Patterns and tutorials

From an Idea to a Quilt Pattern OR How I Work

This spring and summer were crazy busy and so much has happened. First, I have realized that my goal of blogging weekly is just not feasible with my life. So plan on hearing from me once a month. If you want to see what I am doing the rest of the time, please follow my Instagram @betterdonequilts. I typically post about 5 days a week on Instagram. I taught my first quilt class – the Tree of Life Pattern – at Capital Quilts and I learned a lot! I also was featured in Capital Quilts gallery and they did a video of me. You can check it out here.

I have also been working on getting a new quilt pattern ready to publish. I thought I would share the timeline for this one. It is my third self-published pattern, Mai Tais on the Lanai. This is the first quilt I designed in my Cocktail Quilts series, all of which use the Drunkard’s Path block. In September 2019, I was just exploring the Instagram quilting community and found my first give-away string. For this one, you had to follow a person, like the post and make and comment, then follow the prompts to do the same for a total of 10 accounts. The prize was a full set of Anthology Fabrics Island Home batiks, designed by Natalie Barnes. I was shocked when I won and a quilty mentor suggested that I design a new pattern for the fabrics.

I loved the colors of the fabric and immediately thought about tropical cocktails on an elegant lanai. I decided to work with a five-inch Drunkard’s Path block, and I used acrylic templates from Whole Circle Studio.

My plan was to write the pattern as I made the quilt. I thought I would be done by the end of 2019. Unfortunately, at the beginning of November a close family member was seriously ill and I spent November and December flying back and forth between their Midwestern home and my job on the East Coast. Then came 2020…

The upside of teleworking full time was that the 1 1/2 to 2 hours I spent commuting 3-4 days a week was now available for sewing. I finished my first Mai Tais on the Lanai quilt in April 2020, and I loved how it turned out!

I only used fabrics from the collection and I only purchased the blue for the border and binding. I used the scraps and fat quarters that did not make it on the front on the pieced back. This is one of my favorite pieced backs!

I quilted it using the walking foot on my Bernina 1260. I did a simple echo of the tile shapes and it worked out very well.

I did write down directions and took pictures as I worked on the quilt. But the pattern still needed some work and I set it aside “until I had time”. Early in 2021, Amanda from Prairie Folk Quilt Co. put out a call for pattern designers for her subscription service. I sent her a couple of ideas and she liked Mai Tais on the Lanai for a summer quilt. I worked quickly to get the pattern ready for testers and put out a call on Instagram. I finished the instructions, had sample illustrations from my excellent graphic designer (who happens to be my son). I ended up with five awesome testers who gave me critically important feedback on my quilt math, directions that were not clear, illustrations that they wanted and formatting. Here are a few of their quilt tops:


I sent the finished pdf off to Amanda, and started to prepare the print version of the pattern. Print versions often are a little different to allow quilters to see key information, like fabric requirements, without opening the pattern.

The finished pattern has four sizes and a 2-color and 6-color version. It is by far more complicated than anything I have written before. I am very grateful for the experience I gained writing up the pattern for Playtime for the MQG Journal.

During the release week (August 2-August 9, 2021) the Mai Tais on the Lanai pattern is on sale for $10. Get your copy now, before the price goes up!

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