Have you ever wondered what is involved in designing and writing a sewing pattern? Well, this is generally how my process plays out. I am meticulous from start to finish, striving for the goal of creating a unique design that is deceptively easy to make.
I include variations so the project can be made more simply or with more detail. I want you to feel like I’m right there walking you through the process with detailed instructions broken down into small simple steps with accompanying images. I’m even available via email to clarify or guide you through any steps you may be stumbling through. You’ll be amazed what you can make if you just take it one step at a time!
Here's a snapshot of what goes on before the pattern is ready for you!
I’m going to break it down into phases and on average it will take me about 10 weeks to complete the process.
Recently, I decided to dive into learning the software my graphic designer uses to format my patterns to ultimately allow for more patterns to be released in a shorter time frame than previously done. My graphic designer is amazing and she will still be cleaning up and fine tuning my formats. I’m still learning…so this end of it is a little slower than it will eventually be.
Phase One - Design and Draft the Templates
This phase can take around 2 weeks to complete. This is the groundwork for my design. So what am I doing in this phase? Visualizing how I want my design to look and bringing it to life. This is the most exciting phase for me and very difficult for me to set down once I get started…I bid my family adieu and bury myself in my studio .
- -Image Research
- -Drafting the Templates
- -Cutting, Sewing and Stuffing Out the First Prototype
- -Revisiting, Adjusting and Refining Pattern Templates and Sewing More Prototypes
I find numerous images of the animal I’m designing, capturing as many angles as I can to help me visualize my design. Then I start sketching out the profile template first. After I have sketched the profile I move on to the gusset pieces. (I love that the bendable ruler I use to help in this process is the same one I purchased years ago for sketching collision diagrams in my law enforcement career).
Then I cut the first prototype from the fabric I plan to use for my finished ones. I like to see exactly how it will stuff out in my preferred fabric from the very start. Sometimes my first prototype is just about right, needing very minor adjustments and sometimes it takes me many times of adjusting and remaking before I get it how I want it.
Below is an example of my Canvas Colt Horse Doll. I first designed it in 2013 and it leaves something to be desired. Over the next two years I adjusted and dabbled with the design until I dialed it in. This is the design I have made the most adjustments to and it is also the design that has taught me the most in my continuing learning process. My Classic Stick Horse is a close second.
Phase Two - Make Prototypes & Photograph the Process
This phase can take about 3 weeks or more. For each of my designs I like to have at least three samples made, each with a slight variation…I call them my trio. Sometimes I make a fourth depending on the design. During the process of making the last one is when I take the photos of each step. This at least doubles the time it takes to complete the item.
- -Make the Trio
- -Take Images of the Process
Phase Three - Edit Photos
This phase can take a few days to a week to complete. On average I have 300 to 500 photos to cull through and process. I take multiple photos of the same step because sometimes one ends up being slightly out of focus or I play with the angle, etc, trying to get the photo that will best demonstrate that particular step. This is why there are so many photos to go through.
- -Process the Images
When I’m processing the photos, most of the time I am only cropping and adjusting the brightness, but even those simple steps can add up to a lot of time.
Phase Four - Write the Tutorial & Refine the Templates
This phase can take about a week and a half. I still rely heavily on my graphic designer for her help in digitizing the templates. I carefully draw each template in marker, scan them in and send them to her. After they have been digitized, I label them all with the template name and cutting instructions. Placing the images into the tutorial and carefully writing out each step is just as important as having those templates nicely prepared.
- -Carefully Draw and Scan Templates
- -Digitize Templates
- -Label Templates
- -Write Tutorial
- -Place Photos in Tutorial
Phase Five - Pattern Testing
This phase takes 2 weeks and is one many D.A.S.I.E.s get excited for. This is the testing phase. During this time I select generally 6 volunteers who wish to test my pattern. I put a call for testers out in my Facebook group and select only from those who volunteer on that post, in addition to some seasoned testers I seek out.
I aim to have a variety of testers including some who have tested for me previously, new testers, seasoned sewists, beginner sewists, those who sew by hand and those who use a machine. This helps me ensure my pattern is suitable for a vast audience. I value each and every tester for their suggestions and skill sets they bring to this point in the development of my pattern. Even if I don’t implement a suggestion, I still value and appreciate it.
Phase Six - Final Edits
This phase takes 1-3 days. This is where the final edits take place and then the pattern is published!!
Reviews like this are exactly what I’m aiming for. A project suitable for a confident beginner doesn’t have to be simplistic in appearance. The majority of the steps to create my designs are simple steps…but together they create an eye catching design that looks anything but simple. Go ahead…try one…I know you can make it!
As you can see there is a lot of time, talent and invested dollars that go into creating my designs and publishing my patterns. This is my livelihood and I am fortunate to have the privilege of providing a service to inspire your creativity, spark joy and perhaps help you in your small handmade business…and this brings me joy!
I published my first pattern in 2009. There was a time I withdrew from selling (and therefore sharing) my patterns for others to make because of copyright infringements that had occurred, I felt violated and hurt. I would make the finished items to sell, but wouldn’t sell my patterns.
However, that made me sad because there are so many talented makers who could do wonderful things with my designs. So, I eventually decided I would give it a shot again back in 2014, knowing there are far more people who do respect and appreciate my work, than those who disrespect it via copyright violations or blatant false statements (such as the person who claimed to others that she designed one of my designs!). I love sharing my designs with you and I appreciate your support of my small business!
Whether the pattern is free or a fee is associated with it, copyright protections still apply. Thank you so much for respecting my copyright, it allows me to continue designing new things for you! If you have any questions or wish to request special permissions, please email me!