Welcome to another fabric filled edition of Fat Quarter Shop Friday where we bring you information and insight from some of your favorite fabric designers!
As quilters, we’ve all known and come to love Joanna’s designs for Fig Tree. Walking though any quilt shop you can always point out Fig Tree & Co. collections. Her designs have a familiar feel and are comfortably incorporated into any project.
Bursting with bright, summery colors Strawberry Fields is an exciting line and one of my favorites released by Joanna. It even incorporates grey, a VERY popular color we’ve seen in many new lines.
RWQ: How long have you been designing fabric Joanna? What is your design background?
I started designing fabric for MODA about 7 years ago and have thoroughly enjoyed the ride of creating fabric designs along with all of the other products that we have worked on over the years. My style and design sense has changed and evolved slightly over the years but we have stayed more or less true to that look that we call “Fresh Vintage”- straddling the line between vintage in design and fresh in color scheme.
In terms of background, I worked on graphic design in college but since my parents didn’t think I could ever make a living doing that [I like to to point out to them whenever I can, that I am indeed doing just that now!], it took a back seat to my political science and education major. Nevertheless, ever since I was a little girl as well as an adult, I have always dabbled in art of some sort and when I discovered fabric, it was one of those “aha” moments. It quickly became my favorite medium and I more or less stopped working with most other types of art. Fabric feels like my home.
Since then I have gone back to school for fabric design and worked on other design, photography and computer skills on the side. The best teacher however, has been practice and deadlines. Although we all hate them, I think that deadlines are a God send to creative types- giving us something that we know we have to work toward and a time when we know we HAVE TO stop tweaking with the final product. Since I can pretty much tweak with a fabric or quilt design forever, the deadline saves me at some point even though I hate it every time!
RWQ: I love the concept of “Fresh Vintage.” It’s an idea very close to my own design preferences. Where do you draw your inspiration from when designing? What is your starting point for a design concept?
For me, the inspiration almost always starts with a color palette and then goes from there to develop into prints and groupings, etc. The palette itself can come from anywhere as I find that I am always looking at color wherever I go. I have developed fabric palettes from old china plates that I fell in love with at the flea market, a grouping of antique bowls, the inside of a hatbox, a vintage children’s illustration, a vintage French floral textile, a grouping of peonies from my favorite florist, etc, etc. Its one of those things that my husband refers to as a “blessing and a curse” [one of his favorite lines from one of our favorite shows, MONK] in that my head is always full of new inspiration but I just don’t have the time to create something out of all of it. So sometimes, it torments me a bit, keeping me up at night. But in general, I love it.
RWQ: Strawberry Fields is a great summer line. How did the concept start for you?
Strawberry Fields is my own take on a retro summer. I always say that I would have loved to live in the 50’s. Well at least fashion wise because I surely wouldn’t make a very good 50’s housewife LOL! I would love to live in those twirly skirts with crinolines underneath and little cardigan sweaters! And Strawberry Fields is the collection I would want to sew those clothes from and the fabrics I would want to picnic on, as I dressed in those clothes! I can see it all in my head right now!
RWQ: Do you have a favorite print in the collection?
My favorite print in this grouping is easily the large floral- probably in the grey and green colorways. Although I love the red, the aqua and the cream too. I guess I don’t have a favorite in there after all. I just love that floral!!
I am currently working on my 22nd collection [I did have to look up the collections on my own website to do the math for this question!] and I still love it as much as I did with that very first one when I had so little idea of what I was doing. The collections move back and forth from more traditional to a bit more fresh so that we can keep all of our customers happy. Hence, our favorite tag line of “Fresh Vintage”. Right now I am working on a group that has a few new colors in it that I am really excited about but we’ll have to see how all of the colors “play together” once the strikeoffs come back later on this summer.
Right after Strawberry Fields, we went a bit more traditional again and Butterscotch & Rose, which releases this coming October, is a throwback to some of our earlier collections with deeper, more traditional colors and feel. My favorite print in that group is the 2-color geranium print. I could have done that one in every single colorway but there just wasn’t enough room!
The next collection after Butterscotch will be the one with some of those new colors. We will all [including me] have to wait and see how that plays out!
Actually I was a quilter first, a designer second and a sewer last. My business started off with one of a kind small quilted wall hangings and pillows that I sold to local boutiques and craft fairs. Oh how I remember those craft fairs! Our business name was “Figlets” back then. Then slowly the business branched out into quilt pattern production, then teaching locally and nationally, then designing fabric and then moving into other surface design. The sewing of children’s garments and accessories actually came last for me. It is not my background but I have loved learning it over the last couple of years. It adds a whole other dimension to sewing- literally 3 dimensional projects are so different than quilts which are pretty much a 2 dimensional work of art [more or less].
It has been kind of a funny process for me because these days it seems that more people are moving from this direction into quilting whereas back when I started it was all quilting and hardly anything else. The younger home sewer crowd was just starting out, blogs were completely unknown and most people who sewed and designed were all quilters first. Wow, I am really dating myself here! Lets just say that I have been quilting since before I started having kids and leave it at that!
That’s actually one of the easiest parts for me! Isn’t it funny how we all love and struggle with different parts of the process. I am constantly coming up with new names for things and so I keep a list, or actually its more like a dozen lists of different names that I think might work for a print or a color, an entire collection or a quilt or sewing pattern. Naming them usually happens at the beginning for me if its a fabric collection and at the end if it is a pattern for a quilt or a garment. In that case, it is a little like the icing on the cake. Once I’ve named it, its done and ready to go to press check!
RWQ: Thanks for talking with me today Joanna. How can my readers find more information about you and your company?
Oh and I twitter under @figtreeandco too. The best way to get our coupons and hear about our special offers, kits, etc is to sign up for our newsletter under the contact us button on our website.
The lovely folks at Moda have sent me several pieces of fabric to give away.
To enter for your chance to win, please leave a comment on this post. Feel free to let us know how much you like Strawberry Fields and what you’d like to make with it! Only one entry per person. All duplicate entries will be deleted!
I will draw several winners using the Random Number Generator and announce them here on Wednesday, August 24, 2011!
Strawberry Picnic, a quilt I designed using Strawberry Fields will be released as a pattern on 9/25. If you’d like to see the quilt in person and receive a free copy of the pattern, please plan to visit the Delaware County Historical Association during their annual quilt show the weekend of 9/24-25. I will have a booth and show my quilts there on Sunday.
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