How many of us wake up every morning and say, ” I love my job?” I do. I work hard and have fun at the same time, enjoying something I am very passionate about. Quilting for me is a full-time profession and I manage to fit it in around my other full-time job of being a mother.
One of the highlights of my working life is that I design for Moda, both fabric and patterns. We have a new collection debuting in Spring so, today I would like to share with you some background on what I do in the process of getting the designs from screen to market.
There are many hours of collaborative discussions in preparing the designs before they are handed over to me. My primary task in the fabric design process is to select the palette and colour the collection. I play a significant part in determining the scale of the prints and how the collection will look as a whole, whether bolts side by side; on a shelf; cut up into tiny pieces and made into a quilt or elegantly stacked or rolled into a pre-cut bundle.
I draw my inspiration for design and colour from a myriad of sources including nature, antiquities, the internet and fashion trends. I think it is really important in design to keep true to your own style and base your unique signature on an inspirational object that is meaningful to you. The creation of a ‘mood board’ whether physical or mental is essential. It helps tie all the inspiration into a story.
I love my garden. My acreage has it’s own hidden design treasures tucked away in and a menagerie of unique foliage, berries, fruits and colourful wildlife. (I cannot reveal too much about the new collection but you may see one of my little Australian rainforest frogs in this new collection). I spend many hours nurturing my garden and am in awe of it’s relentless beauty. Planting bird attracting trees and shrubs the garden is never short of colourful honey eaters, parrots and other noisy birds.
I am also a lover of antiques, antique china and linens. I am drawn in by the stories and secrets they may harbour and in awe of the skilful hands that created these treasures.
There is nothing like a handmade piece of furniture. I can gaze upon the workmanship of a barley twist, silky oak table and know that it was handcrafted with great care and skill. The grains of the oak make for a wonderful design element.
My china cabinet is full of bone china tea sets. The intricate illustrations that adorn each set, perfectly mold around the elegant shapes of the cups and saucers. There are no two sets alike. I have a soft spot for Shelley and Spode. There is nothing like a Spode blue and white piece to dress your shelves.
I have strong ties to the sea. I spent almost half my life living near the ocean. The bay was my playground where I would sail, waterski and fish enjoying the sun and salt and all the creatures that inhabited the Port Hacking. I still hold it dear to my heart.
To bring the palette together into a translatable format, I use paint chips. I love paint chips as they come in thousands of colours and shades and present a nice crisp, solid reference. Accompanied by swatches of solids, they make a wonderful source for collating a colour theme.
When the print files are ready to go, my next task is to receive the strike-offs from the Mill. Strike-offs are test prints of the fabric. From these test runs, Moda and I select a set that will become the final collection.
Then ….. this is the exciting part. A large box of our new fabrics arrive – “Let the market prep begin”, I say to myself (and my faithful companion, Jasper the dog). Usually, I have a million (maybe not that many) patterns ready to go. Once the fabric is in my hands it often inspires me to change the pattern to suit the fabric. And now for the pleasant but laborious part of my job……. pattern writing. It all starts with a block in EQ7, sketches in notebooks or drawings in Adobe Illustrator. A test block is made, to check my calculations and methods, then a complete quilt top is made and quilted. As I make the quilt(s), the yardage requirements and cutting instructions are jotted down. The final pattern is then written, including all artwork and proofing is performed by my trusty friends and testers. Big job but worth it when quilters are excited to make one of your designs.
Lastly but not least, the final stage. The quilts and projects are packed neatly into a suitcase where they will start their journey to Spring Quilt Market. Let me tell you I am sooooooo exhausted by the time I board the plane but bursting with excitement and anticipation of standing in Moda row.