Searching the Web for expert tips for surface design gave me a slew of possibilities and lots of ideas. I hope these are helpful to you as well!
Pantone is the color expert that designers depend on. Their color forecasting is generally on target, and, if you want to design fabric or prints or even quilts that take advantage of color trends, this is the place to look.
A clever and handy iPad app that will let you match HEX color codes to your photos, quilts, art or other source images is ColorViewfinder.
Some start on paper, others in illustrator or PhotoShop. Fab patterns all around. 19 pattern design tips:
"It helps to have at least five shapes so that there can be a nice variety within the composition – the same shape will never appear side by side. Leaving space between shapes also provides flexibility to go back in and draw smaller details to help bring balance to the overall image."
Leslie A Wood (USA)