Designer Feature

what Katy (& Lynne) did next

You may remember I went to visit Liberty the other week and saw how the design process regarding the new lifestyle cottons happens. Whilst I was there I was given some samples of fabric for us to play with. I was eager to see how the prints looked made into something other than a lovely pile of fabrics.

Lynne and I had a play and this was what we came up….

Lynne’s union jack pillow

and my constellation pillow

liberty constellation

You can read more on both Lynne’s and my blogs.

what Katy did (at Liberty’s)

Last week I had the pleasure of spending some time in the design studio at Liberty’s with the Liberty Lifestyle Fabrics designer, Sholto Drumlanrig. Anyone who knows me (even a little bit) knows I am a huge fan of Liberty print fabrics and have been for as long as I can remember – they remind me of my childhood, of my cousins, of homemade dresses and beanbag frogs. So, when Kim at True Up mentioned Liberty was debuting a new collection of quilting cottons at Spring market this year, it was no surprise that I woke up to a whole heap of tweets practically shouting ‘Katy – have you seen this?!!!’ It was also no surprise that all I was really bothered about doing when I got to Kansas city was checking out the Liberty booth (which, admittedly, was a bit tricky to find – it seemed to hide quite well).

constellation block

Whilst at Market I (we) met Sholto, the designer, as well as Virginie the sales manager and Sholto mentioned coming into the studio for a look round. When we got home, got the retreat out of the way and settled back into real life once again, I hopped on a train and went for a visit.

image courtesy of Liberty Lifestyle fabrics

Most fabric collections we buy as quilters are designed by a named designer who is licensed to a manufacturer. For example, Kate Spain’s next collection is called Cuzco and is produced by Moda Fabrics, Kate has licensed her designs to Moda in order for them to produce them as quilting cottons. We become fans of the designer, we tend to like everything they do (I buy everything Anna Maria Horner designs – everything). There are exceptions (companies such as Alexander Henry, for example, use in-house designers rather than licensed designers), but as a general rule the process goes as follows (this is really simplified) the designer has an idea for some fabric designs, s/he draws them up, s/he sends them to Moda (or Andover, or Kaufman, or wherever), if they like the general feel of the collection and see it as commercially viable, they then discuss which ones they don’t like so much, and which ones they do, they narrow it down to a collection that has a good range of focal prints, co-ordinates and blenders – up to about 40 different prints, and that collection is produced. The designer gets a payment according to how much fabric is sold (like a royalty). The owner of the designs is still the designer, and they can then use the designs in other areas (such as home wares, or stationary or whatever). Designers become a kind of celebrity in their own right within our community – the first time I met Denyse Schmidt I am certain I just leered at her like a lunatic for a while – and the circle continues.

image courtesy of Liberty Lifestyle fabrics

Liberty is different.

For the past 100 and some years, Liberty has produced fabrics. It’s name is synonymous with small chintzy floral tana lawns that have an almost silk-like texture due to the densely woven high thread count Egyptian cotton they are printed on. Tana lawn is luxurious, and perfect for dressmaking, but it has the price tag to go with it. In the UK they are sold at £21/metre. For those of you overseas, that price is far higher. They are also tricky to sew with if you’re not familiar with them. They slip, can feel ‘sticky’ if your machine needle isn’t sharp enough, and when quilted can cause tension issues and slipped stitches. But, with a new and sharp needle, a high quality cotton thread (such as Aurifil 50wt), and a lot of spray starch, tana lawn is a joy to sew with. If you can stomach the initial cost and actually cut it up in the first place.

Somebody at Liberty had the genius idea of producing a range of (what we call over here in the UK) ‘craft fabrics’. That’s code for quilting cottons. Craft just means it’s not dressmaking fabric and can be used for home sewing in a variety of ways. A team was put together, the archives were trawled (over 40,000 images of fabric – can you even begin to imagine the Liberty archives? All of the history, all of the trends from the very first fabric back in the late 1800s through to today), a theme of ‘Bloomsbury Gardens’ decided upon and Sholto was the man that put together a series of 11 designs in 5 colourways that were either completely new but looked ‘Liberty’ or were influenced by the archival prints and that were complimentary enough to form a collection.

Take a moment to consider that task in itself. It’s a huge collection – although only 11 prints individually, each one comes in 5 colours, for a total of 55 prints. Much larger than any regular quilting fabric collection. The base cloth is a regular quilting cotton – it is soft and quite matt – it doesn’t have the sheen of tana lawn. They are also very nice to sew with – I’ve been making a version of my Spring Carnival design using english paper piecing and I’m thoroughly enjoying the way they sew. I also made a constellation block (see top of post) using Essex linen as the solid, and, again, found the fabrics cut well, were very easy to piece and didn’t distort. I haven’t checked for shrinkage or bleeding, but I imagine the shrinkage will be similar to other quilting cottons, and the usual caution should be taken with the deepest colours, such as the reds and navy blues (pre-wash with a colour catcher)

The designs themselves are drawn in pen and ink, rather than painted or computer generated in illustrator. An archive image or a particular element of an archive image, is re-drawn (by hand, on paper), new elements are added, new colours, new repeats, or scales – all of this is done by hand, painstakingly. What you can see below is a painted image (by Sholto), which was then re-drawn and elements pulled out and shrunk down (the flowers), filled in with alternative designs, and then finally produced in colour on the computer. The final fabric is called Virginia and is a new fabric, but it looks remarkably typically Liberty.

liberty lifestyle design process

Here it is in all colourways….

image courtesy of Liberty Lifestyle fabrics

Another example (this is for a tana lawn, not one of the lifestyle cottons)

Sketches of plant life…..

sketches at liberty design studio

Are added to and evolve into something far greater…

from sketches to finished design

It was incredibly fascinating to be able to talk to Sholto about his process, and especially interesting to see how the process differs in a design studio such as Liberty to what we consider, as quilters, to be the norm – designers working from their (usually home based) studios, mostly solitary drawing and sketching and designing, and often blogging about the process. Most of our designers have faces and names we all recognise, we may even know their children’s names or what pets they have. They become familiar to us, and we worship them a little as a result and feel we ‘know’ them. Our community is quite unique in that way, and the design studio with hidden faces is far more common. It is the same with fashion fabric design, and home decor, and can be far less solitary when you are working with other people, just like the Liberty studio where there are several people doing different things with different responsibilities. Long after Sholto leaves Liberty and moves on to another studio for a different company, those designs will still be there, in the ever growing archive without his name attached to them, and a new Sholto will replace him. I quite like that idea – it’s what has kept Liberty going for the past 135 years or so, and what keeps the fabrics looking as typically ‘Liberty’.

Bloomsbury Gardens by Liberty Lifestyle Fabrics is shipping this August/September
The Village Haberdashery, Pink Castle Fabrics, and Sew Mama Sew have all placed orders so if you would like to know which prints they’ve got coming and when, simply send them a quick email.

Also – if you are free at 4pm EST (9pm for UK folks) then pop over and listen to the Pat Sloan show on All People Quilt. There’s an interview with me (Katy) that we recorded during Quilt Market in Kansas City. Pat’s show is always worth a listen, she’s a great ambassador for the quilting community and works tirelessly to support everyone.

Tokyo Rococo

Carol Van Zandt is new to fabric designing and new to Andover Fabrics, although you wouldn’t think it when you see her first line Tokyo Rococo! We met Carol at last year’s Fall Quilt Market and she showed us some of her designs on paper. I was immediately drawn to the subtleties of the grey and blue colourway whereas Katy immediately went for the bolder pink and green colourway. And I can safely say that the prints look even better in real life.

Regardless of which colourway you are drawn to, the prints that make up the collection are beautifully designed with such attention to detail. There is so much going on in each print which gives a quilter lots of scope for fussy cutting!

But let’s hear from Carol herself…

What is the first thing you ever sewed?
Well, I started sewing in 4-H when I was 8, and I’m not sure it was the first thing I actually sewed but the first thing I remember sewing for myself was an A-line skirt, which turned out so well I made several and then made a lot of skirts, dresses, pantsuits, and shorts over the next several years. My mother used to take down the hem of my skirts when I was at school and then I would hem them back up again. It was a funny little game in retrospect and I got to be very good at hemming!

How did you get started in fabric design?
I was a contemporary painter for many years, and during a period where my paintings were selling very well, I just sort of hit a wall, and decided I wanted to go either digital or commercial or something that didn’t involve carting around large paintings and producing my own shows. I think I was just ready for a change. I loved textiles and had always collected them, and was encouraged by others many times to think about putting my work on textiles. So my initial idea was to learn fabric design and put my own art onto fabric, so when I had the chance to study it, I did. That opened up the whole designing collections of fabric, and licensing my art and design for a variety of products.

What was the inspiration for Tokyo Rococo?
After spending three years in textile design school, I had collected a lot of interesting classic fabrics, as well as books on 18th and 19th century textiles. I also had a real love of things Japanese as I had lived there for five years, so I wanted to combine that sort of over-decorative Rococo period look and layouts with Asian motifs but do it in a contemporary way–like putting a wave pattern where you would normally have baroque ornamentation. I have some antique kimonos that inspired the flowers.


Pillow made using Tokyo Rococo and the Stepping Stones pattern which can be found on Sew Mama Sew or in the Festival Sampler.

Why the name Tokyo Roccoco?
Well I think I started describing it as European Asian Fusion, then French-Japanese fusion, then Japanese-Rococo, and I think Teliha Draheim of Image West Design who I consulted with came up with the Tokyo Rococo. For a little while it was Tokyo Roco, but I liked the bounce of the Rococo.

What are some things people might be surprised to learn about you?
Dogs, horses and children all disobey me–they take one look at me, laugh and do whatever they want.
I used to talk so fast my parents sent me to a theatre college student for after school lessons to slow down.
I studied Japanese Calligraphy formally for ten years and reached the sandan and yondan levels for the different styles.
I graduated from high school when I was 16 and went to live in Arizona to “seek” my fortune and the only job I could find was sorting and counting dirty linen in a hospital. That led to an illustrious career working summers during college doing laundry in a nursing home.
I met my husband when I was running a sales training program and he was an intern.
I used to dress in Dynasty suits when a temp job turned into fifteen years working in high tech.
I grew up in western NY and we used to spend summers at “the cottage” where we slept outside all summer and hardly put on shoes except for church on Sundays. No TV or music, we had a bonfire almost every night and my Dad would play the guitar and we would sing.
I was premed in college and did fine but so much preferred time in the art studios to the science labs so majored in art (much to the dismay of my parents)

In the spirit of Tokyo Rococo Carol also redesigned our masthead. If you read our blog through a reader you will want to click on over and take a look!

You can also download a free quilt pattern from the Andover website!

By |February 25th, 2012|Designer Feature|1 Comment

Terrific Terrain

Kate Spain's

Tacha, Katy, and I are just back from Quilt Market in Houston and have been catching up, tending to our families, and trying to take a few deep breaths and catch a few winks of sleep!  We’ll be back with a proper blog post soon all about our adventures at market, but today wanted to feature one of our favorite new lines (and one of our very favorite people), Terrain by Kate Spain for Moda.  Kate’s new line is vibrant, colorful, and makes people happy … all of which can be said about Kate as well!

We also love our new Terrain masthead, designed by Kate herself.  RSS and Google Reader readers, click on over and take a look!

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite new projects that feature Terrain and demonstrate its flexibility in working beautifully across a wide range of items — from quilts to purses to pincushions!  (Speaking of flexibility, I’ve been using Terrain to make my Farmer’s Wife blocks, and continue to be amazed at how many other fabrics and fabric lines perfectly complement and coordinate with Terrain.  It’s almost magical!)

Throughout our tour, we’ll tell you 5 things about Kate that you probably didn’t know.  And, the always awesome and generous Kate has even offered up a fun little Terrain giveaway — stick around until the end of the post for more information about that.

But first, let’s take a tour through across Kate’s terrific Terrain!

Terrain Quilt
Made by Carlene Westberg of Carlene Westberg Designs

Terrain Quilt - the whole thing
Made by Crystal Stanworth (frivolous necessity)

Kate: “On more than one occasion, I’ve mentioned that hot dogs are my guilty pleasure. If they were good for you, i’d eat one a day! Otherwise, i’d have to say cashews. Or chocolate chip cookies. Or just the chips. By the handful.”

Terrain Starflower Quilt
Made by Samelia’s Mum

Gift Card Monster hacks
Made by Monica Solorio-Snow (Happy Zombie)

Kate: “The first thing i ever sewed by hand that i can remember was a felt watermelon slice, complete with glued on pits. I was in 5th grade. The most embarrassing thing i ever sewed and wore in public was my prom dress when i was a senior in high school. It actually fit as long as i didn’t take a deep breath or try to sit down. Ok so maybe i watched a few too many John Hughes movies!”

Terrain Patchwork
Made by two.hippos

Ziggety Mug Rug in Terrain
Made by Marieke (Annuin)

Kate: “Try not to get too jealous, but in 2004, I got to meet Yuko Shimizu in person. She is the Japanese designer who created Hello Kitty! Did you know Hello Kitty is a girl, not a cat? And she is from the suburbs of London!”

Stepping Stones
Made by Emma (emma_louise)

Gathered Clutch
Made by two.hippos

Kate: “I think practicing random acts of kindness should be mandatory. If you’ve never paid the toll for the car behind you, I highly suggest trying it. Or bringing a neighbor a freshly baked goodie. Here’s a fun little anecdote on this topic. A while back, Pete and i lived in New York City.  I don’t know how we came up with this, but one day during the summer, we took all the jewelry i never wore into Central Park and hung necklaces on tree limbs within reach of passersby, and left rings on park benches and bracelets on swings. We put one small black velvet jewelry box (with earrings in it) on the low wall surrounding Bethesda Fountain, then sat nearby to watch a woman discover it. On our way back to our apartment, we noticed that two of the necklaces had disappeared! It was a fun way to let old, unwanted stuff find a new home.”

Made by Suzanne (lavender1253)

tumbling block
Made by Sadie (sleepback)

Kate: “I can speak enough French to order a ham and cheese sandwich, coffee, or metro tickets.”

Made by cindys0707

Inspired by all of these amazing Terrain creations?  Well, you can win a small stash of Terrain all for yourself!  Kate has graciously offered to send one lucky winner 5 mini charm packs of Terrain.  Simply leave a comment on this post and tell us what’s on your Christmas list this year.  (We’re hoping that Santa brings us a little bit of Good Fortune, Kate’s upcoming line for Moda!)  We’ll randomly select one winner late next week.

Good luck!

Visiting Peacock Lane with Violet Craft

Peacock Lane Brochure Cover
Peacock Lane Brochure Cover, courtesy of Violet Craft (violetcraft)

Let’s take a walk down Peacock Lane with sewist, designer, and all-around awesome person Violet Craft.  (With a last name like that, she must be talented, right?)  We were introduced to Violet’s debut fabric line with Michael Miller Fabrics, Peacock Lane, at Spring Quilt Market in Salt Lake City.  Now that the line is released and widely available, we thought it was time to visit Peacock Lane and, naturally, we wanted to bring our readers along.

Sunday Stash #109
Photo courtesy of Rita (Red Pepper Quilts)

Peacock Lane is a robust, gorgeous line that features fun focus prints alongside smaller florals that are already becoming a basic staple in many modern quilters’ stashes.  As you can see, the colors represent a vibrant range from golds and greens to a rich rose that is perfectly complemented by touches of charcoal grey.  And the unexpected highlights of the prints themselves include a family of regal elephants and, of course, some proud peacocks.

Sunday Stash: Peacock Lane
Photo by Joan Callaway (wishes, true and kind)

Like what you see?  Well, here’s a hot tip: the Fat Quarter Shop is running a special on Peacock Lane through Monday, 10/17, at midnight CST.  The entire line is 50% off!  Yes, you read that right — 50%!!  Just visit the Fat Quarter Shop on Twitter for the special code:

Sunday Stash: Peacock Lane
Photo by Joan Callaway (wishes, true and kind)

And Violet was kind enough to design the latest addition to our designer masthead series.  Take a look at our fabulous new Peacock Lane-inspired blog header.  If you’re reading this post via a reader, be sure to click through and take a look!

Peacock Lane!
Photo by Jennifer (sunnyauh)

Now, join us on our stroll down Peacock Lane …

Here’s a simple but effective quilt that Violet herself made as a gift for her friends’ adopted child, which also showcases the line nicely:

A Quilt for Ellie - Peacock Lane
Peacock Lane Brochure Cover, courtesy of Violet Craft (violetcraft)

Some stylish and cozy jammie pants:

Peacock Lane Jammies
Photo courtesy of sewingday

A spectacular spin on a dresden plate quilt by Mary:

Mollys Crazy Dresden
Photo courtesy of Mary @ Molly Flanders

A sassy bubble skirt by Shelly Figueroa of Patterns by Figgy’s:

Photo courtesy of Shelly @ Figgy’s

Mixed with complementary prints in a bowtie quilt by our very own Katy:

a quicky
Photo courtesy of Katy Jones (imagingermonkey)

Peaks and Troughs, a mini quilt by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts based on a pattern by Sarah Fielke as seen in her book, Quilting: From Little Things:

Peaks and Troughs ~ mini quilt
Photo courtesy of Rita (Red Pepper Quilts)

Another patchwork quilt by Rita.  I love how its simplicity really shows off the line:

Peacock Lane Quilt Top
Photo courtesy of Rita (Red Pepper Quilts)

And finally, a zippy little zipper pouch by Amanda:

Peacock Lane Pouch
Photo courtesy of Amanda (a crafty fox)

We hope you enjoyed our visit to Peacock Lane, and leave with an abundance of inspiration!

By |October 13th, 2011|Designer Feature|9 Comments

Zen Chic: Modern Quilts with Style

It’s always great to see what the large fabric companies are doing during Quilt Market, but sometimes the true treasures of market can be found walking up and down the seemingly endless rows of the show floor.  Here, shop owners, independent businesspeople, aspiring designers, and inventors set up booths in order to share their new products, their ideas, their vision and their inspiration with all of the show’s attendees.  Here is where you can meet some of the most interesting people that Quilt Market has to offer.

Image courtesy of Alissa Haight Carlton of Handmade by Alissa

And here on the show floor is where Katy and I first met Brigitte Heitland, the owner and creative visionary behind Zen Chic.  Zen Chic is new pattern company that truly embraces the “modern” part of modern quilting.  Through her design, Brigitte aspires to achieve a very contemporary, pure style that fits well in a modern interior with colors and design that complement wood, furniture, walls and floors.  In addition to her sewing and quilting patterns, Brigitte has expanded the Zen Chic brand into textile design with her own line of digitally printed fabric.

I happen to know that Brigitte, with her fresh and contemporary take on quilts — not to mention her gorgeous, award-winning booth — won over many fans in Salt Lake City.

Image courtesy of Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter

In addition to running Zen Chic, Brigitte is a prolific blogger that can be found at Farbstoff.  Brigitte’s blog is an absolute delight, chock full of gorgeous eye candy, great free project tutorials, and activities like modern quilt-alongs.

We wanted our readers to get to know Brigitte and learn about Zen Chic as well, so we invited her to be our guest here on the Fat Quarterly blog.  Not only did she agree, but she brought along some goodies to share with some lucky readers.  Learn more about our Zen Chic giveaway at the end of this post.

In the meantime, sit back and enjoy hearing from Brigitte herself!

Image courtesy of Jessica Levitt of Juicy Bits

“I was born in Germany’s Black forest region and grew up with three siblings. We were a funny gang and loved spending time with our grandma who sewed a lot of clothes for us children. I always sat down next to her old PFAFF and felt so comfortable. She once told me: “When you are tall enough to get your feet down to the pedal, I’ll teach how to sew too.” Maybe this was the best thing anyone could ever give to me. I started sewing at the age of six and I hope I can keep sewing until I die :-) . Of course as a German girl I had never heard about quilting. I just sewed my own clothes and loved to have unique things to wear.

“When it was time to decide which profession or area of study to choose, it had to be something creative and I decided on Interior Design. But more and more I was drawn to all the students in the classroom next to mine who were working with needles and thread, and so I ended up as a student of Textile Design. Yet – I was a rebel, had a fight with my professor and left high school without a diploma. I became mother of three wonderful children who fill my life with their laughter, adventures and individuality and life lead me another path. I took care for the income and worked for years as an accountant. Many of my friends wondered how I, as an artist, could do such a “boring job” ;-)

Image courtesy of Jessica Levitt of Juicy Bits

“Then one day, about seven years ago, while browsing in a bookstore, I happened to stumble on a book with photos of wonderful quilts. I was hooked at once. I had to try it myself and got hopelessly addicted to patchwork. Of course there are always a lot of projects I work on simultaneously (as every quilter does). So I needed fabrics, lots and lots of different fabrics to dive in. And so it came that I could no longer keep myself from starting my own little online quilting shop (and this means I can take pieces of fabrics at any time right here in my house – what a feeling!) Besides I’m also running my own longarm quilting business, blogging about modern quilting, and sewing quilt samples for European magazines.

“It’s inevitable: as a trained Textile Designer I had to create my own line of fabrics sooner or later. And so I did, which led me full circle back to my roots of Interior Design. When developing a fabric or even the design for a quilt, the entire impression of a room comes to my mind. I see the light, the furniture, the color concept, and the style.

“The resulting quilt is a natural element of this scene, fitting in harmoniously. I like clarity in a room, an environment of simplicity where you are surrounded by only the things you really need and love, where you can relax, find your inner peace and balance. So my quilts have a kind of minimal, pure and clear style. They show just enough color and pattern to catch your eye and let it rest there for a while.

Photos courtesy of Monica Solorio-Snow of Happy Zombie

“I started my own product line, ZEN CHIC, and had my debut as pattern and fabric designer at Quilt Market Salt Lake City – and what a warm welcome I got.”

Zen Chic sure did receive a warm welcome at Quilt Market, judging from the buzz on the show floor — especially among the modern quilting contingent! — and the booth award that Zen Chic won at the show.  We here at FQHQ foresee big things for Zen Chic.  It’s one to watch, for sure.

So how about that giveaway we promised?  Brigitte has generously offered to award two lucky Fat Quarterly readers each with a Double Mini Fabric Pack of the Zen Chic fabric line!  Each pack contains a selection of large scraps (close to fat eighth size) of Brigitte’s designs, perfect for use in your own projects or to make a quilt from a Zen Chic pattern: the pieces included are large enough to sew all patterns except for the Juggling Summer and Orange Brick patterns (which require larger cuts).

How to win?  Simply leave a comment on this post (one comment per reader, please) and let us know what you think of Zen Chic.  Had you heard of the brand before?  Does it provide a good match for your personal style?  Which of Brigitte’s quilt patterns is your favorite?  And how about that booth — stunning, huh?  We’re not looking for anything too specific here — we just want to hear what you think!

We’ll randomly select 2 winners next Friday, August 19th.  Good luck!

** NOTE: Giveaway is now closed.  Thanks for your entries! **

Designer Feature: Cabbages & Roses

As Katy and I were strolling through the maze of booths at Quilt Market this past Spring — truth be told, we were on the hunt for Aneela! — we happened across the booth of one of Moda Fabrics’ newest design teams: Cabbages & Roses.  Though I was unfamiliar with the brand, I was completely taken by the warm, cozy, casual, vintage, shabby chic vibe that the booth (and everything in it) was giving off.

As you all know by now, Katy is not only a Brit but is finely tuned into all things fashionable.  She explained to me that Cabbages & Roses is a quite well-known lifestyle brand in the U.K. for its clothes, housewares, books, and premium fabrics, all sold via their own retail shops.  We were both excited to see that their fabrics — and, more broadly, their design aesthetic — will be more widely available to a global audience with the release of their first line with Moda, Northcote Range.  We wanted to introduce our Fat Quarterly readers to the women behind Cabbages & Roses, Christina and Kate, and learn a bit more about their new line.

Photo courtesy of Jona at Stop staring and start sewing!

From the Moda site:

Since its inception in the year 2000, CABBAGES & ROSES has become a staple British brand in both the women’s wear and home textile industries. The gentle faded florals and deconstructed antique prints have won the brand acclaim worldwide. With exposure in numerous magazines including Country Living, and five books published, C&R are the authority on the vintage chic style of English Country living. The vision for their premier collection for Moda remains the same, fresh, faded and long lasting – a vintage look in a nostalgic color palette that encourages a timeless feel.

This unabashedly British quilt adorned the Cabbages & Roses booth, and will be available as a kit from the Fat Quarter Shop come September.

Photo courtesy of Calli at Make it Do

Let’s listen in as Katy has a chat with Christina and Kate …

Christina and Kate, welcome to Fat Quarterly! For those of our readers who may not yet be familiar with the C&R brand, could you describe the ethos and style behind your product?

Cabbages & Roses was created to fill a gap in the market (and my wardrobe). Our products are both classic and quirky and easily slip into everyday life – eminently versatile and beautiful with an unmistakably Cabbages style. All our products – from our furnishing fabrics to our clothes – are made to the highest specification but always with an eye on the environment. Our woven clothes are made in London and our fabrics are printed with environmentally friendly colours reducing our carbon footprint to around 17 miles- to our studio in Kew.

Your first collection of fabrics with Moda (Northcote Range) has a wonderfully rustic and English feel to them and are very much in the typical style of Cabbages & Roses. What was the design process behind the collection?


What is the significance of the name, Northcote Range?


How can you envisage the collection being used? And by whom?


For those of us already familiar with the fabrics sold online at or in your stores, what is the difference between those and Northcote Range?


Kate – you have followed your mother into the family business, was it something you always wanted to do?


How do the two of you get on working together? Do you have similar ideas and tastes, or do you sometimes have a conflict of opinion?


Christina, your background is within interior design and styling, what made you branch out into your own lifestyle company back in 2000?


You have grown to become a highly coveted and respected brand within the UK, this year sees a 6th book release ‘Vintage Chic’ out this month (July) and Northcote Range is expected to ship to stores this Fall.


What is next for the both of you?


Thanks so much, Christina & Kate!  Can’t wait to get your hands on Northcote Range?  What would you make with it?  Precuts of the line are currently available with yardage expected to arrive in shops in September.  Happy sewing!

Daisy Janie | Shades of Grey Scrap Challenge

We hope you enjoyed Jan’s post yesterday all about organic fabrics.  We sure learned a lot!  There was even more we wanted to know, so we’ve asked Jan a few more questions about herself and her business, Daisy Janie.  I’m also excited to kick off our newest Designer’s Challenge today, in which we’re arming several Fat Quarterly readers with scrap bags full of Daisy Janie’s newest line, Shades of Grey, to see what they create.  More on that later …

First, let’s get to know a bit more about Jan and the unique path she’s followed as an independent businesswoman.

Note: due to some unforseen circumstances, we haven’t yet been able to update our masthead with Jan’s design.  We’re working on it and should have it up shortly!

The first question we want to ask is about the name of your business, Daisy Janie. I assume that it is derived from your first name (Jan), but is there more to the story?

You’re halfway there! The DAISY is my favorite flower – sunshine-y, crisp & minimalist. With its simple beauty, it conveys to me, “What you see is what you get.” JANIE is what my husband has been lovingly calling me since we were 18. Together, they capture the essence of what Daisy Janie is all about: pure, bright, straightforward and overflowing with passion and sentiment.

Of all the different fields of design, how did your journey bring you to designing fabric?

Many, many, many stepping stones ago (1999), I created vibrant, abstract artwork on various surfaces that I sold at juried art shows in PA. I also painted customized designs on walls in clients’ homes. In both of these contexts, I was creating complex, layered repeat patterns, similar to those you’d find on fabric or wallpaper. Climbing up & down on ladders in odd spaces was exhausting, so I sought out other ways to continue creating surface design patterns and other applications for the patterns…which led me to fabric! In 2006, I created 2 collections of digitally printed fabrics for a line of handbags under the new Daisy Janie label. There was such a tremendous response to the fabrics that I was able to discontinue the handbags after 2 years and focus solely on fabric design and production. From there, it was a matter of building my brand and figuring out how to actually make a profit from my fabrics. It’s been quite the journey and a never-ending learning curve!

Many designers go the route of having their designs printed by an established fabric company. However, you chose the route of building your own business. Why did you go in that direction, and has it been difficult?

My decision to take on large-scale production for my own fabrics was precipitated by a proverbial line in the sand in early 2009, regarding my definition of success and what I needed to change in order to make my desires a reality. At the time, I felt like I had been swimming upstream for years – I was tired, frustrated and frazzled. I decided my success would hinge upon balancing time spent working plus self-fulfillment plus earthly stewardship with adequate profit margin. Looking at my work and experience through this lens pointed me quite instantly toward organic fabrics – it was the only logical decision I think I’ve made in my entire 12 years of artsy-fartsy businesses! Given that there weren’t ANY established fabric companies licensing art for quilters’ organic fabrics at the time, the only choice was to put all my pennies together and do it myself.

Yes, it has been immensely difficult! Daisy Janie is just me – I work alone, have virtually no experience and very little cash reserve to make mistakes. I realized very early that passion, risk and chutzpah only get you so far. In addition, it was like moving from a speedboat to an ocean liner. The beauty of digital fabric printing is the ease with which one can change directions or find affordable, quick solutions to the occasional problem. In contrast, the enormity of a large-scale print run does not allow for a change of heart, expediency, or inexpensive mistakes, and I have learned all of this first-hand! However, I feel over-the-moon every, single day about what I’m doing and the contribution I’m making to a multi-billion dollar industry where eco-friendly options are becoming more accepted and sought after. It feels good to be a pioneer!

Was having your designs printed on organic fabric a priority for you from day one?

Once I decided to undertake the printing of my own fabrics for wholesale, yes, organic fabric was the only option for Daisy Janie from that point forward. I have read too much and know too much about the negative, destructive effects of conventionally grown and milled cotton to ever consider it as a product for my business. In fact, educating myself over the past 3 years, combined with what I already knew and my personal philosophies, has prompted additional changes in the way we approach all of the buying and consuming in our household. We minimize our footprint in as many ways and days as we can! It’s really a way of life, not just a business for me.

Have you always been a sewist and quilter? What are your favorite items to make?

I was successfully & regularly breaking my mom’s Bernina starting in 10th grade, and I’ve been sewing ever since – 26 years! Quilting is new to me, though, having only made patchwork duvet covers previously. Last Fall, I completed my first quilt (Rec Room) for my booth at Quilt Market. That was crazy stressful b/c I thought for sure I was going to ruin it! It actually turned out very nicely, but I bought a walking foot the next day to alleviate some of the anxiety! I have all sorts of respect for quilters!!

I love making pillows and handbags because they come together fairly quickly and are so easy to customize any which way – you can always have an original!

Let’s talk for a moment about your first fabric collection, Geo Grand. From where did you draw your inspiration for the designs and color palette?

Like most of my designs, I am inspired by nostalgic memories or design motifs from eras gone-by. I have a thing about needing to identify with my designs in a very familial way. I like my designs to feel good in my heart, knowing they came from a cherished memory or place in time with which I identify.

For Geo Grand, I drew inspiration from mid-century modern décor found in my grandparents’ home. I was looking for a nice mix of movement, texture and color value, with the overall vibe being somewhat mod and oversized. The most exciting design challenge was achieving this within the confines of six designs, four hues and one colorway. I selected 2 colors from my go-to comfort palette: chocolate brown and chartreuse. From there, I added sky blue and a smoky aqua blue to stay on the masculine side as well as balance out the ‘earth’ hues with some ‘water’ hues.

With your current collection, Shades of Grey, you went in a decidedly different direction. How did the idea of a monochromatic collection develop?

The sparks that inspired this collection came from two meaningful gifts: an old Irish wool sweater given to me by my dearest friend after one of her first trips to Ireland about 17 years ago and a tiny beach pebble given to
me by son. Each one indulged me with its texture, softness, color and form, and, most definitely, the embodied sentimentality. As I considered them individually and together, the idea for a collection based upon textures/things stitched together by their characteristic grey hues began to emerge. I ruminated on many protypically grey things and honed in on 6 designs that represent grey objects or textures with equally good feelings as the two that kindled the collection.

  • My father’s pinstripe suits.
  • A dapple grey horse named Travis eating grass out of my hand.
  • My old Irish ragg wool sweater.
  • A chain link fence to climb over to meet my friends or to reach through to pet a doggie’s nose.
  • A bed of river rocks waiting to be skipped or stacked into cairns.
  • A nickel-plated zipper on my favorite pair of comfy jeans.

When designing Shades of Grey, did you envision entire projects made from the line, or more that sewists would use them to complement other prints?

To me, the Shades of Grey fabric collection is like a pair of jeans: they go with everything; they can be dressed up or dressed down as needed; and they’re absolutely timeless. I envisioned solids and non-solid solids in rich, saturated tones like garnet, plum, olive and mustard gold paired with these fabrics. I can see theses solids complementing the greys as piping on a pillow or floor cushion, a fun pocket detail on a handbag, an interesting stripe on a placemat or table runner. I also saw a lovely pencil skirt made from Pinstripe – would be a gorgeous masculine-feminine match-up (add to list…)! And a scrumptious, cozy duvet made from Chainlink.

You’ve already announced your next collection, Tilly. How would you describe this collection in 3 words?

Feminine, versatile and unapologetically domestic.

Other than your own, what are your 5 favorite fabric prints on the market right now?

  1. Cartwheel in Lime by Erin McMorris
  2. Wren in Gypsy by Valori Wells
  3. Wildflower in Dawn by Jessica Jones
  4. Too Muchery in Brown by Helen Dardik
  5. Lotta Jansdotter’s new collection looks very favorite-able, too!!

Thanks again, Jan!  We’ve been drooling over Shades of Grey since it was released.  We knew many of you have been as well, which is why we were THRILLED when Jan agreed to sponsor a Fat Quarterly Designer’s Challenge.

We put a call out on Twitter for volunteers and quickly reached our quota.  Jan will be sending scrap bags of Shades of Grey to 10 of our Fat Quarterly readers to see what they create, including:

We’ll showcase their creations here on the blog next month, and YOU will help us determine the winner.  Whoever creates the most spectacular, inspirational, jaw-dropping piece will win a fabric bundle of Daisy Janie’s organic fabrics.  We can’t wait!

Want to be “in the know” about future Designer’s Challenges?  Follow us on Twitter, where we put out our open calls for designers!

Discussing organic fabrics with Daisy Janie’s Jan DiCintio

Today we’re so happy to welcome Jan DiCintio, the creative force behind Daisy Janie, to the Fat Quarterly blog.  Jan is an accomplished designer who, in 2006, launched 2 collections of digitally printed fabrics under her own brand name.  Equal to Jan’s passion for design is her passion for sustainability and environmental consciousness, which is why from day 1, Daisy Janie’s fabric collections have been offered exclusively on organic cottons.

We wanted to learn a bit more about Jan, her business, and the realities of organic fabrics.  She’s going to share some of her thoughts today, and will be back with us tomorrow to answer a few of our questions and kick off an exciting new Fat Quarterly Designer’s Challenge.

Oh, and Jan has provided us with our newest blog header, created in the style of Daisy Janie’s newest fabric collection, Shades of Grey.  If you’re reading this via a reader or feed, be sure to come check out our awesome new masthead!

Hello Fat Quarterly Readers!

The wonderful crew at FQ invited me to participate in a couple fun posts & projects taking place this summer, the first of which is this little ‘ole introduction post about my business Daisy Janie and the organic fabrics I self- produce. I love chatting up organic fabric, so I certainly couldn’t say no to this “open mic night” opportunity!

There is so very much about organic cotton fabric that is upstanding, thoughtful, conscientious, responsible, meticulous and downright magnificent, and I’m going to talk briefly about just a few of them. Before that however, here’s a quick definition of organic cotton fabric… since that’s typically the burning question.

What is organic cotton fabric?

Organic cotton fabric is a textile that has been grown from non-genetically modified seeds, without the use of toxic synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides and fungicides. The organic cotton fiber is then harvested, cleaned, spun and woven also without the use of toxic chemical inputs, like formaldehyde, chlorine bleaches, aromatic solvents and petroleum-based scours. This carefully implemented process creates systems that “sustain the health of the soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.” This is the minimum that has to be done to yield an organic cotton base cloth. Companies do not have to continue with organic procedures beyond this, but I have chosen to take Daisy Janie’s fabrics alllll the way through to packaging.

3 Awesome-Sauce Things about Daisy Janie’s Organic Fabrics

1. Daisy Janie fabrics go the whole nine yards in eco-friendly fabric production.

From planted seed to packaged bolt, Daisy Janie’s organic fabrics are 100% GOTS certified. The Global Organic Textile Standard is considered the gold standard of certification in green textile production. Basically, my fabrics take the organic cotton fabric a few steps beyond the definition above. The organic cotton base cloth is also printed, finished and packaged in a manner that is eco-friendly and meets the GOTS requirements.

With stringent, compulsory criteria for all phases of production, GOTS certification “ensures the organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labeling, in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.” There are other standards companies may use, but they are typically a stepping stone to GOTS and are not nearly as comprehensive. Although it’s more expensive to follow the GOTS requirements all the way through the growth & production process, I opted for the complete package b/c it represents the same level of conscientious commitment I bring to all of my work. It just makes sense to me to go for the gold!

2. Daisy Janie’s fabrics are socially responsible.

Daisy Janie’s organic fabrics are produced in a Fair Trade Certified facility. This means that employment is freely chosen, working conditions are safe & hygenic, child labor is not used, workers are paid a living wage, regular employment is provided and harsh, discriminatory & inhumane treatment is prohibited. This seems like it would be a given in today’s society, but it is definitely not! Ethical treatment is not at the top of the priority list for Big Corporations, who seek to squeeze every penny of profit out of cotton production – at the cost of human lives and so much more.

3. So far, Daisy Janie’s organic fabrics prevented approx. 4500 lbs. of synthetic toxic fertilizers from entering the cotton supply chain.

It takes approximately 1/3 lb. of toxic synthetic fertilizers to produce 1 lb. of raw cotton fiber, and it takes about 1 lb. of raw cotton fiber to make 1 cotton t-shirt*.

Thinking of 1 yard of cotton fabric (36″ l by 45″ w), I’m sure I could make one shirt out of that single yard. So, based upon how much fabric Daisy Janie has had printed to date, I have prevented 4500 lbs. of synthetic fertilizers from entering the cotton supply chain. And from entering the soil, the air (and blowing on the wind to the food acreage), the waterways, the farmer’s lungs and skin – and so on.

Taking this one step further.

Consider ALL the other toxic chemicals that are used to produce conventional cotton ~ insecticides, pesticides, fungicides, formaldehyde, chloro-phenols, aromatic solvents, petroleum scours, toxic waxes, chlorine bleach, petroleum-based inks with heavy metals and so on. The quantity of ALL these substances that have NOT become a part of the cotton supply chain or ecosystem as a direct result of Daisy Janie’s use of organic cotton fiber & GOTS production methods multiplies astoundingly! My fabrics may be the proverbial drop in the bucket in the quilting fabric industry, but these numbers stand as a testament to my doing my part as a good human and a conscientious business owner.

* Source: Organic Trade Association

“Going Coastal” with Emily from Crazy Old Ladies Quilts

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*

I made a beach ball for my booth at market using the pattern at 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!