Pattern Writing Series – Hiring a Graphic Designer

I am enjoying being part of Cheryl Brickey’s Pattern Writing Blog Series over at Meadow Mist Designs. Today I wanted to include an extra post as part of the series, on the subject of hiring a graphic designer to help create patterns. In a nutshell, this is the one step that allowed me to make pattern design a reality rather than just a “someday” dream. I previously blogged about hiring Lindsie to do my branding redesign and now I consider her a very valuable member of my team!


To decide whether you want to enlist in the help of a graphic designer, ask yourself these two questions: How good are your graphic design skills? What is your time worth?

If you are comfortable with graphic design, and enjoy that aspect of pattern design, you may want to go ahead and do it yourself. Likewise, if you want to invest in the time it takes to learn or if you plan to do graphic design for others, it may be worth it to learn.

However, if you are like me and your time is limited, it may be more cost effective to hire that part out.  My graphic designer Lindsie can get done in an hour what I would struggle with for about 4-5 hours, and I can definitely say that her one hour rate is cheaper than my 5 hour rate! (Contact her if you are interested and she can work up a reasonable quote for you.)

DBLlogo2016In fact, here’s a rule of thumb for any aspect of your business – hire out what you don’t like or what someone else can do more efficiently, and save the work that only YOU can do, or that you WANT to do.

Here’s how it works: I send over a rough sketch of what I want, called a “transcript” and Lindsie sends back proofs. We may do several rounds of proofs until everything is just right, then I sign off on it and she sends me the finals, formatted per my printer’s specifications.

Since I’ve now been published in books and magazines as well as self-publishing my own patterns, I’ve learned the pattern process is basically the same: you create 3 separate “piles” – (1) a pile of words, (2) a pile of pictures, and (3) a pile of rough illustrations. Then the graphic designer magically pulls them all together into a beautiful finish!


Proofing the first set of “piles” for my book Machine Quilting With Style

When I am working with a magazine or book publisher, they edit and publish the work in addition to the graphic design and layout. However, when I am producing my own patterns, I act as editor and publisher. The simplest way to show the graphic design and layout that Lindsie does for me is to show you a few examples of before and after pics.

Here’s the “before” of the very first pattern I designed, Charming Chevrons. With my non-existent graphic design skills, I simply copied and pasted the picture of the quilt onto a blank white piece of paper for the cover. It’s utilitarian but not very exciting, the fonts are boring, and there’s no branding to speak of.


Here’s the cover that Lindsie designed for me which includes both versions of the quilt I’ve made. Notice the logo, fonts and colors all look great and work with the quilts. It’s much more dynamic and exciting to look at. When we finalized this first pattern, I literally had tears in my eyes!


Graphic designers usually charge by the hour and it took about 10 hours for her to create the first pattern because we had to establish a template and a cohesive look. However, now that we know what we are doing, my current patterns only take her about 4-5 hours to knock out. It would probably be even quicker, except that I like to see more in-process drafts, and I tend to make a lot of changes as we go. It’s how I roll. 🙂

Here’s my draft of the back cover of Puzzle Box (my free quilt pattern). Notice that it’s very bare bones, with a few notes about formatting. I’ll send over drafts of the images I want to include as a separate file, and we use dropbox to share the files back and forth.


Here’s the final, jazzed up version:


Doesn’t this look so much nicer than what I did?? Worth. Every. Penny!

Here are a couple of pages from my Modern Logs pattern. For the piles of “rough” illustrations, I will either send over a jpeg I drew in EQ7, a chicken-scratch drawing on paper, or a photograph.  Lindsie works her magic, explodes diagrams when needed and generally pretties them up so what I envision in my head comes out perfect on paper! Again, notice the cohesive fonts and colors – all part of my branding!

page 2 proof

In addition to creating graphic design and layout for my patterns, Lindsie also helps me whenever I need a logo or any illustration. She recently created the image for my Facets Quilt Along from these instructions: use the photo of my quilt and put the words Facets Quilt Along on it. I liked the first image below, but told her it wasn’t quite right – I wanted to see more of the quilt.


Below is the final image I am using, and it only took her 15 minutes to create both!


I’m just barely scratching the surface with this topic, but I hope it’s enough to at least get your feet wet and to assure you that it is well worth the effort to hire the services of a professional, especially if that’s the only thing standing in your way.

Currently I have self-published 4 printed quilt patterns and 6 PDF’s. I have plans to do more, but I have a couple of book projects I need to finalize and get out of the way first!

7 thoughts on “Pattern Writing Series – Hiring a Graphic Designer

  1. SarahZ says:

    Wow! What an eye-opener! I have often wondered about enlisting the help of graphic designers friends or family. Do you think non-quilter designers would be as helpful as Lindsie(sp?) /quilter graphics designers? Thanks so much for this post!

  2. Paige says:

    Christa, this is an EXCELLANT post! You have explained the process so well! The examples you have given with the before and after Lindsie’s magic has been applied is so helpful! Thank you!

  3. Lizzie says:

    Oh Christa, I also got tears in my eyes when I see the firsts and finals!! This was a brilliant example of how hiring a competent expert can take Daunting to Done! They look great! and you’re description really sold me.

  4. cheryljbrickey says:

    Excellent post! I think that there are a lot of quilters out there that are afraid to start writing their own patterns because they feel that they can’t do the illustrations and layout. This post really shows that you don’t have to be an expert at everything and can get help for what you need so that you can focus more on your strengths and what you want to be doing.

  5. scorchedeyebrowstudio says:

    The concept of Opportunity Cost is so important to remember and honor. As one-woman-bands, many artists forget that, even if they CAN do everything, it’s often more cost-effective to hire out the work that you don’t do easily or don’t like, because it frees you up to do the higher-return stuff. Great post!

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