#86 – A letter from a blog reader…

This email was from a current blog reader. I thought in the spirit of “building a business making quilt patterns” it was a perfect letter to post. Who knows who might gain a nugget or two from it’s content. I removed her name and simply wrote “Future Pattern Designer” Enjoy!


On 3/10/12 3:10 PM,Future Pattern Designer wrote:

Hi Debra,
You are really inspiring me with your blog. I just started designing my own quilt patterns and it’s impressive that you’ve grown your business with so many publications in only 7 years! I saw you at a trunk show at And Sew It Goes a few years ago when I had first started quilting and you had just started your Judeo-Christian quilt blocks. My jaw dropped when I saw how many patterns you’ve made since then!! You go girl!!
I am designing art quilts that use piecing, all geometric shapes, to make the designs. I only have one finished so far, I made it in January, but I am working on my second one and blogging about it as I go.
Do you have any advice for a newbie businesswoman? I have my first patterns self-published and ready to sell… just haven’t sold any yet. I was focusing more on getting my website up and running in February so I COULD sell and am ready to market now.
Thanks and I’ll keep following the blog!! Can’t believe that 85% of bought patterns never get made though, that’s a little disheartening LOL!! Oh well I love to design and quilt and I’m gonna keep doing it anyway.
Future Pattern Designer



Future Pattern Designer,
My recommendation is to get at least four patterns done. Test them and then find a friend to make them up a second test. I usually offer a free pattern plus the fabric to to the friend to make the quilt top in exchange for the testing. They will provide their own batting, binding and backing. Then I would go to your local quilt store – or one that you really like and request a meeting with the owner. Next I would explain that you are starting up a pattern business and would be wondering if she would be your test pilot store. In return you could offer a discount on the patterns or offer to teach a free class or offer to give her 6 patterns of each on consignment. You have to have samples made up – that you are willing to leave at her shop. My recommendation would be to make two samples of every pattern. One sample will travel to shops and one will be your own. Be sure you have a logo on your packaging from the get go so you can start building a consistent brand. You should also start thinking about building a website and compiling a professional resume. List any awards, credentials, shows etc. Take a look at mine on my website for ideas. Start a notebook with notes about teaching a class for each of the patterns. You will need a supply list as well as the pattern. You could go to your local guilds and offer a FREE class on the patterns. This will get you experience to put on your resume. It will also give you immediate feedback how well your pattern is written. If you are really serious about pattern making you could make a 1 year, a 5 year and a 10 year plan. My one year plan was to get my patterns in three local shops and start teaching, which I did. My five year goal was to go to Houston and sell nationally, and my 10 year goal is to travel, sell and teach internationally. It is year 7 and I sell internationally but have not yet traveled internationally. I have three years and a lot more hard work but I feel confident I can make that happen. Ask as many teachers and other pattern designers as you can for advise. Take as many classes as you can to watch the teaching styles. LISTEN carefully to feedback about the patterns. Be sure your pattern picture is EXCELLENT – because when you leave the shop that pattern picture has to do all the work to sell your pattern among a sea of other patterns. The most important advise I can give is to WORK. Plain and simple petal to the metal – work.Good luck and feel free to contact me. I have a professional group called MetroFiber Design Group. It is a group of local business women in the field of quilting. I will send you an invite to join the group. We meet at my studio in Clarksville, MD.

Work hard!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rhonda Gillette
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 16:51:38

    I love your advice. I too am working on my own patterns. Not just quilting patterns but bag’s, totes, organizer patterns. I have done these as custom orders over several years, and many have asked for a pattern of the item once they saw it. But i’ve never gotten around to actually making the patterns. I would like to sell them in a pdf form. But I find I can’t seem to get my scanner to scan it in the right size. Any tips on creating pdf patterns.


  2. Cathy Daum
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 23:42:13

    Great advice…I speak as a shop owner. You have to have the samples. And nobody creates better samples than the original pattern designer. Hooking up with a favorite shop is a great way to get yourself started, and it’s great for the shop as well. Both win: the shop has great samples to display and the designer gets exposure to sell her patterns. Debra, I’m glad I’ve hooked up with you!!!

    By the way, we have 22 signed up for the Holiday Houses and I haven’t started advertising for it yet. It’s just people walking in and seeing them. Great job! I’m sad to send them home at the end of the week, but am very happy they’ll be coming back to visit soon along with you!


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