A Quilt Pattern Bites the Dust


 Update:  This quilt pattern is now available here in my shop!

This quilt has been sitting completely finished for at least a year.  Here is it's story.  Once upon a time when the whole 'tribal' trend was in its early stages, I had a flash idea of a quilt design.

As an aside, I call it a 'flash idea' when I suddenly have a mental picture of the finished quilt design.  When this happens, I could (but only sometimes actually do) sit down and draw the whole thing out immediately before it fades.  This 'flash idea' type is different than the other type of idea I tend to have more often, which is more of a fuzzy concept, like 'how about if I made a striped gray and white quilt with 2.5" squares?'.

So back to this quilt.  I had the flash idea, and I actually drew it out.  It looked identical to the quilt above, only I had envisioned pink along the side instead of periwinkle.

The idea originated because I had been looking at the Delectable Mountain quilt block in an old book and had thought it would make a great quilt design that would shamelessly fit in with the Aztec trend;)  I immediately thought it might be THE quilt design that I'd manage to make into a PDF pattern to sell.

So I started trying out blocks and puzzling away.  My first problem was that the original block I was trying to make, in which you make a huge half square triangle and then cut it into four strips and rearrange it, ends up making a rectangular shape.  This is because you cut this half square triangle into four strips and then when you sew it back together you lose a few inches in seam allowance.

So why the big deal?  Well, this 'squashed' new rectangular block completely messed with my original look, which absolutely needed this shape to be taller.  So my only solution was to overcompensate and make the half square triangle into a half square rectangle.  This is automatically a lot trickier, especially to explain clearly and simply in a pattern.  I worked on this for ages and made so many blocks!

In the end I did get a completed rough draft of the pattern.  I even got my mom to pattern test it for me, and I made another version, the scrappy one below.  (I had a picture of the one my mom made, but I can't find it, grrrr.)
 



I wrote it up in three sizes.  Because the whole impact of the design would be lost by adding or subtracting blocks to make smaller and larger sizes, I increased and decreased the size of each block so that the different quilt sizes would all look the same.

Then I kind of got stuck because somehow I wasn't quite happy with my method of explaining.  I find this to be a really hard aspect of writing a tutorial or pattern.  I think maybe I expect a bit much of myself (at least when I really analyze others' patterns) but I try so hard to make everything perfectly clear and in the end it all feels like a muddled mess to me!  Not to mention that  I know zilch about graphic design...

So I put it on the shelf for awhile.... and now there's so many similar quilt patterns available, and I've second guessed it to pieces...and have officially sworn off of ever trying to write another pattern.

So this all sounds very Woe Is Me!  But truly it's not, although I do cringe when I think of all the time I spent on some of these patterns.  I realized that I simply don't have the skills in this area, and although selling pdf patterns seems like a great way to make some money, it's just not for me!  I'm really happy with this realization and for now I'll just keep making quilts and selling them for enough to make my hourly wage.  It's what I'm happiest doing anyway! 

52 comments:

  1. Your quilts are always so refreshing. I'm sorry about all the time you invested but at least now you know ; )
    Happy quilting today

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  2. They're gorgeous!!! And you know I'da bought a pattern! :) I'm amazed at the difference between the first crisp option and the scrappy second.. Love them both tho!

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  4. I love the scrappy look of that second quilt. I would have loved a pattern for this.

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  5. Here's to knowing our limitations!!
    It's not a defeat but a win on learning more of what makes you happy! Beautiful quilts are sometimes best left as just that... beautiful and one of a kind ;)

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  6. I love both color/print styles. And yes, count me in on a pattern!

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  7. Well, I love BOTH of these!! And would love to have a pattern or instructions, girl :)

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  8. Oh, these are excellent! I completely understand your reasons for not wanting to pursue pattern writing, but you do have a talent for designing awesome quilts. Maybe if you ever decide you would like to be more of a 'sponsored' blog, you could post some of these pattern projects you have abandoned as a 'free tutorial' as a draw to your site. For me, if something is free, my expectation is not for perfection.

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  9. Jolene this looks amazing!! I love your pattern! I'm a little sad that you've decided against pattern writing, and I wonder if you're not being a little hard on yourself!? I would buy this pattern! Your construction method sounds really interesting, I love patterns that come together in unexpected ways. I can understand sticking to what you enjoy though.

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  10. Having tried writing patterns (and I have zero skills in graphics...which is frustrating), I think it can take the joy out of creating. So do what you enjoy and excel at. Keep it fun.

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  11. Yes, I've come to the very same conclusion. I have several in various stages and obviously ADD has set in and I am bogged down with UFO's so I know and feel the anxt in this decision, but who knows, things might change! Love your blog!

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  12. I'm so sorry about your problems, but GAAAAAHHHHHH, I love these quilts. Especially the first one. And the second one. Not sure about your mom's, but if she has your sense for color and print, then probably it too. I would love for you to complete your pattern project. I know there are similar things, but I really do like this exact look.

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  13. I completely understand why technical writing doesn't appeal. You're the Margaret Atwood of the quilt blog world! You write about quilts -- the creative process, its role in your life -- with a real voice that people can relate to. Your quilts deserve a beautifully printed coffee table book accompanied by their stories, not instructions for how to replicate them. Not that your quilt isn't lovely, and I'm sure your pattern is much clearer than you imagine (there are some pretty badly written quilt patterns being sold, I'm sure yours is much better!).

    I hope everything is going well with your new baby. I've just made it through the first year and a bit with my third and I'm finally getting some sleep and feeling more human. Less time feeding, more time sewing! It's just delightful watching the kids interact; my older two are as besotted by the baby as their parents. You've got such fun ahead of you!

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  14. I love this pattern and both of the quilts shown. If you change your mind about the pattern, I would be happy to be a tester! Until then, I'll just keep looking at your pretty quilts.

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  15. I happen to like this patter much more than some of the other Aztec inspired quilts I've seen. Nicely done!

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  16. I think we would all love to buy your patterns!!! I do understand though. Your work is amazing!! I am loving the scrappy version sooo much!! Love seeing all of your quilts, thanks for sharing!!!

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  17. Love both of your quilts ~ they are stunning! I would definitely buy your pattern. I like the look of your pattern much more than any others I've seen. B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!!!!

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  18. I have always been a fan of your work. I was recently looking at the delectable mountain block what a coincidence. Its a shame you decided not to pursue pattern writing, I am sure it would be better than most patterns out there. You are being too hard on yourself. Everything is subjective in life. I continue to look forward to your work, no matter what you decide to do.

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  19. Congrats on realizing what makes you happiest and being able to let go of something that stresses/distresses you!

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  20. Beautiful quilts! I'm glad you realized what you love and your talent is amazing. Enjoy the process and focus on your favorite parts. I love everything you make!

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  21. Hi!
    I first came across your blog a few months ago (I think through pinterst). I just want to tell you how much I adore every single one of your quilts. You're a true quilt artist and your work is very inspiring!
    I totally understand how you feel about not selling your pattern. (I would feel the same way). But! I do want to encourage you to go ahead and sell it! It's such a fabulous pattern and I'll bet is very well written.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful work!
    Sara

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  22. Hi! I love your pattern ans ecpesially I love the scrappy one! I hardly ever buy patterns but this I would love to make with a pattern, not to need the time for measuring and planning. Because you already spent so much time for this fantastic quilt and pattern Project, I think you should start to sell the pattern. There is enough 'space' for all the patterns. x Teje

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  23. I adore these quilts!!! I do appreciate talented people such as yourself that can visualize and create. Blessings!!

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  24. The first one is my favorite. Love the quilting on it.

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  25. I truly love this quilt pattern and this block (made a delectable mountain quilt too though not like yours). It is hard to put more complex patterns into words and we don't all have that gift. I hope you find someone who can do that for you so I can make this quilt!

    If not I'll just enjoy looking at it...

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  26. Beautiful quilt! Sounds like you might want to hire someone to do the writing of the pattern for your design. Might be worth it in the end.

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  27. I love your block and the resulting quilts. I have a very similar block on my design wall. I am trying different methods to "unsquish" the delectable mountain. I am not a big pattern purchaser. I inevitably make a mistake or skip a step and get frustrated. Its more fun and satisfying for me to experiment and figure things out on my own. I am definitely inspired by others, but I like creating my own individual quilts.

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  28. oooh, this is such a lovely quilt. Sorry to hear about all the obstacles, I still think this would make a great pattern. Your eye for color and design is so wonderful and I'd be happy to buy your quilting patterns or a book written by you for sure.

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  29. Lovely quilts and a true quilt story! Love every obstacle on my quilts way. They add something to the project and it makes them more special.

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  30. I would like to buy one of your patterns, if you go that route! I love the scrappy one, and I can appreciate all the hard work you put into that - wow. I'm hopeless when it comes to figuring out how to write patterns, so I need people like you!

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  31. Sounds like our brains work in a similar way. I find it frustrating when my 'flash idea', as you call it, takes so long to get into a tangible state! It's a beautiful pattern and looks wonderful in both the scrappy and non-scrappy versions. Although the whole tribal thing way be waning now, the prairie and navajo looks are coming back with a vengeance, and this quilt would work as a navajo blanket inspired piece. Thanks for all your lovely posts, you make it look so easy :)
    xoClair

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  32. I would certainly purchase your pattern! Love both your examples!

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  33. As someone who is also designing and writing patterns I completely understand. There is A LOT of work that goes into figuring out a pattern and explaining it well. Wish more people understood this and appreciated it. In the long run it's good to know what it is about quilting that you love and what you don't. For me it's the actual machine quilting that I don't love and have had to come to terms with letting someone else do the quilting. Your work is beautiful so do what you love.

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  34. This sounds so much like me. My second guessing myself kills a lot of my ideas. I think you should do the patterns. You've already done so much of the work! Maybe get someone else to write it up for you? That might be helpful in getting you started. Anyway, I really like them both. Nice job!

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  35. Wow! Love your quilt. I think the pattern is very striking, but you have a clear talent for choosing colors and fabrics to compliment whichever one you're using! I enjoyed the honesty in your post. I have been trying to write a pattern, get it ready to sell and it's incredibly frustrating. Not sure it's for me either. I'd really rather be making.:)

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  36. I just adore the top quilt. I'm the same. I've made one pattern. It sells well, and people say it's very clear, but when I see other patterns (like Anna Maria Horner's) written out with simple line drawings on one or 2 pages, I wonder if I'd ever trust the process enough to be that concise.
    If you ever decide to release it (or want another editor), I would absolutely love to make this! :)

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  37. Love the detail in your fabric choices. The dark "print", not solid in the first quilt with a vintagey back....
    And the burgundy? with a bit of blue print fabric in the second one....

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  38. I love the pattern! I would definitely buy a copy 😄

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  39. Beautiful quilt design, Jolene! I'd love to proof/test it for you - I do the same for Freckled Whimsy - and you might find it's not so hard to understand as you think it is! From the comments, I think you'd sell a bunch of them! Email me if you are interested…. salliesue57 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  40. Hey Jolene,
    Your beautiful eye and colour sense has done it again. I love both quilts, especially the scrappy one.
    Are you being too hard on yourself with your assessment of your pattern? These quilts are both beautiful and a pattern would surely sell. Maybe you could find someone who likes the writing part. I for one would love to make this.

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  41. well, you did get two amazing looking quilts out of it! i especially love the quilting on the scrappy version.

    and i feel EXACTLY the same way about when i try to explain clearly for a tutorial or patter (writing my first one now) - it all just sounds like a muddled mess to me in the end. fortunately, i have only done tutorials and patterns for free on my blog and not spent too much time on them. if people can't follow my tutorials or patterns, well, they're free! so i don't feel the pressure quite as much as if i was trying to sell them. but it is amazing how hard it is to be precise and concise when explaining anything. not my skill set either!

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  42. I would very much like to buy this pattern. I think your quilt is the nicest I've seen of this type.
    If you reconsider and decide to sell it, you'd make me very happy!

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  43. I so want to make this quilt! . Please do the pattern !

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  44. Great post! LOVE the quilt as well... I LOVE GREEN and it worked REALLY well in this! I want to make one now! I have a few quilts I have been putting off for awhile now as well for patterns... and this gave me the boost to get up and do it finally before it is out there from someone else. Either way... I may find myself in the same boat as you and with you writing this post, I will be ok with that. If I don't finish them by the end of this year, then I just need to accept that I am just good at making quilts and not patterns. Not that I strive on making some for a necessary purpose other than others enjoyment; however I just thought the ideas of the quilt were good and that others would want to make it as well. Thanks for this post, for various reasons!

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  45. L-O-V-E this quilt and want to make one today!

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  46. I love both of your quilts and your mum's too !

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  47. I had already cut 8.5x10" HSRs to do something like this when I saw your post. (Now I know that they still don't finish square, but close) I strip cut and assembles two test patches and found that both sets of "mountains" go down, left to right. Put the project away. Started again today and now all my mountains - ALL OF THEM! - go UP left to right. I must have to do with using rectangles, and not being able to rotate them freely, RST, before cutting. HOW did you solve this?? See? Your (non)pattern has a market!

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  48. After I saw this post I googled and tried to find a pattern like yours. There isn't one as good. I love what you did. No other version will do. Please don't give up.

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