Design Process Part 1: Inspiration


I got such a nice response to the post about my design process for Lavandula that I thought I’d try an experiment! A new design idea bit me hard a few days ago, so I thought it might be fun to do a series of posts detailing its creation, from first idea to pattern release. (Thanks to the lovely Becky of Sugar Tree Designs for the idea!)

First up: the inspiration.

The initial spark of an idea comes, more often than not, from some hole in my wardrobe.

I only wish I meant this kind of hole.

I only wish I meant this kind of hole.

I’m not doing much dressing up these days, so I’m feeling a lack of casual, comfy, cozy pullovers. You know, the kind you’d wear to curl up in a big chair in front of a fireplace.

So that’s the basic concept out of the way. But what about the details?

I save lots of pictures from catalogs, email mailings, and random internet searches for features I like. I also take pictures of sweaters A LOT. In clothing stores, out walking around, in lines at the grocery store… I know some designers prefer to look at fashion magazines or runway collections, but to me there’s nothing like seeing the way a collar drapes, color does/does not flatter, etc. in person.

I’ve perfected my “take a surreptitious picture with my iPhone, without freaking out the subject” technique.


Well, almost perfected. I think this lady might have been on to me.

Every so often, I go through my photos and see if inspiration strikes.

I saved this picture because I liked how far down the v-neck came (very flattering to larger busts):

gp397902-05p01v01I like the width of the ribbing on this next one (although I’m not really a fan of the lace pattern in the rest of the sweater or the airy-ness of the yarn used, and I don’t think I’d put a v-neck in the back as well as the front):

IMG_2442Big, floppy collars just scream cozy to me–plus I like when it looks like there’s a hood from the front, but there’s not all the extra fabric of a full hood, just a rectangle of fabric partway down the back. Actually, I have no idea what to call this. Is it a shawl collar, just without the short-rows? I can’t find a picture of what I’m talking about by searching for shawl collar, so maybe not. Anyone know what its official name is?

I also like front pockets, and they’re definitely cozy… but I’m a little iffy on whether I want to include one in this design or not–it’s hard to pull off without making the sweater seem too casual. But I’m putting the decision off until later, when I have a better idea about yarn choices and the overall look of the piece.

Cute sweater, but a little too teenage for my tastes.

Cute sweater, but maybe a little too teenage for my tastes.

With those criteria in mind, I can start brainstorming in earnest. Next step: sketching!




  1. Nin

    I love this post idea! Too funny about the iPhone sweater picture taking! Still an excellent idea. Sweaters seen in the wild do give you more info than magazines. Can’t wait to see your sketching!

  2. Design Process Part 2: Sketching, Swatching, and Math
    Design Process Part 2: Sketching, Swatching, and Math02-23-2013

    […] Earlier posts in this series: Design Process Part 1: Inspiration […]

  3. WIP Wednesday: Neck! And Buttons!
    WIP Wednesday: Neck! And Buttons!03-13-2013

    […] (This is fifth in my series of design process posts. Earlier posts are here: Part Four, Part Three, Part Two, Part One.) […]

Leave a Reply

+ 18 = 21