It is a week into Spring, and I am posting new patterns for Fall. You are probably thinking I am in the wrong hemisphere! Believe it or not, I am right on schedule for quilt time.  I probably should explain, which means working backward. Yup, quilt shops, designers, fabric manufacturers, fabric designers, and even quilters work backward when planning projects.

Let me give you an example. You decide to make a quilt for a special someone Christmas. It could be any occasion, but we will pick a date most people are recognize. The time for you to make that quilt will depend upon several factors: the complexity of the quilt, size of the quilt, your skill level, and your available time. For this project, let’s estimate that it will take four months to finish. You do have several other demands upon your time and do not have the luxury of quilting as much as you would like. That time includes

  • one week to purchasing fabric
  • one week to cut the fabric
  • two months of piecing, applique and/or other assembly (this person is very special)
  • one week cursing with your seam ripper (no project is complete without it)
  • one month for the longarmer (allotting for their schedules) and
  • one week for binding.

Let’s face it, many of us would like to accomplish things faster than we actually can. Quilters are eternal optimists.  At least that is my excuse as to why my project list is growing faster than my completed quilts. This timeline means you need to start the process in July to be able to ship it by December. Now, you probably understand where the “Christmas in July” started.

If you are buying fabrics and patterns in July for a Christmas gift, then the stores need to have those fabrics and patterns in their shop or in their catalog for you. Makes sense right? Now, we work backward again. The shops need to place their orders for the patterns and fabrics at least a month before that to ensure it arrives when you need it. Therefore, shops are ordering their products in May and June.

How do they know what is available? Quilt designers need to have the patterns ready for shops to select and order the corresponding materials in April and May. These patterns help the shops figure out what to buy and how much of each bolt to buy. Of course, some shops buy whole collections, but patterns make it easier for them and you. This is where I step in as the pattern designer. I need to be ready at this point. So if I need to have a holiday pattern ready for you by April or May, you would need a Fall pattern in March or April. See – right on time!

Taking a step back further, quilt designers need to design, write, edit, test and print the patterns. This process takes a couple of months for more complicated patterns a few weeks for simpler patterns. It is not a process anyone wants to rush. The first step in the process is for the fabric house to provide potential fabric swatches to the designer. These are usually digital images. Designers then conceptualize a pattern that works well with the fabrics, but also fits their design personality. Designers are usually given a week or two to accomplish this. Then, the fabric house provides input on the design. Sometimes that is a few tweaks, an approval or a rejection of the idea. Then, the designer has a week or two to figure out the fabric requirements for the approved pattern. The fabric house uses these estimates for marketing and determining how much fabric to order. Meanwhile, the designer starts writing the pattern instructions and developing the graphics to go with it. Some designers do this in-house, while others hire someone to help them. This may take a week or two, again depending upon complexity. Once the draft pattern is ready, many designers will make the pattern themselves and ask testers to make it too. Pattern testers are so important as they represent you, the quilter. They let the designer know if clarifying language or graphics are needed, if there are typos, or if a block is just darned confusing. Some provide helpful hints to make the pattern easier. Designers love their pattern testers for their knowledge and sense of adventure. Input from the testers is incorporated into the final instructions. The testing phase can take a week to a month, depending upon the number of testers, their availability, and the design itself.

A similar step occurs for the fabric development. Fabric designers created their collections for Christmas at least a year in advance to allow time for the fabric houses to make their selections, edits and develop draft images that are sent to the quilt designers.  Did you realize the level of effort provided to help you make your special someone that gift?

This brings us full circle to the unveiling of a new Fall pattern – Noble Leaves. It features Timeless Treasure’s Neon Nature collection. This beautiful panel quilt is surrounded by a chevron rainbow. It finishes at 54″ square, which make a nice lap quilt or large wall quilt. The panel is perfect for showing off your quilting prowess.

Noble Leaves pattern is available for retail and wholesale in our shop.

Happy Quilting!