1. Moleskine Sketchbook. This sketchbook is small and portable so it's easy to take everywhere. I carry one of these in my purse so I can jot down ideas and make little sketches whenever inspiration hits. I also keep various other sketchbooks around the house for sketching while I'm watching tv or just relaxing.
2. Tracing paper. When I'm refining a design from my sketchbook, I use lot's of different layers of trace to experiment with different outline and fill options. Also, since my designs will eventually be transferred to a screen for printing, I use the trace layers to decide where each different color will go on the design.
3. Micron Pens. Maybe it's because my experience with drawing and sketching started in drafting class, but I love sketching and drawing with (somewhat) technical pens like Microns. Some of my other favorites are Staetdler, Sign Pens, and Faber-Castel Pitt Artist pens in Sepia. I almost never sketch with pencil.
4. Adobe Creative Suite Programs. I use Illustrator when I'm creating designs directly into the computer and also for design layouts and fabric repeats. I scan my hardline sketches into Photoshop and clean them up there (deleting stray lines, increasing contrast, filling areas) before I move them to Illustrator.
5. Wacom Bamboo tablet. When I'm drawing straight into the computer, I use this Bamboo tablet and the pressure-sensitive pen. It's not exactly like drawing on paper, but it's pretty close! I also use the tablet when I'm image editing in Photoshop. It's much easier to navigate tools and erase with the Bamboo pen tool than my MacBook Pro's trackpad. There are lots of different tablet models out there at many different price points.
Those are the tools I use the most when I'm designing. I hope you've enjoyed reading about my process. What are your favorites? Do you keep a sketchbook?