10 things to Include in a Written Pattern

cropped-screen-shot-2012-04-16-at-3-39-16-pm1.jpgBecoming a pattern designer can be very tricksy. It can be quite challenging to figure out the pattern for the desired product, but then you have to turn around and make it understandable to others. The time, patience, energy, and resources that go into creating a pattern that you are comfortable selling can be quite immense. I think it is important to have a list of what to include so that nothing important gets left out. Then, to make sure that it makes sense and is easy to understand to other people, it is important to send that pattern to testers who are willing to give feedback. So, along with the question of “what sort of information needs to be included in my pattern?” many designers also want to get the most feedback from their testers and might be wondering “what sort of questions should my testers be answering?” Wether you are working on a pattern and want to include all of the information needed, or you are employing testers for a pattern you designed, these are the things that you just don’t want to forget.

  1. Check the counting. Anywhere on the pattern where numbers are used, the designer and tester both need to have the same numbers. Even off by one is too much. Does there need to be a count somewhere on the pattern and it was left out?
  2. Are any special instructions easy to understand? If there are any special instructions (a special stitch, a structural design, even designer preferences), they need to be easy to understand and follow.
  3. Does the designer employ the same abbreviations and language style throughout the pattern? When working in rounds, make sure that each one starts with RND and don’t switch to ROW halfway through. Double check the abbreviations and keep the same ones throughout the entire pattern. Each step needs to be written in a similar way.
  4. Inclusion of basic information: Hook size, amount of yarn, type of yarn, gauge swatch. Some patterns don’t matter about hook size, yarn type, or gauges, but many do. And even if it doesn’t matter, always always always, the designer needs to include suggestions and even “I used _________ type of yarn and got this sort of result”.
  5. Pictures. Good photographs, either by the designer or by the testers, will be important for good patterns. While written words are the most important aspect of the pattern, the pictures are going to make it a phenomenal pattern. This will help the readers understand, especially the special instructions or harder to understand portions of the pattern. Plus it is always a good idea to include “this is what your product should look like by this step”, to make sure the reader is with the same understanding as the designer.
  6. Personal touch. Don’t be afraid to include personal pronouns (I, me, my testers…). Also, add in any preferences that you ran into while working on the pattern, give the reader some options for making it a personalized product.
  7. Copy right information. No one wants to think about it, especially when spending so much time on something that becomes really special, but there are copy cats and thieves out there. Someone else is going to steal ideas, try to take credit…they are going to try to steal your work in one of several ways. Even with copyright information, but including it in your pattern to keep yourself safe and possibly deter some wannabe thieves isn’t a bad idea.
  8. Contact information. If anyone has questions about your pattern or the purchase thereof, is it easy for them to ask? If there are video tutorials about the pattern, give the link and password (if there is one), make it as easy on the customer as possible.
  9. Is the sizing correct? Especially when working with clothing items that need to be a specific size, is the designer and the tester getting the same size? AND, is the size appropriate? For example, if you are making a dress for a newborn, it doesn’t need to be so big that it fits a six month old. Include finished measurements in either inches or centimeters whenever possible so everyone is getting the same results.
  10. What about templates? Triple check that the template is the appropriate size…the customer should not ever have to resize it in any way. Be sure to include information about what type of paper to print the template on, if it takes up more than one piece of paper, anything that the customer may need to know about the template and how it works with the product.

If you think of anything else that should be included in this list, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below. I have no doubt that there are many other points hat can be included in such a list. Of course, different types of patterns are going to need specific types of information. A sewing pattern will need fabric type and yardage. A jewelry-making tutorial will require a more extensive list of tools. When employing a new technique, it can only better your pattern by including video tutorials, and if you have a video tutorial, be sure to include the URL website (using http://www. Because older people will not understand that it is a link otherwise) directly on the pattern.

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