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Portland, OR


Handmade quilts and home accessories by fiber artist Linda Nussbaum. See samples of past projects as well as pieces available for sale and inspirations for custom orders. To see what is currently available for sale, please visit my Etsy Shop.

Surrounded by Scraps

Pattern-writing — more than just designing.

Linda Nussbaum

I'm sorry to say this is a picture-free post.

Earlier this week (or perhaps technically it was over last weekend?) I read a compelling blog post by Marianne on her always inspiring blog The Quilting Edge about a disappointing pattern purchase. I found it truly eye-opening and refreshing, especially coming from the position of trying to develop some patterns of my own. In short, she called out a self-published pattern that she purchased at an LQS (Local Quilt Shop) as being sub-standard. She listed among its faults not only confusing typos but a poor description of the techniques used.

Another aspect of her entry that intrigued me was in the first couple of paragraphs. She points out (and I paraphrase) that for quilting books one can usually find written reviews published in magazines, on people's blogs, written up in trade material, but for some reason finding similar reviews of single patterns is unlikely. So we depend on good old fashioned word-of-mouth and rely on the integrity of our LQSs to steer us well.

The timing on her entry couldn't have been more relevant in my world. As my regular followers may already have read, one of my goals for this year is to finally start publishing my own patterns. I have been working on the writing and layout of just a few to begin with, but I am hung up by one major factor: having trouble finding proof-readers and/or pattern-testers. And I KNOW those are both tasks that must be fulfilled by someone other than the designer in order to have a successful pattern.  Coincidentally I had JUST talked with a quilting friend who is also embarking on pattern-writing, and we will soon be proof-reading each other's pieces. It's a start!

I found Marianne's observations to be very informative. Some of what she cited as the downfalls of this particular pattern happen to be concerns I have about my own writing. It has made me that much more aware of the need to read and reread and then reread again my instructions to make sure I am including everything I should without being overly wordy. Oh yeah. Was that wordy enough for you?? As you may have guessed, that is one of my weaknesses.

I do love the design and drafting process. I am excited to try and bring some of my designs into pattern form and share with other quilters, but I know that I won't be satisfied to put out an inferior product. I KNOW there's no such thing as perfection, would never hope to attempt it, but I do believe that one can provide a superior product if given the time, consideration and discerning eye. I hope to, at the very least, achieve something that other people will enjoy making, won't have too much trouble interpreting and will be happy to recommend to others. Is that realistic?? I've already dedicated much time, and know that there is much more work to do before that happens, but I am ready to keep pushing on, have deadlines and specific goals toward which I am working and hope to have something tangible to share with you all before too much longer. 

Oh, and if there is anyone out there who would be interested in proofing a draft or trying his/her hand at pattern-testing by all means drop me a line and I'll be happy to work with you!! Just sayin'... :-)