Let’s talk crochet designing! You’ve fallen down the crochet rabbit hole and you want more than to just follow patterns, you want to design your own. You’ve got lots of ideas floating in your head or maybe even none … but either way how on earth do you start crochet designing?
Today I’ll walk you through the step-by-step design process I use to create my patterns and streamline the pattern writing process.
You don’t need to be an experienced crocheter to start designing! Beginners, intermediate and advanced crocheters can all create their own crochet patterns will their current crochet skills.
Designing is a separate skill set that’s complementary to your crochet knowledge. Let's learn how to design a crochet pattern!
Phase 1 - Prep
1. Find Inspiration
When it comes to crochet patterns, it all starts with an idea. Inspiration can come from anywhere – a yarn, colour palette, stitch texture or silhouette! To start, figure out what draws you to a specific crochet pattern. What do you like about it so much? The attributes that you’re naturally attracted to are a great spring board for your own ideas.
Now, create an idea bank. You can use Pinterest, Instagram, a phone gallery or even a physical scrapbook. Just store your ideas somewhere with easy access.
Over time you’ll accumulate heaps of ideas and be spoilt for choice. My to-design list has tripled over the years and I don’t think I’ll ever get to the end!
*Just a note on copying vs. inspiration – remember to be respectful!
Don’t regurgitate someone else’s design, even if it’s a store-bought item. Even if you’re in love with a piece, the best way to make sure you’re not copying is to use 1-2 elements from different designs and combine them together to create your own .
2. Draw a Sketch
You’ve got all your ideas sorted, now’s the time to put them together in a sketch. It might seem scary but it’s ok if you’re not an artist. You’ll be the only person that ever sees it. No judgement!
I find it always helps to put pen to paper and to get my ideas out of my head. Even if your final crocheted design doesn’t look exactly like the sketch, it helps to have a visual guide.
The Crochet Pattern Notes Freebie has a dot grid sketching section that makes it draw out your design. Another easy way to get started is to google image search – ‘free mannequin template’. (Make sure to use a royalty free image). I like to print off a couple of mannequins per page and sketch out a few different ideas to compare and contrast.
Remember that your sketch doesn’t need to be perfect! Just include the key details such as – length, neckline shape and silhouette.
3. Crochet a Swatch
It’s time to get crocheting … for a bit. You’ll now crochet a gauge swatch or two or three!
Think of your gauge swatch as the code you’ll use to translate your entire pattern from measurements to an actual physical thing. It is the most crucial part of the entire design process. It will minimise your chance of making a mistake and can save you hours and hours in crocheting time!
I know lots of crocheters find gauge swatches the most boring part of the process so the thought of making one swatch, let alone multiple, makes you want to skip it. However, you are no ordinary crocheter my friend! You are taking the leap from crocheter to designer.
As the designer you can crochet and adjust the gauge to however you like to crochet! You’re not crocheting a gauge swatch to match someone else’s style, you’re the one making the rules!
When I design, I view swatching as a fun little game. Experiment with different stitch patterns, yarns and hook sizes until you fall in love with your favourite combination!
Sometimes you stumble upon the right swatch straight away (yay!), others times it might take a few tries or you might decide to wait until you can find the right yarn for your idea (RIP all of my abandoned projects).
Having a crochet pattern with the right gauge and drape, is the key to creating the ‘modern crochet look’. Personally, I think this style is what sets For The Frills apart and let it grow into a six-figure crochet design business!
4. Calculate Measurements
You’ve got your idea, sketch and gauge swatch, how will you actually crochet your project? You need to translate your swatch into real life measurements.
If you’re designing a garment the Craft Yarn Council measurements are the standard. You can also base your design measurements off items you already own e.g. a blanket, beanie or sweater with a similar fit.
You can learn how to crochet perfect fitting garments here!
*Tip for crochet garment designs - use all the key measurements that you see listed in existing patterns (e.g. bust, length, sleeve length, armhole etc.)
Once you have your measurements (I like to add them on my sketch) use your gauge swatch to translate your measurements into stitches and rows.
For example -
If your gauge is 10cm/4” square = 15 stitches wide and 16 rows tall in half double crochet
And you wanted to crochet a body panel that was 40cm/16” wide and 50cm/20” long …
You’d need to crochet a panel that is 60 stitches wide and 80 rows tall.
It might take you a bit of time to find your groove with design preparation. But, design prep is an invaluable skill when becoming a designer! It helps you to understand how projects are crafted and think through the construction steps before crocheting. In the long run it will save you so much time, stress and frogging.
With practice you’ll find it gets easier and the process is quicker too. (Now I get design prep done in 30 mins - less than an hour). You can do it!
Phase 2 - Physical Project
5. Physical Project
Ok, you’ve gotten through all the prep - now it’s time to crochet!
How to start? Create slip knot and chain the number of stitches you’ve calculated with the measurements. That’s it!
You’re now at the part you feel most comfortable with – actually crocheting!
As you crochet your design feel free to make tweaks as you go. Just remember to always record your process in your notes. Future you will not remember what you’ve crocheted. Download the Crochet Pattern Notes Freebie here!
Just like when you follow a pattern, don’t forget to unfold your projects every now and then too. Scan your design for any issues like dropped stitches, changes in gauge, weird shapes etc. I find it also helps to take measurements every now and check them with your sketch’s measurements. This is especially important when you’re starting out your designing career.
Phase 3 - Project to Paper
6. Write draft pattern
(In your sample size)
Congrats you’ve finished making your crochet project! But before you run outside or snuggle on the couch with your new make, it’s time to write the crochet pattern. It’s best to write the pattern while it’s fresh in your mind (the past few days or so). As time passes even with great pattern notes, your memories can get hazy and cause inaccuracies in your pattern.
With crochet patterns, there is no standard pattern writing style. Every designer, blogger, crochet magazine has their own pattern style guide.
However, most patterns have a similar structure. You can have a look at any of the patterns of designers you follow and decide which parts find easy to understand and helpful in the pattern.
Most written crochet patterns consist of –
- Title + Introduction
- Pattern Notes
- Materials, yarn amounts, measurements, gauge
- Pattern instructions
- Additional photos, schematics, charts or videos
Open up a word doc, google docs or pages and write your first draft pattern in the same order as your crochet notes. I tend to write the pattern instructions first and then go back to add all of the notes and extra info to make the pattern easier to understand.
There you have it! You’ve designed your very first crochet pattern. Pat yourself on the back 🙂
From an intangible idea to a physical project and finally converting it into written instructions that can be shared. You’ve created a wonderful and amazing thing!
Crochet designing is such a fulfilling and rewarding skill that can be both a hobby and a full-fledged profession! If you're still not sure if crochet designing can earn you money, I debunk 5 Crochet Designing Myths in this post.
I hope this was helpful 🙂 Comment below if you have any other questions about crochet designing.
If you want to learn more, check out Modern Crochet Design! We'll cover the next steps such as grading a crochet pattern and turning it into a PDF download!
As always – happy crocheting,