Inspiration For Making Your Own Patterns


Here is a little information about how I draft foundation patterns.

1: A rough draft of the design. I have a balloon and some sky, some space between the balloon and the basket. You have to use your imagination and draw the fewest lines possible. Also, I know a balloon is oval but I also know that would be impossible to foundation piece, so I opted for this shape.

2: I also wanted to add some stripes to the balloon. I did this by telling my CAD program to "array" (re-draw) the second line from the left in the balloon 3 times and I just have to drag in which direction. The program will insert and space the lines for you. Let the programs work for you! Don't work for them. You will notice that if you extend it, the second line from the left in the balloon runs on a diagonal from the upper left to the lower right of the outer square. That helps to center everything.

Now, you can't piece that balloon into the sky the way it is... you need some sewing lines.  In order to foundation piece this pattern, the piecing has to "flow" from the center to the outside... so see below how I did that.

3: Here I added some vertical seams at each side of the balloon for the piecing lines...but I didn't like the way the four triangles looked around the balloon. It looked too much like all the "trees" you see for foundation piecing. Also, if you want to add sashing to the blocks, that is more straight lines on the sides. It needed some angles.So I looked for another way to piece in the balloon.
4: I thought if you where using a "sky" fabric you might not want to chop it up so much. So I changed the piecing by extending the line from the bottom of the balloon out to the sides. It adds some softness to the block. In my CAD program, all I have to do is choose the line and tell the program to "extend" it, then click anywhere on the outside line and the program streteches the line to that boundry in the proper direction. No erasing and re-drawing necessary. It will also "trim" in the same manner if a line extends too far beyond another. Something quilt programs don't do!
5: Next I add the numbering sequence. How do I determine that? Well, look at your pattern...It's like trying to figure out one of those mazes. You have to look ahead. You couldn't put on#10 first and then add 8 and 7 In this case (but not always!) it is logical to start in the center and work your way to the outside. 1 through 6 is easy, then add 7 to square it all off. 8 and 9 brings it out to the sides and 10 and 11 square it off again. 12 is the next logical piece, once again making it a square. But what about the bottom 1-2-3?  You can't just sew those onto the top section as there is no way to add the #1, then 2 and 3 to the top section. You could just pre-strip a piece and sew it on there as one piece, but that is extra work.
6: Well, that is where two pieces come in. I use my CAD to "group" pieces 1-2-3 and then they become *one* drawing that I can move apart from the rest of the drawing. The space in between will be a seam...and in this case, an easy seam as there is nothing to match. So the bottom section now becomes the another section with #1, 2 and 3 easy to foundation piece from the center out.

And you will notice that I clean up my text from the above graphic by "changing attributes" and choosing a "True Type Font" at 10 points instead of the generic CAD font. I pull a box around the drawing and all the text changes at once!

I don't use color to designate the seams in my patterns. I used one like that once and the iron smeared the color all over the white fabric.

7: Add a 1/4th inch seam allowance by drawing a box around the pattern 1/4" away from the outside of the block, add the name of the pattern, the draft persons name and you are done. Now just print it out and go to stitching up a sky full of balloons. 

Now, I'm not done yet. My CAD saves files in it's own format, which is good for me but not the WWW. So I need another program. I export my CAD files in .dxf format, load it into "Micrografx Draw" which accepts .dxf files, set the page to .2 larger than the graphic so I don't cut anything off (see that white space beyone the outside line) and so I don't have a standard 8.5" x 11" sheet behind it, then convert the file to a .gif for the WWW. I save it in monocrome instead of 256 colors and that reduces the size of the file from 200 kb to 26kb. Smaller files print quicker for you! Next I use Netscape Navagator Gold to make the HTML pages and put it upon my ISP server....EASY!

Get the patterns for several sizes here

I like to make a color graphic to go with with the pattern, one big and one tiny for the front page..so you can see what it might look like. 

How about a hot air balloon swap? Imagine the different ones you could make and get back. 

PS: You could use some pretty thread and a straight stitch for the ropes. Then just imagine me in there...

Where do you get all this designing stuff?


AutoSketch CAD information. I recentally saw it at Computer City too. Don't confuse with the "AutoSketch Lite" which is * a lot* more expensive. Download free demo

Micrografx "Windows Draw" information. Inexpensive and good program. I got mine at Computer City too.

You can get some free and shareware graphic converters and drawing programs off the WWW. There are at least 20 here , at the Tucows site. Try one and if you don't like it, get another.

I recently purchased MGI "PhotoSuite" . I played with it a little so far but there is always so much to learn. It's almost like the "Windows Draw" but it has a few more "fun" things you can do with pics. ...have fun making balloons...

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