November 29, 2011

5 Minutes With a Fabric Designer Part 4

I still have four interviews from Quilt Market that I haven't posted yet! I think I'll get one more in before delving completely into posts on Christmas goodness, craftiness, and general yuletide merrymaking cheer.

How about Mark Cesarik?

Part of an ever-increasing presence of talented men in the traditionally female-dominated sewing/craft and design industry, Mr. Mark Cesarik was showing his second fabric line at fall QM, and was, quite frankly, a refreshingly real person to talk to. (Wait, that sounded like a dis on the other people at QM. It wasn't meant to be, just a compliment to Mark.)

Mark's first line with Free Spirit Fabrics was Calypso Swing (which he used to decorate for his wedding- so pretty!)  and his latest,  Morning Tides is a collection of Zenned-out blues and cheery yellow-oranges with a beachy feel. He and his wife, Cara (also super cool), run a design operative called Sew Bettie over at Spoonflower, and Cara, I hear, is the talented stitcher behind Mark's samples, including this rad (did I just say rad?) embroidery:

Love it.

So, once again, let's enter a world wherein I pretend to be a journalist who has done her research (ha!) and nice people pretend not to notice and talk to me anyway.
Ladies and gents, Five Minutes with Mark Cesarik.

Me: Okay, so I'm talking with Mark Cesarik (am I saying it right?)

Mark: Yup.  Says-uh-rick.

Me: Oh good. Okay and his collection is called  Morning Tides with Free Spirit Fabrics and your first collection was...

Mark: Calypso Swing. A lot of grays and pinks and that was my first at Spring Market in Salt Lake.

Me: Oh, yeah! I know  Calypso Swing. And how was it received?

Mark: Pretty well. I was pretty green...and I'd never done Quilt Market...I didn't know yet a lot of the designers...even the sales reps for Free Spirit didn't even know who I was, so it was just a really good learning experience, but this second time around has been a much better experience, you know...I know people, people know me. I've had a lot more traffic in my booth, it's anything else, I'm getting better at it. I was real green the first time around.

Me: I've noticed there are a lot more men coming into the design industry...

Mark: There are.Yes, me and David Butler and we've got Jay [McCarroll] and, obviously Kaffe [Fasset],  who's like a champion of the industry...yeah it does seem that, you know, when I tell some of my friends that I grew up with who don't have any idea about anything to do with this industry, I tell them I design fabrics and they're like, "Oh...hmmm...well, we're gonna go watch the football game." And, you know, I like that stuff too. But I think that there's a really growing market, not only for women who like to buy more masculine fabrics for men- and I'm not saying that my fabrics are overtly masculine because they're really not-

Me: No, I think they're really universal...

Mark: Yeah, they're kind of androgynous... but I do feel, well, I don't see why there wouldn't be a market for it. Especially when fabric is not just for quilts, but also for apparel and things like that.

Me: Yeah, I feel like the stereotype of this being a women's industry is starting to fall...

Mark: Yeah, and more than that- the stereotype of it being an older women's industry...there really are some really hip people...and that's the thing about Free Spirit too is I think they're right on the cutting edge with the designs they're putting out...because it's really, well I look at it as art.

Me: Yeah. Now your wife said your background is in fine art.

Mark: Yep.

Me: Do you think fine artists are finding more of a...utilitarian outlet through fabric design? Is that what led you  here? A more accessible format?

Mark: Ummm, well I went to the Art Institute of Chicago, I studied painting and drawing, but I found my way...sort of accidentally into this through design- my day job is as a graphic designer. And, yeah I guess it is a really good outlet...for me, it was really natural because of my design background and because, frankly, I'm good at using the kind of software where I can create digital designs- that's my bread and butter. So it was a really natural transition and frankly, the freedom that it allows you is something that's been really rewarding, I mean I literally -when I go into a new collection- I have no restraints...I have nobody telling me what they'd like to see, they just say give me something that we haven't seen.

Me: They want you-

Mark: Exactly-

Me: -all over your designs.

Mark: So that's the beauty about it. I mean I literally feel like I get to doodle for a living.

Me: That's awesome.

Mark: It's really an incredibly rewarding experience. I just start from scratch and I doodle and I see what I come up with- and, even as a graphic designer it's not the same, I mean I'm working under constraints...certain guidelines...and this- I just get to do whatever the heck I want to do. So it's incredibly rewarding...especially when I get the sample yardage. It's really nice.

Me: Okay, so I like to close up with a couple of non-generic what is your favorite kind of ice cream?

Mark: Ohhh, hmmm...

Me: Or do you even like ice cream?

Mark: Oh, are you kidding? You know, it's hard for me to say a favorite everything, but if I had to choose my would be Ben and Jerry's Milk and Cookies.

Me: Oh, yeeeeah. Yeah that's good stuff.

Mark: Yeah, it's quality...I'm a traditional vanilla and chocolate guy... I like chocolate chip cookie dough...but the Milk and Cookies Ben and Jerry' butters my bread.

Me: Awesome. And last one- what is your favorite movie?

Mark: My favorite movie...hmmm...I can give you...

Me: Or book- we can go movie or book.

Mark: Well, again I have a hard time naming one thing, but I'll three favorite. Empire Strikes Back, because not only is it a great movie, but it just takes me to a place...when I was a kid...uh, gotta put Ghostbusters on there...because who doesn't like Ghostbusters?

Me: Yeah, well, who you gonna call?

Mark: Who are  you going to call? Ghostbusters, right? That's the answer. And then...let's see...third favorite- I'm gonna go ahead and put True Romance on there.

Me: True Romance. Okay.

Mark: Because it's a great story and...

Me: Is it visually inspiring to you?
(why do I love that question so much?)

Mark: Uhhhh...viscerally I would say because it's kind of a violent, fast paced movie, but at the heart of it is a love story and just great acting...have you seen True Romance?

Me: (Drat! Found out!) No,  I have not.

Mark: Oh, okay, it's actually sort of a remake of a movie called Badlands with Martin Sheen and Cissy was written by Quentin Tarantino and it's got an amazing cast... you got Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Christian Slater is the main character...

Me: Oh, I'm a Christian Slater fan.

Mark: Well, who isn't? Slater. He could've been the modern day Jack Nicholson if he hadn't made bad wise. But yeah, I'd put those three on there and on any given day it might be different...but Empire Strikes Back would be on there for sure because it just takes me back to when I was a little kid.

Me: Yeah, you and my husband would get along.

Mark: Well, we're probably...your husband and I are probably around the same age. I used to dress up as Luke Skywalker, although, as I've gotten older I've learned to appreciate Han Solo you get older you'd rather be Han Solo.

Me: Well, yeah. Because he's the cool one.

Mark: The super cool one. He gets the girls and all that.

Thanks Mark, for taking the time to interview with me- I had a lot of fun. You, dear readers, can learn more about Mr. Cesarik by visiting his website, (check out his mixed media gallery- I like the elephant) or his blog,
You know, for some strange reason, I'm craving bread and butter.


November 23, 2011

Make Stuff Together

I love getting packages in the mail. Even when I know what's in them, it's still a thrill to open a newly arrived box and say "Yay! It's here!"
Which was the case last week when this came to my door:

(in a box, obviously. this is after I opened it.)

It was a heap of crafty goodness sent to me by the lovely Colleen at Wiley Publishing as a prize I won at their book launch party in Houston during QM, but couldn't fit in my suitcase (did that sentence make sense?).
Anyway, I won it. She mailed it. It arrived. I squealed.
Let's break it down:

Included in my pretty little heap was a signed copy of Make Stuff Together by Bernadette Noll and Kathie Sever,

a kit of all the needed materials to make a Hope Wish Prayer  flag banner (a project featured on Future Craft Collective- Bernadette and Kathie's website), 

and a stack of burlap coffee sacks to use in making projects from the book. Now, we haven't gotten to the book project yet, though I've picked out the one I want to do first- the Blessing and Sharing Pouch- but we did make our Hope Wish Prayer flag banner today and I wanted to share. 

But first, I'm going to ramble a little. That's the risk you take when you read this blog. 

Can I just say that I love this concept? I do. 
This idea of families coming together and making things out of...whatever from around the house...things that sometimes have meaning and sometimes really don't. Sometimes it is the experience of creating that has the most meaning. You, my dear readers, know how strongly I feel about children learning through doing, and making 'stuff' together is one of the best vehicles I know of to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge that is both practical and necessary, yet deeply character-shaping and nurturing at the same time. ie: they may learn how to sew on a button or how to cut along an outline or how to use a hammer and nails, but they're also learning how to envision something and follow through with their to wonder 'what if' and find out...and, if Mamma and Dad are paying attention, staying patient, and truly listening, little ones will learn how to share their ideas and how to give and receive acceptance and encouragement and love. 

So here's our  flag banner:

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, it turned into more of a Gratitude Hope Prayer banner than anything else, but that's also part of the beauty of making stuff together- you see what's on each other's minds, and your creations reflect that.

This weekend definitely holds more making of stuff for our little clan. 
I don't know that we'll ever get enough.

Happy Thanksgiving


p.s. What do we think of free shipping for Hobby Horse orders placed on Black Friday? Yeah, I think it sounds good...let's do a code: BF2011. Spread the word :)

November 21, 2011

Jan Brett Book Love

Maybe it's the snow. 
But it can't be the snow. Because, really there's never a time when we, the dwellers in this little downstairs house don't feel the need to surround ourselves with books. Illustrated books in particular.
But there has definitely been an increase in snuggle-storytime-cat-nap sessions lately...
It must be the snow.
And I find we come back to the illustrators we love again and again: M.Sarah Klise, Maurice Sendak, Holly Hobbie and Lillian Hobban... and always, always, always...Jan Brett.

The Mitten, The Hat, Trouble with Trolls...

...Annie and The Wild Animals, and my faaavorite:

And last Friday night, thanks to my lovely friend Liesel (amazing aspiring illustrator herself), without whom I never would have even heard about the event, the kids and I got to meet her. Not Liesel...well, I mean Liesel was there...but Jan Brett. We got to meet Jan Brett, who was here in Missoula on her Home For Christmas 2011 tour.

Look at us!

As always seems to be the case with me when I meet celebrity-type figures whom I admire (ahem,  the Alison Krauss incident of  '02), I stood there with nothing more intelligent to say than "We are such big fans," and every question I ever wanted to ask her stuck in the back of my throat. Which, I suppose, was not a bad thing for the hundred or so people standing in line behind us, waiting to get their books signed and very politely  not rolling their eyes or groaning while the kids and I took more than our fair share of Ms. Brett's time with our little photo session.
So rather than pepper her with questions like "When did you discover your artistic voice?" or "What made you decide to write and illustrate rather than work with other authors?" or "Why a hedgehog?" I opted to get our signature,  mumble my insipid, generic compliment, and then stand off to the side ogling and taking pictures like a mom-blogger-paparazzi.

And then head outside with Liesel and her kids to grab a shot of the whole crew in front of the Jan Brett tour bus.

Yup, those are signed posters in the kids' hands and Jan Brett buttons on their shirt fronts. We're our own little fan club. And our little club thanks you for stopping in Missoula, Ms. Brett. And for the beautiful, snowy day, snuggle-up stories you've given to us all.


November 18, 2011

Give Thanks

Let's break from interviews for a bit and make something.

I have so many reasons to be thankful. And I truly, truly am.

To make the Give Thanks banner, click over to my Make page and scroll waaay down to the bottom. You'll find the free printable template and tutorial for this simple no-sew paper project.
Make away!
And Give Thanks, as I do, for the beauty in everyday.


p.s. I shared this link on Homestories A to Z's Tutorials and Tips Link Party- check out the other projects.

November 15, 2011

5 Minutes With a Fabric Designer Part 3

...with the lovely ladies of Pillow and Maxfield!

Val is the Pillow, Anne is the Maxfield and it only took me three days of QM to keep that straight. I kept wanting to call them Valanne or Anneval just to be on the safe side. And I hope that doesn't sound apathetic because, on the contrary I'd have to say that of all the people I met at market, these were two of my favorite. They both exude a sincere warmth and infectious cheeriness that made me want to stick them in my pockets and take them home with me. I'd keep them in a cookie jar and call them Auntie Val and Auntie Anne and they would make pretty things for me. 
But, fortunately, I resisted the temptation and Mesdemoisselles Pillow and Maxfield remain free to create beauty for all. Such beauty as is found in their fabric collections: Whimsy, Pretty Bird, Gypsy Bandana, and the latest, Ooh La La!

Now I know I started this interview series committed ( in a non-committal sort of way) to not ask standard, generic questions like, "What is the inspiration for this line?" But I realized that sometimes, a question that people expect and are mentally prepared to answer is the best way to loosen their tongues and get 'em talking. (It definitely worked here). And it's a good way for me, as an interviewer, to get a better perspective on who they are as artists. Because, as my track record has shown, I typically went into these interviews knowing all or, more often, nothing.

So, here we go. 5 minutes (okay, technically we took more than 5, but there are two of them) with Pillow and Maxfield.

Me: Alright, I'm talking with Val Pillow and Anne Maxfield and your new line is called Ooh La La.

Both: (with fake French accents) Ooh La la!

Me: Hahaha! And it's a very happy line. Tell me about the inspiration behind this collection.

Val: That's kind of what our passion is- we like happy, bright colors,  with a little energy and a little touch of whimsy and then we also tried to do a line that's easy to coordinate. So that's kind of our...our mantra is Happy. And that's what we go after. And then we found as we were going along with this group that some of it had a little French Provincial look, so that's why we named it Ooh La La. And it comes in three colorways, Citrus and Spice and Sky, and we wanted to continue with something we started with our Gypsy Bandana line- we call them bandana squares, but you can actually do so much more with the squares. We have on our website six free, downloadable tutorials on everything you can do with the squares- everything from a little patio tablecloth to matching dinner's really easy to make a quilt out of it by alternating the squares...a tote bag, a little travel cosmetic bag, surfer shorts, a little pillowcase dress...

Me: Cute! And what a fun, easy way to make a quilt if you're not an advanced quilter too.

Val: And we've also continued with our border prints, which make great lounge pants... they just have the border on one end, so you can use the rest of the fabric however you want it...great for curtains, dust ruffles for beds, little girls' skirts or dresses... We try to make it fun and easy for the customer to use.

Me: I love it. And I love the Spice colorway...the Spice to me is, and I hope you take this as a compliment because to me it's a feels kind of vintage 70's and I love it.

Both: Thank you!

(Thanks, Fat Quarter Shop, for the image!)

Anne: We'll take that as a compliment! 

Me: Oh good! Some people think "70's?" (nose scrunched in negative connotation sort of way) But I love 70's.

Anne: We hear that a lot, and we hear...people think it's very 70's, but even the styles before that...ummm....

Me: Like, Boho?

Anne: Something like that.

Me: Well, as far as fashion goes, 70's is the big trend so, good job ladies!


Me: Okay, I wanted to ask you some questions you maybe don't get all the what is your favorite kind of ice cream?

Anne: I love that...Bunny Tracks stuff... is it Bunny Tracks? No- Moose Tracks. A little chocolate in it, a little peanut...that's the favorite.

Val: Well, I have several, but actually...this is boring...but vanilla bean because I like to pour a lot of chocolate on top of it and dress it up.

Me: That's what Sandi said too, she likes vanilla because you can dress it up.

Val: And I actually like the vanilla bean because it has a little extra oomph to it...

Me: Yeah. Super-vanilla flavor. Okay. Is there a collection that has come out by another designer that you wish you would have thought of?

Anne:Well...hmmm...they're all so cool,

Val: Nope.

Me: That's good. You're confident and comfortable in your own art.

Val: Yeah, we kinda got our own style going....

Anne: Yeah, we do and we love, love, love-

Val: And admire-

Anne: Yeah- many of the designers and we kinda see how everybody has their own thing
and there's something wonderful about that, but you know there are a couple of things that, walking around, I saw today and I thought- I'm ordering that fabric. I want that. But not really any that I wish we would have...I feel really proud that we were the ones that came out with the bandana squares...we kind of feel that that's a part of our signature thing. We're thrilled that we did it. So far it's gone really. really well.

Me: Good good good. Okay, last question. If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Val: That's a hard one...

Anne: I would go to the Island of Mystique.

Me: The Island of Mystique? I don't even know where that is.

Anne: I've been there once and I'd like to go back. It's way down by the Grenadines...

Me: Oookay (nodding as if I know where the Grenadines are)...

Anne: I went on bareboating sail trip there and I thought it was the coolest place I had ever been in my entire life and I am dying to go back. So...I'd be going to the Island of Mystique.

Me: Wow. It almost sounds made up. You know, magical.

Anne: Hahaha, yeah. It's where- and this has nothing to do with why I like it- I love it for the island people and it's so simple and tiny, but full of little castles and when we got there and stayed there for a couple of nights on our sailboat we found that is where Mick Jagger has a house, David Bowie has a house...Tommy Hilfiger has a house...when they were building it the construction workers just let us go it has fun things like that, but to me it's just a total paradise.

Me: Cool. Okay, and Val, where would you go?

Val: Well if this is a total relaxation vacation I'd want to go somewhere tropical too like Fiji or something like that, but actually I really want to go back to Paris because it's so inspiring and I love sitting in the little cafes and I find it so romantic. I've only been there once and it was only for -it was part of a European tour- we were only there for a day and a half and it was just enough of a I'd really like to go back. And, oh, the Paris Flea Market. Oh! I would want to do that. So if it was a vacation where I had energy to do stuff, I'd want to do that, but if not, tropical.

Me: Yeah, I only had three days in Paris and it wasn't enough.

Val: Just enough to tease you.

Me. Yup. Well thank you ladies!

Both: You're welcome! 

Val: Did we talk too much?

Me: Of course not.

Of course not, Anneval and Valanne. You can learn more about Pillow and Maxfield (and see all their fun free tutorials) by visiting their website:
The Ooh La La line of fabric is now available through Michael Miller Fabrics and if anyone knows where I can get a really big, comfy cookie jar, please drop me a line.


November 11, 2011

In-Between Thoughts

In-between designer interviews,  in-between moments of writer and artist and homeschooler, and all throughout them too, my true identity is Mamma. So in-between planning a science lesson and sketching a sewing project, in-between making granola bars and sending emails, I needed to take a Mamma moment here today, with one little one curled up on each side of me, looking at pictures and talking about what we have loved about this fall.

There. That's better.


p.s. I have to give my amazing husband Brian credit for the Halloween costumes this year. He cut, stitched and hot glued our little Hedwig the Owl and Jedi  Knight all on his own while I was in Houston. Not bad, Dad. Not bad.

November 9, 2011

5 Minutes With a Fabric Designer 2

How is it that every picture I took of David Butler is out of focus?

Okay, let's do some image borrowing (with proper credit given, of course).

Ah, there he is! Thanks City Craft.
I do have a semi-decent shot of one side of his QM booth though.

And, of course, his official QM award:

So, on to the words of the man himself. Please be assured that this 5 minute interview was punctuated with far more sycophantic "yeah"s and "oh right"s and "uh-huh"s from my side of the microphone (cell phone) than I decided to transliterate.  Background info (in case you didn't already know): David is the husband of the fabulous Amy Butler, design extraordinaire, and has recently launched his own design line under the pseudonym brand of "Parson Gray." His debut fabric collection is called Curious Nature and is in tones of grays, gray-blues and mossy greens... Aaaand I was basically ignorant of all this information when I approached him for an interview. 'Cause I do stuff like that.

Actually, if you want to know my little secret...and Mr. Butler, if you're reading, you should totally take this as a compliment...I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that I was talking to Amy Butler's husband, but until he said it in the interview, I completely forgot. He was just David Butler, designer guy to me. Which means that this whole Curious Nature/ Parson Gray thing stands on its own. Yeah. That's why it's a good thing.

Okay, here we go.

Me: So, I'm talking with David Butler, and your line is called Parson Gray?
(see the extent of my research?)

David: It is. Well, the actual line is called Curious Nature-

Me: Oh, I'm sorry-

David: No, that's cool. Parson Gray is my new brand I'm just starting.. Because I didn't want to just come out as David Butler- I wanted to have kind of a different identity-because people know me as Mr. Amy Butler.

Me: Right. (I so knew that).

David: I kind of wanted to develop my own brand that I might take, you know, if I wanted to expand and do other things down the road, paper or something, it would have a life of its own.

Me: Well  I love it. It's very manly but sleek and sophisticated at the same time.

David: Thank you.

Me: Well, I like to ask what I hope are some non-generic questions that you don't get asked all the time.
(I say, referring to my vast journalistic experience)

David: Mmmhmm... (slightly wary).

Me: So, can I ask, when did you first realize you were an artist?

David:  (look of relief on his face) When I first realized I was an artist was probably...when I was about five years old. I was always obsessively drawing as a child and I think I had an actual self-realization when I was at that age that this was something I really loved and I was passionate about and I was good at, I could actually do it. So, probably at a very young age.

Me: And did you continually do art from that point?
(Do art? What kind of grammar is that?)

David:  Perpetually. Yeah, from that point. I continued to do it and I continued to know when you're an adolescent it becomes part of your identity. 'Oh, that's Dave Butler- he can draw,' you know, 'Have him draw you something- have him draw you a shark. He's really good at drawing sharks.' And that becomes part of who you are.

Me: Was that your thing? Sharks?

David: Well, Jaws came out. Every kid was drawing sharks, and then we were all drawing the Milenium Falcon, you know. So you develop this thing that becomes inherent to who you are and then you just kind of, keep building on it and building on it and for some kids it becomes a passion, other kids kind of grow out of it, but for me it just kept going and going and by the time I was in high school I knew I was going to go to art school. I just set a path for that and followed it all the way through.

Me: What is your favorite movie?

David: My favorite movie is Raging Bull.

Me: Do you find it visually inspiring?

David: Yeah. Very much so. It's funny, my two favorite movies are probably The Elephant Man, you know, David Lynch, and Raging Bull and they're both black and white movies...

Me:Oh, and your collection is a lot of grays...

David: Yeah, here we are. Parson Gray.

Me: Okay, if you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? You probably have traveled quite a bit.

David: Umm...I've traveled a lot, yeah. Umm (thinking)... it used to be Bali, but I've been to Bali, and it's fantastic, but I would probably say... Iceland, now is a place I really want to go because I've heard so many great things about it. And Croatia, also. I've heard great things about Croatia.They seem like kind of weird, fun, fascinating places to go.

Me: Very cool. Okay, last question. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

David: My favorite flavor of ice cream is called Salty Caramel, and it's by Jeni's Ice Cream from Columbus, Ohio.

Me: I love salted caramel...

David: I know Jeni, she's very cool. I helped her with her logo and she's very, very cool.

Me: Well thanks for taking 5 minutes with me, and good luck with your line- it's absolutely gorgeous.

David: Yeah, you're welcome. Thanks.

Aaaand, there you have it once more, blogland. Like I said before, pure journalism.
Curious Nature will be available from Westminster Fibers/ Freespirit Fabrics this winter. You can learn more about David by visiting his website: Art of The Midwest.
 Parts 3 & 4 next week: The lovely ladies of Pillow & Maxfield, and the very entertaining Mark Cesarik.


November 7, 2011

5 Minutes With a Fabric Designer

Part One

Okay, kicking off the week with the first in my little series of interviews, we have a woman who makes a killer key lime curd, is often mistaken for my sister, and whose fabric is loved by stitchers everywhere. She also happens to be my dearest friend, Sandi Henderson.

This is her Secret Garden QM booth. Isn't it pretty? 

And here's the two of us doing our little school house you see the sister thing? I guess I do from this far away...

And here are the two of us amongst a few lovely market attendees... (thanks to April on the far left for the photo-check out her cute blog). 

Now on to the words of the woman herself... heeeeere's Sandi:

Me: Hey.

Sandi: Hey.

Me: Sooo...I want to interview you for my blog.

Sandi: Okay. 

Me: But I already know you really well.

Sandi: You should ask questions that people don't typically ask. Like everyone always asks "What was the inspiration for this line of fabric?" Don't ask that.

Me: Yeah. That's a good idea. Non-generic questions. I can do that. And these are only five minute interviews, so I'm not going super in-depth.
You ready?

Sandi: Yup.

Me: Okay. (Assuming official interviewer mode).
So, Sandi, please tell us...what is your favorite book?

Sandi: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Me: Do you find it visually inspiring?

Sandi: Yes. It's the book that I have...hmmm (pensive pause)...the ending of that book is, I think, the most wonderfully written ending of any book that I have ever read.

Me: Awesome. When did you first realize you were an artist?

Sandi: Creative or an artist?

Me: An artist.

Sandi: An artist? This year.  I don't know if you should say that...

Me: No, that's an honest answer. That's good. What is your favorite ice cream?

Sandi: Probably..vanilla.

Me: Me too!

Sandi: Because I like to put stuff on it.

Me: Yeah, you can dress it up. Ok, if you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?

Sandi: Portabello Road.

Me: I love Portabello Road!

Sandi: (sad) It doesn't exist anymore.

Me: (emphatic indignation) I know.

Sandi: I named my business after it and it doesn't exist anymore, I never got to see it.

Me: I did. Ha ha.

Me: It was cool, but it had kind of gone...

Sandi: Kind of shady I heard.

Me: Yeah, it was sort of shady but it still had a lot of cool vintage/ antiques stuff going on, but then there were also all these like, cheap importers. 

Sandi: So maybe it's good that I never got to see it.

Me: Yeah, because then you can keep the romanticized version in your mind.

Sandi: (singing) Portabello Road, Portabello Road...

Me: Okay, that's going on the blog.
Alright, last question. Is there a line that another designer has come out with that you wish you had thought of?

Sandi: Between you and me? Yeah.

Me: Well, not between you and me. Between you and blogland.

Sandi: Ummm. Okay. Amy Butler's Charm.. And actually that is probably my favorite fabric collection. Ever.

Me: Well thanks. (Assuming official friend mode again).

Sandi: Yup.

So, there you have it blogland. Pure journalism right there. You can learn more about Sandi by visiting her blog, or her website,

Tune in on Wednesday for 5 Minutes With a Fabric Designer, Part 2, featuring David Butler. 


November 5, 2011

Embroidery Patterns #2 and #3

I am so excited to be sharing two new FREE printable embroidery patterns, designed by me!
(Um, did she just say free? Yes. Yes she did.)

If any of you lovely readers were at Quilt Market and happened to attend the school house Sandi and I did together, you will know that these are embroidered on Michael Miller's new solid colors which they are calling Cotton Coutoure. Swanky right? But fitting. These are definitely the nicest solids I have ever worked with- high density, so no need to face for embroidery, but soft and smooth at the same time. And super forgiving. If you have to pick out a stitch, you aren't going to have a hole in your fabric. 
(And, no, I am not being paid by anyone at Michael Miller to write this. I don't yet have the blogging clout to generate cash. It's just plain true.)

But I digress. Let's get back to me and my embroidery patterns.

"Play is the work of children" is a quote that has most often been attributed to Maria Montessori, and it is the motto of our little free-learning style homeschooling family. My children, as do all children, learn and discover sooooo much through the exercise of their own imaginations and the experiments of their own hands. They teach me so much as well. I was tickled to have an excuse to make this for our home and hope you don't need one to make it for yours.

And "Umbrella (ella) (ella)." Some of you might catch the song reference... it was in my head the whole time I was stitching this one (and it's not done yet- it will be a pillow top). But, while I like Rhianna and her powerhouse vocal cords, I actually hear Marie Digby in my head when I think of that song.
Anyway...I love umbrellas and thought this simple design would make a fun accent on a pillow, a bag, a wall hanging above an umbrella stand...whatever you want to make of it. 

Just click on the 'make' tab at the top of this page, or either of the pictures to get to the printable patterns and suggested stitch guides. Did I mention they're FREE?


November 4, 2011

Home Again, Home Again

Hello blogland. I'm home.
True to my word, and despite temptation to do otherwise, I have not written a post in over three weeks. It's been enough to send me into a serious non-blogger mindset (and by non-blogger I mean someone who doesn't photograph everything she makes, does, eats, reads, etc...all while thinking up quirky and clever titles for posts and hearing the content sentences form in her mind). But I'm about to get over that. I might, in the next few weeks, have to backtrack and share a couple of the things I was tempted to blog during my hiatus, like a beautiful Fall Festival with my little ones, but for now, I have soooo much to say about my trip to Houston for Quilt Market.

Ahhh, Quilt Market...with your hustle and bustle and schmancy hotel stays...your seriously huge convention center show floor that is really not friendly on backs and feet... and most of all, your rows and rows of crafty eye candy. 

(Lark by Amy Butler)

 (Seriuosly cute embroidery patterns by Penguin and Fish)

(A Dia de los Muertos themed booth by Alexander Henry)

(Anna Maria Horner's Loulouthi now in flannels and velveteen- hullo? To die for.)

And there's more. Soooo much more. But one thing I actually did  in the blogger mindset while at market was interview a half-dozen or so designers. Like, in person. (I know, right?) So I'm holding back those photos for when I post the interview series (which I'm calling 5 Minutes With a Fabric Designer) starting next Monday. Yay!

Now on to the eye candy outside the convention center.
The thing about going to a conference or a trade show like Quilt Market is that if you have any interest at all in the city that you're going to, don't get your hopes up to see any of it. Unless you extend your trip and plan ahead, you're really only going to see a hotel room, a couple of restaurants and a convention center floor. That's just not why you're there. But Saturday in Houston, I had a rough day. 

Raw honesty time.
I mentioned in my pre-market post that I was going to Houston to teach a school house (mini workshop) with Sandi. What I  didn't  reveal was that my reasons for attending were actually threefold. 
1.) The school house. 
2.) A chance to hob-knob a little with the awesome peeps who will (hopefully) someday soon want to publish a project book I've proposed. 
3.)I was also going to QM to show a portfolio of my own artwork to fabric manufacturers, with the hopes of one day becoming a fabric designer myself. 
Items one and two on the list went well. Really well. Item three...As any artist/ writer/ photographer/creator-of-anything can tell you, this takes guts. I'm not tooting my own horn here, it's just a fact. Putting yourself on a piece of paper and asking a stranger to tell you how you've fallen short, in the hopes of improving and growing, is an emotionally draining process. And being a thousand (ish) miles away from my husband and children- my true comforts and strengths- while doing it, quite frankly sucked. 
I felt weakened and beaten down, even though I know in reality it made me stronger.

Anyway...point. What was my point? Oh, right. Saturday was a rough day. And after a party and a dinner where I had to keep a smile on my face, and a cab ride back to the hotel to save my aching feet, I just needed to be alone for awhile and do something creative. So I changed into jeans and flat shoes (hallelujah for flat shoes) grabbed my camera and set out into the night. I didn't go far (don't worry Mom and Dad). Actually, I mostly stayed inside. The Hilton we (by 'we' I mean Sandi and I and Sandi's mom Jodi and the adorable Sarah Jane) were in had these amazing blown glass sculptural light fixtures that I really wanted to photograph...

I did go out a little... take in the calming night air. 
It's amazing to me, having had my creations under the microscope all day long, how the thing that healed me most was to create more.  Even if it was a different medium. Even if the end product was nothing to write home about. The process of seeing and capturing something visual from my own point of view is always transforming. As is writing about it here.

Thanks for reading my ramblings, blogland.

Oh, and if you were one of the attendees at our school house and you heard me mention the free embroidery patterns, they are coming. I promise. They should both be on my 'make' page by Saturday, so keep checking back.

Fabric designer interviews start next week. I think we'll kick it off with Sandi Henderson (c'mon, you knew that was coming) and the one and only David Butler.