Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What I Look For When Buying a Pattern (edited)

First thing that pulls me in is the design.  And my interest can change in a nano second from the point of order to the time it goes on my frame. That is also the reason I've 28 patterns in my stash waiting in line to be next.  Eventually I'll get them but I'm fickle, lol.

So, after the design the next most important issue for me is the right foundation fabric.  When first beginning to hook I had no clue what I liked or what was right for ME.  Now I know.

My first choice is natural primitive linen but will buy a design on bleached primitive linen (not hairless linen) as well as rug warp.  I will not buy a design on monk's cloth, hairless linen or burlap without the express consent by the seller for me to redraw the design on my own natural primitive linen.

In the event you are a new hooker and still testing the waters you will find out which hooking foundation you prefer.  Some people love monks' cloth and I learned the hard way it was not for me.  But here are some things you should keep in the back of your mind when ordering a pattern from someone for the first time.

After this initial posting a follower was surprised that I'd use rug warp since I'm a wide cut hooker.  Yes, I have used #8 wool strips to hook the rug below.  That was the cut used before falling in love with #8.5 so wouldn't hesitate using that cut either.  Don't understand why people believe it is a foundation fabric for only narrow cuts.  And to use a narrow cut on rug warp you'd have to hook in every hole I believe.  Not that I'm willing to give it a go as I don't like hooking narrow cuts.  Rug warp is heavier than natural primitive linen.  Sorry it is a very washed out version of the rug and since it was sold don't have it to take another photo.
When you buy a pattern it should have at least a 3" outside margin. Two names come to mind who provide extraordinary nice margins ~ Kris Miller of Spruce Ridge Studios and Barb Carroll who formerly owned Woolley Fox.  I trust that tradition has continued.  There are more good ones out there but those are the two most recently hooked so stand out in my mind.
The second important ingredient to a good pattern is the edge of the foundation.  Is the edge serged or not?  The pattern above was purchased at a hook-in for a great price and design I loved by a well known designer.   The edges were done with "fray check", a fabric glue and not to my liking after having used a pattern drawn for a camp once. I hooked the design at camp the edges did fray and dropped off around my feet.  So as I own a serger the above design was brought home and serged the edges until it is ready for my frame.  

I do not like the fray check edge and if the seller of a pattern is not serger friendly then even the edge covered with duck tape would be better.  I've seen some cute colorful duck tape that would be a better alternative to "fray check".  So that is a viable question to ask the person before you buy a pattern from them.... how is the edge prepared.  Below are a couple patterns I drew of Polly Minick designs.
Next important item is to have the outside edge on the straight of grain. Always double-check the exterior lines and inside lines if there is a border to be sure it is drawn straight.  OMG, I purchased a pattern on ebay from a designer and it was so off kilter that when I tried to draw the lines straight the inside design was so far off it couldn't be fixed.  I took a photo of the proper lines I drew and sent a photo to the seller.  She returned my  money and paid for the shipping back.

Let me make clear that is it very easy for the Sharpie to slip over a row and into the next ditch.  It has happened to me and since I can feel that slip will correct it.  The story above was way different.  The difference was not a row or two it was more like an inch ~ sorta like it was a red dot which was plopped on linen and drawn with no inclination as to where the outside boundaries were.  

So when you draw your own patterns, be aware of that scenario. Draw your boundary lines first and then place the design inside those lines.

In January I did a blog post called Domestic Zoo Review and this wonderful rug didn't get posted then.  I recently saw it posted on the Out Of Hand Rug Hooking Group and is being hooked by Karen Schoenrock.
OH!!!!!!!!!!!!  I forgot one important issue!!!!!!!!!!!  What cut wool do you prefer?????  Some designs are meant only for narrow cut.  I prefer wide cut although it is not uncommon to need a #5 for eyes, flower centers, leaf veins, etc.  But the majority of the motifs I hook or the design I look for is to accept a #8 (preferably #8.5) and above.  Okay, let's recap what I said newbies should consider when buying a pattern...

~ Interesting design
~ Foundation fabric
~ Edge preparation
~ Drawn straight of grain at outer edge
~ Width of margin beyond design
~ What cut wool is it designed for

Sorry that I missed posting on my blog the first day of February but was afraid to bore you with yet another update on my horse project.  If anyone has any questions or what they would like to see me post about, please feel free to write and suggest.  

Goodness this ended up being a huge long post and I'm sorry.  Guess I'm making up for lost time missing yesterday.  You just might have to revisit tomorrow to finish reading.

Have a great evening everyone and now I'm too tired to do an edit, lol.



  1. That's a great tutorial Saundra. I never buy pattern because I get more joy in designing my own but you give a lot of great advice. I was first shown how to hook on burlap and don't mind how it feels but I know it doesn't last as long as linen. I use was was described as fine linen for small cuts and I ordered it from The W. Cushing Company in Maine.

    That Domestic Zoo looks so beautiful/.


  2. Hi Saundra,
    Such great advice to share with everyone, both seasoned and new rug hookers!! I truly appreciate the fact that you REALLY CARE and want to share what you have learned!!! Thank you, Saundra!! Hope you are having a great week and getting some hooking done!!
    Warm Hugs~

  3. Great post. I tried monk's cloth on just something small and I hated it. Linen's the backing for me, but I think I buy the hairless kind from Michele Micarelli and I've been using it for years. Why don't you like hairless?
    Hugs :)

  4. 2nd the the great post! as a newer hooker appreciate any and all information. Your blog is great. I do know I prefer linen backing, not monks cloth and a size 8 wool cut. I like primitive work its what drew me to rug hooking. Thanks again for sharing!

  5. Great tips for those buying patterns, I always stuck to those rules when I did patterns on linen. My serger is acting up again, time for it to get a check up so I can use it again, I do love serging my edges. One thing I did since I needed to do my edge on my last one was, zig zag on my machine, it didn't hold that well, and started to pull out, but lasted till I finished. I used to use masking tape, that works too, but only for myself, not for selling patterns.


  6. Very helpful and informative post. Thanks

  7. Great post, Saundra. You covered the bases. Many years ago, when I first started hooking, I made so many mistakes with what type of backing to use. After at finally seeing some samples of different types , I was then able to choose what I liked !

  8. I used monk's cloth for years and really liked it with no issues. I do prefer primitive linen at this point in my life but I would not turn down monks cloth.

  9. This is a great post, Saundra! I saw the Domestic Zoo by Karen on FB and love it! Also love your horse rug. Lori

  10. Very nice post. I was surprised to hear you would use rug warp, as I think if you as a primitive Hooker. What is the largest cut you would use on rug warp??

  11. awesome post Saundra...will point some newbies this way again...I don't care for the hairless linen either...too limp for my taste...Maria Barton leaves a great margin too, as does Woolen Memories

  12. Saundra, I love when you do tutorials! There was alot of info in your post.
    I will reread it. It was that good.cheri

  13. Great post. I don't like monks cloth because it catches my hook and It gets caught up in that center on the backing that is not the hole. It is hard to describe. What is rug warp, and why do you dislike hairless linen?


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