pattern camp is the only camp for me

It has been my secret desire for a very long time to design fabric!

blue flower scatter repeat

I have an entire Pinterest board about pattern and textiles. Shopping for fabric (including window shopping) is my #1 favorite past time next to actually sewing. So when I found a link (on Pinterest, of course!) to Jessica Swift’s Pattern Camp, I knew I had found the only summer camp for me!

An intense, hands-on approach to learning how to make repeating patterns was like a dream come true, and I jumped on it right away.

paisley sketch in green sharpie sketch rendered in black via photoshop


I learned SO MUCH that honestly my head is still spinning with it all! Camp was especially thrilling not only because I was learning something completely new (it’s been a while for me!), but something that I’ve wanted to learn about for such a long time (nothing like satisfying that burning and pining).

So here’s the process…first you start with a sketch. The green ink drawing above came from my sketch book, and was done in bright green Sharpie sometime in May, when I was obsessed with drawing these mandala-style florals and paisleys.

After spending lots of quality time with Photoshop (and learning the hard way that it’s best to start with a drawing in black ink), I was able to turn it into the clean, clear, black and white image on the right. Somehow it rotated in the process of scanning and cleaning up, that was not at all intentional!

inspiration chair and color swatches

Next came color! I used this image (from another Pinterest board of mine) as color inspiration. I remember being intrigued by those particular shades of green and blue when I originally pinned this chair to my “pretty places and spaces” board.

Using the nifty eyedropper tool in Illustrator, I extracted the colors on the right from the chair image, and then altered them a bit to suit my whimsy. I had absolutely NO plan in mind, and it was incredibly freeing and fun to just play with the color wheel. I added a purple because I love purple (obviously) and because why not? Then I went to town on my mandala-style sketch.

second attempt at repeating pattern

I ended up removing the paisley portion of the image, and focusing on the flower and the leaves. After much experimentation, this is the repeating design I came up with. The process of coloring an image and then manipulating it (adding and removing elements, adjusting the colors, rotating, rescaling, reflecting, et cetera) was completely addicting and I could easily get sucked in and just do it all day long.

This is not even the final version of this pattern, I went back and played with the colors quite a bit more. I’ve also gone back and used the full image (and altered it in other ways) to make other patterns. But I love the idea of preserving my first try, so here we are!

What am I going to do next? First thing is I’ve got to sell a kidney to get a major computer upgrade and the new Illustrator and Photoshop software. It’s pricey but amazing. I used a free trial during the course of the camp got completely hooked.

Then, there’s lots and lots of practice in my future! Stay tuned for more patterns, and hopefully some pretty things made with fabrics I designed!




3 thoughts on “pattern camp is the only camp for me

  1. Now I feel totally hooked onto “Pattern Camp” wanting to learn in depth so I can use it with my embroidery machine software which is Bernina software which I think is comparible to Illustrator & Photoshop software. I belong to a group of embroiders who are so very talented in creating “mandalas” and I want to know how to use these mandala designs. Give me any suggestions or sites to go to. “Thanks”


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