Welcome to Day 27 of How to Earn $ From Sewing and Quilting! This week we are talking about Designing and Selling Patterns, and today we’re having a look at How to Write up a Pattern.
I think that today’s topic is what holds a lot of people, including myself, back from putting our patterns out there. How much information do we need to include? Pictures or no pictures? How much detail do I need to go into to explain techniques that is common knowledge for some but not for others?
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but hopefully there will be some useful info for you in this post 🙂
Look and Learn
The first step in writing up your own sewing and quilt patterns is to look at how others have written them up and learn from them. I don’t mean copy. I mean look at what aspects of pattern instructions you like and what you don’t like.
For example, there are some things that all patterns should have (in my opinion):
A Good Quality Photo of the Project
This is one thing that I did not have for the few patterns I put out and sold in the past. I have taken the patterns down and am redoing them.. trying to get better photos. Of course since I have been travelling I have no idea where the originals are and therefore the patterns are not back up for sale! One day I will get there.. I hope!
Some patterns have a lovely artistic picture of the project – a quilt draped over a rocking chair, for example. I like to see that included in a pattern, but I also like to see a picture of the whole quilt. If I could only use one picture to include in my pattern, I would choose the one with the whole quilt because it shows exactly what the finished project looks like.
Every pattern should include how much fabric is needed. It needs to show the type of fabric, ie, dark, medium, light, and how much of each is needed for the top, backing and binding.
It is good to have cutting instructions for all the fabric at the beginning of the pattern. This way all the fabric can be cut out in one go if desired.
Some pattern may have the cutting instructions in with the assembly instructions of each quilt block or step of the project. This is a personal preference. If you have them at the beginning of the pattern and at the appropriate step in the pattern it could get confusing, however! Choose one way, and stick with it.
Last but not least, the different steps in the assembly or sewing of the project need to be written up. They need to be in a logical order and clear enough to follow.
Now all of the above may seem pretty obvious. But I have seen patterns that don’t have all of the above… just some of the above!
Writing Assembly/Sewing Instructions
Most quilt patterns will have the fabric and cutting requirements. These are fairly easy to write up, especially if you are using a program like EQ7.
But actually writing up the sewing instructions is where many of us get stressed…. including myself. Maybe one day after I have finished a lot of patterns I will have the hang of it and not dread this part of pattern design.. but I am not there yet!
I am a visual learner. So I like to include photos of each step, tutorial style. When I wrote up my first pattern, I did it this way. I sent it to a well know pattern designer to ask for advice, and she said it was good – but had too many pictures. This was in the day before tutorials, before ipads and tablets, when we always printed out our patterns. I understood where she was coming from, but was disappointed because I really wanted to keep the photos in there!
Now when I get my patterns back up for sale, I will keep all the photos of the steps and call it a “tutorial style pattern”…. I think now with more people using their computers and ipads to look at patterns it won’t be as much of an issue to have a photo heavy pattern.
I’d love to know what you think – do you prefer more photos or just words?
One thing I found when I was writing patterns with a photo of each step – it made it easier for me to write the steps, because I was just describing what was going on in the photo, and with the visual there, I didn’t need to use as many words.
Now if you are writing up a pattern for a magazine, this may not work. Most magazines have just words in their instructions, and to be honest I don’t like them as much. I always tend to look at the patterns with pictures… big blocks of text put me off.
Testing Your Patterns
Testing your own pattern by going through each step to make sure it is clear is very time consuming. Often, however, we have friends who are willing to do this for us. These friends are awesome! I think it is important for someone to read through the pattern and preferably try it out. This will hopefully weed out the mistakes and make sure everything is written clearly.
I know there are some people out there who just put out patterns without testing them. Sometimes the photo with the pattern is clearly computer generated… I personally would rather know the pattern had been tested rather than drawn up in a program and just put out there. Yes, it takes longer. Yes you can’t get as many patterns out there. But your patterns will be better quality.
How Much do I have to Explain?
When I was writing up my first applique pattern I wondered… how much do I have to explain? Do I have to include “how to applique” in the instructions? If so, it would be like writing a book… there is so much to say about applique techniques! I finally settled on “applique using your favorite technique”…..
Is this a cop out? I’m don’t think so. We can only include so much in our pattern descriptions. If it was a beginner’s “how to applique pattern” then yes, I think there would need to be detailed instructions on how to applique. I, on the other hand, am assuming the person who bought the pattern already knows how to applique…
Again, this may be a personal preference… and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter.
Well, that’s it for today’s post….I’ll see you again tomorrow to look at Designing and Selling Patterns – How and Where to Format and Sell Patterns.
PS Please remember I am answering your comments in the comment section below and not via email like I usually do. Sorry for the hassle, but I am hoping this month we can share ideas!
PPS The main page of this series is here along with links to each post for this series.
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