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Create a Lilly Design Pattern

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, March 2009


Follow this simple technique to make your own Lilly Pulitzer-inspired design.


  • Inspiration photo

  • Vellum paper

  • Colored permanent markers

  • Watercolor paper

  • Graphite paper

  • Blunt pencil

  • Watercolor paints

  • Frame (optional)


  1. Start with an inspiration photo to determine the shapes and color scheme. Your theme can center around botanicals, animals, landmarks, nautical motifs, even everyday items such as bicycles or maps!

  2. Trace a shape in the inspiration photo (for example, a shell) by placing vellum paper over the original picture and outlining the shape with a permanent marker. Go over only the line details you'd like to include in your print design. Repeat for other shapes in the photo you'd like to include.

  3. Transfer the design from the vellum paper to the watercolor paper. Layer the paper as follows, from bottom to top: watercolor paper, graphite paper, vellum paper with traced design. Run a blunt pencil tip over the traced design, applying moderate pressure, to transfer the design from the graphite paper to the watercolor paper.

  4. Go over the transferred image outline on the watercolor paper with a colored permanent marker, and further define the design by adding whimsical details, such as swirls, bubbles, dots, etc.

  5. Determine the color palette for the design and paint with watercolor in stages. Fill in key colors, then accent colors.

  6. Frame the print when dry, if desired.

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