Pattern design : using watercolor sketches

Watercolors and the print on the fabric

Hello, pattern lovers!
Welcome to my blog!
I am so excited to be a part of the blog tour held by a very talented 
Bonnie Christine who is a fabric designer for the Art Gallery Fabrics (my favorite fabric company, love their textiles!)
She also a quilter and an avid DIY-er, you can see her beautiful creations on her blog @

Don't forget to check out these lovely blog hoppers that are linking to the party:
 Erin Stewart @
Racheal Mckeeman @
(I love how there is a flower in each blog name!)

Click on the image below to see the list of cool blogs participating in the tour 
and see what interesting they are sharing.

design surface patterns from scratch blog tour!

As a part of the tour I am going to talk about how I transform my watercolor sketches into a pattern repeat. This is a super fun way to create a unique pattern using fast watercolor paintings, drawings,
pencil sketches, etc. 
So, to start with turning your lovely watercolors into a pattern you will need Adobe Photoshop for editing your artwork and Illustrator to make a repeat. You need a basic knowledge of these programs and some experience in editing and arranging images. I will try to describe the process in details, but it is not a tutorial, more of an inspiration. (You will find the resources for learning at the end of this article).

Here is the final product of what I am going to talk about today - the top I made from my own fabric
and I can't be happier with it!

I designed the fabric using the watercolor with butterflies I painted earlier this summer

So here is how I did it.

- 1 -
I watercolored lots of wings, small and big butterflies, mixing different shades of blue, with a big round brush on a regular watercolor paper, and let my imagination flow. A lizard made it there, too. 
I painted freehand emphasizing on texture and a fluid effect of watercolor.
There is no end of possibilities here!

Watercolor wings

- 2 -
I photographed each sheet individually in a crisp day light, making sure the paper is flat and there is no shade. I prefer to take photographs for digitizing the watercolors rather then scanning. My scanner works better for black and white images and looses a lot of fine details of watercolors.
I transferred  images to the computer, cropped and then opened them in Photoshop.
When I have done that, I cleaned the artwork by erasing speckles, sharpened and adjusted the colors, saturation, levels, brightness, etc. to the way I was happy.
I made sure I had an image on a transparent background, by deleting the white part completely.
(There are different ways of doing this, look up tutorials on-line).

This is how it looked like in Photoshop at that point.
(still not sure how the lizard fits in here:))

Fullscreen capture 982014 104155 AM.bmp

- 3 -
I arranged butterfly wings and middle parts (the lizard will wait for another time!),
reflecting and copying the wings, rotating and adjusting the scale of the parts.
I also warped and free transformed the wings a little bit to make them not too symmetrical.
Make sure the layers are set to "Multiple", so that your images have that "see through effect".
Here are the two final butterflies after editing. 


I saved the images as Photohop files and opened them in Illustrator by Placing in the New Document.
Embed and scale. 
Now the fun part begins!
Creating a future repeat is the most creative part of this process.

- 4 -
In Illustrator I created a square for a background and placed my butterflies on top on a different layer and started arranging them in a repeat.
To compose a correct repeat is a tricky part and there are different ways to approach it. 

You must have learned ins-and-outs from watching the Bonnie Christine's online class Design Surface Patterns From Scratch 
it is the greatest online video class on the subject and still available for download. 
I learned that she does not use the Pattern Mode that built-in the new Illustrator SC6. She instead creates a swatch by choosing the repeat and dragging it to the swatch menu, and then fills the new box with the new fill. It allows to control the motif placement easier, but I am still not sure how to create more complex repeats. Also, the part of re-coloring the artwork is most amazing! Of course, the pattern has to be in Illustrator format in order to be re-colored. 

Overall, everybody seems to find their own way that suits their unique design style, some people use only Photoshop to create a pattern, some use a combination of both programs, some use only Illustrator. I watched many tutorials before it got clear to me. I also found bits and pieces about it in the books that are on the picture below. If you did not see the video class, I recommend to check out these links:

1. How to get started with Adobe Illustrator 
2. How to make a repeat pattern swatch in Adobe Illustrator
3.  How to make an Overlapping Halfdrop repeat pattern (by Bari J.)
4. Pattern making tool in Illustrator
and many many more that you can find just searching the web.

House Block tutorial : free download

As I noticed in quilting magazines, on the web, and especially on Pinterest
the little houses are never out of fashion. At least for the last 200 years!

Plus, they are relatively easy to make if you have a pattern. 
The fabric combination is pretty easy, too - only two contrasting colors and lots of fun scraps.
Here is my version of this timeless cuteness, you can download the pdf document from here
by clicking on the image below, and it will open a 7 pages tutorial.
You can download, print and use it for free.
 (For personal use only)
PDF tutorial on the house block

House Block sewing instructions

Blue house quilt

Earlier this year I finished this quilt, all the posts about the progress are here
 I happened to love my blue hand-quilted House Quilt and I thought it would be a good idea 
to clean up the original drawing and write down some directions.

I know I will get back to this block again later to make another quilt, bigger (of course) 
and with different colors, and will definitely need  printed instructions in front of me
in order to save time and not to mess up the measurements.

Please, feel free to leave a comment and to share your house block experience here or on Pinterest!
I would looove to see all the house quilts in the world.