7 Top Confessions of an Aspiring Pattern Designer

image shows bolts of fabric with the words, "Confessions of an Aspiring Pattern Designer"Is there really such a thing as a pattern designer confession?? Like top confessions? Tippity top confessions??

Ummm, maybe the confessions of pattern designers aren’t that juicy – but I think they’re pretty entertaining, and I daresay relatable to at least a few of you out there.. 

Let’s jump right into the pattern play…


1. Pattern designers will spot patterns in everything.

image shows four photographs of nature alongside four corresponding patterns drawn from the photographs. Like everything. We see patterns in patterns. Patterns in sidewalk squares. In gardens, and buildings, in waffle cones and freckles.. 

Some of the best patterns just pop out of nature. The canopy of trees, the stripes on river rocks, the pattern of lacy ocean waves on the beach.. Floral patterns in the meadows, and the rings of an old tree. If you’re fascinated by patterns, you know what I’m sayin.’

We also notice patterns of behavior. Ooooh! The way we treat others and the way they treat us can fall into their own patterns. Some of our own behavior patterns are empowering and nurturing, and some are not. But sometimes those recurring patterns finally jump out at us and we’re able to see and change something that felt stuck. 

And there’s my little Ted Talk snippet in this little pattern play exploration 😉


2. Patterns just soothe our souls. Actually and factually…

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I know that for some of our busy, restless brains, zoning into patterns can be soothing and relaxing, whether it’s patterns we are creating, or we’re just seeing them out in the world.

The repetition of motifs.. the predictability of parallel lines going into infinity.. the way a large-scale hero print can be grounded by a ditsy neutral coordinate print… Ahhhh! I can just feel my blood pressure meandering down to a lazy river pace… 

If you zone out on patterns, and they zone out on you – you feel me on this. And I’ll meet you in that liminal space where it all makes sense…


3. I’d rather keep a little clutter in my home – if it’s patterned clutter.

And honestly, I will choose patterns to organize my world so even if it’s not cluttered, you’ll still see patterns, patterns, everywhere. 

image shows a montage of four photos with items adorned with surface patterns, satisfying to pattern designers.

I love that my plants sit on three stacked hat boxes covered in different patterns. And that my bowls bring me joy every time I use them. I love the patterns on my planters, the framed fabric on my wall, and that I have cute patterned blankets to cover some of my furniture – so it’s not furry-niture. (did you know I’m a punny pattern lover?).

Maybe I’m just a maximalist. Maybe clutter is a dirty, dirty word that I should never apply to my precious patterned existence… Maybe I’m inspired to go pull out one more patterned blanket to drape somewhere excessive… I dunno…


4. I collect objects just for the patterns. 

Don’t you? Don’t you have a vintage TV tray with a retro pattern? Or bunches of unused but beautiful handkerchiefs adorned in vintage and modern motifs?

I’ve found some really glorious patterned objects while thrifting, and I admittedly have at least one bin with scraps of vintage fabric I simply can’t part with even though I so rarely do fabric crafts. I still love to collect and make my own fabrics, and I am still obsessed with how to become a fabric pattern designer – but I still don’t do many fabric crafts with my sweet little scrap collection. 

On another pattern-loving hand, I do try to bring art and pattern into my world in practical ways for sure – cute calendars, tea towels, throw blankets.. There are so many ways to celebrate so many patterned things. 


5. I can remember events in my childhood by the patterns in my memories. 

image of little girl on a patterned picnic blanket
the pattern of the blanket is burned into my memory, as the bleach jug of drinking water was burned into my esophagus…

Does that even make sense? Maybe it would with a little context – like, I can remember my first day of fourth grade because I can remember the pattern on the deep aqua sweater that I convinced myself was an oversized sweater dress, when in reality I was just super short and tugging it down all day because it wasn’t really a dress, just a larger sweatshirt..

I recall the gold pin striped pattern on my eggplant colored pants in first grade, and how I begged and begged for those pants. Or the pattern of small coffee colored vintage vignettes on my 70s thrifted collared shirt, and how someone behind me in my 11th grade art history class whispered, “hey, brown shirt girl! Can I borrow your eraser?” and that person became a lifelong pal. 

I recall fights over the blue shirt with the white stars, and being wrapped in an orange gingham blanket while sitting around a campfire with my cousins as a small child. 

Patterns have always stood out to me, and some of them now stand as markers of time in my memory. And with this rickety memory – I am forever grateful.


6. Afternoons in fabric stores and vintage shops are more satisfying than chocolate for pattern designers..

image shows bolts of patterned fabric.

And personally, that’s saying so much..

Bolts of patterned fabric.. Patterned dresses of the decades. Felt, cotton, satin, fuzz…

From the patterns to the textures to the walls of color, fabric stores and vintage shops are the places where I take myself on dates (hailing way back to when I’d do The Artist’s Way artist dates).

A smorgasbord of satisfaction tucked neatly into an afternoon..


7. I’m a pattern designer hopelessly devoted to finding my way into art licensing even though I haven’t quite cracked that nut 😉

Though I’ve had this dream to be a successful surface pattern designer for 15 years, I’ve only been playing in illustration and pattern design for the last few years. In that time, I’ve explored technique and style, and to do that it means making a LOT of art! 

And I took a shotgun approach, not really targeting anything in particular, but drawing so many flowers! Oh, how I love them…

Since I started, I’ve trekked through some major life changes in that time, and I’ve dropped the ball on being consistent in making and pitching artwork.. But in my quest to define for myself how to become a pattern designer, I’m determined and devoted to share how I cracked that licensing nut to get an art licensing contract – and then another and another.. Someday soon!

Wish me well, wish me luck, someday these patterns will make me a buck! (or a few, friends..).

If you’re a fellow pattern designer or just a pattern lover, I hope this entertaining little list tickled your pattern fancy – patterns will do that! Wishing you well, and wishing you luck on your own journey to making patterns and bucks 😉

Other posts you may enjoy:

Planning a Creative Journey into Surface Pattern Design

From Sketch to Vector: Vectorizing Raster Art Using Photoshop and Illustrator

Spoonflower Fabric by the Yard: 5 Creative Fabric Projects for Pattern Lovers (Minimal Sewing Required!

Check out my patterns and projects and portfolio on Instagram 🙂