“Greeting Between the Lines”

Continued from Part 3

Once you have selected your fabrics and are comfortable with the colors it’s time to focus on your pattern. There are no hard and fast rules, so relax and enjoy this next step.

An architects’s blueprints are the maps for construction workers. Well, your pattern is much the same. My son is a carpenter, and I was surprised when he told me how blueprints are often adjusted to fit the project with added notes and descriptions penciled in. Perfect, it sounds just like creating fabric collage patterns!

Pattern Adjustments

As discussed in Part 2 your pattern may be a line art drawing or a photo. If you’re using line art you will need to indicate where the lights, mediums and darks appear in your fabric collage. This is why it’s important to do a little research about your subject matter. If you are creating a camel, then go study camels! What interesting facts and traits can you learn that may help you?



Line Art Patterns

When using line art, find photographs of the animal that closely resemble the animal’s position in your pattern. If you have the software capabilities, be sure to flip them horizontally so that they are facing the same direction as your pattern. Print all of them out and keep them beside you. Use a pencil to mark the pattern and indicate where the lights, mediums and dark tones appear. As you can see by your images, the shadings will appear differently depending on the way the animal was photographed. Choose a photo that has some contrast (enough darks and lights) and this will help you see where to make the notes on your pattern. Use a pencil to shade in the darks and make notes to indicate where you want the lightest lights to appear. Use a photo copier to make extra copies as you will be cutting them apart.

Photo Patterns

Only select copyright free photographs.  Copyright and Copywrong

When looking for photographs of animals it is important to find images that are:

  • Sharp and in focus
  • Have contrast
  • Properly cropped (be sure you don’t have an ear missing)
  • Visible, some images may be adorable but they are muddy looking and too dark


Once you have selected the photo, do a test print and adjust it if it’s too dark or light. Having a great photo doesn’t mean it will print clearly enough to trace over, so be sure to get this step right. Once you are pleased, print extra copies as you will be cutting them apart. If you struggle with this step, take it to a copy center that will do this for you.


Sizing the Pattern

Now that you have selected your pattern you will need to make it larger or smaller, unless the image you printed is exactly the way you want it.

I am a graphic artists and use computer technology to do this, however you can do this with a photo copier. Look on the web for methods on how to determine the percentage to enter into the copier settings. I found “How to Enlarge a Pattern” but there are others.

I prefer to work no smaller than 16” x 20” ( 40.64 cm x 50.8 cm) as the eyes need to be large enough to see them. Look at the size of the animal’s eyes when deciding how large you wish your art to be. You don’t want to have to stitch teeny tiny eyes.


Creating a Template

Set the extra copies of your pattern aside and select the one that will act as your template.

Using a small pair of paper scissors, cut out the outside overall shape of the animal. I cannot overstate the importance of having small sharp paper scissors when doing this work. I use them to cut out intricate areas of the pattern bulky blades cannot touch.

Use the template to trace onto your fabrics. For example if you are creating a nose, carefully cut around it, but leave it slightly attached or you will be hunting for it on the floor later. Now lay this template over the fabric and trace it. Cut it out, and you now have the exact shape of the nose.


You won’t need the template for every area of the collage, but it helps when you are trying to convey certain aspects of the anatomy. It will also act as a guideline when placing shadows and highlight.

By taking the time to study the animals in your patterns, you are not only learning how to illustrate them, you are sending them silent messages of… “you are worthy.” Validate this. Humans can can be very empowering if they choose to be. Animals pick up on thoughts, so be sure to send them love everyday.



 To be continued in Part 5

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