Developing a Pattern Collection for Your Portfolio

If you are looking to land your first job or internship it is important to thoroughly know the company with which you are applying, understand their customer and develop a portfolio project with their customer in mind.

We previously covered the first steps to developing this project: researching the company, choosing a target season for your collection and researching the trends which apply to their market. The next step is the fun part, developing an eye-catching pattern collection!  This pattern collection should show the hiring manager that you are able to think outside of your own design bubble and create a collection specifically for their company.

Steps for Designing A Pattern Collection

* Collection snippet from Sellable Sketch alumnus, Whitney Catarella

1. Develop your main print

A balanced pattern collection begins with the development of your main print, often referred to as a “focus print”. In The Sellable Sketch I refer to this pattern design as your moneymaker print, because it is the pattern that will draw buyers into your booth, website or portfolio.

The main pattern design is the boldest in your pattern collection and is the one that you really want to invest the most time in developing. Imagine that this is the pattern that the company will use for their marketing and publicity material. Examples include: bold florals, detailed paisleys or compelling geometrics.

Hint! As you are designing for pattern, constantly refer back to your customer page and trend board. You have to be able to envision your customer in the print that you are developing. Ask yourself, Would your customer wear this print? Would they love this print? Do you see this print on a jacket or a skirt? Would your customer wear it out shopping or for drinks with friends?

2. Develop Pattern Coordinates

The next step is to create two to three pattern coordinates that support your main pattern. You can do this by pulling elements directly from your main pattern or developing patterns which share a consistent hand-feel, texture and color palette.

Hint! As you are developing your pattern collection remember to use patterns that vary in scale. At least one pattern should be at a larger scale than the main, while one to two prints should be smaller. It is also important to vary the number of colors being used in every pattern. Your main pattern may use 7 colors, while your pattern coordinates may have 2, 3 & 5 colors. Including variety within your pattern collections will lead to more sales and in this case, will show the hiring manager your ability to develop a compelling pattern collection!

* Collection snippet from Sellable Sketch alumnus, Jenean Morrison

3. Save evidence of your design process

As polished as your final presentation should be, it is helpful to show the hiring manager your train of thought and how you work through a project. Showing your initial sketches, pattern concepts that didn’t work out and other design challenges allows the manager to see that you have the ability to critique and narrow down your own artwork, which is a valuable skill. In step five I’ll show you how to compile all this work into a beautiful presentation.

The next post in this series can be found here.

To learn more about creating successful print collections check out The Sellable Sketch. This course has taught hundreds of designers the elements that lead to a successful print collection and how to develop a print from sketch to digital file.

  1. Really informative post and great to see images of prints and how the elements have been teased out to create more family members! You also mention about the size of prints varying in the collection~ would the biggest one be a standard screen size of width 64inch and the rest half?

    Gayleigh x

    1. Hi Gayleigh!
      The scale of your prints should vary, but the size of your prints (the actual printout) can be the same for each print in your portfolio. I recommend 13″x19″, but this is a personal decision. Many designers prefer larger sizes and some prefer tabloid.

  2. Have looked though a great deal of your site and there is one thing I don’t find. If you have a print which sells, what format will they require you to send them and which palette is best for textiles

  3. Hi!
    I’m very confused. And I was wondering.. I’ve just begun to work as a freelancer, (my first job) for a company who sells the prints I (and other designers) make for them.
    But the enterprise demand me to create every archive (rapport) with separated layer: in COLORS and other archive with the separated OBJECTS. And I have to deliver to them everything. But they pay very little for whole work. I mean, between 20-30€ for every creation including everything I said before.

    My question is, which is the reason do they need the OBJECTS layers? (It isn’t essential to print the textile.. not?) They only need to get the COLORS layers I think.
    I think they want that layers (OBJECTS), to take advantage of my work and multiply the prints when they want to get more designs.
    Is the company scamming me?
    I’m sure of it, but I don’t want to say nothing before I want to be completely safe.
    Thank you! I hope you can help me. 🙂

    1. Hi Alayara!
      Some companies prefer to have layered objects in order for the prints to be more easily manipulated by the next designer that works on the file. For instance, moving a floral motif to a new spot, rotating, etc. which is all easier if the objects are on their own layer.

      Are you giving up the rights to the prints once you are paid and turn them over to the company? If so then unfortunately they have the right to make any additional designs from your artwork as they will now own the copyright. Or is this company working as your agent and you will keep the copyright until the print sells? Is the 20-30€ payment all you will ever see for these prints or will you be paid an additional sum if the print sells? If not, 20-30€ is an extremely low payment for an original print, and if you are spending more than an hour or two on each print then it is probably not worth your time!

      If you have any other questions about this please feel free to email us at! -Chelsea

  4. I am truly thrilled to have found this site. I have had THE desire to become a textile designer for some time now, and have done a little research on and off over the last couple of years. This is the best site I’ve come across for advising up and coming designers. I appreciate all of the hard work you have put into this site. THANK YOU!

  5. This is the best site ever….I studied textile design and always wanted having my own business but never knew how to go about it….with this article, I think I know what to do now. Looking forward to attending the Sellable workshop too.

    1. Hi Tina! There are job boards such as and the Print & Pattern blog job board, and Craigslist can also be a great resource.

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Designer Feature: Kate Kosek