Featured Designer

Featured Designer - Alison Glass January 01 2016

Alison Glass

To kick off the New Year, we are featuring Alison Glass, a surface designer who has made her mark not only in designing her own fabric lines for Andover Fabrics but also designing quilt patterns and embroidery designs.  I first met Alison at a school house session at Quilt Market in the Fall of 2014.  Not only do her patterns, designs and color sense appeal to me, but also her advice during her lecture really resonated with me.  She shared that in order to evolve your business, you must create an experience and give each customer a vision.  From there, one should help their customer achieve that vision or goal and connect with him or her along the way.

I appreciate how Alison has built out her brand in hopes of teaching others new skills to, as I quote from her book, Alison Glass Appliqué, "create lovely, useful things yourself, each packed with meaning and beauty."

Now, let's get to know Alison!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Alison:  I was born in Galveston, TX and lived in Houston for a bit.  My family moved to Austin just before I started elementary school, and I lived there until eight or nine years ago.  (Alison now lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.)

Jen:  How and when did your passion for handmade begin?

Alison:  I have always loved art and drawing; it is simply a huge part of who I am and handmade just flows naturally from that.  My grandmother and mom made lots of handmade things, and I always knew there was a lot of value in what they were making.  I love the individuality of handmade, that a person can create the ideal version of an item for whatever purpose is needed.  It allows mundane typical things to have more meaning and beauty. 

Jen:  How did you learn to quilt and embroider?  Did you stitch as a girl?

Alison:  I guess I am mainly self taught in sewing.  I did take a couple of classes as a kid, but really started sewing when I had a place of my own to make things for.  Most of the things I sewed starting out were ‘for the home’ items, just whatever was needed.  I did make a quilted bumper for my kids crib without really thinking about it being quilting.  A lot of my recent quilting and embroidery stems from my work as a fabric designer. 

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not creating, I am…..

Alison:  Working or being with family probably. :)  The business requires a lot of time that isn’t really creating, but I do love it.  I am really enjoying building something.  I have two kids, both in middle school, and most of the rest of my time is spent connecting with them and my husband.

Jen:  So how did Alison Glass Design come to be?

Alison:  I started out doing interior design for clients with a little bit of organization thrown in.  I started using a lot of fabric from the quilting industry for the space designs and got very interested in the idea of designing it myself.  In the fall of 2011, I started showing designs to manufacturers and ended up working with Andover.  My first line shipped the next year and about a year later, I released the first embroidery patterns.  A lot has happened between then and now.

Jen:  How would you describe your style?

Alison:  This is always such a funny question because it’s so open ended.  With fabric design I tend to like dense and colorful with a lot of detail in the artwork, except for Handcrafted, where I think space is essential and good color combinations are key.  With spaces, I tend to like industrial and a little sparse with colorful artwork and details as accents.  We are moving soon, and I’m excited to get to make a space for us that is consistent with this, which is not something we’ve had the opportunity to do for quite a few years.  With clothing I’m generally super basic, jeans and t-shirts.  So, I guess my style depends a lot on the context.

Jen:  Tell us about your creative process for fabric lines.  For your embroidery patterns?  For your quilt patterns?  What were your inspirations?

Alison:  I get a lot of inspiration by just looking at the world and things in it.  The tiniest shape or color can be a starting point.  I also really enjoy naming the fabric lines, and find that once I find a good name that has some sort of meaning or story attached to it, the designs within the line come together easily.  Color in general is very inspiring to me, and the process of combining the colors is something I love to do and get a lot of energy from.

Jen:  Any big plans for the year ahead?

Alison:  There are always a lot of plans and ideas for things I would love to do, I just need more time to do them all!  The studio is moving as well as our family, so the first things we will do in the new year will be to get set up and operating smoothly in the new spaces.  The new studio will have way more space and opportunity for organizing, and I expect our physical space to have a really positive impact on the creative work.  I am really looking forward to getting into a lot of designing in the next year.

I am excited to see what Alison has in store for us this year.  I know that I plan to do some surface embroidery using a panel from her Ex Libris fabric collection.  Shortly, we will also be launching a new kit featuring her Indigo Handcrafted fabric collection.   In the meantime, you can check out the other Alison Glass patterns, designs and fabrics that we stock at Red Thread Studio.

Alison Glass Indigo Handcrafted

Alison Glass

Abacus by Alison Glass


You can also check out Alison's video interview!

Featured Designer - Bo Twal December 01 2015 2 Comments

Featured Designer - Deborah Fisher of Bo Twal

Our featured designer for December couldn't be more appropriate as we enter into the holiday season and especially today, Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving thanks.  Please welcome Deborah Fisher of Bo Twal patterns whose mission is to provide handmade dolls to children in underdeveloped countries and income to local sewists. 

Let's get to know Deborah!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Deborah:  I have lived on Long Island, NY since I was very small, except for some years in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.

Jen:  How did you learn to sew?  How and when did your passion for dolls begin?

Deborah: My mother taught me to sew.  She had her sewing machine set up on a desk in our family room and there were shelves full of fabric and supplies for making things.  My father built a big round table for us to work on.  I started sewing dolls at about 10 years old when I found a Loretta Daum Byrne pattern in a sewing magazine.  I would make the same doll body over and over and make each one a different costume.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not creating, I am…..

Deborah:  ...thinking about what to make next!  Also, I'm taking care of my family, and running my 2 nonprofits, Bright Hopes Collaborative Quilt Project, and Bo Twal.

Jen:  What does Bo Twal mean and what led you to create this nonprofit?  How many children has Bo Twal touched to date?  Are there any plans to expand your footprint outside of Haiti?

Deborah:  Bo Twal means cloth kiss in Haitian Creole.  Bright Hopes is a very local community project, and I wanted to work more internationally.  I was inspired by a young woman I knew who was very interested in international education for girls.  So far we have provided dolls for about 75 kids, and the sewists in Haiti are currently working on another batch of dolls.  We would love to expand beyond Haiti!  We began with Haiti because we were able to partner with PeaceQuilts for Haiti.  Now we are actively on the lookout for opportunities in other countries as well.

Haitian Girl and Haitian Sewists


Haitian Kids

Jen:  Tell us about your creative process for your dolls.  What were your inspirations for the Sewing Smiles dolls?  Bo The Bunny?  The Underwater Quintet?

Deborah:  The Sewing Smiles Doll pattern began as a way to use some of the scraps left from the quilts I designed for Bright Hopes.  It is a simple pattern and very customizable. This is the pattern that the sewists in Haiti use to make the dolls for the children there.  We love seeing what the sewists come up with to make each doll different.  They are expert embroiderers and stitch each child's name onto their doll.  

Sewing Smiles Dolls

For our second pattern we wanted to introduce an animal, so along came Bo the Bunny, our first pdf pattern.  Bo has quilted ears and my signature 3-dimensional nose.

 Bo the Bunny

The Underwater Quintet, also a pdf pattern, was inspired by underwater creatures that my daughter made.  They have such simple shapes but have loads of charm.  It is fun to add your own touches to any of the five projects in this pattern. They also come with Sew it Simpler instructions if you want to make simpler versions.

Underwater Quintet

Jen: Any big plans for the year ahead?

Deborah:  We are so excited that our next pdf pattern, Scandinavian Animal Friends, is almost ready for sale.  I first designed these animals for the Sew Mama Sew Oakshott Scandinavia Challenge.  There was such a positive response that we decided to have them be our next Bo Twal pattern.  There are eight projects in this pattern!

Scandinavian Animal Friends

For our next Bo Twal project, we have been discussing a handprinted cut and sew kit.  And, coming up in February will be the release of my new book, Quilt Giving: 19 Simple Quilt Patterns to Make and Give!

We look forward to Deborah's new pattern and book and to continuing our partnership!  Please join us in celebrating generosity this month.  Click here to Sew It Forward.

Featured Designer - Jaybird Quilts November 01 2015 1 Comment

What's not to love?  She is sweet as candy!  Meet our featured designer of the month Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts.

As a quilter, I find that her patterns have so many possibilities.  As an online retailer, I appreciate the thought that has gone into each one of her patterns to ensure that each design is easy to understand and to follow as well as the tutorials that she provides so I can direct customers her way once they purchase a pattern.

And her rulers are so easy to use that they actually make cutting fun!  You can read more about the Jaybird Quilts Hex N More ruler on an earlier blog post.

Now let's get to know Julie!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Julie:  Huntington Valley, PA in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Jen:  How did you learn to sew/quilt? Did you make quilts as a young girl?

Julie:  I borrowed my mom's new Husqvarna in college and never gave it back to her.  My mom is a seamstress and always wanted me to learn how to sew.  I didn't start making quilts until my early twenties (you can read more about Julie's early days on her blogpost The Beginning).

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am…..

Julie:  Scrapbooking. I love Project Life!!

Jen:  How did Jaybird Quilts come to be?

Julie:  I had been thinking about starting a quilting blog around 2007-2008.  I started my Jaybird Quilts blog shortly after my Grandfather Nate passed away.  If there was anything in life that we wanted to do, he always encouraged us to go for it.

Jen:  How would you describe your design style?

Julie:  Modern, traditional, geometric.

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns. What are your inspirations?

Julie:  I've always noticed patterns out in the world.  On buildings, walking paths, floors.  Lately I've just been cutting shapes from my Jaybird Quilts rulers and putting them together like puzzle pieces to see what I can come up with.  Sometimes I'll design on the computer...other times just working with fabric, my cutting mat and rotary cutter does the trick for me.

Jen:  How did you arrive at the color palette for Kona Solids designer series with blues and greens?

Julie:  Orange was my favorite color growing up.  Now, I'm into blues and the green blues that go with them.  Maybe it's because orange and blue are opposites on the color wheel, I'm not really sure.  I just find blue to be calming, and I find a lot of inspiration in that.

Jen:  With a designer palette for Kona Solids and five new patterns this year, any big plans for the balance of the year? For the year ahead?

Julie:  I just announced my latest Block of the Month design, Sweet Tooth.  I'll spend the rest of the year getting the Sweet Tooth book ready to go to print.  It will ship to shops in early January.  I've already got a pattern or two in mind to debut next year.

In the meantime, you can check out the Jaybird Quilts collection at Red Thread Studio including her newest patterns Boomerang, Arcade Game, Mini Splash, Mini Stereo and Mini Giggles.


Featured Designer - May Chappell October 01 2015

Our Featured Designer for October is Lee Monroe Chappell of May Chappell.  Lee is a designer, blogger and teacher that not only has deep roots in quilting but also the most infectious smile around!  

You can check out her blog here, but in the meantime, let's learn more about Lee!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Lee:  I was actually born in Winston Salem where I live now, but we moved when I was two.  I grew up in Dallas Texas and didn’t leave until college.  Since we rarely moved when I was a kid, I decided to make up for it by living in Austin Texas, New Orleans Louisiana, Reading Pennsylvania, Greenville South Carolina, Atlanta Georgia, Washington DC and Wilmington North Carolina before moving back to Winston Salem.  I am here to stay!

Jen:  I understand you came from a long line of quilters.  Can you tell us about your quilting heritage and how May Chappell came to be?

Lee:  There are a lot of sewists in my family.  My mother can make anything! She’s made wedding dresses and suits.  My business is named May Chappell for her Grandmother (my Great Grandmother) as a nod to how sewing and quilting skills were passed through the generations.  My Hattie’s Dresden pattern is named for May’s sister, Hattie.

Hattie's Dresden

My Dad’s family is also full of quilters.  Their quilts are works of art; I have a stunning dresden quilt made by my Great Grandmother.  I named Georgia’s Dresden in her honor.

It’s interesting to have quits from the same era in South Carolina, but from two different sides of the family (and parts of the state).  May Chappell’s quilts are utilitarian, feed sack, scrappy quilts, while my Great Grandmother Monroe made Lonestars and Dresdens.  I think my quilting is a blend of both worlds.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am…..

Lee:  Reading or traveling!  Or ideally both!  I’ve never met a trip that I didn’t want to go on!  I love off the beaten path trips where you get to actually meet the people and see the culture!  I’m not an all inclusive resort kind of gal.  I rarely go to the same place twice, but favorite past destinations include New Zealand, Ecuador and Alaska.  As far as books, I love Ken Follett and Doris Kearns Goodwin. 

Jen:  How would you describe your style?  

Lee:  It’s a blend of modern and traditional.  I like clean graphic lines, bold shapes and contrast. 

Jen:  How has it evolved?

Lee:  It’s interesting because I have an undergraduate degree in art and then I went to school for graphic design.  I think even my older work reflects a clean graphic aesthetic.  Obviously, it’s changed through the years, but precision and bold graphic shapes are a constant.  I know that I drove my art professors a little crazy with how neurotic I can be about things lining up and being precise.  Quilting is great venue for that!

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations? 

Lee:  I do a lot of doodling and never leave home without a sketchbook.  I definitely draw on old quilt designs for inspiration.  I find it interesting to take a super traditional design and make it modern with a twist.  I also think that looking to old patterns and finding a new easier way to make a traditional technique is interesting.  I was inspired to make Hattie’s dresden by a stain glass window in a church.  Most people probably saw rays of light, but I saw dresden wedges.  I love to create interesting secondary patterns in the negative space. 

Jen:  Any big plans for the near future?

Lee:  I’ve got a really cool new pattern coming out in Houston called Charleston Carriage.  It draws on appliqué, patchwork and foundation piecing.  It puts the piecer in the driver’s seat to create their own layout using the many options in the pattern.

I am beyond excited to see her new pattern later this month at Fall Market in Houston.  Maybe I can convince her to give us a sneak peek!  Wink, wink!

In the meantime, you can check out the May Chappell collection at Red Thread Studio.


You can also check out Lee's video interview!

Featured Designer - Rosalie Dekker Designs September 01 2015

Clearly, I have a thing for Aussie's!  Our next featured designer is also from Down Under.  Please welcome Rosalie Dekker from Rosalie Dekker Designs (formally Rosalie Quinlan Designs).  Rosalie has a strong passion for embroidery and incorporates it into many of her quilt designs.  She also designs fabric for Ella Blue Fabrics.

Now, let's get to know Rosalie!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Rosalie:  I was born in Sydney, Australia and lived there until I was 12.  We then moved to Melbourne, and I have lived there most of the time since.  I currently live in a one bedroom cottage in the forest and am loving it!

Jen:  How did you learn to embroider?  To quilt?  Did you stitch as a young girl? 

Rosalie:  I am largely self taught though it is amazing how much you absorb from watching your mother and grandmother in their creative pursuits.  They both sewed clothes, and my grandmother also crocheted which is another passion of mine. 

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not stitching, I am…

Rosalie:  Thinking about stitching!

Jen:  So, how did Rosalie Dekker Designs (formally know as Rosalie Quinlan Designs) come to be?

Rosalie:  When I was a young mother, I really wanted to stay home with my children.  In order to do this, I tried my hand at selling things I had made at various markets and fairs.  I loved doing this as it was a creative outlet as well as earning a little extra to help out.  I started getting asked, "What pattern did you use?"  And I would reply that I just made it up in my head.  People seemed disappointed as they wanted to make one themselves.  At that time, I was mostly making cloth dolls and smaller items rather than quilts. 

It didn't take me long to realize that sharing my designs would be more fun and also more lucrative.  Now twenty years later, I still get to teach, design and create fabrics and books.  I am very blessed! 

The decision to change to Rosalie Dekker Designs is to return to my maiden name to reflect changes in my life.  It was a difficult decision as I have worked hard to build up Rosalie Quinlan Designs for so many years.  I feel that the change of name reflects the beginning of a new stage in my life, both personal and professional.  I am so excited that my sister Melly (from Melly and me) was able to build me a beautiful new website to commemorate this change.

Jen:  How would you describe your style?  How has it evolved?

Rosalie:  At the moment, I am quite influenced by vintage folk art, particularly Scandinavian.  My colors used to be quite muted back in the early days but have become a lot brighter over the years.  Stay tuned for the upcoming fabric range Cotton Forest due to be released at Quilt Market this October, as there is a softening of my colors that I am very excited about!



Jen:  Tells us about the process for designing your stitcheries and quilt patterns.  What are your inspirations? 

Rosalie:  I wish I could say there was a process.  Mostly a lot of trial and error if I have a deadline or spur of the moment inspiration if my time is more free.  I am not one of those super organized designers but rather a creative mess type of person.  I am inspired by vintage and retro handwork, books and wallpapers.  I am also inspired by nature as a starting point but usually make it a little whimsical as well. 

Jen:  With a new fabric line on its way (Cotton Forest) and a new Block of the Month just out (Flowerville), any new big plans for the rest of the year? 

Redwork version of Flowerville

Rosalie:  I am very keen to see the strike-offs for Cotton Forest.  It is definitely my favorite line so far.  I will be like a crazy woman trying to get samples ready for the trip to Houston and Market.  I have some other designs lurking in the back of my mind, but they will have to wait till I'm finished with Market. 

I am looking forward to seeing Rosalie again in Houston and to seeing Flowerville and her new fabric line Cotton Forest in person!  Her booth is always such a happy place!  In the meantime, you can check out the Rosalie Dekker Designs collection here at Red Thread Studio.

Featured Designer - Funky Friends Factory August 01 2015


I had the pleasure of meeting this month's featured designer Pauline McArthur of Funky Friends Factory at Spring Market this past May in Minneapolis.  I am so glad that she traveled all the way from Australia to share her adorable softies with us!  Meeting Pauline in person, one could sense she was a fun and energetic person and this is reflected in her colorful critters that are fun and easy to make.

Jen:  How and when did your passion for softies begin?

Pauline:  Believe it or not, I was more interested in climbing trees and having mud fights with my brothers when I was a kid!  As a result I didn't have lots of dolls and toys, but I loved making things.  I must have had lots of patience though as I knitted my own dolls and designed their clothes from felt.

Jen:  How did you learn to sew?  Did you stitch as a girl?

Pauline:  I was lucky to have a mother and a granny who were both very crafty.  I am incredibly industrious and cannot bear to be doing nothing.  My mother remembers me wrapping yarn around her knitting needles and asking her to show me how to knit when I was about 4 years old, though Im sure it was a while before I learned to knit and sew!

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not creating, I am.....

Pauline:  ...thinking about creating!!!  Even when I get insomnia, I'm usually mulling over a toy pattern in my head!  Thats where the idea of my Izzy Insomniac Teddy Bear came from.  She has her own flannelette blankie and Sleepy Sheepie.

Jen:  So, how did Funky Friends Factory come to be?

Pauline:  I began sewing my baby-safe bunnies when my friends started having babies.  I sold the bunnies at markets, and they were really popular and so I started making more.  I joked that I had an assembly line of fleecy bunny parts, mass-producing my toys - that’s where the ‘factory’ bit in Funky Friends Factory comes from!


Jen:  Tell us about your creative process for your animals.  What were your inspirations?

Pauline:  I am inspired by all sorts of things, fabric, real animals, greeting cards and ornaments, like this wooden carving from Africa.

Jen:  Your softies have big personalities.  Did you model them from people you know or did the softies take a life of their own?

Pauline:  I have named some of my critters after friends... but not necessarily due to any resemblance.  I had to point this out to my friend Heather when Id named my hippo after her!  So I started naming my toys with names starting with a matching first letter for example Bill the Bald Eagle, Hannah Hedgehog. That way no one could take offense if I give an iguana or orangutan their name!

Jen:  Any big plans for the year ahead?

Pauline:  I had so much fun at Quilt Market in Minneapolis earlier this year, and I am planning to return to America for the Houston Quilt Market in October.  I thought Id treat myself to a dose of Quilt Festival too..... ooh I cant wait.... Can you tell I LOVE fabric?

I am looking forward to seeing Pauline again soon and checking out her family of critters.  Don't forget to visit Pauline's website for great tutorials and videos on how to make soft toys.  In the meantime, you can check out the Funky Friends Factory collection of patterns available at Red Thread Studio!


You can also watch Pauline's video interview!

Featured Designer - Smudged Textiles Studio July 01 2015

This month’s featured designer is Lynn Krawczyk of Smudged Textiles Studio.  Lynn is a self-taught surface designer and textile artist, published author and teacher.  Her first fabric line is Inked for Red Rooster Fabrics.

I met Lynn a self-described paint flinger, maker of parts, coffee drinker and all time creative at Fall Market in Houston in 2014 where I was mesmerized by her sense of color and design.

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Lynn:  I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.  I live in a suburb of Southeast Michigan now, but I'm a lifetime Mitten girl.

Jen:  How and when did your passion for textiles begin?

Lynn: I discovered crazy quilting in my early twenties.  I was recovering from back surgery and bored out of my mind (I don't sit still well) so I was checking out heaps of books from the library to entertain myself.  I got a few craft books, one of which was crazy quilting, and something clicked. I fell madly in love with the idea of fabric as art and the beauty of stitching and patterns really struck a chord with me. I followed with art quilts and then surface design, which is where I spend a lot of my time now.

Jen:  How did you learn to quilt and embroider? Did you stitch as a girl?

Lynn:  I actually didn't stitch as a girl.  I flirted with cross stitching off and on over the years but for the most part, I didn't do much art when I was a kid.  I learned when I got into crazy quilting through books and videos.  Then I joined a couple of guilds, took a few classes and went from there.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not creating, I am…..

Lynn:  I'm drinking coffee and *thinking* about creating!  Hahaha!  Projects are never far from my mind and although I have a day job, my Art Brain is always fully engaged.  I keep a sketchbook with me so when I need to jot something down, I have a place to put it.

Jen:  So, how did Smudged Textiles come to be?

Lynn:  I had a brick and mortar store many years ago, and I really enjoyed running a business.  The shop closed when the economy slipped, but I knew that I always wanted to come back to having a creative business again.  Since I do have a day job, having an online shop is far easier.  No need to pay rent or make sure the place is staffed at all times.  I just really enjoy sharing my art and my process with other people, and I'm really fortunate that artists are willing to hang out with me during their creative time.  It's a synergy thing - we're all better at what we do when we come together as a group, even if it's just through online connection.

Jen:  How would you describe your style?

Lynn:  I describe myself as a pattern and color junkie.  The majority of what I do falls into abstract artwork.  I love the freedom that comes from that style of feels so fluid to me, and it makes the process of creating work more enjoyable.  I usually have an end goal in mind when I start working on something but most of the time I just go with the flow and let my Art Brain guide me.

Jen:  Tells us about your creative process for Inked.  What were your inspirations?

Lynn:  I'm so excited for Inked!!  The line came about from me really wanting to share my hand printed fabric.  I'm asked frequently by quilters if it's for sale and while I'm happy to adopt the fabric out, the brutal truth is that since I work primarily with paint, it's not well suited for quilts or anything that you want the hand of the fabric to be soft.  No matter how good the paint is, it will introduce some stiffness.  So I decided to try to find a commercial partner, and I was fortunate to hook up with Red Rooster Fabrics.

All of the designs of the line were originally screen printed by hand by me.  I created Thermofax Screens from a pattern and then hand dyed and hand printed the samples.  The element that ties all the colors and patterns together is the process by which they were originally printed.  So Inked refers to the screen printing ink that I used to create them.  Kind of a roundabout way of honoring the screen printing process.

My inspiration for it really comes from my love of really saturated colors.  And since I'm a collagist, I adore riots of pattern.  I think the line represents both of those loves really well.

Jen: Any big plans for the year ahead?

Lynn:  This year started off really busy.  I filmed a new DVD workshop with F&W media called "Thermofax Screen Printing Essentials," and I also taped three new segments for Quilting Arts TV.  I decided after that to take a little bit of a breather.  I don't have any big projects on the books right now, but I just finished a huge clean up and organize and sort in the studio so I'm really ready to get back to work!  Sometimes you have to slow down to recharge and then it's full speed ahead! :)

Next time I need to get the scoop from Lynn on her process to clean up and organize her studio...mine is in desperate need!  In the meantime, if you are looking for some eye candy, be sure to check out Lynn's blog.

You can also view the Lynn Krawczyk collection at Red Thread Studio.

Featured Designer - CozyBlue June 01 2015

This month's featured designer is Liz Stiglets from CozyBlue.  

I am so happy to have connected with Liz.  She is a creative soul and I have enjoyed following her work on Instagram.  Not only does Liz have delightful embroidery designs, she creates art prints, home goods and wearables.

Now, let's get to know Liz!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Liz:  I wish that I had a simple answer for this, but it's actually kind of complicated. I was born in Texas and lived there until we moved to West Virginia when I was 12. Once I finished high school, I spent 3 years in Mississippi, which is where I met my husband. Together we moved to Asheville, North Carolina 16 years ago and have been here ever since! We absolutely love it and will probably stay here forever.

Jen:  How did you learn to hand embroider? Did you stitch as a girl?

Liz:  Like most of the arts and crafts that I do, I am a self-taught embroiderer. I’m pretty sure that I got most of my early practice in high school when my friends and I would stitch designs onto our jeans and backpacks. Growing up, my mom had embroidery supplies on hand, but I don't remember her being a serious embroiderer. She liked to sew and craft in her spare time, but I don't think there was much spare time for her as a working mother of two young girls. I’ve always been such a DIY-er, and I think embroidery was just one of those things that I picked up and figured out on my own. It's been mostly within the past few years that I have gotten more dedicated to designing patterns and really finding my artistic voice through my embroidery.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not stitching, I am…

Liz:  Oh geez... there's so much, isn't there? Mothering. Running. Reading. Instagramming. Driving someone somewhere. Eating food, making food, buying food, cleaning up food. Watching TV shows, listening to podcasts, sketching, screen printing, brainstorming, hiking, hanging out with friends, going to bed early, enjoying nature. Generally just trying to do the best I can, lovingly and patiently.

Jen:  So, how did CozyBlue come to be?

Liz:  I started selling some of my handmade items in 2007. Back then, it was mostly knit hats, Waldorf-style felt crowns, and softies. After a few years, my creative interests changed, and I started experimenting with screen printing. Eventually I began to incorporate embroidery into my screen printed pillows, and my business really took off. Since then, it's been a full time gig for me, and the CozyBlue shop has evolved pretty organically into what it is now... a reflection of my own interests and really, a huge part of how I express myself. I just make what I like, and I'm really happy to find that other folks feel connections to it too.

Jen:  How would you describe your embroidery style?

Liz:  That’s a hard question to answer! I think my design style is illustrative, fun, sentimental, nostalgic, simple, imaginative, unique. As far as the stitching itself, most of my work involves very basic stitches. But I like to add lots of line work and details to my designs, so for many of my patterns, patience, sharp eyes, and a steady hand are helpful.

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns. What are your inspirations?

Liz:  Inspiration comes from everywhere, really. And all of my patterns begin as a rough sketch. I draw the designs in pencil and ink, sometimes re-drawing several times to get them just right. Once I am happy with the image, I scan and re-draw it digitally, and then start stitching a prototype. That's the fun part! Once that's done, I take photos and work on formatting the files, adding all of my pattern info and branding, etc.

Jen:  Any plans for the year ahead?

Liz:  Well, my general plan is just to keep creating things and moving forward in life and business. I have been focusing on the wholesale side of my business a lot more this year. It's been a really good direction for my little creative biz, and I really want to work on continuing the partnerships that I have made, as well as finding some new shops to carry my CozyBlue goods. The upcoming summer months can be a bit of a challenge, with the school year coming to an end for my kids (ages 7 and 11). Summertime means we spend a lot of time hiking, playing, swimming and just enjoying the free time together, but I have to fit in my work time too. So over the next few months, I plan to work mostly on sketching out new designs. That means expanding my embroidery pattern line, new t-shirt designs, and some holiday stuff too. I'm excited!

And now, you can have instant gratification.  Check out the CozyBlue PDF collection and transfers at Red Thread Studio!


Featured Designer - Jen Kingwell May 01 2015 2 Comments

It's hard to believe it is May already!  This month's featured designer is Jen Kingwell of Jen Kingwell Designs.

I was honored to first meet Jen last year at Spring Market in Pittsburgh (photo above is Fall 2014 Market in Houston).  What struck me was not only her sense of color and her designs but also her philosophy of remaining true to herself and what she loves.  It is with this very same passion that I hope to curate fabrics, kits and patterns in my shop.

Now, let’s get to know Jen!

Jen Lee:  Where were you born and raised?

Jen Kingwell:  I was born in a rural community in Victoria, Australia about 3 hours from Melbourne where I now live.  My father and mother were farmers and stayed on the farm until the end.  My girls who are now grown spent many wonderful times there.  I consider myself very lucky to have had the life I've had.  As I get older, I'm seriously considering a "tree change" with a move back to the country.

Jen Lee:  How did you learn to sew/quilt? Did you make quilts as a young girl? Have you always enjoyed handwork (hand piecing, needle turn appliqué)?

Jen Kingwell:  I have always loved color, print and textiles.  As a child I would sew clothes for my dolls.  My mother was not a sewer, and we did not have a sewing machine in our home.  I think this is where the love of hand stitching came from.  My best friend Sally's mother was a seamstress, and she would give me scraps, which I just loved.  I made my first quilt when I started my nursing training.  Everyone in the nurses home was stitching hexagons.  That first quilt (a grandmother’s flower garden) has all the fabrics from my childhood in it…from corduroy to stretch!  I had no idea what I was doing, but it lead me onto a fantastic path.  I love it, and it is like a trip down memory lane each time I look at it.  It's not finished as the papers were cut from medical notes, and I can't bring myself to remove them as there is a tiny bit of history in there (e.g. Mr. Green, home today)!

Jen Lee:  Complete this sentence.  When I am not sewing, I am…

Jen Kingwell:  Eating or sleeping!  And probably in that order.

Jen Lee:  So, how did Jen Kingwell Designs come to be?

Jen Kingwell:  I made quilts for my store Amitie Textiles in Melbourne, Australia.  I had been doing it for years.  I didn't think anyone would really be interested in my patterns, but Sue Spargo and Wendy Morris came to visit and suggested I take my patterns to market!  So this little piggy went!  I am forever grateful for their encouragement.

Jen Lee:  How would you describe your style?

Jen Kingwell:  I am a basic hand piecer, appliquér and quilter!  For me the "serenity" of hand work is what it's all about.  Color and print just make me happy, and the more fabrics I can squeeze into each project, the better it is to me.  I love to mix genres and don't follow too many rules.

Jen Lee:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations?  How did your time in the Middle East influence your designs, if at all?

Jen Kingwell:  I love vintage quilts, and a lot if my quilts are made from basic blocks.  It's all about the fabrics for me.  I don't think the Middle East influenced me at all regarding design, but what it did allow me was the time to write the book and design the fabric range.  You might see some desert oranges pop up in some projects soon.

Jen Lee:  With a new fabric line and a book already out, any new big plans for the rest of the year?

Jen Kingwell:  I do have something in the pipeline, but it is still hush, hush!  I’m quite excited by it if it all works out.  I am currently working on my second range for Moda.

I am curious to know more about this secret project!  Maybe I can squeeze more out of Jen when I see her at Spring Market in Minneapolis in a few weeks.

I, too, hope to share some exciting news this month!  In the meantime, check out our collection of patterns by Jen Kingwell Designs and Gardenvale kits.  You can also follow us on Instagram as I capture photos during Spring Market later this month.


You can also read about Jen's trunk show here in Stuart, Florida as well as the blast we had at her 2 day workshop - The Circle Game!


And watch Jen's video interview!

Featured Designer - Passionately Sewn April 01 2015

This month's featured designer is Janeene Scott from Passionately Sewn in Australia.

I discovered Janeene and her striking quilts at Fall Quilt Market in Houston, Texas this past year.  Her designs include a unique range of modern quilts, bags and home sewn projects.  Passionately Sewn patterns feature fast and fusible appliqué, machine finished edges and simple piecing and are suitable for the beginner or the experienced sewer.

Now, let’s get to know Janeene!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Janeene:  I was born on the south coast of New South Wales (about an hour south of Sydney) in Australia.  I was lucky enough to grow up on a small dairy farm.... And I loved it.

Jen:  How did you learn to sew/quilt? Did you make quilts as a young girl?

Janeene:  My nan taught me how to sew on an old Singer treadle sewing machine.  I had to practice straight-line sewing.  And, it took me a long time to sew straight.  My nan then taught me lots of different types of seams.  I never made quilts as a girl, but I learned to make my own clothes by cutting out patterns from clothes I already owned. 

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am…..

Janeene:  My daughter and I are riding my horses or out in the garden talking to my plants! 

Jen:  So, how did Passionately Sewn come to be?

Janeene:  I spent 23 years as a Police Officer (I know!), and I could not continue working as I was suffering from post-traumatic stress.  So long story short, one of my good friends who owned a patchwork shop (and who actually taught me to sew) convinced me that I could design quilts and things... And people liked my designs. Yay! And here I am.... 

Jen:  How would you describe your design style?

Janeene:  My designs are the bold, non-conventional patterns that will allow the sewer to easily achieve that at home look without looking homemade.  My patterns focus on fusible machine appliqué showcasing beautiful fabrics. 

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations?

Janeene:  Anything can be my inspiration, from my garden, art, fabric…I love vintage things or making something old in a modern way.  I have an enormous collection of images on my computer for inspiration.  All of my designs are drawn full size as it allows me to get proportions right.  I often will have an idea, start drawing the appliqué part of it, and then I will let the design "sit" until I decide the perfect background or next step to continue with the pattern.  I have a number of projects part way through the design process. It works for me and allows me to be happy with completed designs. 

Jen:  Any big plans for the year ahead? 

Janeene:  Look out for my clothes was where my sewing started!  Simple clothes using beautiful fabric!

Well, I am definitely passionate about Janeene’s designs! I’ve already kitted four of them and have plans for more in the near. You can find Passionately Sewn kits and patterns here.

Updated JUNE 2016

You can learn more about Janeene in her video interview!

Featured Designer - Modern Needleworks March 01 2015


This month's featured designer is Heather Gray from Modern Needleworks.

I found Modern Needleworks on Etsy and immediately reached out to Heather to see if she’d be willing to partner with me. Needlepoint has always intrigued me, but it was her style that sold me.

Now, let's get to know Heather!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Heather:  I was born and raised Dry Fork, Virginia.  It's an idyllic, rural community near the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Jen:  How did you learn to do needlepoint? Did you stitch as a girl?

Heather:  I stitched my first needlepoint piece in my early twenties (I'm now 42). I have done needlework all of my life but only cross stitch and embroidery up to that point.  I had a boss (a wonderful and generous lady) that was an avid needlepointer, and she introduced me.  I was immediately hooked!  But the real credit goes to my grandmother.  She has always inspired me. She could do/make anything… sewing, quilting, crochet, appliqué… you name it. I spent a lot of time with her when I was young, and I learned so much from her.  She never used a pattern or if she did use a pattern, it was one she developed or made.  She was an artist long before what she was doing was considered art.  

Jen:  Can you talk to us about the difference between Needlepoint and Cross Stitch? 

Heather:  Needlepoint is a diagonal stitch worked (usually with wool or wool blend yarn and a tapestry needle) through a stiff, open-weave canvas. Needlepoint is more labor intensive (than cross stitch) because individual stitches completely cover the canvas.  The designs are created by stitching over the design that has been printed or painted on the canvas with thread matching each color.  Needlepoint can also be created by following color-charted designs, with each square in the chart representing one stitch (just like with counted cross stitch).  Cross stitch is done on aida or linen fabric and is executed by using a chart and counting stitches.  In most cases cross stitch designs are completed with one stitch which looks like an “X” although some designs may call for half stitches or backstitching (outlining).  Most cross stitch designs do not cover the entire piece of fabric, leaving open and negative spaces in the design.   

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not stitching, I am...

Heather:  Spending time with my family or working on my other business, r.e. stowe collars and leads.

Jen:  So, how did Modern Needleworks come to be?

Heather:  Most of the cross stitch and needlepoint designs available did not fit with my personal style so I designed and stitched a few needlepoint pieces for my personal use.  After I completed several projects, friends and family raved.  Modern Needleworks was born.  My professional experience in textiles and product development, my formal education in design, and the guiding hand of a very creative grandmother made the process of starting Modern Needleworks an easy one.  It evolved so naturally, like it was meant to be.  

Jen:  So, How would you describe your design style?

Heather:  My design style is a mix of vintage, modern, industrial, primitive, collected… nothing formal or fussy.  I've tried to take a very fresh approach to traditional needlecraft by using bold graphics and clean lines to create uniquely modern designs. 

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations?

Heather:  Designing my patterns is a complex process and much more time consuming than you might think.  It usually starts with a sketch, and then I play around with it in Photoshop until I have a 'rough draft'.  Then I stitch it, making modifications along the way.  Once it is stitched and I am happy with the finished piece, I can convert it to its final form using pattern design software.

I find inspiration everywhere.  Vintage books, my grandmother's linen closet, estate sales, home décor magazines…some things just strike me (a eureka moment), and an idea or concept for a design will pop up in my head.  

Jen:  Any big plans for the year ahead?

Heather:  I always have big plans!  I have so many ideas for Modern Needleworks, but the process is a slow one. Since I stitch a least one sample of every design I offer, it's hard to add new designs and projects as often as I would like.  Right now I am working on some new, fun projects that can be stitch on some unconventional materials.   I'm also working on some smaller designs for beginners or for people who don't have much time to devote to stitching but still want the satisfaction of 'diy'.

I will be stocking Modern Needleworks kits shortly (they will debut in my booth at the Broward Quilt Expo in Fort Lauderdale on March 12th-14th).  In the meantime, check out the collection of Modern Needleworks PDF patterns and kits.

Featured Designer - Sew Many Creations December 28 2014

This month's featured designer is Jessica VanDenburgh from Sew Many Creations.  Her patterns are easy and beginner friendly and many of them use precut fabrics such as jelly rolls, layer cakes and fat quarters.   In fact, the Stacked pattern was the inspiration for the first quilt kit made exclusively for Red Thread Studio.

I was able to catch up with Jessica at the 2014 Quilt Market in Houston this October.

Jen:  So Jessica, can you just tell us a little bit about how you came into sewing?

Jessica:  I've been sewing probably since I was about eight or nine.  My grandmother taught me how to sew.  I still have that old Singer that she taught me on.  And it's come and go over the years of my enjoying it and putting it aside.  And then I started quilting about eight years ago, and I just really fell in love with fabric and quilting, and that's what led me into starting a pattern business.

Jen:  Excellent.  So when you decided to pursue designing patterns, did you know immediately that you wanted to start a business?  Or how did Sew Many Creations come to be?

Jessica:  I guess how it came to me, I actually started as a bag designer, and then I got into quilts a little bit later, even though I had a love for quilting.  I was always buying patterns and then making adjustments to them and not really doing them the way that the pattern designer wrote them.  And I thought, maybe this is what I need to do, so I'll start writing some of my own patterns.  And about a year ago, I got into the quilts more.

Jen:  So could you tell us a little bit about your design process and what your inspirations are?

Jessica:  I am inspired by everything I see around me, from the floor, to the walls, to other people's patterns.  I read a lot of magazines.  I love social media, so I'm always seeing what everyone else is doing and playing with colors.  And my design process varies.  A lot of times, it's doodles on whatever is in front of me: a napkin, a piece of paper.  I love to draw on graph paper, and then I tape it to my computer.  And I use EQ7, and that's how I do all my quilts.

Jen:  So, what's coming up for the year ahead?  What things do you have going on?

Jessica:  I just introduced my new Pathways ruler, which is a multiple-size Drunkard's Path ruler.  So, all of the quilts behind us, I used the ruler, so it's a lot of curved piecing.  I have some new bag ideas I'm working on, and hopefully I'll have even more curved quilts coming out.

It sounds like Jessica has some exciting things for us around the corner.  I know I am looking forward to kitting more of Jessica's patterns!

Check out the Sew Many Creations collection at Red Thread Studio.

Updated JUNE 2016:

You can also check out Jessica's video interview!