Minick & Simpson on "Prairie Paisley" - The Jolly Jabber Quilting Blog

Minick & Simpson on “Prairie Paisley”

We LOVE Prairie Paisley. Apparently all you Fat Quarter Shoppers are loving it too! Today, we have the backstory on this wonderful, rustic Americana collection and its designers, Laurie Simpson and Polly Minick. If you can’t get enough of this stunning line, be sure to check back with us on April 1st as it is the featured fabric of Patchwork Party 2008, Summer Edition! We also have it available in cute jelly rolls and new layer cakes! (Yay!!)

Hello Everyone!

Kimberly has asked us to write a little bit about Prairie Paisley, our new collection from Moda. Polly and I are very pleased with it and we say it is our favorite, although we have said that about each group we have designed. When we started to work on it we had no ideas or direction other than that it was to be “Americana.” That is how we start out every time as that has been our first and only directive from the Moda Design Department as to “Our Look.” Polly and I start just by tossing out ideas to each other and see where that takes us. Often it takes us very far afield indeed, but I digress…….

This time, while digging through one of my boxes of antique fabric scraps I came upon the inspiration for Prairie Paisley. I have been collecting antique fabric scraps for as long as I have been making quilts and that is over 35 years ( I did start very young!). I have used antique fabrics in my own quilts and in those that I made on commission. Often antique scraps are not in pristine shape and cannot be used in quilts, but it certainly didn’t stop me from amassing a large stash of them! Today I hardly use them in quilts at all as the reproductions being made today are so abundant and superior in quality. Anyway, while digging I came across this fragment from an old curtain and it got me thinking. The original is faded, torn and has dry rot, but it’s former beauty is still evident. I scanned it over to Polly and got her opinion. (She lives in Florida and I am in Michigan and we do it all by computer and cell phone). She agreed and it was the starting point and all the other fabrics came from this humble start. We decided to reproduce this fabric with a rich, more complicated color plan as the original had most of the design faded out.

When thinking of a full collection we try to get a theme and round out the other fabrics to that end. We are often asked what is our inspiration. Well, when looking at this fabric it evoked several ideas and they came to me quite quickly: the Midwest, late 19th and early 20th century, and the influence of Asian paisleys. Don’t ask me why – just my overworked imagination I guess. With that, a full formed concept appeared and was our theme: one woman’s prized collection of rich red, white, and blue paisleys picked from several eras and sources. I imagined her collecting and hoarding (sound familiar??) with the goal of decorating her rural home with sophisticated elan. Once that was clear it was just designing fabrics that today’s quilter would like to use: large colorful paisleys, small calico type prints, ticking stripes and plaids, and textured decorator fabrics. I take the lead in the quilt department and then hand off to Polly as she is the Interior Decorator and expert on all things Americana!

Laurie Simpson

Yes, we are thrilled to be doing this blog for you! Kimberly asked us at market to write up something when Prairie Paisley was about to be in the stores, and the time is upon us. And yes, this may be our favorite collection – but wait until Portland and see what we have for you then, but with that said, we really do LOVE this collection and thinks it speaks for both of us.

As Laurie stated, she is still in Ann Arbor (Brrr) and I am in Naples, Florida – which has us really into technology as we email often, use cell phones, scan items and do all we can with our distance as part of our daily task. We do get together a couple of times a year to really work, and while at market you will find us busy at work late at night in our hotel room to take advantage of our time together.

I have to state that we feel so very lucky and privileged to be Moda designers, just love every minute of the creating end and take great pride and joy in our fellow designers and the wonderful crew that runs Moda for all of us. I think lucky is not the correct word – we are awed and thrilled to be with this company. And yes, after reading responses to Lissa Alexander’s blog – I am sure every current designer spent some time at work in their studio that weekend – we had no idea how many replacements are standing in line for our job!

One of the very strange aspects of my connection to the world’s greatest fabric company – is the fact that I do not sew, not a stitch. I must tell you that even without being an accomplished quilter, I have collected textiles for well over 30 years and that has helped us a bit in our continuing work on the next best collection. After saying that, I admit that I may hook more rugs than anyone you know – I do a minimum of 30-35 rugs a year! I am in my studio every day either creating a new design, working on wool or hooking a new creation. I am so proud of the Basic Wool Collection we have through Moda, and it is something we work on often – we know all of you that love wool, are loving our 100% wool.

I have been hooking rugs for over 30 years, it is an art I love and work at daily. Along with a long term love affair with hooked rugs, I have worked with magazines for almost as long. I am a contributing editor for Country Home and Coastal Living and for years was a stylist with the magazines. My current workload does not give me time to do the styling, but I am always on the lookout for a great story for the magazines and keep in contact often. I am a self-taught decorator and have dabbled in interior decorating for as many years. So I think you can see where our assignment with Moda is a wonderful job for us both. I love creating, thinking of great designs, love the color – love it all; and Laurie being an expert quilt maker – it is truly a dream come true for both of us.

Polly Minick
Minick & Simpson


  1. You ladies hit a home run with this line! It’s my very favorite!! I’m going to have three quilts out of it when I’m all done! Can’t wait to see your new line!

  2. Wow! LOVE this line!!
    I thought I was all finished planning/designing my market quilts and then bam! there it is sitting very innocently in the quilt shop and before I know it, I am dragging bolts up to the cutting table and grabbing “just one more” fat quarter. So now I have another market quilt in the making. I was so excited to start it that I woke up at 5:00 am this morning!
    thanks guys for making such beautiful fabric.
    I was drawn to the plaids first – they are beautiful. (but now I just love it all)

  3. Polly & Lauries new line is going to be wonderful! Wait until you see it. If you love Prairie Paisley you will want to stock up on the next one also. They do timeless, classic fabrics that never go out of style.Look for Polly’s house in Country Home this summer. They are photographing this week!!