We hope you’re enjoying our tour of some of this season’s most exciting new fabric releases.  Today, we’re meeting the designer behind one of the most talked-about new lines at Quilt Market in Salt Lake City last month.  Katy and I had the opportunity to meet Emily Herrick, the creative mind behind Crazy Old Ladies Quilts, in her beautiful (and award-winning) booth as she introduced passers-by to her debut fabric collection with Michael Miller Fabrics, Going Coastal.  Naturally, we wanted to get to know Emily a bit more and learn about her decidedly beachy new collection … and we thought you might want to eavesdrop on our conversation.

Oh, and Emily was totally game for playing along in our “masthead takeover” program.  Take a look at our absolutely coastal new blog header!

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you became interested in sewing and quilting.

I am a thirty-something, stay at home Mom. And while I love that I am able to be at home with my kids I really need something to do for ME. Several years ago before I was expecting my youngest child I got the urge to make a very SPECIFIC quilt. I spent hours and hours on it and was very pleased with how it turned out. The town I lived in holds a little quilt show every year so I decided to enter the quilt I had made. To my astonishment it won Best of Show and I was hooked. I’ve been quilting like crazy ever since. Oh, you want to know about that SPECIFIC quilt? Well, after many years of contemplating I’ve decided to finally release it as a pattern. So watch for it later this summer!

How did you then transition your love of quilting into pattern design and, now, fabric design?

My passion for quilting is all about the creative outlet. From the time I started quilting I have always made up my own designs. I would go into a quilt shop, see a quilt hanging and think “That quilt it really cool. I think I want to make that. Except instead of this, I’ll do this. And Instead of that part right there, I’ll do this instead.” I would rarely buy a quilt pattern because I never had intentions of following it. I would go home, start cutting and sewing, and by the time I had the top finished I had a completely different quilt.

I don’t think my patterns are better or more original than anyone else’s out there- their just ME. I decided to start marketing them when many of my friends and acquaintances asked about them. I figure- I’m designing them anyway, might as well see if someone else wants them too? And here I am.

I didn’t know I wanted to design fabric until I had an idea of what I wanted to see on fabric. I knew that the ideas I had in my head I had never seen on fabric before- at least not the way I was envisioning them. So I started drawing. Pretty soon I had a good sized folder of drawings. At that point I was so in love with those sketches I couldn’t bear the thought of never having them in fabric to play with. Now I’m lucky enough to be working with the folks at Michael Miller to bring those sketchy drawings to print.

What can readers expect to find when they visit your blog, Crazy Old Ladies Quilts? And how did you come up with that name?

My blog is totally ME. I try to write it as if I’m talking to the reader. I hope that if my readers ever meet me in person that they feel like they already know me from my blog. I post pictures of projects I’m working on, new patterns I’ve designed, tidbits of my crazy life and links to blog-land to see things I think are amazing!

So you want to know how I became a Crazy Old Lady? Well, hold on to your hat! The name came about when I started quilting. Shortly after I kicked my son out of his room to make a craft room my husband came in to see me slumped over my machine. He looked at me and shook his head “You’re going to become one of those crazy old ladies that sits around and sews all the time, aren’t’ you!?” he said. ABSOLUTELY! So naturally, when I decided to start marketing my patterns that was the name I chose. Although most people think it refers strickly to me, it’s really a stereotypical reference to all quilters. With love, of course.

We were very excited to see your new line, “Going Coastal”, at Quilt Market! How did you come upon designing fabric for Michael Miller?

The planets must’ve been aligned in my favor. I hadn’t planned on approaching Michael Miller. I was a little intimidated by some of their designers and thought they were way out of my league. However, someone suggested I go for it and I decided I better do it before I lose my nerve. I still have to pinch myself- it’s just unreal. Everyone at Michael Miller is so awesome, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

“Going Coastal” has a distinct beach vibe. From where did you draw your inspiration for this collection? Did you grow up near the coast, or Is there a particular beach that you enjoy visiting?

I wish I could say I grew up on the beach- but it’s just not so. I did grow up in northern California about an hour from the coast but we only hit the beach once a year or so. There’s something about the beach that draws people to it. If I could live there I would. It doesn’t matter which beach. Now I live in Utah and there is no beach. But I dream of it often. Just to hear the crashing waves, the screech of the gulls, the smell of the salt in the air….Um, I think I need a vacation.

My favorite beach is near Bodega Bay in California because of all the memories of going there as a child. I also have a special place in my heart for Seal Beach in southern California because of a day trip there a few years back. But there are TONS of other beaches that I would love to visit. Anywhere on the East Coast would be amazing and of course, Florida, Hawaii, and Mexico. Maybe someday.

The inspiration came from the places I have been and all the places I would like to go. I’ve seen beach prints before and there are lots of great ones, but I wanted something…different. It sounds cheesy to say but it’s true. I wanted prints that you might actually see on the coast. Think Pottery Barn and J crew. That was the feel I was going for.

Tell us a little bit about each print in the collection.

First and foremost I knew I couldn’t do a beachy theme without plaid. I LOVE all things plaid. This one had to be just-right. I wanted a patchwork print that looks as though it’s been pieced, but it’s not. This print carries the line and gives it the feel I wanted to achieve.

The Bottle Cap was one of the first prints I drew. It has a nostalgic vibe to it that I adore.

I love to see finger starfish in décor so that had to be one of my prints.

The sand dollars are my polka dot- I love the shading and the slight flower trademark of a real sand dollar.

I HAD to draw that crab! For some reason he was just speaking to me. I lovingly nicknamed that print ‘crabby patty’ (SpongeBob anyone?)

The sea-kelp came last because as a quilter, I know that there needs to be a floral-ish print in there too. I’m so glad I added it- I can’t imagine the line without it!

What types of projects do you think would be best suited for this collection? What might be some good quilt patterns that our readers can use to really show off and complement the prints and colors?

I designed a few patterns specifically to show the prints and carry on the coastal feeling I was going for. Cabana and Beachin’ are my favorites. But I also really like Liliana because of its feminine feel.

A personal project that I want to do includes the patchwork plaid and white to make Vanessa’s Hounds-tooth quilt. *heart* http://vandco.bigcartel.com/product/houndstooth-quilt-pdf-pattern

I made a beach ball for my booth at market using the pattern at http://www.purlbee.com/fabric-beach-balls/ I didn’t have all my prints yet, so I had to use what I had. It was super fun and EASY to do.

I am hoping to make my little girl a sundress using a few of the prints too. I can see the patchwork plaid and bottle cap prints in all kinds of children’s clothing. Heck, I may even make something for me!

Aside from your collection, what are your 5 favorite fabric prints right now?

I LOVE this question! And it’s so hard to narrow down just 5.

At the top of my list right now is the complete collection of STORYBOEK by Birch fabrics. Oh my gosh- LOVE IT! I’ve got as project in works with it right now. I can’t wait! *squeal!*

Also, PRINCE CHARMING. That Tula always produces some amazing prints. I’m seeing this done with my Merry-Go-Round pattern.

I know you said prints, but you meant collections, right!? ;o)

I’m trying to remember all the lines I saw at market…..hmmm……

I’d have to say CHILDREN AT PLAY is right up there. Not just because she’s another M&M designer- I have been a fan of Sarah Jane’s work for a long time. And now, to have it in fabric! I want to sew this in my Backyard Circus pattern- I think it would bring a new life to it.

Sweetwater’s HOMETOWN is sitting on my table. I LOVE the color pallete. I am such a sucker for the more muted or subdued color palette. I don’t know what I’m making with it yet because I’m still afraid to cut it. :o ) Although, as I’m sitting here thinking, I may have to do my Postage Due pattern- those little squares- oh, I can see it.

More love for fellow M&M designer- Violet Craft’s PEACOCK LANE. Um, it has elephants in it. (I *heart* elephants) As soon as I saw that line I knew I wanted to make my Out of Time pattern (without the appliqué letters). Yum!

You know how we like to roll here at Fat Quarterly.  We have mad love for Going Coastal, and we’re all about spreading the love.  You know what that means — a chance at some free fabric for you!  Are you a beach bum?  Need a little sunshine in your life?  Simply leave a comment on this post and tell us about your favorite beach or share a fun beach memory and you’ll be entered to win this lovely stack of Going Coastal fat quarters.

Good luck!