My Job! Mari, Pattern Designer

Quilt designing and writing are a fundamental part of my responsibilities at Connecting Threads. It is without a doubt, the most delightful job. One can only wish to have a job like this! Interestingly enough, it’s a challenge to write this because it’s like telling someone how to play! You just do it! Right?

It begins with inspiration… fabric, quilt blocks, color, etc. In my heart I feel giddy, excited, and anxious to play with all the lovely fabrics Jenni creates; I pour over thousands of quilt blocks and feel the movement of the color spectrum. Quilts have a wonderful way of taking on a life of their own. They know what they want to look like and making that happen is a joy.

So, Jenni’s newest collection is sitting here along with scads of quilt blocks. The color values are assessed and the beautiful imagery is coupled with a block or two that will speak its language. As I begin playing with the quilt blocks and fabric placement, the quilt begins to take shape. It’s all about color balance, and using imagery to create a dance between the design and fabric. The design and fabrics are rehearsed until it’s shouting, “I’m complete!”

Writing the pattern is a whole different matter. Oh, my, gosh, this is much more technical and challenging. First, I draw a full-size image of the quilt in its finished dimensions as this is necessary to determine yardage. The quilt image is taken apart, pieces counted, seam allowance added, and cuttings are assigned to each fabric in the pattern. This comprises the Cutting Suggestion page in each pattern and provides Teri with the yardage requirements needed for ordering.

It gets better… second, the pieces are laid out with the intention of providing the greatest strength to the quilt as well as the easiest and most efficient use of yardage. I have to take a look at the techniques too because they have to be evaluated as they affect yardage amounts. See what I mean about this being a different matter?  The writing begins…  It’s a rather methodical process, really. Once the pattern is complete I leave it for a while, a week or so perhaps, then come back to it with a fresh mind and perspective. Usually, most of my mistakes can be caught at this point. The most challenging aspect for me is the math as it requires a great deal of concentration having to keep multiple mathematical equations in my head as the pattern develops. After a while my poor head gets a bit muddled.

Then Judy and Deb take the pattern for a testing period in which it is evaluated for grammar, spelling, mathematical errors, formatting, and of course construction. When a kit arrives in your mail a great many people have contributed to the effectiveness of the pattern.

Gifty Galore, what a blog! What a great group of people!!! I am so blessed to have such a delightful group of on-line friends. Job-wise, I manage the group, BUT the group really manages itself. If you need support, have quilty questions, or just plain want to have fun, this is the place to be. You will never find a better group of people to share your time with. It’s a blog that is active throughout the year but from June through December it features a new project every Monday which is quick, easy, and lovely to give as a gift for Christmas. The purpose is to prepare a stash of gifts and prepare for the season way ahead of time.
This year during our down time, January through May, I wrote a series of candle mat patterns that are free downloads. We always have something awesome during our quiet time of the year. Yes, it’s part of my job to connect with these wonderful people each day, however, it does not feel like work at all. I even hook up with Gifty on the weekends as these people are my friends! I can’t sing their praises enough!


  1. Susan Terpin - May 15, 2013

    Hi Mari, nice photo. I feel like you are smiling right at me. Oh you are, I sit in the cubicle next to you. Tee he he.
    Nice blog Mari.
    Cheers Sue

  2. redjanfan - May 15, 2013

    Nice to read about your work, and realize how much the creative side must be balanced with the logistical side of our brains when creating a quilt. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Dorothy . Dishman - May 15, 2013

    Again I want to thank you and CT for providing such accurate directions along with generous fabrics in your kits. That is one of the first things I tell people who are questioning CT products. “You can’t go wrong!” ordering from CT…unless you goof yourself! 🙂

  4. Bonnie Bainbridge - May 15, 2013

    Oh good–finally a designer we can talk to or beg to!! My quilter friend and I are constantly seeking fabrics that blend together with the black, tan, brown, rust colors. They are very few and far between at quilt shops or online. Can you come up with small prints in these colors similar to Civil War lines? We like primitive prints so that’s how I would best describe it to you. Quilt shops tell us they are in demand but it is extremely difficult to find these colors in anything but wild large prints. Please let me know if can get this into and out of your brain via a new design line–we’d love it and order in a minute! Thanks- Bonnie

  5. MaryAgnes - May 15, 2013

    You’re so sweet, Mari, but we Gifties would be nothing without you. Now get back to work.

  6. Diane Gunter - May 15, 2013

    You are such a beautiful person both inside and out! We LOVE you over at Gifty. You are so brave to have put up with us the past 5 years. Thank you my friend.

  7. Barb - May 15, 2013

    Awww…Mari. We at Gifty love you and all you do for us. Loved your article. We already knew how talented you are – now the rest of the groups do too.

  8. Mari - May 15, 2013

    Thank you so much everyone! Sue, you’re such a stinker!
    You are very welcome ‘redjanfan’! Thank you for reading it and leaving a comment.
    I’m so happy we have pleased you Dorothy. We do try our best!
    Bonnie, I will give your request to those who can make it happen.
    Mary Agnes, you are too kind, and I’m happy to get back to work for you!!!

  9. Anne Grinley - May 15, 2013

    Dear Mari,as always I thank you, for being our wonderful teacher.. we will follow you..with all your creative ideas.. CT is the best! Anne

  10. Marilyn Lessner - May 16, 2013

    Mari, so nice to read about your job. Now every person who comes to the QWU website can know what we gals at “Gifty” already know… are such a talented woman and a great friend to us all! And we’re all a bit envious of your job!

  11. Linda Froggie Quilter - May 16, 2013

    YOU are the delightful one, Mari! We have sew much fun with you all year long, and there IS sew much inspiration at Gifty. Not to mention support, what a great group of supportive friends. Love ya!
    ~Hopppy quilting~

  12. MaryAgnes - May 16, 2013

    Marilyn may be a bit envious; I’m green with envy.

  13. Lou Ann Bucheimer - May 16, 2013

    Mari, I always can tell in the CT catalog, or another quilting magazine that it is your design. You just go the extra mile to put an extra zip to the patterns. Neat being able to talk to you, via computer, when we feel like it. The Gifty site was the first that I joined and I’m going to pat myself on the back for choosing the best!

  14. Theresa - May 19, 2013

    Your smile is infectious!!
    Oh! to come and play with u??????
    U are a very lucky lady to have a job like this one…
    God bless, T

  15. karenthequilter - June 5, 2013

    Hi Mari,
    Even if I didn’t already know you, I’d recognizes a kindred spirit in you. You’re smile lights up a room and your enthusiasm is contagious!

  16. Mari - June 5, 2013

    Awe, thank you Karen!

  17. Lori - April 20, 2015

    Hi Mari, I am looking for a pattern you designed that had a nautical theme in 2012. You wrote that the pattern will be reissued in April 2015 with a patriotic theme. Has that come out yet? Thanks, so much

  18. Georgene - January 9, 2016

    I am looking for the pattern called “The Z’s have it” – I saw it in the Connecting Threads September 2015 Catalog, but it has sold out!! Is there a way for me to get that pattern??? Thanks !

    • Mari - January 11, 2016

      Georgene, unfortunately no, that pattern is not available at this time. That pattern will however most likely be used in a future collection. Please accept my apologies.