designing fabric

Foxglove selvedge

Foxglove selvedge logo print names

 

One of my favourite parts of putting together a new fabric line are the little details I get to create for the selvedge and logo.  This is usually done once the final selection of the fabric prints has been approved.  In essence it is just about putting together a few graphics that visually explain the line.  It's fun to pull out small elements from the prints to create a unifying text and image and to select fonts that work well with the imagery and create the right mood.  The image across the top, above was how I visualized the selvedge and this is exactly how the final selvedges were arranged.  For the fonts I chose one that looked modern and was sans serif (foxglove) and the other which looked retro and reminded me of fonts used in children's picture books (for the print names).  I like the contrast between the two chosen fonts.  There's a vintage versus modern vibe that echoes the feeling of the prints.  I also added in the two main visuals from the prints - this line is all about the foxes and the foxgloves.  As well as a couple of small floral graphics taken from the fabrics.

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Today's maker for the Foxglove showcase is Nicole of Modern Handcraft.  You don't want to miss what she's made from Foxglove, you'll be dreaming for days..


Foxgloves colourways

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One of the things I find hardest to do when designing a fabric line of prints is to limit my colour palette.  I always want to use about 9999 more colours than are really needed.  I guess you could say I'm distracted by colour.  When I handed my designs for Foxglove in to Cloud 9, I worked with Michelle, the design director to really tighten up the palette.  Michelle is amazing at editing things down to the crucial components and worked wonders, editing things down to just 8 colours.  The Foxgloves print is the lead print of the group and each of the two colourways use an almost identical palette, you can see this indicated in the thread spools below each print.  Even though the colour line up is so similar, the prints look very different.  This helps the prints in the line both co-ordiante and contrast together at the same time.  It sounds easy when I'm typing it all out here but in practice this is nowhere near as simple as it sounds!

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Today's Foxglove showcase maker is Michelle of Chelles Quilts.  The picture above shows the first block for her project, catch up with what Michelle has been making over on her blog.


evening primrose

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The Evening Primrose print is one of the coordinates from the Foxglove line.  This 3 colour print is medium size in scale and again has a simple looking repeat that is more complex than it first appears.  The inspiration for this floral came from the above page of very random looking flower doodles.  This was another sheet that I had pinned up above my design desk, I think I liked the unusual looking motifs on it. I used the little tulip shaped motif on the bottom half of the page and called this Evening Primrose when I was done because that is what it reminded me of.  Not sure what I was inspired by when I actually drew the doodle..

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Today's Foxglove showcase maker is Kelly of Jeliquilts.  Kelly does amazing things with flying geese style blocks in teeny tiny pieces (you really need to check those out when you visit).  With Foxglove, Kelly created a travel set to show how the prints can work for these kinds of projects as well as quilt-making.  Go take a look and see!


stem dot

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For today's look at the inspiration behind my Foxglove fabrics, here was the starting point for my Stem Dot print.  The doodles on this torn out sheet from my sketchbook were done a couple of years ago, I think I was casually doodling away listening to the radio when that design at in the top left corner popped up out of nowhere,  I loved it instantly.  The page had been pinned up on the pinboard above my design desk for at least a year with the intention of turning that mindlessly done doodle into a fabric.  Sometimes I labour over designs for weeks and they go nowhere and other times they land in my head, just like that.

I always like to add a few one colour prints to my collections.  I find these kinds of simple repeats work well for mixing with other prints as well as on their own.  For this group, I submitted three colourways for the stem dot print - pink, gold and aqua.  Michelle loved the print so much she added in the fourth option of a navy.  I love how this design turned out on fabric!

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Today's maker for the Foxglove showcase is Stacy of Stacy Olsen Design.  Stacy is an inspiring quilter and pattern writer who just makes me want to drop everything and quilt.  She came up with a really lovely idea for a quilt made out of Foxglove.  Go take a look at what she made.


foxgloves and foxes

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The two lead prints of the Foxglove line are unsurprisingly called Foxgloves and Fox In The Foxgloves.  It all started with the print above, I drew up a few of my favourite flowers in Illustrator and then set about laying them out in repeat.  I always work out my own repeats, its a fascinating extension of the basic print idea.  My only problem with working out the layout is that I want to play forever and don't know when to stop.  I still have countless variations of this design in differing repeats, all with a slightly different names such as 'half drop spray'.  It's all technical lingo so that I can remember what I was doing before the next layout idea distracted me.  Anyhow for my lead prints I've been working along the lines of a simple design that is more complex than it first appears.  This kind of repeat fascinates me because it works well as a design but it's not really that straight forward for someone to notice where the repeat starts and ends.  Take a look above and see how long it takes you to figure things out.  Clue, it looks like a half drop but isn't.

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Like the cowslips I showed you the other day, foxgloves are another plant that I love to draw endlessly. I have grown it in my garden many times, mostly from seed and watched it self seed all over the place.  One thing I found fascinating several years ago was that it would even self seed and grow in small cracks in the paving.  Not only grow but flower too!  The above page from one of my sketchbooks is a watercolour done probably at least 15 years ago.  It was one of the points of reference I used when creating this print.

Once I had this print almost worked out, I reduced the size of the image in Illustrator and thought it would work well as a second print much smaller in scale.  At first I thought about mixing in some other flowers and then whilst doing the housework I had the idea of adding foxes.  Seriously, some of my best ideas come to me whilst washing the dishes..

Fox in the foxgloves colourways

To add a little interest I started thinking of Fantastic Mr Fox and had my little fox acting all sly and up to things.  I drew up a few quick pencil sketches of him in different poses then drew them up in Illustrator.  And once I had these two prints done, I knew I had the basics of a new collection.  And there we have it.  If you look closely, it's just the same foxglove in the large scale print above with some leaves added.  The two colourways I submitted of the fox print (as above) also formed the basis of the colour selection for the entire group. 

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Our Foxglove Showcase maker today is Pennie of Tuppence Ha'penny Quilts.  Pennie has been a personal friend of mine for the past few years.  She is an amazing quilter and super fast with it and also just an all round nice person.  You really should go meet her and find out what she's been sewing up at lightening speed! 


cowslips

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I seem to have been sketching cowslips for years, its fair to say that I am enchanted by this little wildflower.  I've planted variations of it in my garden over the years, it never loves me back but I'm still besotted.  If you look very closely at my Meadow print (the one with the girls reading) from my Posy fabric line, you'll see some tiny cowslips in amongst the other flowers.

I always knew I wanted to do a fabric printed entirely with cowslips, so here it is!  In an ideal world, I would have loved to have done several different colourways of this print but industry is so much more limited than artistry.  Maybe one day.

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In the meantime, if you like your florals pretty but want something a little out of the ordinary, this is the fabric print for you!

You can find stockists for the Foxglove fabric line here.

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For today's Foxglove showcase maker, we are visiting the talented Ashley of Mommy By Day Crafter By Night.  Ashley first came to my attention when I saw a bag that she'd made from my Posy line on Pinterest.  I've been a huge fan of hers ever since, everything she makes makes me sigh.  For the showcase she's been busy working on something involving paper piecing, go take a look at what she created using Foxglove.


selection

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This is the third in a series of posts about the beginnings of my Vignette fabric collection.  The first two posts can be found here and here.

Today's post is a small glimpse into the process of selecting the final line up of prints for a collection and editing these to work well together. By this stage I have at least ten different prints, which I've put into repeat and I think would work collectively to suggest a theme.  I've also come up with a name - Vignette which illustrates that theme.  At it's most basic, this is a floral collection but it is also a snapshot of this subject as seen through my eyes and for this reason, the minute I think of the name, it suits what I want to say about this collection in a single word and it's a keeper.

One of the most helpful ways I've found of pulling together a collection is to start by printing out the designs and looking at them together.  At this stage I'm still working on everything on my own and I've been looking at the same images for many weeks.  So printing helps to by able to 'see' them again.  Which sounds kind of silly but for some reason it works.  By looking at everything collectively, it also helps me to see what's missing and what needs editing.  For a collection to work, I'm looking for a variety of contrasts - in colour, tone, texture, scale etc.  As well as contrasts there have to be similarites for the designs to suggest a common feeling.  So there is a bit of contradiction at play here too.   Prints also have to work for different purposes - most obviously quilts but also bindings, linings, pouches, dresses....  Within a collection there have to be prints that can be utilised for different ends but everything has to work as a whole too.

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Once a little editing had taken place, this is the point at which I submitted the designs to Cloud 9 and began working with their creative director Michelle to finalise the prints.  One thing you may not know about me is that I am rubbish at making decisions.  So working with someone else at this point is really helpful to me for clarifying where I want to take things.  For the most part, the designs stayed as they were and we just worked on colour and scale.  There were only two designs that we decided to play around with and see how we could progress them.  The first was the Petal print and above you can see the original and reworked prints

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We also looked at where we could take the ladybug print and this one really progressed from being a one colour print that was kind of a moving stripe to the two colour final honeycomb kind of layout.  There were many variations that took me from A to B here but as soon as I tried it in the latter repeat it just worked.

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One of my favourite prints in this group is the buttercups - I just don't think there are enough buttercups on fabric.  I could have done this one in so many different variations, picking just two was hard.

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Another favourite is the Floret print.  I really wanted to have a basic or blender print that came on a dark background - I am all for more high volume on fabric.

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I think I'm going to stop here for now.  I hope I can get back with a little more for you soon. 


drawing to design

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Today I'm going to show you a little of my thought process in creating the designs for the Vignette fabric collection.  When I created the original artwork I showed you in this post, I wasn't thinking about designing a print for fabric.  Instead I wanted to spend a little recreational time painting - something I greatly enjoy but never get around to doing enough of.  Some time later I returned to my original artwork and decided that they would make a great starting point for a fabric collection.

Floral prints are something I've done little of to date.  Throughout my design career I've focused more on conversational prints and always thought of flowers as something other people do.  In my design past, I've been lucky enough to work alongside other designers who would do the most amazing florals.  And when I say 'do'  I mean they would literally knock out 5-6 jaw dropping designs a day.  I always thought that I couldn't draw florals 'properly' but that didn't stop me from keeping personal sketchbooks full of drawings of them.   

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When I was at Winchester School Of Art in the early 1990's studying printed textile design - I was consistently taught that original artwork was central to the creation of design.  This emphasis has stayed with me over the years even though at the time I most likely just shrugged my shoulders and carried on collaging bits of paper together.  One of the first things I did to kick start the design process for this group was to do a few quick sketches, simplifying the shapes from the original drawings.  This got me thinking how I wanted the designs to progress and turn from drawings into design motifs. 

Poppies in progress

Once it came to beginning the digital artwork - I was able to use the information I had created when drawing such as the way that I'd constructed the bouquet with the poppies on the sketchbook page or the way that the buttercups were painted scattered in slightly varied formations.  I created new versions of these motifs from scratch in illustrator using my sketchbooks for reference.  My aim for this collection was to create a very bold but pretty, graphic look.

The picture above shows the construction of the poppy print in progress.  I liked how things were looking here but the layout looked a little too rigid and un-flower like.  So I started to play around and try different formations to try and get something with a little more flow. 

Poppy colours

In the end I tilted the bouquet a little and spread the repeats out a bit, then added in some tiny dotted florals.  Suddenly it started looking more like I wanted - a repeating motif with plenty of movement, a little texture and some negative space.  Once the design and repeat where done, I started on colour and above you can see three variations.  There were probably at least 50 variations of this design alone because I can play around with colour endlessly.  Something to note here is that the creation of these designs took place over several months.  From time to time, I'd leave things alone and go work on something else for a few weeks, then return to look at everything from a fresh perspective.

Buttercups pink square

Here's an earlier colourway of the buttercups print - I'm going to be talking a bit more about the colour selection process in my next post.

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And lastly, designing always inevitably leads to creating far more than you need.  Which means that some designs end up set aside (for now).  This is one of my rejects from this group, again I'll be talking more about this selection process next week.

You can see all of the final Vignette collection here.


vignette

Vignette fabric

I'm so happy to announce that I have a new fabric line in the works - Vignette.  This will be my first line with Cloud 9 fabrics which means that it will be printed on 100% GOTS certified organic fabric - I'm so happy about that!  The line includes 14 prints on quilting cotton and 4 of the prints will also be available on delicious double gauze - you can take a look at the full collection here.

Working with Cloud 9 has been a dream, I'm excited that the fabrics will be able to be used not only for quilts but be perfect for dresses, scarves and bags too.  I can't wait to see what you do with it!

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I thought it might be of interest to give you a little back story on the line.  It began around 2 years ago when I was in the mood for doing a little painting.  I was working on several sketchbooks at once - since I find it hard waiting for things to dry.  I wasn't really thinking about a fabric line, so the paintings evolved very naturally.

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They are quite sketchy in nature, which is how I like to work when I working with acrylic.  Some are also done in pencil and the ones I'm showing here are those that relate most directly to the line.  

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I hope to do another post soon about how I developed the drawings into idea's for a fabric line and how that process evolved over time.  In the meantime, here's a look at inspiration and fabric altogether.

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Vignette is selling to quilt shops now and will start arriving in stores this November.


The Cherry Christmas that never was

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It's that time again!  Just for fun and for the sake of looking at the possibilites that were never to be, these are some of the rejected colourways for my fabric line Cherry Christmas. 

Above we have a delightfully girly colour way in tones of pink.  The colours are not at all co-ordinated with the seasons BUT I would have loved to have presented Christmas this way.  Just think of all the pretty bedding and stockings (not to mention dresses) that could have given little girls everywhere a holiday season to remember.

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These are a few of the rejected blues,  I love the frostiness of that light blue but it sadly didn't make the final cut.

I know people are very red and green when it comes to colour for the holidays but what do you think?  Surely a pink Christmas has a certain appeal!!????