tattooed on my forehead)

I was lucky enough to be invited by the magazine to submit my pattern, and they provided me with very comprehensive guidelines about layout, style and abbreviations etc.  But if you are writing to self-publish then spend some time reading lots of different patterns to get an idea about how you want to write.  There are a hundred unique ways to present cutting, construction and finishing instructions and you'll need to find a clear, concise way that works for you.  So my next suggestion is:

  • Read lots of different patterns from lots of different sources to get an idea of what works and what doesn't.  Remember, no copying, but you will get a feel for how you want to do it.
  • Don't try and write the whole pattern in one go.  Your eyes and brain go funny and you actually stop 'seeing' the numbers and sizes.  Break it up and every time you come back to it you'll catch something that you didn't notice before.
No, this isn't the quilt either, but graphed books are where all my quilts start.

  • Proof read the pattern both on-screen and on-paper.  There is something different about printed material and you will notice different things.
  • Find someone who is willing to go over the pattern for you.  Whether you go so far as to get actual testers (a good idea) or not, the least you should do is have someone proof read it.

And then my last suggestion has to do with my dear loving family.  
  • Do not even bother trying to write patterns during school holidays.  Do not bother trying to write patterns when your husband is in the room.  And DO NOT attempt to proof read when there are other humans within a 30 metre radius.....just saying.
I'll let you all know when the pattern comes out, then you can check how good my pattern writing skills really are!

15 comments:

  1. Well done on being asked to submit a pattern. Great job. It will be exciting to see it. I tried to do a tutorial for my blog but gave up. My ideas aren't original and really just couldn't get it worked out. My respect for pattern writers rose enormously. I would agree on the not trying to do anything requiring a lot of thought whilst the kids are about.

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  2. These hints sound rweally great. And I agree totally to not sew anything with family around - and I am expressing my high regard for pattern writers here -and will read them with even more esteem - because I love to read instructions and tutorials.

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  3. Great tips, Charlotte! That quilt in the bottom photo is a stunner!

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    1. Yes, a real stunner. I dont suppose you can tell me whee you got that pattern?

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    2. Hi KnoxBlox. The quilt is one I made from a block challenge. Can you see the block? It's pretty easy to construct. I just made a heap of blocks and used the off cuts from the flip and press triangles on the big blocks to make half-square triangles for the block in the centre. Clear as mud? I'll post a tutorial soon, as it wasn't a pattern.

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    3. Thanks, Ms. Lottie. BTW, I am jimtami on twitter...or is it Tami In Denver? I didn't have the foresight to choose one username! I am the one who calls you "Your Highness!"

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  4. Well, you certainly know how to write a blog post well! Interesting. Congratulations on being asked to write a pattern. I'm anxious to see it. Can you tell us which magazine?

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    1. I'm a bit nervous to say, just in case a disaster happens and it all falls through!!

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  5. If there is time, I would be happy to test it for you.

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    1. Thanks so much for your offer. I'm planning on sending it all off today, so no time for this one. However, I plan to write patterns soon for self publishing as well and those I would like testers for. I'll be asking for them on the blog, so keep an eye out.

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  6. Hope you are nailing it Charlotte... how exciting!

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    1. I was going to say too, that once you write a pattern you realise what designers go through - and how wrong it is to photocopy patterns, without full credit and funds going to the designer!

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  7. Haha! Sounds like you have done some learning! Good luck, so many exciting things happening for you.

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  8. Haha, oh yes! When it's school holidays, nothing meaningful happens. Well, nothing meaningful work-wise....I'm lucky if I can get near my computer at all.

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  9. I have written several patterns (2 for sale) and every time I say I'm going to write out the steps as I go, but don't. I'm getting better about thinking in terms of what I need to consider as I go along though. Congrats on the magazine request.

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