Designer Tidbits: Sarah Watson - The Jolly Jabber Quilting Blog

Designer Tidbits: Sarah Watson

Feel a burst of colorful inspiration with Sarah Watson‘s debut collection for Art Gallery Fabrics, Luxe in Bloom. Vivid colors, large blossoms, geometric prints and soft brush strokes fill this enchanting collection. Sarah is here to chat about Luxe in Bloom, so have a look and stay a while!

Q: Where did you find your original inspiration for this collection?
A:It was probably the first drawing I did for the Extravagarden print. I had holed myself up in the reference part of the library, and had been reading botanical books for weeks. I finally sat down and drew for a week straight, so much that at the end of the day I was icing my hand to relax it! I really love the physical drawing, it’s with black felt tip pen and ball point pen, on graph paper. Even though I’ve used it in a collection, I still tape it up on the wall every now and then.  It’s like art to me. Now it’s been through some wear and tear (I spilled coffee on it, shoved it into binders, there is tape all over the edges).  It is still inspiring though

Q: What was your “aha” moment in designing this collection?
A:I don’t think the designs were finalized until I got the first advanced yardage (you know, when they said ‘okay Sarah, no more!). I create a lot (wait, because we’re on the internet, let me emphasize: a loooooooottttt), and narrow and refine for a long time. I’m not exactly sure if I hit just one ‘aha’ moment, more like a bunch of little ‘ah!’s along the way.

Q:Tell me about your sewing machine.
A:Well, my first and only sewing machine was given to me by my Mom. It’s a Singer, and when she bought it I believe the sales pitch was that it could sew through 7 layers of denim. At the time I was studying Fibers in college, and I guess my Mom might have known I would be sewing through fabric, paper, cardboard, etc. After about 10 years, she’s still holding up great.

Q:What is your favorite part of the fabric industry?
A:Well, at the moment, it’s the people! I mean, I really love doing my work, which is important, but it’s the friends and peers that I’ve met through blogs and chatting that I think are the best. I can’t imagine a better community to be a part of.

Q:From what aspect of your life do you draw creativity?
A:Nature, I’d say. It’s one of those great things that you can find anywhere. I used to live in Atlanta, inside the city, so there wasn’t a ton of nature, but in the cracks and crevices you can still find some pretty inspiring designs. I’m in Brazil now and nature is everywhere. It’s hard to miss. Colors in sunsets and the ocean. Plants that grow like crazy down here, bugs and animals. I tell you, there is a Botanical Garden in my city, and I haven’t even been to it yet. That’s how much nature there is!

Q:What is your design process?
A:First, it’s draw, draw, draw!!! I draw for months straight. On the couch watching TV, in the car, in waiting rooms. Ballpoint pen, felt tip pen, paintbrush. Any chance I get, I’m drawing. Sometimes it’s with a specific repeat in mind (those sessions are usually a bit more organized, like at a table) and sometimes it’s just doodling (like while I’m standing in the kitchen waiting for water to boil). Usually I work on the repeats in my computer, which means I scan in the drawings and alter them in Adobe Illustrator. Then color happens! The actual color research is a never ending process. I mix my own paint chips, take samples from packaging, clothing, books and sometimes internet inspiration. I’ve got boxes of “color chips” (sometimes it’s, like, a piece of thread or something). I pull from those to make palettes, and then I start putting the color into the prints on the computer. It’s a really fun process!

Q:What is your favorite print in the collection?
A:Isn’t that like picking a favorite child? It seems unfair! Don’t tell the others, but it’s probably Boucherouite (Blush, Silver). Just to hold and look at, I really like it. I think as far as sewing with, the Flumes prints (Citron, Indigo) are what I’ve used the most of. They’re really versatile.

Q:What is the most challenging part of the design process?
A:Weeeelll…This might sound funny, but it’s at the end. When I look at the collection and I’m thinking in my head ‘Yes, this is it, love it!!’. Right after that, I have to start showing it to people. That’s really nerve-wracking! But the anxiety wears off pretty quickly. And people around here are pretty nice, so I guess there’s not that much to worry about.

At Fall Quilt Market we had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah about Luxe in Bloom. Watch this little video of Sarah’s Quilt Market debut!