Tuesday, February 23, 2016

5 Steps to Creating a New Design from Start to Finish

Since my business consistently keeps me busy year round I try to make the most of the days when the pace slows down. For me, this is a great time to develop and create new designs. 

5 Steps to Creating a New Product Design from the birth of an idea to the finished product.


Typically, coming up with new ideas means walking away from my studio space and sitting with a sketching journal. I write out notes and sketch whatever comes to mind. If my daughter is with me, she is also making sketches as we bounce ideas back and forth.

I have to admit, I don’t have just one sketchbook. I have a handful of them going all the time. They’re not just full of little drawings. Each page has notes and dimensions and references to inspiration I’ve found in magazines, books and on the web.


When I’m working in my studio, besides listening to music, I often get caught up on the latest podcasts on my list. More times than not they reference a resource or website that I want to remember and refer to later. My journaling sketchbook is the perfect place to jot those things down but it’s not always within reach so I’ll grab something handy like an envelope from my pile of mail, tear off a corner and make my note.

If you do the same thing don’t stop there. Don’t find yourself wondering what you did with that little piece of paper that contains that nugget of wisdom. Grab some tape and stick in on a page. If you want it to add some cuteness then use some pretty washi tape!

Journals with notes and sketches is where new ideas are born

Journals with notes and sketches is where new ideas are born


Unless I’m just altering one of my existing designs, this part of the process is very time consuming. I recently had someone ask me to create a custom bag for them and it took me weeks to get the dimensions figured out, patterns drafted and placement of the stitched design perfected.

I prefer to use tracing pattern or some other transparent paper for my patterns. I took a pattern drafting class in college and learned that this worked really well for me then and nothing has changed that.

The transparent quality of the paper allows me to see the dimensional grid on my cutting board which helps with making straight lines and figuring measurements. If need be, I tape several sheets of paper together to make my pattern the necessary size.


I learned the hard way that my first pattern is never perfect. My second and third draft are rarely perfect either. To be sure that my pattern will product an item that is exactly what it needs to be, I make a prototype.

Although I would love to make it from my designer fabrics to see how pretty it will turn out, I use a pile of muslin and hand-me-down fabrics so I don’t waste the good stuff.


When all the details are worked out, the pattern is tweaked and I’m set to go, THEN I make the real deal. Yes, this may take several days to a week or more but the end result is worth it. When I put this much work into making sure that my patterns can be used repeatedly then I know I can make beautiful items for my customers that I can stand behind and that they will enjoy.

Monogram wreath clutches | perfect as gifts for bridesmaid or baby shower hostess gifts | www.mamableudesigns.com

I’ve been walked through this creative process since last summer with a new design that my daughter sketched one day as we sat at my patio table. The first bag of this design was introduced just before Christmas and quickly grew to become one of the most popular items in my shop. 

So, as simple as it may seem, my ideas always start out as a sketch in my journal!