Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It keeps me off the streets and outta the bars-

The previous blog post introduced my new fabric line called Town and Country that I'm doing for StudioE Fabrics. Here's the catch: the fabric isn't here yet! The fabric business runs 6-8 months ahead of itself so orders for T&C are being placed by the stores now and they'll receive the fabric in August. However, since the Spring Quilt Market, held in May, will likely showcase the line, it seems like some yardage might get to me to make samples earlier. Notice the caveats: 'likely' , seem', and 'might.' OK, honestly, it's a crap shoot. I'm hoping and praying for some yardage, like, yesterday. The company says-get this- "--April-ish-"

But that doesn't stop me from doodling and dreaming. Doodling is an essential part of quilting. I have books full of designs and if I stopped today and never designed another quilt, I'd still have enough raw material to keep me occupied for years! The kind of 'spinning in place' feeling of "What can I do next?" is what I need to avoid--thus the title of this blog. I can sit for hours with a simple black-and-white line drawing and color with pencils while I look at the digital art of the line.

What does doodling accomplish? A lot. The first thing is that the artwork is on paper. No fabric commitment--just paper.You can cross seam lines with your pencil. Aha-and that's where the notion that the block is not sacred came from. Or for that matter, a border's not required around the whole composition either.

Who said you have to make repeated patchwork blocks and then line them up in tidy rows? Fuggettaboutit. The overall movement of the design is much more intriguing. Credit where it's due-the kindly graphics wizard Laura Gilvin at StudioE has been patient with me. I send her a drawing with directives and she makes it look nice. The Town and Country sketchbook is filling up! Here are two designs for you to enjoy. And one day-believe me-these quilts will be real.

Star Steps is a bed runner, a narrow quilt piece that runs along the bottom of a bed over the bedspread. A bed runner spreads a little patchwork cheers plus it keeps your feet warm! It can easily grow into a larger quilt is repeated three times.

And then there's this larger quilt. Inspired by a photo of an antique Welsh quilt, this quartered design has just enough traditional vibe to keep my dyed-in-the-wool quilter buddies happy. At the same time, it doesn't look quite like your average patchwork quilt. Designing is what I do when I can't sew--keeps me happy and somewhat sane. Happy Tuesday.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Introducing Town and Country

Here's hoping this February posting starts 2013 off right. After having been off-blog for a while, it feels somewhat awkward as I try to ease back into the habit of writing and posting. But I have big news and  lots of visuals to share and that will make today's post a bit easier.

Water Striders sand+sage

Quick back story: last May I gave a lecture on color trends at the Spring Quilt Market, a wholesale trade show for the quilt/independent fabric stores. Afterwards a woman came up to the stage and we started to chat. She was Megan Downer, the new art director for StudioE fabrics StudioE  and we 'clicked' as we got to know one another. I was encouraged as I got to know Megan and met Scott Fortunoff, the head of StudioE and thought, "These folks are real and they want to make beautiful fabrics."  After some back-n-forth conversations, I signed with StudioE and Megan and I started work on a new fabric line. Off to plow through my documentaries (antique fabrics) for inspiration.

When it came to the fabric game, this wasn't my first rodeo. I had designed fabrics for Michael Miller from 2000-2003, then for Telegraph Road (a subset of David Fabrics) and lastly a line for Avlyn. But by 2012, my appetite for working in the fabric business was considerably diminished. The never-ending desire for new fabrics and new prints feeds the product end of the quilt market and it never ceases to amaze that a craft born of scraps and leftovers has spawned such a healthy international business. Signing on for this gig with StudioE means I'm ever an optimist and believe that quilting is a still-growing craft worldwide.

In designing this first group of fabrics, I didn't mean to do anything revolutionary--I just wanted to present a lovely quiet palette of prints that would inspire people to make quilts. Truly I wasn't even thinking of the commercial appeal but left that to the marketing gurus of the company. Personally I had gotten downright bored with jewel-tone, sock-em-in-the-eyes contrasting color schemes. Some of the booths at that Spring Quilt Market had looked bright as circus tents and just about as appealing. The taupe prints coming out of Japan however were calling me and so that's the spectrum I went to--colors that were decidedly neutral and greyed.

No more talking--you want to see the pictures! Meet Town and Country, a new fabric line by moi and the geniuses at StudioE who make my ideas real.

I've been asked about the name of the line-- Town and Country. All that means is that print inspirations came both from nature and from man-made objects. Two of the graphics derived from natural scenes--a mod take on those little insects called water striders that you might see frolicking on a quiet pond. The gold Water Striders are the image found at the opening of this blog post.  Two more graphics were man-made: diagonal brush strokes and an overall interpretation of fishing net. The last print was a synthesis--regularly-spaced dots that brought together all the colors in the line.  

                   Water Striders

Medium charcoal with brown

Plum with rust

Oyster with sand

Paprika with rust red







The man-made image is Brush Strokes. Think paint being brushed with a nearly dry brush on a wall diagonally.





                                                                         Fog Grey
Netting is another man-made concept. Imagine a fishing net sprawled over a parchment-like background.

   Dots keep it all together.




Light Sage

The intrepid sales representatives for StudioE, those road-warriors of the fabric business who travel and sell shop-to-shop, got their sales cards of Town and Country last month and right now they're taking orders as they show the cards to store owners. If you are a store or interested in your store ordering these fabrics, feel free to recommend this blog to the store owner. By May, the next Spring Quilt Market, the fabric will be real as it rolls out of the mills and most stores will start getting their orders in August, just in time for the 2013 cold weather and quilting season. I know that quilting isn't seasonal for those of us who are quilt fanatics but a lot of folks can't envision working on a quilt until it turns cold and Christmas is looming.