My pattern repeats are smoother than my segues from one blog post to the next, but I never claimed to be editorially expert, so …

For the recent ‘geology‘ challenge I was going to do strata as stripes but it seemed a few others had the same idea so I ditched it (although I might go back to that at some point). I’d intended to build a cohesive collection but then I discovered Grut Brushes and was monumentally distracted by playing with them all.

Best $20 ever spent on any Photoshop add-on! The brushes have excellent flow and variety, and I have no complaints – except that the PDF list (just for CS6 users; CC subscribers are able to use a preview plugin) has really tiny labels. I made a more readable version which you are welcome to use: grut brushes guide.

The next Spoonflower challenge was ‘endangered species‘ so I finally got on with creating a collection for that instead. It’s no mean feat: achieving variety of scale, value and colour; open and closed ground; lead designs and supporting designs – without losing a sense of cohesion. I don’t yet think I’ve mastered it but I’m on the right path now.

coordinates for wordpress


Challenge set, challenge met

After deciding I should create a cohesive collection, I think I’ve achieved it with this lot. The brief was to create a pattern under the title ‘Centre Stage’, being a theatrical theme, thinking ‘under the spotlight’ and so on. I had the velvety red curtain in mind, as well as a literal star as my focal point. The lead design in this (the busiest one) contains most of the elements which I’ve then leaked out into more than a dozen coordinates. Spots and stripes are represented, along with a garish floral, a loose tartan, and some bold geometrics. I could go even further with this but the colour scheme started to wear me out. I might revisit this later in calmer blue tones and add some curvier shapes.

Marketed Up

The recent extra mention on Spoonflower has definitely encouraged an upturn in sales. I’m pleased to say I’ve been included in another promotion, with a (much older) pattern of mine was suggested “for the handyman” in their ‘50 teatowel designs for everyone on your list’. Christmas shoppers get busy!


Marketing assistance

4AF48703-695F-4A47-B81C-08E5A4E6712B.jpegSpoonflower have another 2-for1 deal on fat quarters, and have featured my botanical Block Print design in a small selection of promoted designs. It will be interesting to see if this has an impact on sales in the coming week. Have a look in my shop for a bargain!

Top ten winner!

58EAC7AD-9915-4EF2-A630-28FD1AC5E29CI’m very pleased that my hard work paid off in the Botanical Block Print contest at Spoonflower this week (just snuck in at number 10). There were around 430 entries and loads of really great designs so I am extra happy to do so well in light of that. I’ve been credited with $20 to spend on the site, plus they’ll send a tea towel featuring my design from their sister site Roostery. Thanks to all who voted for me!


This week’s Spoonflower contest has been fun, and I got carried away creating different designs. With a set colour palette to adhere to, and a theme of ‘Winter Mod’, I’ve summoned up a 60s vibe, have 6 possibilities, and can’t decide which! There are 3 ogee baubles, 2 abstract lights, and one Miro-inspired jumble of illustrations. What one wins?

Scattered Thoughts

I couldn’t settle on a clear process today. The brief was to create a repeat pattern on the theme of “farm to table”. To get into the flow, I started on a fruity still life. It wasn’t really happening, despite a few switches in style and method, so I got onto Illustrator and worked on some vector images. I like the eggcups and the ogee design, but still it didn’t really say local produce to me. Finally I used my Wacom tablet to draw some seasonal fruit & veg and settled on a multi directional toss. I suppose a salad would’ve been better to toss but there you go.

Digital over traditional

Ooh, I love doing Lino cuts! The latest Spoonflower tea towel challenge is Botanical Block Prints. So I drew some culinary herbs in my sketchbook, traced them onto transparent polymer, coloured the areas to cut with a black pen, and started with the knife. I even have a special cutting board with edges to help avoid slicing into my hand as I carve. Fully prepared! A few outlines in and I remember why I haven’t done this in years. It’s minutes before your hands start to cramp up and the whole process takes forever.

I abandoned this approach while I still had some enthusiasm for it and set to faking it in Illustrator instead. A few partially erased strokes and grunge textures later and I had in an hour what might’ve taken all day. I’m happy with this. I decided against a stand-alone design, preferring to have a repeat pattern available for dressmaking and home decor, not just tea towels.


Endless variations

What I really enjoy, once I’ve completed a design, is trying out numerous styles of repeat, and loads of different colour ways. I can lose hours in umpteen permutations. It might not be the most economical use of my time, but it’s therapeutic and I chalk it up as a chance for my subconscious to work through new ideas.

The next two weeks’ tea towel contests at Spoonflower have led to some repeat pattern coordinates I’m quite pleased with. The pattern types include a toss, half-drop, dot, and stripe.*

Instead of habitually applying a single illustrative element to multiple arrangements, I want to apply more effort to generating strong sets of coordinates: a complex lead design supported by significantly different patterns – (e.g. ditsy/bold abstract/spot/stripe) at contrasting scales and with a connected palette.


*If you clicked through from Twitter, this is a slider of a dozen images (not immediately obvious).