It is easy to overlook that fabric is literally everywhere. The numerous available pattern designs are created in a variety of ways, and many fabric manufacturers license the patterns they use from individuals or design companies. If you have ideas for pattern designs you would like to sell to fabric manufacturers, it is important to develop a professional presentation that not only displays your ideas creatively, but also protects your rights as the pattern designer.
Draw your patterns out as neatly and professionally as possible. You can instead make a computer print or digital copies. However, if you choose to use a licensed graphic design program, be sure you have the appropriate type of license to create designs for sale.
Create at least three copies of your design portfolio. Store one in a safe location as a backup, in case damage occurs to the other portfolios you will carry with you.
Obtain a copyright for your designs through the U.S. Copyright Office. The agency website offers a number of resources to creators, including a guide to copyrighting and the ability to register a work online.
Research fabric manufacturers to determine the most appropriate companies to present your ideas. Make a list of the corporate addresses and phone numbers. For instance, manufacturers that primarily create fabrics for quilters or clothing might buy your designs more readily than a manufacturer of industrial fabrics.
Contact the fabric manufacturing companies to obtain the name, title and specific contact information for the person overseeing design and/or licensing. Write a letter (no more than one page) addressed to this individual, and send it along with a copy of one of your designs, a sheet of thumbnails of the designs in your portfolio or a digital copy of your portfolio (i.e., compact disc).
A company wishing to purchase your designs will, of course, contact you. If you have not received a response within two to three weeks of sending your query letter and portfolio, make a follow-up call or send a follow-up letter.
Hire an attorney to help you negotiate terms and licensing agreements if any companies choose to use your designs.
- "The Design Entrepreneur: Turning Graphic Designs into Goods that Sell"; Steven Heller and Lita Talarico; 2008.
- Schools in the USA, Career Profiles: Fabric Designer