Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Call it what you will... Doodle, ZenDoodle, Zentangle, ZenSuedle... it is still the art of finding your Zen through design and texture... like I always say’ “a rose by any other name would still have thorns to protect its beauty”. What ever medium you use to channel your Zen Designs, it is still a work of art to be inspired by. I have been an additive doodler my entire life. It was the number one reason I was asked to leave class as a child and now as an adult it is the way I unwind at the end of a long day, rediscover my lost creative mojo, or pass the time during an endless meeting. My doodling has lead to countless quilting and embroidery designs, stencils, fabric line set to be released in May2012 and has even been tattooed on other people’s body parts. I have been known to doodle on any scrap of paper I can find, on my jeans, my shoes, the wall by the phone in the kitchen... if it’s in reach it can be doodled on. This article is meant to inspire you to create texture and designs regardless of the medium you choice.
Now don’t get me wrong I know the difference between art and doodling. What you need to understand is that it all starts with a doodle, a scribble, a movement created with a pen, a paint brush, or whatever your medium choice might be. In the last 11 years my simplest doodles have been used to create countless quilting designs, edge to edge panto’s, embroidery designs, countless quilts, wall murals, quilting idea books, stencils and fabric lines. Oh and let’s not forget that my designs have also been inked for all time onto peoples skin in the form of tattoo’s... ooch!        

From This:
To This: 
There are as many different ways to design as there are designers or uses for the designs. I would like to share my process with you in hopes that it may inspire you to take your raw doodles to the next level, what ever that may be. I doodle on everything, all the time, then at night when I am in my hotel room or in my limited spare time at home, I take all my doodles and sketches and lay them all out on a large table in front of me. I then start pulling design concepts that I think could go together, be revamped, or just played with until I like the end result. Some of my starter designs get filed away for future play and others get pulled from the pile and re-drawn.
I like to work with different sizes of sketch paper, a large light box, black sharpie markers ranging from ultra fine to thick and a full range of eye glasses to help magnify small areas so my eyes do not get strained. I also have a full array of acrylic shapes in every size imaginable. Most, well almost all of my shapes have been purchased from Quilters Rule. I will include a link at the end of the article for those of you who would like to check out there on line site. I also keep my stencils, and a few scrap booking border tools close at hand. Although most of my designs are free form drawings I use the tools listed above to create specific shape spaces to fill in and repeat.
When I am happy with the finished design I then start pulling variations or sections of the design to create repeats, background fillers, and complementary designs so the finished pieces can be used together to create a full line of fabric or on there own for other projects, such as stencils or embroidery and quilt designs. I like to have at least five pieces that go together. I then take them to my graphics guy and have the designs scanned to be sent to my computer and photo copied at least three times so I came colour them in. Be sure that the copies are done on good paper or your colour medium will bleed when you start to apply it to the copies.

What ever your style, what ever medium you work in, how ever you choose to tackle the creative process, my best advice to you is that you enjoy that process from start to finish. I design and create for me first and foremost; I never tackle a project with the end result in mind. This allows me to be free formed and have fun without bending to the end need for the doodle. When I feel the project is complete and I am happy with it I then decide how I will present it and it’s end purpose.
Well I hope I have inspired you to look at your doodles in a whole new way. A very awesome quilting instructor, Linda Taylor, once told me "let your quilting reflect who you are inside", and this is my advice to you... "let your works of art reflect who you are and never second guess your ability to create something awesome!"

A Special thanks to my good friend Dusty for sharing his tattoo's of my art work. To see Dusty's awesome quilting and design work go to To view all the wonderful templates from my good friends at Quilter's Rule please visit


  1. I will try to do a design segment once a month. Each one will cover something different... designing for quilting, fabric, etc. I will also do interviews with other designers and have them share there story and tips and tricks. Let me know who you want to hear from and what areas of designing you want me to touch on and I'll try to make it happen here. Be inspired and have a creative day.

  2. Sue, If you get a chance, throw all your templates on the floor and take a photo. Also which are your most used. I saw some of the gals at MQX West in Zendoodle class, it looked like a great idea. Sorry I missed that clas!

  3. A fabric line! Awesome. Although I am not a longarm quilter (or a tattoo buff, ouch is right!) I can certainly see using it in my quilts.

  4. Cecilia, I have a ZenSuedle Blog planned where I will show all my design tools up close and personal. So for that blog I will pull out all the tools so neatly placed (lol) in my travel bin and talk about the different uses for them, both for drawing and stitching. Aunt Bonnie my fabric line will be out this May but I will do a sneak peak the second my samples arrive so you can see it up close and personal. It will be with Frond Design Studio. As soon as the web site is up I will post a link so everyone can take a look at all the awesome new fabrics that will be coming out this year.