how to prepare a design submission

how to prepare a design submission

At Quince & Co., we love working with independent designers to create beautiful knit and crochet patterns for our yarns. Over the last ten years, we’ve had the privilege of collaborating with hundreds of talented designers from all over the world, and we are always looking for new designers to bring their great ideas to life in Quince yarn. We know that submitting your pattern ideas to a yarn company or publication can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before, so today we are delighted to share some resources and tips on how to create a professional submission for your designs.

First - why submit your idea to a yarn company?

Publishing your design with a yarn company or other, third-party publisher, comes with many benefits. At Quince, we provide full yarn support for your design, as well as professional photography, layout, tech editing, and marketing for your pattern - all at our expense. One of the biggest benefits for many designers is having their work featured to a much wider audience; working with an established brand like Quince & Co. can offer a great deal of exposure for independent designers, expanding your reach and resulting in more pattern sales than you might make by self-publishing.

Of course, the benefits of working with Quince (or any other publisher) do come with a few trade-offs. By working with a third-party publisher, you’ll have less personal control over the finished product in terms of yarn & color selections, layout, and photography. Your rights to sell the pattern yourself will be limited - at Quince, we reserve the exclusive right to sell the pattern on our website and on Ravelry, and pay royalties on those sales to the designer; designers are permitted to sell the Quince-produced PDF on their own website and/or Payhip store, keeping all proceeds. The lead time between writing the pattern and its release, as well as receiving your first royalty payment, will generally be longer than if you were to self-publish.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine whether the benefits of working with a yarn company outweigh any potential drawbacks for you. There’s no one “right way” to be a designer, and what works for one person may not for another. Your needs and priorities as an independent designer may also shift over time; what works best for you now may not forever. All of this is OK! 

If you’ve decided that you are interested in working with a yarn company as a publisher, you’ll need to put together a design submission.

What is a design submission?

A design submission is a brief (typically one page!) document that gives an overview of your design idea; you don’t need to have written a complete pattern at this point, nor do you need to have every detail of your design ironed out, but you need to communicate enough information about your idea for the yarn company to have a general sense of what the finished product will be, how well it will work in their yarn, and, if it’s going to be published as part of a collection, how it will fit together with other designs.

If you have multiple design ideas you want to submit, you’ll need to make a separate page for each design. At Quince, we request that you submit each idea in its own PDF, but all of your individual PDFs can be sent attached to a single email.

Key pieces to include:

Your name & email address should be on every page.You can also consider including some personal details - a short bio, your pronouns, your location, etc., as well as links to a designer page on Ravelry or personal website, and your social media accounts (if they are knit/crochet-related, that is).

Clear photograph(s) of your swatch(es).Yes, you’re going to need to make a swatch for your submission - ideally a large one, 6” x 6”. For Quince & Co. submissions, it’s not necessary to swatch in Quince & Co. yarn, but you should try to use a yarn that matches the weight and fiber content you’d like to use for your design as closely as possible. Use your swatch to show the main stitch pattern of your design and/or any important motifs, and if your idea involves any special shaping or finishing details, a swatch is a great place to show these off ‘in the wool.’

Here are a few tips for showing off your swatch to best advantage - 
  • Block your swatch before taking photos.

  • Lay your swatch flat on a clean, flat surface (a large piece of paper or posterboard on a floor or table works perfectly) to photograph.

  • Use natural light if at all possible - either take your photo outdoors or as close to a window as you can, during daylight hours.

  • Take several photos with your phone or camera, so that you’ll have a few options to choose from. Try rotating your swatch 90 degrees once or twice, so that the light hits the fabric at a different angle; sometimes it can be surprising how different a stitch pattern looks based on the angle of the light!

Sketch(es) of your design. You are welcome to sketch digitally or by hand, and either scan or photograph your drawing. Yarn companies and publishers aren’t evaluating your submissions based on your drawing skills, so try not to feel too self-conscious about those - just do your best to clearly communicate the key features of your design. You’ll want to show the overall shape of the piece, where different stitch patterns occur, and any special design elements that make your idea unique. Feel free to use labels in your sketch to help explain your ideas! Sketches that are clear and high-contrast are most effective.

If your submission is an idea for a garment, it’s a good idea to sketch your design as it will look on a body in order to better communicate the desired overall silhouette and fit. Tracing a fashion figure template or ‘croquis’ can make this process easier - we recommend Tracing Real Body Models for croquis based on a beautifully diverse range of bodies.

A few sentences about your design - tell us about your inspiration, and about what makes your design unique and special! How do you envision this design fitting into the overall theme of a collection?

Notes on your design’s construction - is it knit or crocheted? Worked flat or in-the-round? Please give us as detailed a description as you can about your idea—what the shape is, what direction it’s knitted in, any specific techniques, cast-ons, bind-offs, etc. you want to use, which Quince yarn you see it being worked in, what color(s) you think it would look best in, and anything else you think is important for us to know. For garment designs, be sure to note the intended fit and recommended positive/negative ease.

Putting It All Together

You don’t need to be a graphic designer to put together an excellent design submission, but you’ll need to be able to make a PDF file that contains both text and images. You can use a wide range of layout programs to do this, including Adobe Indesign, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Publisher or Powerpoint, etc. An excellent (free!) option if you have a Gmail account is Google Slides. You can find a basic tutorial on using Google Slides here. Have a friend or family member proofread your final PDF for typos - they happen to all of us, but you want your design submission to be as clear and error-free as possible.

Most successful submissions have a handful of qualities in common - they arrive on time, include all required information, are clear and easy to read (no fancy fonts or backgrounds!) and they provide a lot of details about the proposed design (both through clear sketches and good written descriptions). These qualities make it easy for a yarn company to understand your idea, to envision the finished product, and to feel confidence in your ability to deliver on your vision.


What happens once you've sent in your submission?

You’ll receive an email notification indicating that your submission has been received. At Quince, we’ll take a few weeks following the submission deadline to review all submissions, at which point we will contact all designers who’ve submitted to let them know whether their ideas have been selected for publication. We feel it is an important professional courtesy to provide notification of final decisions to all designers, however, due to the volume of submissions we receive at Quince, we are unfortunately unable to provide detailed individual feedback to designers whose submissions have not been selected.

What should I do if my submission isn't accepted?

Don’t despair! This is easier said than done, but every designer has experienced this at some point. The fact that your idea was not selected for publication does not mean it wasn’t a good, or even great, design - it may be because it was too similar to another pattern already in development, or didn’t fit well with the rest of the selected designs, or may not have been a good fit with the yarns being featured. If you are still excited about the idea, don’t give up on it! You can always revise your submissions and submit them to calls from other publishers, or consider self-publishing the design. Sometimes a particular design submission might be ‘recycled’ multiple times, for multiple submission calls, before finding the exact right publication. 

If you decide to self-publish and are still interested in using Quince yarn for your design, please get in touch with our team - we are often able to provide yarn support in the form of a discount for independent designers.

Interested in designing for a future Quince & Co. collection?

We hold two open calls for submissions each year; one for fall/winter designs, and one for spring/summer designs. We are currently accepting submissions for designs to be published in Fall & Winter 2021 - you'll find our current call for submissions here! To be notified about future calls, please sign up to receive our submission calls via email here.

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