Have you tried Pattern Jam?

No, this isn’t another of my recipes….

My copy of fab new quilting magazine Simply Moderne came the other day – I have only had chance for  a quick browse rather than a proper read so far, but at the very back, in their sweetly named ‘Surf on Web’ section, I spotted a mention of Pattern Jam – ‘a new web tool to create your quilts’. Well, I am always after help with quilt design, and I loved the idea that Pattern Jam gives you the chance to design quilts using actual real-life fabric collections. 3 hours later, I hadn’t done any of the work I was supposed to do this afternoon….

It’s easy enough to get started with – there’s a video on YouTube that you can watch that gives you a bit of a start, but to be honest, it is fairly intuitive. You can choose how many rows and columns you want, the size you want the quilt to be, whether you want sashings and/or a border, then you choose from a selection of blocks and start building your design.

Here’s the first design I came up with, using fabrics from the Fine and Dandy collection by Lori Whitlock:

Forever Blowing BubblesIt’s a bit bonkers I know, but I rather like the bubbly ditzy effect, and the colours too, and it’s not a design I would *ever* have come up with so quickly on paper, so I immediately saw the advantages of being able to drag and drop the blocks, flip them around, and search and click to find different fabrics to try. 

The free version of Pattern Jam is limited because you can’t rotate the blocks, and you don’t have access to all the block designs. After feeling super frustrated that I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do, I decided to sign up for the Pro version – which is $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year. The design above was made with one block, but rotated in some places to create the ripple effect (well I think of it as ripple!). It was excellent to have the added options, and I think it’s pretty good value for a few months, especially as I don’t have any other quilt design software.

I had lots more fun, using just one designer’s fabrics (Denyse Schmidt) and one design, to see how using different colours, values, tones and patterns made a difference to the ‘finished’ quilt. This is where my time disappeared to… it was such an education, and really good fun:Denyse Schmidt quilt designs using Pattern Jam

It was fantastic to work on designs using the actual fabric designs and colours, and you have the option to click through and order fabrics if you don’t mind shopping in the USA! There is also the option to let the software calculate the yardage that you need for a quilt, but I haven’t used this feature yet, so can’t tell you how accurate it is.

It’s not by any means perfect yet (it’s all pretty new I think, so hopefully this is all going to be built on). There is at least one glitch – the designs which I saved to the public stream seem to have rotated so that all the blocks are back in the standard alignment, so they don’t look half as pretty (although when I open them to edit, the blocks flip round to my original design). I don’t *think* it’s something that I’m doing wrong! It’s also mighty frustrating that you can’t use different fabrics within the actual block, so for example, in my Denyse Schmidt examples above, you can see that the triangles bordering the central square have to all be the same fabric, and you can only use 2 different fabrics in the quarter square triangle blocks. And of course, there is a limit in the blocks available to work with… but, having said all that, I think the subscription is well worth it for now, and I hope there are going to be more good things to come from Pattern Jam in future.

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