5 steps to design a quilt pattern.
1. Dream up an idea. This can take the longest time or it can come in a flash, usually after many hours of daydreaming. Research to see what is already out there. Make sure someone else hasn't already come up with the idea the same way you did. Research can be blended with daydreaming to come up with something new. This is the most elusive part of the whole process.
2. Find the perfect fabric. Or something that will work good enough for the test.
Most designs are not dependent on a specific fabric. Different fabrics can make a design look totally different. Modern, civil war, oriental, batik, or hand dyed.
Some designs are very fabric dependent. Border prints, stripes, edge prints.
3. Now see if it even works. Draw it out in Electric Quilt design software or pencil and graph paper, or with real fabric on the design wall. Does it look the way it was dreamed? Adjust as necessary till the you are satisfied (or excited) with the design, or decide to scrap this direction and return to step 1.
4. Write all the detailed step by step directions. Sounds simple but is the most complex. Everything in order and accurate sizes and sequences with nothing left out or left to chance. Calculate the fabric requirements. Re- calculate them in long hand by listing every piece. Anticipate what can be done wrong and explain how not to do that, and why that shortcut won't work. Don't forget to include seam allowances.
5. Test, proofread, test, make samples, test and then have people totally unfamiliar with the pattern make a few to test the instructions. This is where the rubber meets the road. Are the instructions readable? Understandable? Sewable? Publish and send out to all the Distributors and Local Quilt Shops around the world.
6. Return to step 1.