Thursday, February 10, 2011

My pattern development process

The reason I haven't shown you any new quilts recently is that I'm deep into the process of making the quilts for my new patterns! I can't wait to show them to you... trust me keeping secrets isn't fun! All I can say is that I have a lot in the works and I'm so excited about all the new developments over here! Most of the quilts are off at the quilter now & I should be able to show them to you soon!

In the meantime I thought I'd tell you a bit about my pattern development process. I'm sure every designer has a different process but here is a peek inside mine. Below are some photos & info that show you my process for developing Opposites Attract.

It usually starts with a sketch. Sometimes it's in a nice notebook...sometimes it's on a random napkin. Inspiration strikes at all times. After I have a general idea of what I want to make I head to the computer. Between EQ, Photoshop, and Illustrator I come up with a few visuals. Sometimes it's at this point that I decide a design isn't working at all. With Opposites Attract I was pretty happy with what I was seeing and needed to decide on color.

I really wanted to work with a bright & fun color for the background. I auditioned the green and tried to make it work but I kept going back to the high contrast with the brown and navy.

In the end I decided brown was best. I could have used a basic solid but I really love the texture of Kona Crush so I went with Chocolate Kona Crush. The process of making these blocks is easy and I had a quilt top put together in no time. Also it was around this time that I decided I wanted a large block and after a few test runs decided on a 14" finished block.

The next decision is binding. Many people don't give the binding much thought... but I'm not one of them! I wanted something that would coordinate with the prints and pop off of the brown. I decided on a stripe from Remix cut on the bias for double fold bias binding.

During the process I'm actually making the quilt from the first draft of my pattern. I add notes and make any changes that are needed. Those who know me well know that I LOVE the math part of quilting. I know many people can't stand that part but I'm just a numbers girl. I really enjoy calculating the fabric requirements, all of the measurements and so on. Once the pattern is close to 100% I send it off to my testers while I work on the cover art. Finding testers wasn't so easy for me at first. I used to be a pattern tester & technical editor myself so I have really high standards. In the end I found a rocking group of people and I love them!! (Sending lots of hugs and thank yous to you all!)

The initial photos confirmed that I made the perfect decision with my binding choice.

I knew I wanted the cover photo to be after washing the quilt, but just in case something happened I took a ton of photos before washing it.

This is one of my favorite photos... even if it doesn't show much of the quilt.

Sometimes photo shoots can drain you and you need to take a break!

Along with the stylized shots I took a flat shot for the inside of the pattern.
Fabric is Remix & Urban Zoologie by Ann Kelle
with Chocolate Kona Crush
Pattern - Opposites Attract
Designed by me
Quilted by me
Started on 8/29/10
Finished on 9/11/10
Quilt measures - 56" x 56"

I needed to take a few more process photos for the inside of the pattern and decided I'd make a second quilt from Suburbia by Caleb Gray. I went back to the computer to decide on a background color and ended up deciding on brown again.

Instead of Crush I decided to use Quilter's Linen. I couldn't find a stripe I liked for binding so I was trying to decide between two colors of more Quilter's Linen... Leaf and Natural. I snapped this photo and sent it to my testers for their opinions. It was unanimous that Leaf was the right choice.

Here is the finished second quilt.

with Chocolate Quilter's Linen
Pattern - Opposites Attract
Designed by me
Quilted by me
Started on 10/12/10
Finished on 10/27/10
Quilt measures - 56" x 56"

Last minute touches to the pattern directions and back cover and it was time to send it to the printer. I included lots of information on the back cover so that you make this quilt in 4 sizes and see all of the fabric requirements while you're in a quilt shop picking out fabric.

It wasn't long before the patterns were back from the printer! I print my patterns in full color and they are stapled so that you don't loose any directions. I personally own well over 100 patterns and I learned a lot about patterns in my time working at a shop. Sometimes pattern covers are cute and then the directions are horrible or the printing looks like it's been photocopied a few times and taped together. I set a goal for myself early on that my patterns would be well tested and printed in a way that was deserving of being purchased.

I show step by step through text and photos how to make the block including a few tips. In case you don't want to buy the ruler I also included a paper template inside the pattern.

I'm really proud of my patterns and hope you enjoy them!

Want to get your own copy? Ask your local shop or check out these shops where you can buy a copy online.

Wholesale Information
Are you a shop interested in carrying my patterns?
Please contact me for wholesale information!

One of my favorite things is seeing people make quilts from my patterns! Karrie Lyne made her opposites attract using fabric from Riley Blake. Instead of keeping the colors together she went scrappy and I love the way it turned out!
Opposites Attract

Have you made opposites attract? If so I'd love to see a photo or you can upload it to the flickr group!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my process! :-)

© Blog post written by Julie Herman
For more information visit


~Laurie~ said...

It's wonderful that you are able to love your work. It shows in the extra effort you put in to make your patterns really shine. It's such a pleasure to work with a pattern that is well written - especially for us beginners. You can learn a lot from a good pattern. Thanks for sharing your process with us today.

mascanlon said...

Great post Julie! I love your patterns. Great directions as well as good photos. Right now I have a FQ stack of Its a Hoot and I'm going back and forth between Dot Party and Opposites Attract...the biggest of my design decisions lately!

John said...

Great post, Julie! I loved reading through the many steps you take in creating your patterns. It's clear that you feel strongly that they should be designed with the quilter in mind. As always, love your patterns!! : )

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial. Quick question, how do you find testers? I've always wondered that and would love to do this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insights! I'm curious as to how you create your booklets and where you get them printed.

Esch House Quilts said...

Thanks so much for sharing your process! I always love to get a peek into how other people work and think.

Mary Grace McNamara said...

Thank you for letting us go inside your head there for a peek at how you do your patterns. Very interesting. Can't wait to see what have in the works!


Alassel said...

This was really fascinating - such attention to detail really shows, and now I kind of want to buy one of your patterns just for that! :) Hopefully your work will inspire other pattern designers to improve theirs as well!

Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

Hi Juli.....congratulations on all of your success and so young still....i'm jealous....I really liked the second quilt the best; all are lovely.....I am going to see if I can find your book here; if not; I will def get it online.....keep up the great job you are doing there..........

Sandy said...

Great Post! It is clear that each step of your creative process is done with tender loving care! It also makes me appreciate the time & energy consuming process it is to create quality patterns!

Sandy said...

You do have wonderful patterns...I knew you would because your tutorials are easy to follow and very thorough! Great quilt!

dolores said...

I am inspired!! I think this will be the perfect quilt to make using all these random fabrics I have been collecting but didn't want a whole quilt out of each I have a robot fabric and some Scrabble fabric and some Mr. Fix-it that I totally wanted to use but who wants a whole quilt with carpenter prints?:)
Your pattern lends itself to mix and match!! I'm DOING it!!:)
I'll have to introduce my boss at the quilt shop to your patterns!:)

Julie Cefalu said...

Thanks for sharing your process for making your patterns. I have some ideas that I would love to develop into a pattern, but it seems so daunting! If you don't mind me asking, what computer program (and/or photo editing) do you use to write up your patterns? Again, thanks for all of the great information and your patterns are excellent!

VickiT said...

Very nice information. I loved reading about the process that went into your pattern. I really love that you have all the info on the back so it's easy to buy fabric right then and there if you pick up the pattern and want to buy it without having to open anything up. Great idea.

Sinta Renee said...

I love your new pattern! It's very fun... I like Karrie Lyne's version also. It's fun to see what you do with circles! Are those all raw edge???

Kim said...

I agree, if you are going to go to all the trouble to design a new pattern don't package it cheaply and have it be a copied sheet!
I am a bit amazed at all the work involved though!
This is a great looking pattern and gets my creative juices flowing...that is how I decide if I want to buy it! this is definitely a winner.

Happy Sewing and continued success

Angela said...

Fabulous post! I really love your integrity with your work and I am one who is a numbers girl myself, so I definitely can appreciate that aspect of design. you are not alone! lol. There are a few of us out there that don't cringe at the idea of working out dimensions. ;)

Cathy @ CabbageQuilts said...

Fabulous to see the design process at work. absolutely gorgeous quilt, I especially love that stripey binding! xo

bethanndodd said...

Thanks for the info! It's always so interesting and inspiring to hear how the pros do things :) SO looking forward to seeing your new patterns! Smiles

Unknown said...

they look great Julie!! ;)

xo, H

Angela Nash said...

cool look at your process!

I especially like the shopping info clearly listed on the back of the pattern.

bruinbr said...

So cool to go "behind the scenes"! I LOVE that your patterns are so high quality and in color/stapled together! I have bought patterns in the past and been horrified to find what seems like a piece of copy paper behind a beautiful color cover photo! THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

I love this post! This is the first time I've seen a post along these lines and its great that you've chosen to share it with everyone!

Audrey said...

The picture of you lying down with the quilt on you... it took me a few seconds before my brain realized you weren't standing on the edge of a building looking down. Totally freaked me out! It seriously looks like you're feet are over the edge, and you're looking down at the street below.
Did anyone else see that?
Anyway, great quilt!

KarrieLyne said...

Great insight into your world. The process is so helpful and important for others wanting to take on this feat!

You are one heck of a quilter/pattern designer/cool kid/friend!

Thank you for all you do! You really are an inspiration to many!


Mandy said...

Nice post! I really enjoyed reading about your process!

JariJari said...

lovely post. thanks for sharing the insights of pattern designing process. I love the pict of u lying down with your quilt....nice angle shot!

Jenn said...

I've only bought one quilt pattern (not in a book) and I was surprised at how homemade it looked. Your pattern looks great! Much more like the tutorials, which I find so helpful.

My favorite part of your process was when you needed a break and the photo of you laying down with the quilt over you - so funny.

Becky J. said...

i love watching the process happen. what a treat! thanks for sharing. patterns are a bit tricky like that-- what looks good doesn't mean it reads well. hate that.
perfect eye candy for any of us pattern users.

Unknown said...

wow, karrie lyne took your nice pattern and ran with it. i think her version looks very lunar, like an eclipse. really makes a visual statement.
a standout ....both of you.

Dana Jennings
Houston Tx

harleywife57/ Mickey White said...

JULIE ! I must have missed this on your blog (I wasn't reading blogs much then ...) thanks for the link to it ! How interesting and I love ALL the color combinations ! Also , I got your pattern Hugs&Kisses , and it great ; very easy to follow and as you said STAPLED , and on nice paper ! I'm about done with a purse , and that pattern is easy to follow , however just copied on regular my pages are all messed up because I have to refer back and forth since it came in 2 sizes ! sure hope I do not lose a page !! I know I will NOT lose a page from YOUR pattern ! thanks !