Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Worktable Wednesday: The Step By Step Guide To How I Design A Felt Craft Pattern

I've been working on a new pattern for weeks now and I'm almost done.

I thought my lovely readers might like to see the process of making a craft felt pattern. So here we go with a quick overview. I have a gift for you for reading this in the very last paragraph.

How I design a felt Craft Pattern.


This process usually starts with a simple pencil sketch of an idea I had. But in this case I decided to re-design an old pattern of mine, The Fat Penguin.

Cute right? But it was time for an update. I took this original design that I already had a template for and tweaked it a bit on the computer.

Not much is different except the face, which I love, and an addition of feet. So using this graphic I made more tweaks until I came up with something I really liked. 

When I make my soft sculpture pieces I tend to hand draw patterns and leave them that way. I never digitize them. 

Next I digitize my pattern pieces.



Digitize is basically a sewing term that means to make a pattern computer friendly so that it can be downloaded and printed. This is how clothing patterns, embroidery patterns and any patterns for sale are made. It gives a professional look to your patterns and allows you to add informative instructions and details to help the sewer complete the project successfully.

I come from a graphic design background, not a sewing one, so I usually refer to this process as making a template. Same process. Here's an example of my pattern.

Wow, where was I? Oh yeah, then I made a pattern on the computer using a graphic software. All my templates have pattern pieces and positioning guides that show where to place pieces and other helpful information.

These templates are only a starting point for me because when I make the prototype I usually will made changes to the design and will later go back and make those same changes to the template.


 A prototype is something you make to see if the pattern works properly. It's an important step when designing a pattern and you make it out of the material you intend it to be made in, ie. fabric, felt etc.

The Happy Earth Guy pattern, from this post,I made was absolutely perfect at the beginning pattern stage, so I took photos while making the prototype for the step by step tutorial. This rarely ever happens, but did that time.

I print and cut out my beginning pattern pieces and start making the penguin.


As I sew the prototype, I write notes about each step of the process so I know what works and what I changed to work better.

I'll then use those notes to make changes to the pattern template graphics. I also will use those notes when planning and taking step by step photos and writing the pattern instructions later.

Another thing I do at this point is to think about if I never made something like this before, what questions would I have? What information would I need to complete this project successfully? Then I add answers to that to my notes.

Prototype done! The body of this pattern remained the same from my template but I had to make the feet design 4 different times and figure out the best way to attach them that would make sense to other people.

Once I have all my photos shot, I spend time editing them.   


Photo editing is a process where you open your photos in an imaging program, like Photoshop and make changes to the photos. The kinds of changes I make are color brightness, cropping the images to a certain preset size I use for my patterns so all the photos are uniform in size.  

Next up is page layout.


Page layout is how the pattern PDF pages look. It's also where the photos are placed, the size of the text, fonts and the flow and order of the pages. Some programs that can be used are Illustrator, InDesign and even Word.

All of these things have to be worked out and presented in a cohesive and pleasing manner.

Above is an example of one of my pages. I lay out my photos corresponding to my notes and then go back and start writing the instructions. Sometimes I'll remove a photo that doesn't help the reader and everything behind that page has to be re-organized.

After that's all done, spelling, punctuation, grammar checked and photos double checked for proper positioning, I have someone else read through the pattern looking for good flow and mistake.

Sometime I have to re-shoot a photo at a different angle and insert. I kind of hate that, but it happens. Mistakes if found are fixed.

Then finally I move on to the beauty shot.


A beauty shot is the great looking photo for the front of the PDF. I also use my beauty shots for marketing my patterns and for photos on my website.

This was one I was considering showing the 2 versions of penguins you can make from this pattern, I think it's too plain though. So I had another idea which I still need to shoot that will be much better.

 Here's a shot I did for my Happy Earth Guy Pattern.

 And a shot I did for my Bunny In The Grass Ornament.

Lastly it's time to make the PDF.


 PDF is short for Portable Document File. It allows you to take multiple pages and combine them together into a single document that can be sent by email or downloaded. It's seriously the best thing ever. PDF's can be opened by a free program called Adobe Reader.

If you enjoyed this post about pattern making I have another short post here you might enjoy too! 

Here's a link to an old post series I wrote about creating plush patterns you might enjoy too!

So if you read all the way through to the end, yay and I have a gift for you! 

Sign up for my newsletter now and you'll get FREE access to this pattern when it comes out AND be entered into a GIVEAWAY of one of the prototypes! I know, so cool right? 

Click here to sign up!

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Mary Ann said...

I wish some other designers I know took as much care with their patterns. When I see that I have purchased a hand drawn pattern from someone I usually don't purchase any more from them. A professional look shows you care about your customers:)

sassypackrat said...

Thanks Mary Ann! I work hard to make my patterns look great.


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