Have you had an idea for a crochet pattern in your head, but just don’t know where to begin with it? Maybe you’ve been meaning to write down how to do a pattern you created, but don’t know what to include in your pattern? If this sounds like you, then you’re in luck, because in this blog post I am sharing my 10 essentials for how to write a crochet pattern!
When I first started out crocheting I could barely do any stitches let alone write a pattern. Then as I kept learning how to crochet, I started developing this desire to create my own crochet patterns. Design ideas would pop in my head, and I’d try to write down what I did to create them, but never knew how to translate that into a written crochet pattern that I could sell. What’s great is that once you learn the basics of writing a crochet pattern then you will be able to get those crochet designs you create written up and ready to share!
This week on the E’Claire Makery Podcast, I had Meghan Makes Do as my latest guest to talk all about how to write crochet patterns. Meghan has always been a crafty person, and after doing crochet for awhile she decided she wanted to learn how to write her own patterns. On top of designing those, she also creates beautiful sewn pouches and often combines crochet and sewing into one design. In our podcast episode we talk all about the basics of pattern writing from what to include to how to set up your pattern. If you like watching videos and want to learn more about pattern writing, then this episode is for you!
All crochet patterns have the same easy formula that you can add your own spin to in each pattern you create. There are essentials that you always want to include in your pattern like materials, stitches, and the pattern itself. Then there are other things that you add in such as photos, notes, and the like. Overall there are 10 things that you need to have in the pattern, and I’ve created into a list of the 10 essentials of what to include in your crochet pattern..
At the beginning of your crochet pattern, usually on the first page, you’ll want to include an intro to your pattern that gives a description of what your pattern is like, and even what the person making it can use it for. An example description that I’ve done at the start of my patterns is: “This adorable crochet top is the perfect garment to bring in spring! Beginner friendly, easy to make, and with super cute results, this will soon be your favorite piece in your wardrobe.” It gives an explanation of what the pattern is along with how it can be worn. Get creative with your intro and see what happens!
Every crochet pattern has a difficulty level. Whether it’s an amigurumi toy, a pillow, a garment, or a hat, each pattern benefits from sharing how difficult it is to make it. If you use basic stitches and construction methods, then it is directed towards beginners. Where as having a pattern that uses multiple methods, or more complex construction and stitches then that will be on the intermediate to advanced level. Including the difficulty helps others know what to expect in your pattern, so that they know if their skill level will be able to create it.
Besides the written pattern itself, a materials list is one of the most important parts to include. This is the go to list for the person making your pattern to know what type of yarn they need to use for your pattern, what size of hook, and other notions they might need to complete it. When you list your yarn amounts, you will want to include the brand you used, the yardage the pattern requires, and what yarn weight it is. Most of the time people won’t use the yarn you used for the pattern, and will choose one of their own that they like. That’s why including all of the information about that yarn is crucial because you’ll want to make sure that they use the right type of yarn and the right amount of it for making your pattern.
In crochet patterns you usually don’t write out the complete name of the stitch you’re using each time that you do it, and instead use an abbreviation such as “dc” for double crochet. This section is where you list all of the stitches you used, and the abbreviations you used for them in your pattern. The Craft Yarn Council has a master list of crochet stitch abbreviations on their website for the abbreviations that are the industry standards for crochet stitches. You can view that here.
This is one of the key parts of a crochet pattern that you need to make sure is included, especially if your pattern is a garment or one that has different sizes. If you’ve never heard of gauge, this is the amount of stitches that you fit within a 4″ by 4″ square using the crochet stitch you used for the pattern. By having a gauge swatch in that size, you can make sure that the person making your pattern gets the same size piece that you did. It also is crucial in helping you do different sizes for garments. I wrote up a post that includes how to use a gauge swatch in crochet garment design, which you can see here.
This section can be optional if you’re not making a garment, but if you are writing up a garment pattern then you want to make sure that you include it in there. List each size that the pattern is sized for, and then include the bust measurements for each size to make sure that they fit the person making it. I make my garment designs to fit sizes XS-5X, so I include the bust sizes for each one of those. The same principles can be applied to if you’re designing something like a hat, but instead of bust measurements you’ll do the head circumference. Thankfully, hats usually just come in a few sizes, so it’s easier to do sizing for those.
The notes section is the space where you include any things that the person making your pattern needs to be aware of throughout the pattern. This could include anything from saying that it is made in one piece in the round to that your pattern uses U.S. crochet terminology. Here’s an example note section from one of my patterns to help give you an idea of what to include:
These notes are for my Carry The World bag, which has different color changes using tapestry crochet. I included notes about how it has those color changes, what stitch terminology I used, and how to read the pattern. You’ll want to adapt your notes section to fit your pattern, and put anything you think is needed to understanding your pattern.
Once you have all of the above things written down, you’ll then put the written pattern for your design. It doesn’t have to be formatted any fancy way, but could just be written lines of what to do. You’ll want to mark each row done by labeling it Row 1, for example. Then you’ll put what you do for that row down, and repeat it for each row. If there are multiple rows in a row that do the same thing, then you can mark it by saying something like Row 2-4 (or whatever rows it is in your pattern). If there is any assembly required for the pattern, then you’ll want to have a section that walks through that too. This section is one of the easiest parts because you just have to write down what you did for the pattern.
Photos are important to include in the pattern because they help the maker see what the pattern looks like if it’s being worn, used in the home, or is a toy you can play with. They help show details of the pattern that you can’t get from a description and are a great way to showcase your pattern’s highlights. I always include a photo of the pattern at the beginning of the pattern, and then have ones showing different steps for the pattern if I think a technique is difficult or tricky. For example, if I have any assembly in my pattern, I’ll include photos of how to put the pattern together. I do the same if there is a technique in the pattern that is not common. Having photos for those parts also can help make your pattern easier.
In all of my patterns I include a part at the bottom of my PDF pages where it says, ” 2019 Pattern created by E’Claire Makery. Pattern is for personal use only. Do not sell, distribute or claim as your own.” I also put in the copyright symbol by it. This makes sure that the pattern is officially copyrighted as designed by you and not belonging to anyone else. It’s essentially just documentation to prove that it is your design, and if someone else tries to copy it then you can show that you copyrighted it. Sometimes you can’t prevent other people from stealing your pattern, but this having this helps establish legal boundaries with the people who buy your patterns. It’s also good to let them know within there if they can sell finished products made from your pattern or not, and that if they do to mention that you are the designer for that pattern. Usually I put this at the bottom of the first PDF page, but you can also include it at the bottom of every page of your pattern.
Overall, once you get used to writing out all of these parts of a pattern, then you’ll be able to naturally write them out. As you’re creating your design, you’ll want to make sure that you write down each step of your pattern in order that you don’t forget anything. Soon you’ll have this pattern writing process and will be able to crank out designs like nobody’s business! I can’t wait to see all of the designs that you make, and share your creativity with the world. I hope that these 10 essentials to include in your patterns helped provide some direction for writing crochet patterns, and that you have all sorts of confidence to go forward and write crochet patterns of your own!
Have you been looking at crochet designers who design clothes, and wondering how they do it? You look at their designs and wish that you knew how to make your own ideas come to life, but just don’t know how? For a long time I dreamed of making my own crochet garment designs, but never thought that it would be possible. From gauge swatches, shaping, how to begin, and grading patterns, it seemed like a code that I’d never be able to crack. Then I decided to go out on a limb and try my hand at designing a garment pattern, after making a few other designers’ patterns. Once I tried and figured out everything, it wasn’t so hard after all! Today I am here to answer all of your questions with my latest podcast episode guest, Emily from Hooked Hazel.
Emily is the crochet designer behind Hooked Hazel, and makes anything ranging from crochet sweaters to crochet beanies. She learned how to crochet years ago, but at the time she learned it wasn’t a cool hobby, so she didn’t really keep with it. Then after being in her career for a few years, she needed something that would be just for her outside of her normal routine, and picked up crocheting again. For awhile she was making other people’s designs, but in the last year and a half she decided to focus on making her own designs. Now she’s been putting most of her design efforts specifically into creating garments. In the latest episode of the E’Claire Makery podcast, she shares all about how she makes her garment designs so that you can do it too!
The first step in beginning to design crochet garments starts with finding your goal and inspiration for your design. When you’re starting out with your design you want to figure out what your intention and goal for it is. Do you want it to be full of complex stitches that create an intricate fabric? Or do you want to go on the less intimidating side so that any skill level could design it? Emily and I both aim for having our garments not be intimidating so that anyone could make them. I often will make mine as just being two rectangles that are sewn together, so that anyone who can crochet a square can make them.
Once you figure out your goal, it’s time to find your inspiration. Inspiration can be found almost anywhere! Emily and I have both found it from watching historical shows to see all of the handmade crochet or knit pieces that they have as a part of their costumes. I’ll constantly be snapping photos of pieces that characters in a show I’m watching a wearing, and then draw my inspiration from them. Crochet stitch books are another great resources as sometimes a certain stitch can inspire a garment design in your mind. When I find stitches I often get inspiration, and will start to see the garment forming as an idea. Social media and Pinterest can also be a good source of inspiration, but Emily says that she likes to not draw too much inspiration from other makers so that there isn’t any confusion in thinking that she copied them. You have your own unique voice, so don’t feel like you have to do something similar to other designers!
After you have the idea of what you want your garment to look like it’s time to decide what style and shape of design that you’re going to make. When it comes to style, I am referring to the way in which the crochet garment is constructed, and the shape is how you want it to fit on you. Crochet garment construction comes in almost endless styles. From top down, bottom up, raglan, panels, and more there are almost endless ways you could make them. Here are some of my favorite ways to construct them:
These are just two of the many, many ways that you can make garments from! They influence the way the garment shape is too. Raglans can be made to fit closer to your body, where as garments crocheted from panels can make your piece be more boxy or have more drape. Sometimes you can combine the two, and figure out a way that you like to have garments fit. What’s so fun about designing crochet garments is that you can make it fit however you want!
Now that you’ve figured out how you’ll be making your garment, it’s time for probably the most important part of garment design: the gauge swatch. What is a gauge swatch? It’s a 4″x 4″ square that is crocheted using the stitch you’ve decided to make the garment in, and using the hook size that matches the yarn that you’ve used. Once you have you swatch made you’ll then determine how many stitches across by how many rows tall that the square is. This square is then used when you are figuring out how many stitches that you will be chaining to start, how many rows you’ll use in your pattern, as well as how many stitches you be using in each part of the pattern for different sizes.
After you have your gauge swatch it’s time to put it to use! In order to use it you’ll need the handy dandy measurements that the Craft Yarn Council has on their website. They provide all of the measurements that you’ll need in order to make your garment. Whether you’re a size XS or size 5X, they have every measurement from bust size to how wide it is from shoulder to shoulder. Click here to get the sizing charts and measurements on their site.
So say you are making a garment made from two square panels that are then sewn together. You have a bust size of 40″ and you want the front panel to be half that size. You’re using bulky yarn so your gauge swatch is 10 st across. In order to decide how many stitches you’ll be chaining for the front panel. You’ll first divide 40″ by 2, to get 20.” Then you will divide 20″ by 4″ to get 5, multiply it by 10 st, and you’ll get 50 stitches. So you’ll cast on 50 stitches for the front panel width. Your garment will be a total of 100 stitches around to get the total bust size of 40.” You’ll do a similar thing to determine how many rows you’ll want you piece to be as well.
When it comes to grading patterns, a.k.a. determining other sizes, you’ll also be using the gauge swatch to figure out how many stitches you’ll need in each row for each size in the pattern. You use the same type of math as above, just with different measurements. It can feel overwhelming sometimes, but there is a resource that I’ve found has helped a lot with this. Joy of Motion Crochet created a garment sizing calculator on her website that helps determine how many stitches your piece will need to be at certain measurement points. You enter in your gauge and it will tell you how many stitches the bust, armhole, waist, upper arm, and hips should be. Now it doesn’t tell you how much you’ll need for each row, but it’s a great starting point to double check your math that you do at different parts. It also helps if you want to work back from say the bust up to the neckline, so it’ll have a starting amount of stitches that you can work backward from to get your neckline stitch amount that you’ll start with. I use it all the time!
If you get frustrated with this part, and feel like you’ve tried everything you can do, reach out to another designer that has experience making garments and ask their advice. Both Emily and I have asked other designers for help when we feel like we can’t do anything else, and that has helped us get out of our ruts. Sometimes all you need is a fresh pair of eyes to help point out something in your pattern. Also, taking a step back really can help, because if you look at something too long then it will become way too overwhelming. However, if you take a break from it, you’ll be able to refresh your brain and approach it at a whole new way.
Probably the most important part of garment designing is to make something that you’ll love. Since it is such a long process, this is key in finishing a design. You put all of that effort into creating something, spending hours on it, and if you don’t actually like it then it can feel like a waste of yarn. I draw a lot of inspiration from clothing that I already love and want to make myself, which makes my crochet designs something that I want to wear. I’m willing to take the time and effort to create the pattern, because I know that it will be something that will become a staple in my wardrobe. Not every design will end up being your favorite, and trust me sometimes you will get sick of it by the time you’re done grading the pattern, but all in all the whole experience of creating is so worth it. If you don’t want to design something right away, take time to make other people’s patterns, because you can learn so much from them and the ways they create their patterns. Then you can take the things that you love about their designs, and start learning how to incorporate them into the way you want to do your designs!
Overall, learning how to design crochet patterns is a detailed, but rewarding process. It’s a lot of trial and error, but every time you try you’ll just keep getting better. Stick with your crochet design as you’re creating it, and you’ll end up getting to wear something that you’ve made yourself. Don’t give up, because in the end it is so worth it!
If you want to learn more about crochet design, be sure to watch my video podcast episode with Emily, or check out my blog post with Chantal from Knitatude where she shares more about the garment design process as well. Be sure to check out Emily’s accounts as well on Instagram @HookedHazel and her Etsy store Hooked Hazel.
Garment design, a beautiful yet scary thing for all crocheters and knitters who want to get into it. You see all of the beautiful garments that people create, but the idea of it seems as if it is too unattainable. For quite a long time I never thought that I’d actually be able to make let alone design a handmade garment. I loved the idea of creating my own clothes, but I was too afraid to even try. I started seeing amazing designers like Chantal from Knitatude creating these beautiful pieces, and soon I got the bug to start making. My first garment project was Sewrella’s Penelope dress, and now I’ve designed 4 different garments myself! Who would have thought that I could actually do it. How do you begin though? How do you do all of the sizing? So many questions, and sometimes it feels as if you’ll never figure it out. Well friend, today I’ve got some answers for you with my special guest on the podcast, Chantal from Knitatude.
Chantal started knitting after seeing all of the beautiful infinity scarves on Instagram that kept popping up in her feed. She asked for one for Christmas, but no matter how many people she asked, she didn’t end up getting one. So she decided that she’d make one for herself instead of spending the $20 for one at a store. She set out to learn knitting, and fell in love with it after learning the garter stitch. She started making scarves, hats, and had friends asking her if she could make things for them. It wasn’t until a year later that she learned how to purl, and began doing markets. That’s when Knitatude was born! One day, feeling buried in all of her market prep that she was doing, Chantal decided that she wanted to set aside some time to figure out how to write a pattern. She’d been attempting to read other people’s patterns for awhile, but felt like they were too confusing for her. So why not maker her own instead? That set her off into the wonderful world of design, and now here she is with some amazing garment designs including most of them as kits available from Lion Brand Yarn. What’s so amazing is that today she is here to share some of her knowledge with you!
So you might be wanting to design, but you don’t know where to start. Here are some of the essentials of garment design that Chantal recommends:
Probably the best piece of advice, would be to go for it! It takes time to learn designing, and the best way to learn is to start doing it. Your first design might not be exactly what you wanted, but each time you make something you’ll get better! If you want to practice some garment making before you start designing your own, Chantal has some amazing beginner knit patterns that are perfect for learning how to design. Be sure to check out her Etsy store here, and her Instagram @knitatude!