Tag Archive for modern fabric

Thomas Knauer Q&A: Fabric Design and Modern Quilting

Today, we are excited to have Thomas Knauer, a great creative mind, fabric designer and writer! If you follow Thomas’s blog, you know that he openly shares insight into the industry, the sacrifices involved in running a creative business and the importance of creating art. Read on to hear more about how he balances his creative endeavors with family time, his upcoming book and more!

Thomas, thanks for visiting Craft Buds to share more about your work as a writer, fabrics designer and creator! Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how your work shifted to the textiles industry?

Until about five years ago I had spent my entire life in academia; I got graduate degrees from Ohio University and the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and taught art and design at Drake University and the State University of New York. In 2008, I developed a rare neuromuscular disorder and had to leave both academia and the traditional work world.

Once we got my illness managed, I decided to make a dress for my then almost 2-year-old daughter. At about that age everything for kids starts to have corporate tie-ins and I though I could certainly figure out a dress for her. So, I made one, and then another, and another and another and another. She loved them, and I loved that she loved them, so I was hooked.

From there I decided to give fabric design a try and just dove in. There was so much I didn’t have a clue about, especially the industry itself, but by then it was about 20 years since I started my career as an artist, and all of those years did a lot to really help me jump-start things here.

Market quilt by Thomas Knauer in “Thesaurus” fabric

What would people be most surprised to know about being a fabric designer?

There are probably so many things that would surprise people, to be honest. The most likely is how much fabric designers make: generally 1-2% of the retail cost of the finished fabric. Certainly fabric design opens up some doors—it certainly has for me—but it also involves a remarkable amount of work to do really well.

Like any business there are always trade-offs, and in the end I am glad to be doing it. Certainly, there are a lot of personal rewards; I truly love figuring out how to tell a story or approach a conceptual problem through fabric design. At the same time there are only so many hours in the day. If you want to make a living doing this, you are going to need to do a whole lot of different things, and expect to devote and insane amount of time to doing it. Heck, I wouldn’t be able to do this if my wife weren’t a professor.

Actually, my advice to anyone trying to break into this world would be to do it part time for years while still working a straight job, or have a partner who can supply that steady income; it is a long, long road.

Doppelgänger quilt by Thomas Knauer and quilted by Lisa Sipes

I’m excited to hear more about your book with F+W Media, due out next spring. Can you tell us a little more about the book conception and writing process and what that looked like for you?

In my head, this book is something of a sampler, not a set of blocks to make a sampler quilt, but a sampling of quilts that illustrate a methodology, a conceptual approach to modern quilting. The quilts don’t all look modern, so I’m not really talking about modern in strictly aesthetic terms; each of the quilts in this book is a response to a specifically modern (or even post-modern problem). Each quilt starts out with a problem, a concern, and issue and I figure out how to translate a response into a quilt. In all but one case, the quilts are practical, usable quilts; the book is about integrating our values, our concerns, and our worldviews into the things we make and our lives, wrapping ourselves up in objects that speak to others and ourselves. One of my QuiltCon quilts—In Defense of Handmade—was made for the book. I wish I could go into greater detail, but that’s going to have to wait until we get closer to the release date.

As far as writing this book, it was a total dream. I waited until I found a publisher who I though was a really good fit, and F+W has been fantastic; they have really supported the project all the way through and allowed me to make the decisions that I felt I needed to make. I was lucky enough to have Lisa Sipes quilt all of the quilts for the book, which has been incredible, and have had the support of some fabulous piecers to help me get all of the tops done in time (you’ll hear about them in the book).

The actual writing really was the best part for me; I am a writer by nature as anyone who visits my blog can attest to. I actually wrote almost the entirety of the book in two four-days bursts. For one of them I took off to Philadelphia to see my neurologist and then locked myself in a hotel until I had finished the first half of the book. I can’t actually remember where I went the second time, but I wrote the second half in much the same way. The really great thing about this book is that F+W gave me a word count that could never really ever fit in the book length we had planned on, and I have to believe they knew that. It meant that they just wanted me go ahead and write, which is what I love to do.

Of course there was a lot of editing and revising; there always is. That added about two more weeks to the writing. The thing about a quilt book is that the making takes up almost all of the time, at least for me; luckily that is kinda awesome too. But the writing, that is definitely a bit like heroin for me; I am addicted and already looking forward to starting the second, third, and fourth books.

Blast quilt by Rachael Gander in Thomas Knauer’s “Asbury” fabric

How do you find a balance between your creative work and your personal/family time? Do you have any tips for creative entrepreneurs in this arena?

Honestly, sometimes better than others. That is just the nature of things here in the fabric/quilt world. Things happen in spurts and you just have to put in the time when you have to put in the time. For a while at the start I think I did a pretty mediocre job of balancing things, but now I am starting to say no to more things. I’m in a process of cutting down to the core of things that truly matter to me in terms of what I do in this industry, especially now that we have a new baby, and K is getting to work on her second book.

As far as tips, oi… So much of that depends on your financial circumstances. If you can afford to take things slowly then do it, but not everyone has that luxury; when it is sink or swim, you gotta do what you gotta do. My biggest advice for being a creative entrepreneur is to have a safety net, to have it be part time until the very last minute, and to have several back-up plans. Passion is a prerequisite, but it just isn’t enough. I don’t mean to be all negative, but I think it is important to hear. If you really want to succeed, don’t jump in too early; that is the best way to keep enjoying what you do and to have the space you need to prepare for a successful entry into doing this full-time.

What’s next for you?

That is always a hard question because I rarely know for sure. We are going to be living in England next year (K has a fellowship at Cambridge) and I hope to spend much of my work time writing another book. And of course I hope there will be a lot more fabric. I have just started a partnership with Janome and am diving in headfirst into machine embroidery, which I have wanted to do for a while. More than just cure stuff, machine embroidery can do some things that would be otherwise impossible, and that is what I want to do, some utterly insane designs that no hand could really do, or at least not in less that a couple of years…

I’m thinking I am going to start moving back toward the gallery a bit more after a long hiatus. While I am still in love with practical and usable quilts (and won’t stop making those), I am finding that I have a backlog of textile and stitchery ideas that are truly best suited for the galleries I used to haunt.

Beyond that, who knows? I have a feeling this is going to be a year of change…

Thanks for the thoughtful interview, Thomas! You can stay in touch by following his blog.

What did you find most interesting from this post? If you have questions or comments for Thomas, feel free to leave them here!

12 Fabric Lines to Love in 2012

After a jaunt last weekend to Kansas City for Quilt Market, I’m excited for the release of several new fabric lines. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s might be coming to your local quilt shop soon, including some floral, whimsical and bold fabric designs for quilting and sewing.

Denyse Schmidt Fabric Swatches

Chicopee by Denyse Schmidt for FreeSpirit. The tiny prints in muted colors blend well with her Hope Valley line or some of her recent prints for Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Heather Ross bags

Nursery Versery by Heather Ross for Kokka. Whimsical and perfect for carry-all bags and children’s clothing, these prints may make you okay with having a “mouse in the house.”

Art Gallery Fabrics

Lillybelle by Bari J. for Art Gallery Fabrics. You’ll be inspired to sew once you feel the silky texture of these quilting cottons in floral prints.

Cameo by Amy Butler for Rowan/Westminster (photo Crimson Tate). Journey back in time with muted greens, grays and blues in ornate and simple floral prints, suitable for quilting and wearables.



Out to Sea by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller (photo Crimson Tate). The nautical fabric mixes geographic flair with bubble gum pink for a fresh, modern look.

madrona road

Madrona Road by Violet Craft for Michael Miller (photo ImAGingerMonkey). These colors perfectly marry summer and fall, with berry tones and lemon yellows for a fresh and fragrant look.

crabtastic

Crabtastic by Maude Asbury for Blend Fabrics (photo ImAGingerMonkey). It’s out to sea for these cute crabs, with a darling text print to complement.

Field Study by Anna Maria Horner

Field Study by Anna Maria Horner for FreeSpirit. A nature-inspired complement to her previous line, Loulouthi. The deep, rich tones look right at home in wearables and accessories.

Mama Said Sew by Sweetwater

Mama Said Sew by Sweetwater for Moda. Monochromatic prints with text elements are a signature for Sweetwater. Roll out the picnic blanket and mix these prints with Reunion or Hometown for a twist.

Simply Color by V & Co.

Simply Color by V & Co. for Moda. Rainbow colors, everywhere! This line includes both prints and solids with an ombre effect (color increases in intensity across the pre-cuts).

Echino Booth

Echino 2012 for Seven Islands. You won’t want to miss the deer with glasses, plus fun mixers like polka dots and damask.

Robert Kaufman Booth

Kona Modern Quilts by Cynthia Frenette for Robert Kaufman. Have your fabric and quilt it, too. These funky brights are toned down by brown in this bedroom set.

There you have it! Which of these lines are you most looking forward to sewing with?

Giveaway! Modern Fabric Studio

Modern Fabric Studio

Modern Fabric Studio is giving one lucky Craft Buds reader a $25 credit to go shopping for fabric! That goes a long way, considering shop owner Amanda Norton has a WINTER SALE going on right now, with 20% to 35% all fabric collections.

If you spend $50…you receive 1 FREE YARD of Your Choice!
If you spend $100…you receive 2 FREE YARDS of Your Choice! 

Hurry now…before the sale ends!!

Will you pick . . .

Valori Wells Karavan from $3.33 per half-yard

Valori Wells Karavan from $6.18/yard

LouLouThi Flannel from $6.82/yard

LouLouThi Flannel from $6.82/yard

Free Spirit Solids from $4.56/yard

Free Spirit Solids from $4.56/yard

 

PLUS, you can save 10% on your order with the coupon code CRAFTBUDS.

Giveaway!

Amanda is offering one Craft Buds reader $25 shop credit to spend on anything in the shop. And with her Sale Fabrics (designer cotton prints starting at $5 per yard and designer voile starting at just $8 per yard) that’s a you can score big . . .

Giveaway now closed.

To enter:

  1. Browse Modern Fabric Studio and leave a comment telling us what you’d like to buy with your shop credit.
  2. “Like” Modern Fabric Studio on Facebook and leave a comment.

That’s 2 chances to win! This giveaway is open worldwide, and we’ll choose one lucky winner on Friday, Feb. 10.

Polka Dot Charm Swap

Do you take part in the yellow, aqua gray charm swap? We listened to your feedback, and decided it’s time to polka. Announcing . . .

Polka-Dot-Charm-Swap

For this fabric swap, you will choose one yard of modern fabric that features polka dots or circles from Sew Fresh Fabrics.

They have a wonderful selection of dots fabrics. In fact, Peg and Becca have graciously volunteered to do all of the hard work for swappers, and all you have to do is sit back and wait for your lovely assortment of pre-cut fabric to arrive in the mail! You will receive an assorted charm pack of 2 charms each for all 28 prints in the swap.

What an easy swap!

Please read through all rules first, then leave a comment on this post to sign up. This swap will be first come, first served. It is limited to 28 spots. (U.S. and International swappers welcome, but postage is at your own expense.)

Maybe you’ll turn them into something like this . . .

Spotted Quilt Top
Flickr/FilmintheFridge

Swap Guidelines

1. Fill out form below to join. Once you’ve been accepted into the swap, we’ll send you confirmation and you can claim your choice of fabric. We’ll post a linky here so you can see the fabrics we have so far and choose a coordinating print.

2. Fabric MUST BE ORDERED from Sew Fresh Fabrics. There will be a special swap listing for you to purchase one yard of fabric for this swap. Your cost will be equal to the fabric and shipping for one yard.

3. Deadline for fabric selections: Sunday, Jan. 29. Deadline for fabric purchase at Sew Fresh: Sunday, Feb. 5.

LSbutton-125

Join Us!

This swap is now full.

Remember, this swap is limited to the first 28 to sign up! Once you have received an e-mail confirming you are “in” you may link up your fabric selection below. Please choose a dot or circle prints from the category Basics, Dots & Blenders at Sew Fresh Fabrics that is not already duplicated below.



Giveaway: Modern Fabric Studio

Today, I’m excited to introduce a new online fabric shop to you, with a special sale and giveaway for Craft Buds readers at the end of this post.

And since we love to highlight craftepreneurs, I chatted with Modern Fabric Studio owner Amanda Norton to get the scoop on how she started her handmade business.

Amanda Modern Fabric Studio

Amanda, what’s your sewing story?

I have always been into crafting, but I started sewing only a few years ago. One day I came home from work. It was snowing and I knew I wouldn’t be going to work the next day. I went and bought a sewing machine that night and locked myself up in my apartment and taught myself how to sew! I have been LOVING it ever since!

What made you decide to start up Modern Fabric Studio?

I fell in love with the designer fabrics I sewed with, and I have always wanted to own my own company. So, in short, that is how Modern Fabric Studio started!

What fabrics or designers are you loving right now?

My favorite designer is Anna Maria Horner. She was the first designer I started sewing with so I’m in love with all her fabrics! I’m also loving Tina Givens’ new line, Lilliput Fields. The fabrics are absolutely gorgeous! And of course I love Amy Butler’s new line, Lark!

Amy Butler Lark

What do you do when you are not busy creating or running the business?

I live with my boyfriend and our 5 month Chocolate Lab puppy, Hooper. I actually have a full time job in addition to Modern Fabric Studio, so I can definitely say life is a bit busy at times! I love to sew and I love crafting. I am a “Do-It-Yourself-er” at heart!

Modern Fabric Studio

Sale!

Just in time for the season of thanks, Modern Fabric Studio is hosting a Thanksgiving Sale starting today, where you can get 15% off all Anna Maria Horner, Valori Wells and Etsuko Furuya / Echino fabrics through November 27th.
  • Amanda is also offering free shipping for orders of $35 or more for the duration of her sale!
  • Plus, get an extra 10% off your purchase with the coupon code craftbuds.
Valori Wells Wildfield in Cherry

Valori Wells Wildfield: Now 15% off

Little Folks Voile from $8 per yard

Little Folks Voile from $8 per yard!

LouLouThi Voile

LouLouThi Voile: now 15% off!

 

Giveaway!

Amanda is offering one Craft Buds reader $25 shop credit to spend on anything in the shop. And with her ultra-affordable Sale Fabrics (designer cotton prints starting at $5 per yard and designer voile starting at just $8 per yard) that’s a whole lotta fabric to love . . .

To enter:

  1. Stop by Modern Fabric Studio and leave a comment telling us what you’d like to buy with your shop credit.
  2. Subscribe to Modern Fabric Studio’s newsletter and leave a comment.
  3. Like Modern Fabric Studio on Facebook and leave a comment.

That’s 3 chances to win! This giveaway is open worldwide, and we’ll choose one lucky winner on Saturday, November 19.

Yellow, Aqua & Gray Charm Swap!

We’ve been chatting with the lovely Anna at Crafty Girls Workshop and had a great idea for a color-themed fabric swap, and we hope you join us!

For this fabric swap, you will choose one yard of modern fabric that’s yellow, aqua, gray or a combination of those colors. After the yard of fabric is cut into 5-inch charm squares (see this tutorial for details), you will have 56 charm squares which you will then mail to a central location to be sorted and swapped with others. In return, you’ll receive 2 charms each of 28 prints. What a great stash builder!

Please read through all rules first, then click the link at the bottom to sign up! This swap will be first come, first served. It is limited to 28 spots. (U.S. and International swappers welcome, but postage is at your own expense.)

Mosaic Aqua Yellow Gray

Fabrics 1, 2, 3, 5, & 7 Crafty Girls Workshop; Fabric stack: Flickr/JenniferLGB; Whirligig block: Flickr/SewCraftyJess; Fabric 8 Hawthorne Threads; Fabric 9 Sew Fresh Fabrics.

 

Rules

1. We will be swapping modern, quilt-store quality fabric only. (No JoAnn’s, please.) If you have any questions about what would be considered modern fabrics, we’re happy to make suggestions! Prints or Solids are both okay for this round as long as there are no duplicates.

2. Once you’ve been accepted into the swap, we’ll send you confirmation and you can claim your choice of fabric. We’ll post a linky here so you can see the fabrics we have so far and choose a coordinating print.

3. There is a generous 15% discount on your order through Crafty Girl’s Workshop with the coupon code CRAFTBUDSWAP. In fact, Anna has graciously volunteered to do all of the hard work for swappers purchasing fabric from her shop. When you place your order, you’ll “add to your cart” a nominal $2.50 cutting fee (also covers PayPal’s transaction fee) and she’ll cut it up for you right there at the shop, and all you have to do is sit back and wait for your lovely assortment of pre-cut fabric to arrive in the mail! This is actually the same cost as shipping your fabric to her within the U.S. (but less work!), and a cheaper option for International swappers. (Deadline for orders will be November 2, 2011.)

*Normal shipping charges for a yard’s worth of fabric also run about $2.50 within the U.S. ($4.81 Canada & Mexico and $6.77 everywhere else), so your fabric will be 15% off, plus shipping and the cutting fee if you choose this option.

4. If you already have one yard of fabric in these colors, you are welcome to cut the charms yourself and mail them to Anna for sorting. (Crafty Girls Workshop, 1100 Broadway Suite #311, San Antonio, TX 78215.) For this option, make sure you include a self-addressed-stamped envelope marked with the same postage for shipping back to you. You’ll want to put your fabric in a plastic zip bag and envelope and have it weighed at the post office before sealing it with your SASE inside. If you don’t wish to do Option #3, please have your 56 charm squares mailed to Anna by November 9, 2011, mailing early for international shipments.


Join Us!

Only the first 28 people will get to join this swap, so please fill fill out the form here with your contact info to join.

This swap is now full! If you signed up, please look for an e-mail with more info on selecting your fabrics, and please share a link to your fabric in the linky below!

  • If you are ordering from Crafty Girl’s Workshop, please select your fabric, then include a link to it here so no one orders the same kind. You can find a selection of color-appropriate fabrics on the front page.
  • You are now free to place your order for one yard of fabric with the 15% discount code CRAFTBUDSWAP.
  • Be sure to add the $2.50 cutting fee to your cart before checkout, so she knows you are  a swap participant!
  • If you are cutting your own yard of fabric, please also link up a photo of your fabric choice here, from somewhere online, to avoid duplicates!



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