Pippa Shaw

Surface Pattern Designer



Cuckoo Collection - updated with screensaver

Bonnie's first Skillshare class was so brilliant I couldn't wait to take this class and set myself the challenge to create a pattern collection.  I first became interested in surface pattern design from seeing all the beautiful quilting fabrics my friend from the US was using and I knew I would love to one day design patterns to be used on fabrics.  Hopefully that dream will come true.

First I needed the inspiration for the story behind the collection.  I was lucky enough to take a trip to my childhood home a few weeks ago to visit my parents, and I knew that their garden would provide me with more than enough memories and material to create something.  I was very lucky with the weather and could sit outside drawing and daydreaming with the sun warming my skin and the Springtime perfumes filling my nose.

Here are some photos I took of the plants that I drew:


We also went for lots of walks and I spotted primroses and violets growing at the foot of the hedgerows, so of course I took photos of those as well.  

The countryside in the south of England is incredibly beautiful, but it wasted on me when I was younger as I yearned for the excitement of the city.  Fortunately I am now able to appreciate it and I know that exploring the wilds has given me a love of nature.  The film Far From the Madding Crown (that has just been re-released) was set and filmed in this area.  I've included a photo of the valley below:


I made pages and pages of sketches for the motifs for my designs.  I've taken a photo of some of them that you can see below.  I only ended up using about half of the drawings so it's nice to know that I have some motifs ready for another collection.


It amazed me how long this part of the process took.  I think I was worried I wouldn't have enough material to work with.  I guess that's one of the things I will get a better idea about with experience.

When I got back to my computer I first worked on the colour palettes.  I had a good idea in my head of the kind of colours I wanted to use and I put together a few options to try out whilst designing.  I remembered Bonnie telling us that usually a fabric collection needs 2 colour-ways, which complicated things a little as I knew they would need to relate well to each other, and I learnt a lot during this process (through a lot of trial and error!).

Here are the final palettes that I settled on:


I love blues and blue-greens as you can see.  I think they work with delicate blush and a zing of mustardy yellow.  Hopefully they achieve a kind of modern vintage vibe together.

For the second palette I carried over a few colours from the original palette so that there would be some common ground and decided to go out of my comfort zone a little and try some purples and purple greys: 


Then the fun began actually making the patterns.  I was quite daunted as I wasn't sure how to get all the designs to work together, but I decided the best thing to do was to just get started and hope that my style and colour palettes would be the glue to hold them all together.

I then made a mood board to try and help me hold on to the spirit of the collection whilst designing:


I started on the "hero pattern" so that I could have fun using as many of the motifs together as I wanted.  I was thinking "exciting, busy and colourful" and here is the result:


I then continued with the other 5 patterns, keeping in mind that they should vary in scale, complexity and hue.  Some of the patterns were quite technical and nearly drove me mad, but I took a break and came back with a fresh set of eyes and some determination and got there in the end!

I think this design is my favourite, I like its flow and I was pleased to work out the maths!  The pattern on these flowers is so incredible, I hope I've done them justice.


Once I had 6 designs that I was happy with I wanted to name the collection, write the descriptive paragraph and make a logo.  When my mind wandered back to the time I had spent with my parents I knew that the cuckoo's song was the magic that I most remembered, and so I had to name this collection after him.  This made making the logo a lot easier as he had to be the star:


You can see all of the designs together and read my descriptive paragraph in the presentation sheet below.


All of the names either relate to the subject matter or where they were drawn, and I had fun naming the colours after birds from the area or things that remind me of home.

Here are the patterns in the second colour palette:


The colours are a bit more muted but hopefully still fun enough.

Now it's time to make some mockups with these designs featured on them.  I've never done this before so I'm excited to learn.

I'd like to say a big thank you to Bonnie again for making this possible and for sharing her experience with us.  I've found it invaluable and, fingers crossed, I now have the tools to become a successful surface pattern designer and one day see my designs for real!

Mock-up Update:

Thankfully I found Bonnie's template so easy to use.  It's funny how much it changes how you look at a design once it's on a "real" surface.


When I woke up this morning I knew I had to try these patterns out together as a quilt, so here is a very basic mock-up.  It hasn't come out as well as I'd like (as the lighter coloured prints look too dark so the variation in hue isn't as pronounced as I would like) but it gives you a good idea.


Update 2 - some better quality images 

Unfortunately the designs in the presentation sheets don't show up so well, so here are some larger images of the designs I haven't previously shown in full (and thank you Julie for letting me know about this issue).  

Colour palette 1:


and for colour palette 2:


Update July 2014: I have added a screensaver for Bonnie's mini-challenge




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