Going from frustrated to “Woo hoo, I can design!”

I suppose they could be used for something else???


I thought you may like to read an excerpt from the design master plan about how my book and design journey began and things I learnt along the way.  It’s close to my heart and you may find a few things in here ring true for you too.  Forgive the lack of illustrations, it’s one of the few pages in the book without them. Enjoy…the conclusion!


For me personally, I found going from pen and paper to creating designs on the computer-well in all honesty—it was like believing that the world was flat to discovering it was round and waiting to be explored. It helped me tweak designs in a way I hadn’t done before, created new problems to solve, and multiple solutions that lead to bigger and better things. As I was able to alter designs so quickly (with the click of a button) I realised that I was using the same processes time and again, and that a system was developing. I had the time to explore every possibility and was able to find solutions to every problem within the process.

Not only was the amount of time saved incredible, but the number and variety of designs created with my basic pattern was totally unexpected. And as I like to say, I get to take credit for them. Now I don’t spend an hour getting one great design, I get 20 to 30 in that time-all related, to use in many areas of the quilt, giving it a sense of unity, and a feeling that a great deal of effort has gone into choosing and creating designs. Only you and I know the secret! It then takes a day or two to get the designs polished up and into their
own files—that’s if I don’t get distracted and take the design in another direction!

I found the elimination of all but the basic mathematics a relaxing experience, and a protractor and ruler are no longer at my side. For all my praise for using a computer program, I reiterate that I champion your right to use any method, or methods you wish to create your designs. After all, it’s the end result that matters and you are the only person it has to please. The best news is that even if you use a pen and paper—all of this-the design principles and troubleshooting will relate to your design process.

So how did this book come about? Finding quilting designs felt like a mountain I needed to conquer after seven years of throwing my hands in the air with frustration when it came to quilting the quilt. Insert scream here. I used to just end up stitching in the ditch, feeling annoyed at myself for not thinking of something wonderful to quilt. I decided I wanted to enjoy every part of the quilt process and not just the patchwork side of it. So I started to search for designs outside quilting books. Luckily, I didn’t have a style then so everything was fair game. I still think I’m lucky not to have a style over 20 years later.

When I went to community college to learn how to use the CAD program, I found out about the pattern brush tool and said to the teacher, “There should be a book written for quilters on this!” A list of names went through my head as to who should write it. Then I heard a voice in my head asking why I couldn’t write it? Thus, the book began. I started with my machine quilting notes and went from there incorporating what I learnt in class. Looking back on it, this book is based on what I learnt after class, just playing around with this one tool on the computer. Quite quickly, it became something that I was born to explore and write about. Solving design problems along the way was a great way to learn. I realised that by only playing with one design to the point of getting it right for one particular quilt had been inhibiting my learning about creating patterns.

Exploring every aspect of a design with no quilt in mind gave me the insight I needed into how the whole design process truly works. Now when I see a design element, my mind starts racing, and my fingers and stylus are going as fast as they can on the keyboard and graphic tablet. The funny thing is I still never know what to expect from the session!

I learnt that playing with designs is not a waste of time—even though it is time that I could be using to make a quilt. It has taken my creativity to heights that I didn’t think were possible. I want to challenge myself in every way and for the first time, I have the confidence to incorporate quilting designs into the initial design process. Does this mean that designing an original, complicated quilt with a colour scheme from scratch is easy? No. I am just not as frustrated by it anymore. I know I’ll solve any issues that arise by playing around with an idea and expecting the unexpected. I now see it as a challenge. And if I can do it, you can do it too.

I hope your love of quilting and creativity grows beyond your wildest dreams. Enjoy the learning process, explore every possibility and most of all, take an idea on an adventure and see where it leads!

Happy quilting,



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