Printing Patterns: Help, please?

I’m busy planning blog posts, writing interview questions, and otherwise preparing for my new series on printing patterns, and the first question I’m going to try to address is *why* to take the leap and print patterns in the first place. Especially when PDF patterns offer the opportunity to sell patterns with virtually no overhead or shipping costs, what is the benefit of having patterns printed for sale?


In my experience, the benefits of printing do exist, but I’m curious about what you think, so I’m asking for your help. I really want this blog series to be useful to you, and in that spirit I’d like to know what questions you have about the pros and cons of printing, as well as the process of actually having printed patterns manufactured and sold.  I’ll be interviewing fellow designers and shop owners throughout the series, and I’d like to get a sense of what you would ask them if you had the chance.

Since I can’t interview every pattern designer out there, I’d also like to get your thoughts about the decision whether or not to print, and the process of doing so, so that I can better represent the feelings of our indie designer community on this topic.

So consider this post my humble request for your input. What questions would you like me to address in this series? Feel free to be as broad or as technically specific as you like. What input would you share with other designers if you had the chance? As a shop owner, what considerations would you love designers to take into account? As a designer, are there obstacles that have prevented you from offering printed patterns, and what are they? What information would you need to overcome them? Please leave your comments and questions in the comments section, or feel free to email them to me at casey (at) casey-york (dot) com (or use the contact form here).


I can’t wait to hear from you so that I can tailor this series to your particular concerns. As an advance thank-you for your input, let me leave you with a book recommendation. When I made the decision to market my patterns, I found the book Publish Your Patterns to be enormously helpful. The authors, Nancy Restuccia and McKenna Linn, deal with the entire process of bringing your patterns from idea to salable product, and include a wealth of resources for doing so. You can find it for sale on Amazon (not an affiliate link) and I can’t recommend it enough as a great starting point for your pattern publishing journey.


7 thoughts on “Printing Patterns: Help, please?

  1. I am interested to know if there is a “switch point”( don’t know if this is the correct word for this) where printing a pattern becomes too expensive for people to actually buy it. What is the advice into this?

    Is it OK to mark up the price of your pattern with the actual printing costs compared to a fully digital pattern?

    Would foundation piecing / paper pieicng patterns also find a market as have whole quilt patchwork patterns? Most pdf patters are no more than 3 dollars a piece. What would be the price in a shop for the same pattern if printed on paper? Is it worth while?

    I am so looking forward to this series! I am planning on learning a lot!!!

  2. I am so excited that you are going to over this topic. I am a pattern designer who currently only sells digital patterns and I have been trying to figure out if I should try to get into printed patterns and how in the world to do so.

    My main questions would revolve around how to get orders for the patterns, do you approach individual quilt shops, distributers, etc and how that all works. Do you need to have a corporation set up to sell patterns or can you have a sole proprietor company? What is the typical price wholesale that you are paid for your patterns?

    Thank you so much!

  3. My questions are the same as the above two ladies. How do you go about approaching quilt shops etc., for going wholesale? Who do you even get to print out patterns for you?? Kinkos? LOL. Also on copywriting….currently, does everyone who is PDF only, have they applied for the copywrite and all that jazz? I’m sure these are dumb basic questions, but gotta start somewhere right? And AGAIN, a big shout out to you for doing this series! I’m super interested and appreciate your time and work doing this for us!!

  4. I am not a designer nor a shop owner, but I have a definite opinion on this from a customer’s point of view. I don’t understand why the price is the same for a pattern you download yourself (hence no cost to the designer) and a printed pattern which has cost the designer money to print. I believe that a download pattern should be cheaper than a printed pattern. I don’t buy downloaded patterns for this reason. I’d rather have a printed pattern and there is no incentive to download when the price is the same. Just MHO.

  5. I think that inventory control is going to be your biggest problem, especially when you reach the point that you have a fair number of patterns and haven’t quite grown enough to manage the cash flow issues that will come from needing to print more than you can afford, having to wait to be paid by your retailers, and still paying the rest of your bills. I’m not sure how return policies on quilt patterns work from the retailers back to you, but if it’s like books or some other stuff, your returns on unsold inventory could quickly add up to a large percentage of your liquid assets. Will you discount to the retailers after the sale if they have trouble selling? Are you doing consignment? Lot of factors in the mix with the actual retailing situation, print minimums, etc.

  6. I look forward to this series as I am a designer currently selling online. I am making a big push this year to gets things going and printed patterns might be a part of this push later in the year. As to the comment above about why pdf patterns should cost less . . . I think there is a misconception about everything online being free or nearly so. That thinking does not take into account the work of developing a pattern in the first place. It’s not just the cost of printing. There is a cost to the designer in the form of hours, materials, design time, testing etc long before a pattern is ever published. I love the design process and put a lot of work into developing an idea and making several quilts before a final pattern is ever ready to publish. I have also heard from one distributor that they will not carry a pattern if it sells for less online. Why should they when that undercuts their small margin. I have a lot to learn about the topic and look forward to this conversation. Thanks for the series.

I love hearing from my readers, so thanks for considering leaving a comment. They always make my day!

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