Featured Designer - Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession May 01 2016 3 Comments
Our featured designer for May is known for her eclectic style and innovative techniques. She is also the founder of Material Obsession - Sydney, Australia's most popular quilt shop, author of five books, and currently a fabric designer for Free Spirit Fabrics.
Please welcome Kathy Doughty!
Jen: Where were you born and raised? What took you to Australia?
Kathy: I was born in Illinois, but grew up in lots of different places in Ohio, Rochester, New York and New York City. I worked for Swatch Watch in the 1980’s and met my husband at one of our World Cup Snowboarding events. We got married and moved to Sydney to raise our family.
Jen: How did Material Obsession come to be?
Kathy: As a self taught quilter I was looking for styles of fabrics for my quilts and not finding them in the local shops. Stripes, spots, and at that time, retro prints were my main focus. Remember that in 2003, the internet was a newish entity. We could see what was available in the USA but couldn’t find it here so opening a shop seemed like the right thing to do! The goal was to buy fabrics for the shop that were what we wanted for ourselves. From the day we opened the shop, things moved very quickly. For the first few years I had a business partner, but since 2008, I have run the shop with my husband and a team of talented quilters which has been fun.
Jen: You have a beautiful, distinct sense of style and color. Did it just come to you naturally or has it evolved over time?
Kathy: Thank you! My sense of color is just a personal interest in the way fabrics work together. I like one fabric to appeal to another but not necessarily to match…a word that isn’t really in my vocabulary. Over time I am sure it has changed and evolved to what it is now and will continue to evolve as time goes by.
Jen: If you could offer one piece of advice to new and seasoned quilters alike for finding their own sense of style, what would it be?
Kathy: To the new quilter as well as to the experienced quilter looking to grow, I would say consider the environment around you with an open eye. The way to interesting work is to be the individual that you are…be true to your own instincts. You can break any rule you want to break if you are aware of the consequences. Take the time to look and see what you are doing. Assess as you go, be open to change and enjoy the process.
Jen: Can you tell us about your creative design process and how that works through the quilts and the books as well as the fabric lines that you have done? What inspires you?
Kathy: I am inspired by so many things. I like to visit art galleries for color combinations or design directions. I love antique quilt books for layout and structure ideas. In truth though, most of my designs actually happen on the design wall in my studio. I start a quilt with a stack of inspiring fabrics and a shape, and then I lay out the pieces on the way until I like how they work together.
For my fabric ranges, I like to find a fun motif that I can turn into a story in my mind. The first range, A Wandering Mind, was inspired by my collection of Kantha quilts from India and the second, Trail Blazing, was inspired by the environment I grew up in. Since joining Free Spirit Fabrics I have done Flock Together, again with a theme inspired by the chatting parrots outside my studio window, and my next range explores a playful look at Folk Art called Folk Art Revolution. I think of my customers and the quilts they make when deciding how to structure the designs. I want the fabrics to be usable by quilters so I think about medallions, borders and shapes within quilt blocks with large or small designs.
I write my books based on my experiences in the shop. I like to consider where my customers have issues with tools or with different styles and fabrics and create a path to exploring shapes and designs. The books chronicle my own experiences as I am sure that it reflects the experiences of others!
Jen: Which is your favorite quilt that you have made and why?
Kathy: I think I like Gypsy Kisses from Material Obsession 2 the best. It looks old and authentic which is something that I love. Although I generally work with bright colors, I love reproduction fabrics and old style color combinations. I believe if the quilting sisters of the past had our fabrics they would have loved using them in what are now the antique quilts we love!
Jen: Complete this sentence. When I am not stitching, I am…
Kathy: ...thinking about stitching, doing yoga or sleeping.
Jen: With a new fabric line already out (Flock Together) and a new book (Mixing Quilt Elements) and fabric line (Folk Art Revolution) to be released, any new big plans for the rest of the year?
Kathy: I am doing a lot of teaching and working in my shop which I love! I really enjoy working with customers and helping them work, but no matter what, it will involve quitting, designing and well, yoga!
Recent workshop in Asilomar, CA
A block combining Kathy's fabrics with other fabric lines.
Kathy's latest book - Mixing Quilt Elements
Up until now, I've enjoyed following Kathy on Instagram and drooling over her books. Now, I look forward to meeting Kathy in person later this month at Spring Market in Salt Lake City, UT and to getting a more intimate view of her new fabric line - Folk Art Revolution! So stay tuned!
UPDATED JUNE 2016:
You can also watch Kathy's video interview!