My design tools

My design tools

I spend about 30% of my time running Goodordering designing. This is my background afterall. The other 70% is done doing admin, customer service, product development and other bits and pieces. Running a design-led business definitely doesn't mean i have the luxury of designing all the time. Fortunately i also don't mind doing the other bits. 

This blog post is about the tools i use to design bags.  

Here are the top design tools needed to design bags:

1) adobe illustrator

2) adobe pdf maker

3) a tape measure

4) other bag samples

5) inspirational imagery

6) fabric swatches

Read on to find out more about each of these tools - how i use them to design bags and why they are important.

Adobe illustrator

This is by far the main program i use to design.  If i could only choose one program between photoshop or illustrator, it would be adobe illustrator. I use illustrator to draw up the designs for the sample making for the factory. I also use adobe illustrator to mock up colour combinations when i cannot decide what colours to go with. I find using illustrator quite relaxing actually, i like to zoom in and zoom out and draw and learn new things on the program even though i have been using this program almost on a daily basis for the last 10 years.

Adobe illustrator colour tests

Tape measure

 A tape measure is an important tool that i could not design without. I use a tape measure to make changes to documents. To design pockets and make sure they are the right size to fit specific things inside. I actually have a whole drawer full of tape measures and i use them all the time and i also lose them all the time.  Sometimes when i am in my design world, i wrap one around my neck and walk around the house and leave it somewhere, then i end up finding tape measures all around the house.

tape measure. and Goodordering

I measure everything in cm and mm, (not inches). the only thing i sometimes. measure in inches  is webbing width. (sometimes factories do.this so its easier to not make a mistake. if i use inches for webbing width)

Adobe PDF 

I send my files to my. factory as PDFs, i need to make sure that the files are not too large and to downsize the files i used adobe pdf maker. PDFs can. also turn illustrator files into useable files to send to the factory.  I always make sure that i send artwork in ai files. or eps files as well to make sure that information does not get lost in translation. 

Other bag samples

Either real life physical samples that i have lying around or failing that images of bag samples.  I keep a folder of bag designs on my computer and on instagram. I use these for inspiration, ideas and also measurements and dimensions. I always have a folder called 'bag refs' where i put in images and details that will inform and help explain my designs.

Image references

Inspirational imagery

I never start designing WITHOUT a story and a mood board. For example the neon range which i am designing right now started with some images in a folder and also a pinterest board where i collect images.

<Here is the pinterest board i created for my neon range. >

Aerobics inspiration mood board

Another mood board made from some of the images in Pinterest. The mood boards are not only used at the beginning of the design process but also all the. way through. When i am trying to 'sell' or communicate the design to others i can go back to the mood boards and show people what the original design inspiration was. 

Neon mood board

Fabric swatches

I either collect fabric swatches myself or i ask my factory to send me. some. I give an outline of what i am looking for and then they can find a whole bunch more for me to choose from.

fabric swatches Goodordering design tools

Pen and paper

I use pen and paper really early on in the design process to sketch. You don't have to be a great drawer, you should still put pen to paper and draw annotated sketches of what you are trying to achieve. I really believe that the process of drawing with your hand stimulates certain synapses in the brain that get the creative juices going. Below is a sketch i did in a hotel room in hong kong of a bum bag that i wanted to get sampled. I didn't have my laptop with me at the time but it did not stop me from making a note of a design that i wanted to do.

pen Sketch goodordering bum bag

Using annotations and arrows mean you can communicate what you are trying to achieve even if your sketches are not exactly realistic.  A pen and paper is definitely the must have tool as a designer if you could only choose one single tool.


Designing and communicating your designs require tools, but luckily not too many tools. I have been designing bags for over 10 years and absolutely love it. i'm inspired by many things. The most important thing i would say. is to. h ave a clear story and target audience for your designs. After all, there is no point in designing something for an imaginary audience or someone who may not be able to afford to buy your designs. Running a business is way more than just design.  Design on itself is a hobby, design with customers is a business.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.