Today we’re excited to introduce you to Amanda Murphy, an exciting and prolific designer based in John’s home state of North Carolina! Besides being a prolific sewist and pattern designer, Amanda recently released her second fabric collection with Robert Kaufman fabrics (Swiss Chocolate) and is set to release a third, Veranda, at Quilt Market this Spring.
Of course, Amanda comes bearing gifts!
  • First, she has designed a quilt pattern especially for readers of Fat Quarterly! Chocolate Torte is a roll-up friendly quilt pattern featuring Amanda’s current line, Swiss Chocolate, and is free to download for all readers.
  • Second, three lucky readers will win a roll-up of Swiss Chocolate to begin making their own Chocolate Torte quilt, courtesy of Robert Kaufman.
  • And finally, Amanda will have another chance to win over on her blog. Head over there, say hello, and become a follower for your chance to win.
And now let’s learn a little bit more about Amanda!

Please tell us a little bit about your background, and how you came to pursue fabric design.

I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA in design. For years I produced corporate design work, for both print and multimedia. After moving to North Carolina and starting a family I began to do freelance work. Over the years my work has become more illustrative, and I?ve been lucky enough to incorporate my love of fabric and sewing into my design.

Your bio describes you as a lifelong sewist. How long have you been sewing & quilting, and how did you get started?

I can?t remember when I learned to sew, but my mom taught me the basics. As a grade schooler, I spent an inordinate amount of time fashioning Barbie ?hoop skirts? out of muslin and floral wire and made houses for those lucky ladies out of appliance boxes in our basement. I made a quilted angel tree skirt when I was ten or eleven ? I decorated the angels faces with actual makeup. I also made a dress for my mom fashioned completely out of pink polyester lace. (It was the early eighties, but I don?t think it was ?in?, even then.) Yes, Mom wore it, although she has recently admitted that she only wore it once.

Your first collection with Robert Kaufman was “Ambrosia“. What was the inspiration behind that line, and what did you learn about designing a fabric collection?

That line was inspired by mosaic tiles, Indian prints, and tropical blooms. I learned a lot about what can and can?t be printed on fabric, as opposed to print, and a lot about the logistics of fabric production in general. Robert Kaufman was great to work with.

Your current collection is called “Swiss Chocolate“. What can you tell us about that line?

With Swiss Chocolate, I was really aiming to produce a collection that could work well with the existing d?cor in any home, as a quilt or other project. I wanted something rich, classic, and sophisticated (which you see in the scroll and blossom motifs) but I wanted something a little playful too. This playfulness is probably best reflected in the large scale motifs inspired by oriental rugs. I also wanted a line that could be used in quilts that would appeal to both men and women.

So many of us have brown wood tones all over our homes, and I tried to pick up on that. The chocolate color story also features reds and salmons for a warm look ? I love those colors! The mocha story features cool blues, in conjunction with the browns and light caramel colors. I had a lot of fun designing for that color story too.

Most importantly, unlike real chocolate, Swiss Chocolate is non-caloric.

What is your favorite thing that you’ve seen made from your fabrics by someone else? What’s your favorite thing that you’ve made with them?

I?ve seen lots of things other people made that I love, but the prize has to go to my mom. She made hundreds of Swiss Chocolate flying geese to recover her dining room chairs in just a few days, and she has never quilted before. I loved teaching my mom to quilt ? it was a special experience. We don?t often get to teach our moms how to do something we love, do we?

My favorite thing that I?ve made? Well, I really love some of the quilts that I designed especially for Swiss Chocolate that will be featured in upcoming magazines? including a complimentary pattern for you all! It uses a jellyroll, with a little extra yardage. (Find the Chocolate Torte pattern here)

From where you do you draw your inspiration?

My two greatest sources of inspiration are nature and the decorative arts. I?m not one of those quilters who is also a gifted gardener, though. A plant has almost no chance of survival if I have anything to do with its care ? I just love to visit the gardens of others. As for the decorative arts, I love furniture, paintings, clothing, pottery, porcelain, samplers, quilts ? just about everything, and I wish we knew more about their creators. That ordinary people of earlier centuries managed to create such beautiful art when everyday life was so hard is a testament to the human spirit. I fantasize about spending unlimited time in places like Winterthur and Williamsburg. Philanthropists like Abby Rockefeller and Henry du Pont did so much to preserve this heritage too ? they were ahead of their time.

What’s next for Amanda Murphy Design?

QUILT MARKET! I?m going for the first time this spring and I?ll have my own booth with Robert Kaufman. I am SO excited about this. I cannot believe that I will be meeting all those talented people in the quilting industry. (I?ll have to get over my fear of flying to do it, but I can?t think of a better motivator.) If any of you out there will be going to market, please stop by because I?d love to meet you!

Thanks so much, Amanda! We hope you all enjoyed the interview. To enter to win a roll-up of Swiss Chocolate, simply leave a comment on this post below. We’ll randomly select three winners on or around next Saturday, February 5th.
In the meantime, don’t forget to download your free copy of Amanda’s free quilt pattern, Chocolate Torte.