Balloco Quilt by Crafty Planner

Sewing Patterns and a Quilt Top

Every time you decide to make a new pattern, you are essentially testing it.  I have tested fantastic patterns and some not fantastic patterns.  After my experiences, I thought I would share my thoughts about buying and using patterns.

Yes, I’ll buy this pattern…

What are a few characteristics of a good pattern for me?

Pictures of the steps.  I’m a visual learner and need to see how things should look while I am making them.  It helps if the pictures are in color and easy to read.

Clear directions in each step.  I made one pattern where the directions were given in paragraph form and each line was a completely different direction.  To top it off, the paragraph had headings that did not coordinate with all (or any) of the steps.  That pattern took me and a friend almost 20 hours to complete!!  After making one (and making a TON of notes), I understand the pattern better but it was trial and error.

Makes assumptions of the reader. There is nothing more frustrating than buying a pattern to find out that the designer assumes you know how to finish a step without instruction.  Simply saying to “box corners” may make sense to someone who has made a bag before but there is always someone who has not and needs more direction.

Includes pertinent information.  Details like seam allowance and thread choices may seem redundant.  While most quilting patterns use a 1/4″ seam allowance, bags can use a variety of seam allowance and garments tend to be 5/8″.  Depending on one person’s experience, they may not know what is considered the standard seam allowance. or a pattern may not have been designed that way. Thread color/weight can also be important too.

Why, yes, I did read the directions… maybe…

What can you do to help with your pattern experience?

Read the entire pattern before pulling supplies.  Are you done?  Read it again.  It is important to understand how all of the supplies are put together and how you will be using them before you start.  I cannot tell you how many times I ended up needing more supplies not on the supply list after reading the directions.

Go Slowly. I am fairly certain I am not the only person who waits until the last minute to make a gift!  Come on, you can admit it to me! Waiting until the last minute is when you pull out your tried and true patterns, NOT when you try a pattern for the first time.

Make a Prototype. When my sweet friend Jessica wanted a Boxcar Tote, I had never made one before.  Before I made a commitment to her, I asked to make a prototype.  Sometimes, I have moments of brilliance!!  Because of my prototype, I refined steps in the pattern and through using my bag, I realized I wanted to do things differently like add bag feet.  I also takes notes on my patterns to remember what worked for me.

Unless they are made by well-known designers, I tend to stay away from free patterns.  Most of the time, they are not tested and no one has the time/materials to spend on a pattern that is not going to work out.

Now… why am I writing all about patterns?

Leila Gould put out a call on Instagram for pattern testers.  Leila and I have traded fabric in the past and I love her style.  I immediately (it was 2am and I was sending emails!!) emailed her to ask to be a tester.  She sent me this pattern:

Pattern by Leila Gould

Isn’t it just stunning!?!  I love the sleek design and interplay with the colors.  She was inspired by artwork by Mario Balloco.  It was VERY tempting to make it in the solids she used (and the exact colors are included in the pattern).  However, I also wanted to make a sample for her showcasing different fabrics.  So what fabric line do I love that has red, yellow, green, blue, and grey in mostly solids?  Do you guys know where I’m going with this??  You’re almost there…. YES!  Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets.  (I swear I do not get a commission from sewing with Pearl Bracelets.  I just love them.  But if any of you know Lizzy, can you let her know that I super heart love them!?!)

Here is my finished quilt top!

Balloco Quilt by Crafty Planner

The pattern was great!  In addition to providing the solids you can use to complete the quilt, Leila also provided the color theory behind the quilt.  She included instructions about thread, seam allowance, diagrams (with dimensions) on how to piece the quilt along with step by step directions (including chain piecing ideas).  Her clarity meant that I cut the fabric for the throw sized quilt and pieced the top within 3 hours.   Ummm…  that’s fantastic for me!  It is my new tried and true baby quilt.  The pattern is still in production (potentially next month!) so I will update this post when it’s available.  (Please note that I did not get paid to write this review.  The pattern was provided for free; however, my opinions are my own.)






Comments 2

  1. Wow! Your quilt top is so bouncy and joyful! Those pearl bracelets add so much movement to the quilt! And i love and agree with what your wrote about using patterns. I wanted this one to be completely clear to a novice sewist, so I hope that when it’s ready for publication it will be practically perfect (in that respect :-)). Thank you, thank you, Sandi, for being such a thorough reviewer of this draft!

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