03 March 2009

Writing patterns

Sometimes it feels as if it takes as long to write instructions for a quilt pattern as it does to actually make the quilt! This week I've written two lots of instructions - one for someone else's quilt and one for a quilt of mine. It is satisfying work, trying to make it as straightforward as possible for the reader to follow, but it always amazes me how much knowledge we take for granted and forget to include.

The thing about published quilt patterns is that you never know where they will go. This means you can never know how experienced the quilter who tries to make your quilt actually is or what they know or don't know.

For example, these days we always assume that a quilt maker knows how to use a rotary cutter and ruler to cut strips, so we don't explain that in a pattern. It is a rare pattern that explains how to do the quilting on a project - usually it is the dreaded 'quilt as desired', which is so unhelpful to the inexperienced.

I'd really like to hear any comments about quilt patterns you have used (without naming and shaming). What information did you find lacking, or what extra information could have helped you make more sense of the instructions? Do you prefer diagrams or step-by-step photos?


  1. I like those (rare) magazines that include a separate page of how-tos, explaining the most basic things. You don't clutter up the project instructions with too much information, but the basic stuff is there if you need it.

  2. Anonymous12:46 pm

    I am sure it takes as long to do the instructions as it does to make the quilt top. And the smaller they are the longer the instructions seem to take!

    Diagrams are usually clearer then photos. I just wish I could do either one of these well! Getting better at the diagrams using EQ to do them.

    Will be very interested to see what others think!

    Judy B

  3. Anonymous3:24 pm

    Hi! Erica,

    I know what you mean about the "quilt as desired" statement this was my stumbling block when I began quilting, being a lifetime stitcher all the construction seemed straight forward but not being aware of modern approaches to machine quilting it took some time to find these out. I'm an isolated quilter having no contact with other quilters so i relied on books, magazines, the internet and later DVD's for instruction. I know space is of a premium with intructions, but some reference to hand, machine, free motion quilting and where to find instruction I think would help. It tookme forever to find out what was meant by stitch in the ditch, it gave me one of those Duh! moments in life as it is almost self explanetery.

    I have again forgotten to register so it's Judy.


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