Designer Tidbits: Sarah Jane - The Jolly Jabber Quilting Blog

Designer Tidbits: Sarah Jane

With a burst of color and a pop of whimsy, Sarah Jane has taken us into her world of imaginative playtime. Let’s Pretend, her latest collection for Michael Miller Fabrics, is brought to life with theatrical prints and bold, jewel toned hues. Get lost in her magical world with Let’s Pretend!

Q: Where did you find your original inspiration for Let’s Pretend?
A:This collection was inspired by pretend play of all sorts. I love watching children imagine, explore and pretend. So this collection is in celebration of that. In this collection, dress-ups and imaginary play is very dominant, and the color theme for this leans heavily on bright jewel tones. Think ‘Theatrical’. I also drew a lot of inspiration from European clothing trends and their use of this theme in many runway, magazine and fashion photography. Children with masks, marionettes and pretend play combined with dramatic color choices were a big part of my stylization of this collection as well.

Q: What was your “aha” moment in designing this collection?
A:I think for me, the moment to go forward was really in the discovery that this theme had so much to offer. Because the art comes first, I just asked myself what pictures and designs appealed to me the most, and I so I just stared creating. The editing always comes afterwards. I will say though, that thinking of the title, “Let’s Pretend” was a phrase that I knew was just perfect. Because I hear it so much around the house (“Hey! Let’s pretend that…..”) it was like a flood gate that opened once that image popped into my mind.

Q: What TV show or movie does your collection fit best in?
A:Not really sure. But this song was played on repeat while I worked. It says SO much about how children imagine.

Q:Tell me about your sewing machine. What kinds do you have and how many?
A:I have one. It’s a Brother…nothing too fancy, but just my style!

Q:What is your favorite part of the fabric industry?
A:I love the design process of course. I love looking and getting inspired by color and design, and seeing all the uses for those designs.

Q:From what aspect of your life do you draw creativity?
A:So many places! Everyday life, and my own children. My own childhood. Swedish and traditional scandinavian design. Children’s fashion and decor. Children’s book illustration. European children’s design and books. And depending on the collection I’m designing, other artists and designers from past and present that have taken their hand at similar colors or design approaches in which I strive to add my own voice to.

Q:What is your design process?
A:The early stages of designing are mostly on paper. Once the designs are complete, I’ll finish the rest on the computer in Photoshop. Color and theme are the first part of the process. I have a general color palette to start with, which is open to some modification. I’m usually intrigued by story, and I design a collection based on a story in my mind. Once a theme is nailed down, I ask myself all sorts of questions and my answers end up on paper. When I have enough ideas on paper, I think about scale. If I have a certain design that I KNOW needs to be a large format, I’ll play around with other designs that would best complement and add to the collection. It’s a mad game of Tetris to be honest, and can really take a very long time. Next, I’ll really focus on tight colors and making sure that prints are crossing over and complementing each other. I usually have a big wall full of printed pieces on paper at this point, and I make notes and draw on the papers to really see gaps and things I need to enhance. From there, it’s time to finess and refine. And once the designs are ready to go to the mill, it’s time to start correcting color from fabric swatches. And from there, a collection is born!

Q:What is the most challenging part of the design process?
A:Every part honestly. Every stage gives birth to the next, and it’s really important for me to be completely committed to an end vision or else lots of things slip through the cracks. But if I had to pick one, I’d say putting all the pictures into scale and color while maintaining the integrity of the individual piece as well as the collection as a whole. Just like building a story, a really strong print means nothing if it doesn’t work with its other components. It’s truly rewarding, and frankly the most artistic part. But very,very hard.

Q:What is your favorite print in the collection?
A:My favorite print is probably the panel Print “Make Believe” or the “Marionettes” print, available in Berry and Gray.