Monday, January 30, 2017

The Artist UnSEWn - FreeSpirit Presents Erin McMorris' Intermix

I always dread it when someone asks where I got my inspiration. I know, I know, it sounds strange—I mean, the question should be easy, right? After all, I designed it! I was there when I put pencil to paper for that first sketch. Yet for some reason, it is SO hard for me to articulate. I guess it’s because I get my inspiration from…everywhere!

Intermix by Erin McMorris

Perhaps I’m just embarrassed to admit that many times an idea just pops into my head as I’m watching cat videos. But typically, collections are a snapshot of what was happening in my life: what vacations I drew inspiration from, what trend was interesting to me in the design world, or even what colors I was missing in my own stash. My new collection, Intermix, is one of my favorites so far is drawn from all of the above. Here’s how it started…

Intermix by Erin McMorris

I was hiking in the Arizona mountains with my sister, and while she was probably feigning interest in my work, I explained to her that cacti and succulents are a big print trend in both home dec and fashion. That got me thinking. While enjoying the scenic view of the crazy-shaped cacti, I thought about doing an eclectic scenic leafy print that is more in line with the Pacific Northwest, where I live. Using different brushes and textures as well as solid line work, I drew Britta, where I tried to show the textural qualities of the plants, and making it as packed as a landscape would be. And then to co-ordinate, I decided to show those textured leaves and plants in rows of potted plants. My latest obsession is ceramics, and I’ve been making a ton of vessels for my own plants, so I thought it would be nice to make it more personal and draw the pots as some of the shapes I’ve been throwing on the wheel. 

Intermix by Erin McMorris

Finn is a slight homage to the Memphis Milano Group whose graphic style has made a return as a print trend (yay...hello 80’s!!)  and is yet another reference to a pattern I’ve painted on my ceramics. No collection would be complete with some sort of dotted pattern, and Quimby is a raindrop allover is covered by the gridded dot.  I love blending structured and organic patterns.  Helix is a pattern which started out as a doodle probably while watching an aforementioned cat video (see, I wasn’t joking!). Because my doodles looked like crazy colorful crystals, I started thinking of geology and the hard and soft of natural elements, and decided to make a blender print of Granite.  Granite is a marble-type pattern that I drew by hand, which took forever while binge-watching the entire mini-series “Making of a Murderer”on Netflix.  It’s weird how some prints become cemented with whatever podcast, or tv show I was listening to at the time. The show is very bleak and takes place in Wisconsin and got me thinking about icy, stark contrasts and winter landscapes as I was drawing tiny gray lines. So I used a lot of black and white and some icy or earthy colors with my usual aqua/pink (to make me happy again).  I’m always going to try and make a collection look happy regardless of my viewing preferences and think the quilt that I designed looks like shears of a springtime mountain cliff.  

Intermix by Erin McMorris

Which sort of brings us full circle!

Intermix by Erin McMorris

So you can see that answering the “where do you get your inspiration from” question isn’t necessarily going to result in an exotic answer.  It might just come from items I come across in my everyday life, a bleak TV mini-series or even a baby goat video!

Erin McMorris
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Monday, January 23, 2017

The Artist UnSEWn - FreeSpirit presents Amy Butler's Splendor

Premiering a new fabric collection is always exciting for me because it’s the first time I get to share the story with my friends in my creative community. Up until now, I’ve been living with the ideas, inspirations and creations behind the scenes for months so it’s a bit surreal & wonderful to get to share my journey out loud. My inspirations are always a mixing of real life experience and some fantastical imaginings because this is the place to do that as an artist. The story unfolds from my early collage pages and sketches to the time I work with Sheila and friends in my studio to bring the ideas to life in sewn projects and then in Dave’s photography, and ultimately in the experiences my friends have in sewing with the material. I think it’s the collaborative energy in it all that makes me super happy! Splendor is primarily a quilting collection so when I began musing about my pattern ideas and stories, I wove together a combination of some of my exotic travel experiences over the past few years with my love of Mother Nature. The best creations come from what I love, and it’s the beauty in the world that I try to capture through elements, textures, conversational images and flowers that weaves it all together for me. When thinking about a quilting collection, I like to combine a balance of designs that work well together in a quilt story. I often have one or two more dramatic show stopper prints with a mix of textures, scales and complimentary designs that give a quilter the ability to mix it up and still have their quilt be cohesive. That’s how I think when I select fabrics for my projects. Some collections I will have 3 color ways or color stories, but for Splendor I opted to have just two so I could enrich the mix of prints to offer more options for someone creating with the fabrics. 

My first color way is called Mystic with highlights of coral and strawberry red and undertones of grey and charcoal with some tell tale pops of magenta and turquoise of course! 
My garden is always a muse for me and I took these palette shots to illustrate how I weave in the colors around me into my color stories. This is a good place to note my juxtaposition of prints.. not only do I want there to be a lot of interest within each print but I want the quilter to have many options for creating powerful flowing block layouts. The organic edges of a flower are striking against the geometry of directional arrows and small linear textures.. all working together to create interest and balance. 

And my Celestial color way celebrates that same design balance with indigos, blush and goldenrod highlights. When I land on my final color ways, my goal in mind is to be able to share two distinctly different color stories that are strong on their own but also can compliment each other. 

The Clematis Quilt below, created by Stacey Day, is a great example of color play between 2 different palettes. For me, I want the projects I feature and highlight in my photo shoots to celebrate the best use of my vision for the collection and to give quilters and sewists creative confidence to explore and stretch beyond their comfort zones.  Which is why I love collaboration with friends to see what they would create with my prints to expand on what I can offer in inspirations. It's super important for me that people connect with the line and feel inspired and empowered. I definitely have a way of relating to what I create but I know there are millions of options and to explore as many ideas as possible is not only fun but it stretches me too. 

And every collection is blessed with fur baby love! This is Tutu our little female. Our cats adopt everything that comes into our house.. quilts and people. If you visit me there is not a shortage of love from either one. 

My friend Sujata Shah from The Root Connection and author of Cultural Fusion Quilts graciously quilted this beautiful small quilt top using much of Splendor and some nice
dusty solids and some older Amy prints. She has a great eye for design and I love the depth she creates with the combos of solids, textures and florals. I also think she
did an amazing job celebrating that big juicy floral called Double Fault Flora

My friends Heather Jones { 2nd from top } and Suzy Williams { 3rd from top } created these fabulous blocks after inviting them to create with Splendor! I love Heather’s minimal use of two prints and a solid and featuring her Fly Away quilt pattern. She downsized her master quilt into this mighty powerful block. And Suzy’s confident, whimsical use of solids with a mix of Splendor is playful and fun! 

Another big focus for me when I create a collection is to think of the multiples uses for a print. For myself, I love to both quilt and make garments and accessories. And I know there are many schools of sewists with many needs stitching with my fabrics because of their beauty but also because the inherent quietly of our FreeSpirit fabrics makes it super versatile. There is enough sheen and drape to make some striking bags and garments and of course the finished hand on a home made quilt cannot be matched. You can see my Native Folk print is used successfully here at a quilt backing.. I often create designs that can be cut up or featured in a variety of ways and this one crosses over nicely.

Here is the same print in a new color way detailed out with machine quilting on my Newly updated Gypsy Sling PDF pattern. Again, you can see how successful this print is as an accessory design. 

And then used here as a perfect border print for my Bohemian Wrap

My buddy and fellow FreeSpirit designer Tina Givens created with my Native Folk print in her Meri Tunic dress pattern. Another completely fresh approach to stitching with the same design. This really excites me! 

And Native Folk used in my " work in progress” loosely inspired from my free Hapi Quilt pattern . Sheila and I are making good use of my Splendor scraps in the studio and stealing every moment we can to build out this fun wonky design! This is a satisfying project to work on because it’s so organic yet the colorist in me likes to play within the harmonies of a color way. The strips are foundation pieced and mistakes are welcomed because the design just gets more and more interesting. That’s how I like to quilt.. organically, like making a painting. 

In the end the launch of a collection is a HUGE celebration of creation and collaboration. I am always proud of the end product that I work hard to make the best it can be with my power team at FreeSpirit and Susan, Dave, Sheila and my local sewing friends. These are the many hands behind the scenes bringing a line to life.  I want to invite you to come play with Splendor and join my fun Pinterest Splendor Contest! You can learn more about it here. And join me on my social media pages and share your favorite Splendor experiences. I’m most excited to see what you create! Enjoy and much love! 

XO Amy FB/IN - @amybutlerdesign TW - @AmyButlerDesig1

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Friday, January 20, 2017

The Artist UnSEWn - FreeSpirit Presents Tanya Whelan's Rambling Rose

"Hygge is in the Air"

Tanya Whelan's Rambling Rose
You may have heard the term "hygge" a lot lately. It seems to be everywhere this year and especially this time of year. Hygge is a Danish concept that is often translated as coziness in English. From what I understand it basically just describes a feeling or atmosphere where the small, simple things in life like warmth, good food, family and friends are appreciated and celebrated. Though the Scandinavians undoubtedly do coziness incredibly well, I think every culture and perhaps even every person has their own version of what makes for coziness and warmth in a home. Maybe it's a New England cottage by the sea on a snowy day with a roaring fire, or a little log cabin in the mountains with pot belly stove, or even a walk up brownstone apartment in New York City with a perfect little Christmas tree with it's twinkling lights that represents a refuge of warmth and coziness to you.

Tanya Whelan's Rambling Rose
For me, where ever I happen to be, quilts have always brought home the feeling of coziness. I loved the quilts I would see in antique stores when I was growing up. I loved the bright colours and floral patterns pieced into intricate designs. But I especially loved the idea that these beautiful quilts were put together over time using leftover fabric from worn clothing or feedsacks out of necessity and that they were made by hard working women to keep their families warm and safe. I loved the quilt that my mom made in the seventies out of leftover fabric from sewing projects. Though she always intended to, my mom never got around to actually quilting it. The top was pieced and tied to keep the batting in place but it made no difference to me as a little kid. It simply made me feel safe and warm. Years later I wrapped my own baby boy in that same quilt. Similarly the baby quilts my mom made for each of my children still bring me that sense of warmth and love. As does the perfect pink, expertly hand quilted quilt my grandmother made me which kept me warm in my first apartment New York City as a young adult.

Tnaya Whelan's Rambling Rose
I think all of my fabric collections are inspired by my love of homeyness, of coziness, of hygge and this newest collection, Rambling Rose, is no exception. So, at this coldest time of year I just want to wish you lots of hygge and lots of snuggling under that perfect quilt.


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Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Artist UnSEWn - FreeSpirit presents Jane Sassaman's Scandia

Hello! My name is Jane Sassaman and I am a FreeSpirit designer. I am happy to be here today to tell you a little bit about myself and my latest collection of designs called Scandia! 

My love affair with fabric began early. I grew up in a time when fashions lavish use of rich velvets, brocades and lace acted as a counterpoint to space age vinyl and Mylar. Color was wild then, too; Betsey Johnson pink, Beatles psychedelic and Peter Max rainbows were all the rage. And it is during this period, as an art student, that I fell under the influence of the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Consequently, my passion for the decorative arts and handwork have been the seeds from which my career as a quilter and fabric designer has grown.


Every fabric collection is held together by a over riding theme or mood. Scandia, as the name implies, is influenced by the crisp clean look of modern Scandinavian design, for which I have a great affinity. So I wanted this line to have the essence of all the things that I love in this design culture… color, textiles, folk art, interior decoration, etc. 

But even though the spirit is Scandinavian, the motifs usually have some personal significance, as the flora and fauna are often modeled after those in my own Midwestern environment. So it is a very subjective interpretation. 

Within that theme, I begin by working on a nature inspired design to be the centerpiece of the collection and usually the most elaborate one, as well. In this case, the Vineyard design (with the birds) became the heart from which all the other designs evolved. And so the drawing continues by adding simple supporting characters, which are usually the most practical and hardest working fabrics in the line. I always include some contrasting geometrics and simple prints as nice foils for the flowers and leaves, plus some contrasting color for drama. 


One of the nicest perks of the job is actually living with the samples that get made to showcase the collections every season! My home is the living laboratory for Sassaman fabrics… shower curtains, table cloths, duvet covers and PILLOWCASES! I have the greatest collection of pillowcases on the planet! It is a joy to go to bed in my house. 

Scandia Quilts - 3 Colorways

 And quilts are everywhere, of course! I am especially delighted to share one of the new Scandia quilts today. It is called Finlandia and I think it really has the flavor of Northern European folk art. Here it is made up in the Red colorway, but is also very fetching in the Purple and Blue versions. Each has it’s own ambiance and graphic temperament. You can download the free pattern here. To make your quilt larger than lap size, simply multiply the number if center blocks. 
If you would like to read more about my life in design and how to use these wonderful printed fabrics please pick up a copy of my book Patchwork Sassaman Style. 

I am a FreeSpirit!

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