How to create a pattern – Part 4: Common mistakes in pattern submissions

This is the boring part … a lot of reading, but please take the time. The less work I have fixing a step-out, the more time I can spend commenting on posts, writing new articles, and maybe even spend a bit of time with my family 🙂

I receive a lot of pattern submissions and there is hardly one that does not get sent back to the designer. This is not because I don’t like the pattern, it is because of mistakes in the step-out.

Here is a quick summary of the requirements of a pattern step-out:

  • Always use plain white paper. No lines, no dots, no grid. Unless it is a preprinted pattern submission sheet (I will post them all later).
  • Pencil lines are green the first time they appear in the step-out. If the pencil line is used in the steps following, draw them in grey.
  • New shapes are drawn in red, previous steps are drawn in black.
  • Draw large and clearly. Take your time drawing each shape! Practice on a scrap piece of paper before committing to the page of the step-out! When I first started designing step-outs, I threw away 3 pages before I finally had a neat looking step-out. You are not the only one that has to start over.
  • Each step must be separated from the rest of the drawing. I cut and paste, resize, and rearrange until it fits into the format. Made a mistake in one step? Do not try and fix it, X-out the mistake and redraw from scratch on the same page. I will erase that.
  • Often I see someone drawing the new step in black, then realizing it was supposed to be in red. No, you cannot just go over this with a black pen! Cross this out with a big X and start over.
  • Number your steps – please, not too close to the drawing. I have to remove your numbers before placing it on the template.
  • We do not use words except for:
      • green=pencil
      • shading
      • variation
  • Arrows are only used when really necessary!

I LOVE pattern step-out that were created digitally! What I really don’t like about them is, they look so perfect. Please, do not use the assist feature. It looks a lot more appealing if the line isn’t perfectly straight! Only draw what you can also draw on paper!

Does it exist?

The first step is to check on the website if the pattern exists. All patterns are listed by framework. Check this section first. If you cannot find your pattern, post an example in our Facebook group. As a group, it is easier to figure out if a pattern already exists or not. It is impossible for me to keep track of patterns listed somewhere in the world on a website or blog. If the pattern is not on pattern-collections, I will accept it.

Sometimes you created an interesting variation of an existing pattern that justifies a new step-out. We will discuss this in the group. Adding a simple aura or feathering to a pattern does not make it a new pattern! There are exceptions to the rule. Here is an example:

Paradox Ribbon by Ina Sonnenmoser Paradox Rounded Ribbon by Ina Sonnenmoser

Even though many people have drawn Paradox as a pattern, I have never seen any artwork where someone turned the lines into a ribbon. New tanglers will never get the idea to try this method. And that means it requires a step-out!


When you look at a step-out on pattern-collections, the first thing that catches your eye is the artwork. I cannot stress this enough! Artwork makes your pattern attractive. Regular tanglers will also redraw the pattern EXACTLY how you displayed it. Even though I am trying my best to bring out the creativity in people, the majority of tanglers just follow the step-out EXACTLY as it’s shown! Example: If it is a grid-based pattern, most tanglers will draw a straight grid just as shown in the step-out. Hardly anyone tries to warp the grid, or make it smaller on one end and larger on the other. This is where you can influence tanglers by displaying the pattern in an interesting way.

New tanglers do not know how and where to shade the pattern. I did notice that tanglers copy the shading as it’s displayed in the artwork.

In your artwork do not show too many variations of the pattern. Keep it clean and simple. We have room to include variations, but your artwork should be focused on the pattern you have stepped out.

Artwork can be submitted on a separate page!

Scanning or taking a photo:

Please scan at 300 dpi or higher. Place a white sheet under your tile before scanning. Do not crop or adjust the scan in any way. Send it as it is! The preferred file format is .jpg

When taking a photo, please do so in daylight. Adjust the camera and take the photo straight on, not at an angle! Should the image appear dark and dull, move to a new location and take a new picture. Send both. This way I can pick the best. And again, do not modify – no cropping, no adjusting. Just send it through as is! Every conversion reduces the quality. I have the tools to do it right!


The submission has to be via email. Attach your files to the email and do not forget to NAME the pattern and include your name on the step-out! Email submissions to: nicki @ 

Messages sent to this address are read by Nicole and myself.

If you have not heard back within a week, send a reminder. Most of the time we are pretty quick getting patterns up, but sometimes I have to set priorities.

Feedback on your submission:

It gets kind of boring to repeat the same things over and over again. That’s the reason why I decided to simply link you to a page if your submission is not up to standard. Please do not be offended by this. It really is just a time-management problem.

Here is the link to the page Nicole created: How to CREATE a pattern step-out

How to create a pattern – Part 5: Is it a pattern or is it artwork?

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