Monday, July 27, 2009

The Process of Fabric Designing

Okay, all of you have probably given up on me ever updating my blog. Well I have been very busy. First off I have been to France and back. (A very spur of the moment trip) I filled in for someone who cancelled out on a retreat hosted by Kaari from French General. I had a wonderful time. I am now in love with the French countryside. I would highly recommend attending one of Kaari’s retreats. More about my trip later. As soon as I arrived home from France it was right to the drawing board to do my Christmas 2010 line of fabric.

I have had many people ask me what the process of designing fabric is. Well it varies from person to person.

I start by eating a whole bunch of this. (It gets the creative juices flowing.)

After a couple bags of chocolate I have an idea of the direction that I will be going.
I usually start with the name.

Christmas 2010 will be called Adoring.

I then mix the colors. I visualize the colors in my head. Unfortunately the colors I have visualized usually cannot be found on the paint chart at the paint store.

So I mix and mix - in plastic cups, until I get just the color that is in my head.

I then take a painted out sample of each of those colors to the paint store to get quarts of paint mixed. Everyone at the paint store runs when they see me coming - except Johnna - she is a quilter - she understands. Sometimes I just call ahead to see if Johnna is working - if she is not working, I don’t get paint mixed that day.

Next step is drawing out all of the prints - just with pencil on drawing paper. I really cannot draw. I have to draw everything very tiny and then enlarge it on the computer. I admire people like Deb Strain and Kathy Schmitz who can in an instant draw something really fabulous. But anyone can draw - you just keep drawing and erasing and moving the lines until it is right.

I can only draw with a mechanical pencil - no number 2’s for me. Since I have to erase so much the tiny little erasers on these pencils only last a millisecond.

Therefore I use these wonderful erasers. Just keep clicking and it keeps feeding eraser.

When it comes to me and erasers - size does matter

Once every thing is drawn out I slip on my paint smock. One of my seamstresses made this for me. You can no longer see how great it once was. (The pockets are log cabin blocks.)

Now on to the painting. This is the fun, relaxing part. Nothing is more relaxing for me than painting. At this time my mind can wonder onto designing the quilts that I will make using this fabric or maybe how I will design my market booth to showcase this fabric.

A sneak peek at the part of the panel.

People always ask me how I can possibly do Christmas in the summer time. Not a problem - by the time I had everything painted out I was singing We Three Kings.
After everything is painted out I paste all of the prints onto a presentation board.

I then send the portfolio off to Cheryl at Moda.

No matter what, I always seem to be racing to get the box ready in time for the UPS man. (Our UPS man is Al- his wife is a quilter.)
We (by now I am at the office and my office manager Sandy K. is helping) put the portfolio in the box - Al is right around the corner.
We start taping the box shut -
@*##! the tape gun always picks the most untimely time to run out of tape.

We hear Al rumbling into the parking lot.
We reload the tape gun and get the box taped shut just as Al is walking in the door.

@*##! we forgot to put in the paint swatches!

Al waits - we rip the box open - Al waits - we insert the swatches - Al waits - we attempt to tape the box shut but @*##! the tape gun gets tangled up - Al waits - we untangle the tape gun - Al waits - Finally the box is ready for

Al puts the box in the UPS truck and it is finally on it way to Dallas.

Sandy K. and I close early, go to the coffee shop, order a large iced tea and a very large scotcharoo.

Whew - another line done!

Now on to the next line - Fall.

From my heart,

P.S. I apologize if We Three Kings is singing in your head all day long.


  1. Amazing!! Thanks for sharing the process - does everyone paint there fabric prints or do some use computer generated graphics? I am curious - it really facinates me.

  2. A spur of the moment trip to FRANCE!!! Wow oh Wow!! I mean it's not like you are flying to NY or CA. FRANCE!!! Hope you took some pictures :-)

    Thanks for the designing rundown. Can't wait to see the new line.

    Poor Al.

  3. great post! It's neat to see how your creative mind works.

  4. and now the paint cups in your header make sense!! i love to see how each designer works because it is very different from one to another!

  5. Wow! I suspected it was more work than I am capable of putting out, but now I know for SURE! Thanks be to heaven for gals like you that WILL go through all the trouble--n the quilting will go on! :-) Looking forward to seeing your new line. I always love your work.

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  7. I LOVE THIS POST! I love your paint pots and your sketches and your mechanical pencils and eraser and your paint coat. I have long been fascinated with the designs on fabric, since I was a little girl (and that was a LONG time ago!) I know I will come back and read this post again and again. I am soooooo looking forward to this line of fabric!!!! Adoring. Perfect.
    So why would you do fall next? Is it fall 2011 or 2010? When does spring/Valentine's day come in? and July??

  8. This is fantastic! Well worth the wait! Now we'd like a follow up on how the fabric arrives for you to peruse!

  9. Oooh,I can't wait to see it, it looks adorable!
    Thanks for the insight too, I was always curious what the process of designing was:-)

  10. I love to read about the creative process - thanks for this, Sandy! I will for sure be dancing with sugarplums when this line arrives at my LQS!

  11. This was a great post! Thank you for taking the time to tell about your creating.

  12. I really loved this post! I am so interested in the fabric designing process...and I LOVED getting a sneak peak of what's to come! Thanks!

  13. That was a very informative post. I never realized all the steps for the fabric design.

  14. Sandy, I just heart you. :-)

  15. This was really fascinating to read! Thanks for sharing the process. The fabric line looks charming!

  16. Oh my gosh, this was soooooo fascinating!!! I always wondered how fabrics were designed. Thanks so much for sharing!

  17. Great post and can't wait to see the finished collection. It looks beautiful! Can't wait to see your market booth with this inside...I always love your booth!

  18. You have such cute lines of fabric. Thanks you!

  19. I love those who are creative enough to share with the rest of us their wonderful talent. You truly have a talent!

  20. How cute! I think we should do a survey of how many UPS drivers (or their spouses/sig. others) are quilters. I know my "Ted"'s wife is a quilter-he knows Moda Blue & White tape--I squeal with delight when he brings those!

  21. Sandy, thankyou so much for sharing this! What kind of paint do you use? Is it acrylic? If so, can you use the paints at the craft stores that are already mixed? How much of each color do you mix at a time? I want to do this someday, and it's nice to know some people still use paint!!! Computers are taking over!!!

  22. Wow, thanks for sharing that. I guess we really don't know what goes into designing fabrics. Love the sneak peeks.

  23. Thank you very much for sharing. I just found your blog and your creativity is wonderful.
    Deb in Ohio
    p.s. you are a very brave woman in sharing those pics and hair styles from the past!

  24. I love everything you design though Sandy's Solids may be my all time favorite. Was that the easiest fabric you've ever designed?

  25. Wow, what a process but I know the outcome will be spectacular.. Great work.. I always love your fabrics