Cut & Sew Shopping Bag

Cut & Sew Shopping Bag

Spoonflower.com is having a contest for Cut & Sew Shopping Bags. I got excited about this contest so I thought I would have ago at it. At first I worked on a floral design and yes I do love floral designs! My first thought had been a shopping bag for shopping at the mall. Then I thought this should be more about shopping for groceries. So I dusted off a collection I had started a while back titled Mrs. Brown’s.
I thought this would be perfect for a grocery shopping bag. I worked on adding to the collection, that was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed it.

The collection was named after my daughter Sara Brown, she is a wonderfully dedicated wife and mother. Always concerned about good nutrition for her family and on the lookout for new recipes to try.

The Spoonflower contest starts April 17, 2014. I would certainly appreciate your vote.

Spring Cheater Quilt at Spoonflower.com

Spring Cheater Quilt at Spoonflower.com

Can you believe I’m talking about Spring when there is snow on the ground and a snow storm coming tonight! However Spoonflower.com is having a design contest that I decided to enter. The contest starts January 9, 2014.

I wanted to enter this contest since I have been having a love affair with making quilts the last few months. My spare bedroom is knee deep in fabric, I straightened it out and someone must have come in the middle of the night and made a mess! Ok, the sad truth is that I can not, no matter how I try, make myself be neat when I am creating something.

In the next few weeks I plan to post a free quilt pattern and a tutorial on how to make it. I will be using fabric that I have had for longer than I care to admit. This was long before I started designing my own fabric. So check back if you want to quilt along with me.

Twin Quilt using Swatches from "Nature" Collection

Twin Quilt using Swatches from “Nature” Collection

I have been busy having fun! I bought myself a new sewing machine and have been as busy as I can be quilting. Okay I have to confess as long as I have been sewing ( more years then you need to know) I had no idea what a walking foot was. I used to quilt my quilts by hand which I truly enjoy. However I did not make that many quilts. I did more personal or home decor sewing. At any rate my machine came with a walking foot. It is the most marvelous thing! I can machine quilt my quilts and not have it push the fabric all over the place. I am using up tons of fabric I have had around for a long time and I am also using my own fabric designs which I am really excited about. The last three quilts I have made I used up swatches of my fabric designs from Spoonflower. My Grandmother always taught us “waste not want not”, so with that in mind I made quilts! The first quilt made with swathes from my “Roaring Twenties” collection I had a wonderful lady in town that does long arm quilting, quilt it. The next ones being smaller I quilted on my machine. Using of course the walking foot.
Lap Quilt from Bay City Chicks Collection

Lap Quilt from Bay City Chicks Collection

Sue Ellen

Sue Ellen

Sue Ellen is a very creative and productive surface designer. You have to visit her shop at http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/fireflower . Sue Ellen happens to also so be a sweet kind soul that I have enjoyed getting to know. I wanted to share her with you. One of my favorite collections Sue Ellen has done is Blue Ridge Summer. I would love to know which ones are your favorite.

Lana: I can see you love to design. When did you first discover surface design?

Sue Ellen: When we were in primary school, my sister and I got a dollhouse, which was round, and open on all the way around, and we got Lionel train sets with plastic houses for the village. We set about making wallpaper and carpets and curtains for the both, using crayons and memo pads and cotton balls and glue. So that was my introduction into seamless repeats!

Later, in elementary school, I drew paper dolls for myself and all the girls, and designed and drew the clothes for them, including all the fabrics for the clothes. I didn’t worry about repeats … of course the designs all matched at the seams ;-)

I’ve only been doing fabric design for two years. Before that I did gift wrap for a couple of years. And before that I did gift enclosure cards and note cards and I’ve done many of our Christmas cards. In the many years until then, I painted, mostly acrylics used as watercolors, and true watercolours. And I knit, both multicolored patterns and textures.

Lana: Do you visualize the whole collection before you start designing? Or do you start with the main design and let that inspire you to create the rest of the collection?

Sue Ellen: I haven’t “seen” a collection as a whole yet, so I guess the answer is I start somewhere, and go on from there. The Blue Ridge Summer collection started with a design I already had, in turquoise and green, around which I built the quilt design (for the contest it had to be a chevron cheater quilt), adapting & adding new designs to fill in the spaces on the quilt top, and inventing borders to go with it. Tiny Tesserae (one of my favorites) started with one design that I kept playing with, and then a couple more that ended up shrinking into the tiny range, and now there are a lot more iterations than I have uploaded to Spoonflower. It is often a matter of playing, of saying, “I wonder what will happen when I do this to that?” or “I wonder what this will look like with that?” and then trying it out. Sometimes it’s a bust, but often, after a day or two of playing, I have quite a few designs that are reasonable to use, and either already go with each other, or can be adapted to do so.
Sue ellen 2
I am not the best organizer and categorizer, so many of my designs aren’t even in collections yet!

Lana: What inspires you the most when you are creating? I know for me color inspires me.

Sue Ellen: Oh, I’d have to agree — color is the beginning of many things. One day last year, I sat down and said, “I feel like making something in hot pink and lime.” So I put the two colors into the two squares in Photoshop, and started playing with them. Before the end of the weekend, I had 4 strong patterns, and more than 20 variations of them. They just seemed to pop up while I was having fun.

But, sometimes, it’s a shape or a line. When my sister-in-law, Karla Bernstein, sent me a close-up of a basketball taken for her 2013 photography project, I immediately wrote back and asked for permission to use it in a design, which she granted, and I came up with a collection based on the lines of the basketball as shown in that photo.

Another time recently, I saw a window grille in a scene on TV that looked just wonderful, so I paused the show, and made a sketch of the shapes the sun was making coming through the grille. Then I tried to figure out what positive shapes would make these bright negative shapes (sounds like something straight out of “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” doesn’t it?), It wasn’t until I was done that I realized I’d made a classic interlocked octagon design. But, being a classic, it lends itself to many possible interpretations, and I’ve been having fun exploring them.

Also, I have been having dreams that give me instructions for designs, and give me titles. This is a bit disconcerting, but the dreams seem to know what they’re talking about, so I’ll keep following their lead.

Sue Ellen 4Sue Ellen 3
Lana: What mediums do you enjoy working with the most?

Sue Ellen:I think it’s hard to beat watercolor for a painting, and I even try getting that watercolor look on the computer sometimes. For sketching, I like pencil, plain or colored. And, I have to say, I love working on the computer, and printing my work out on a variety of papers.

Lana: Do you have a favorite design?

Sue Ellen: I suspect it’s rather like having 14 children and 34 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren … there’s enough love to go around. I made 21 pillows for various family members last Christmas, and I had just an awful time choosing which designs to use, and which to leave out. Yet I sewed happily on the ones I finally chose, enjoying each of them as I worked.

Sue ellen 1
Lana: Some designers love to sew as well as design. Do you like sewing too?

Sue Ellen: Yes, I like sewing. I have sewed since I was quite young, and on the machine since I was 11. I started making my own clothes a couple of years after that, and have sewn at least special things for myself and my family ever since. And home-made gifts are big with us, too.

I haven’t made anything for myself out of my own fabrics, only gifts so far, but I look forward with pleasure to doing so in the future. The first thing I made with the first design I uploaded to Spoonflower, was a tablecloth for one of my daughters-in-law, who had admired the design on the wrapping paper I’d used for Christmas that year, and whose desire to see it on fabric brought me to Spoonflower. Last year, I made those boudoir-size pillows, and this year I am making potholders.

Lana: What is your favorite thing you have created with your designs?

Sue Ellen: Well, since I have only done a few things with my Spoonflower designs, I have to say that my favorite creation was the wrapping paper (not Spoonflower) for our elder grandson’s 9th birthday. It was blue with a rosette in white and gold and red (the Barcelona Football colors), and his smiling face in the center of each rosette, and “Happy Birthday” in the same colors in between the rosettes. I had done the rosette for another project, and it had come out all wrong, and not at all circular. But I noticed that it was in the Barcelona colors, and that it was the right shape for a face, so I repurposed it right away, and came up with the wrapping paper design idea. I printed it out on large sheets of paper (it took an entire container of ink!), then I glued it all over the outside of a big box into which I put his present.

Lana: If you weren’t pursuing designing what else do you think you would enjoy as much. I love to ask this question because I am usually surprised by the answer.

Sue Ellen: Gosh! What a poser! I think I’m designing now, because it’s the right thing for me to be doing now. But, in the past, I have enjoyed dancing (of many sorts) and singing (as a member of the choir) as much as I’m enjoying this. And the Dances of Universal Peace have the same meditative & restorative effect as artwork has for me. So, I guess I’d say I’d use the time/energy made available by not-designing to indulge in those activities. The other thing I enjoy as much as this, is being with children, cooking or crafting, playing or reading, singing or gardening, splashing in the pool or touring with a camera. (I’d probably also get more housework done, but you did ask about something I would enjoy as much as designing.)

Lots of fresh clean white for your shabby chic bedroom. This bedroom collection reminds me of a country cottage. Freshly laundered bedding that makes you want to curl up, read a good novel and let the cares of the day disappear! This is truly a one of a kind bedding collection.
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I wanted to share with you the bedding collection I just finished. The fabric is from my collection “Roaring Twenties”. I purchased the top and bottom sheet then trimmed the top sheet with my fabric. I have been searching every where to find 100% cotton fabric that is wide enough to make my own sheets. If anyone out there knows of a good place to purchase sheet quality fabric 100% cotton please let me know.

This bedding set can be purchased at: Zibbet.com


Roaring Twenties Queen size bedding set

Roaring Twenties Queen size bedding set

Julie from “Rengal”

I met Julie “Rengal” through Spoonflower.com, this girl is busy!! I do not know how she had time to even have a conversation with me! I thought I would share it with you.



Julie’s blog: http://makinghomenaturally.blogspot.com/

Spoonflower shop: http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/rengal

Lana: Okay, you have four children and one on the way right? You home school your children also?

Julie: I currently have four kiddos on the outside ages 8, 6, 4, 2.5, and one getting ready to come to the outside in a coupla’ months. We are Waldorf style homeschoolers, and work with a few other families in the area with whom we share activities, crafts, books, festivals, and such.

Lana: Then you are indeed amazing to be able to get any art work done!!

Julie: It doesn’t happen as often as I would like, but it is a necessity in our lives that we create and be creative! Not only is it a huge part of who I am, but it’s also an essential aspect of the Waldorf pedagogy/philosophy. Handwork and creating things are good skills to explore for knowledgeable, experience, and motor skill development, but it’s good for the soul. It’s part of being a healthy, well-rounded person. So, it is a regular part of our week to make several somethings-or-other. I used to do much more detailed things (like draft my own clothing patterns, make elaborate costumes, add intense details, have many multi-step projects going at once), but now my sewing and crafting is more-kid oriented, and often at a kid skill level.

Lana: Do you live in the USA ? I am thinking you do, but with the Scottish influence (that I love) I had wondered if you lived in Scotland.

Julie: Yes, we do live in the US. My husband has a Scottish ancestry that not only is he proud of, but shows up strikingly in his physical features (he has an enormous red beard). We go to the Highland Games every year, and my kiddos are drawn to bagpipes and Scottish dance music (they are listening to some right now as I do this interview!).

So, it was natural to come up with several Scotland themed fabrics . We have used them to make patches/appliques to add to bags and clothing, a few skirts, sashes, and an armband or two.

Plaid skirt

Plaid skirt

Plaid arm band

Plaid arm band


It started when we found out that the associated tartan for our family was “restricted”, and so very hard to find. Having some in print is really nice so we can have some of our own to wear. From there, more Scottish and Jacobite subject matter was inspired, and many of those been among my most popular for people to buy to make their own patches and embellishments with.

Lana: What do you enjoy sewing the most? Clothes for the kids or quilts, other crafts or home decor?

Julie: I must admit: I’m not much of a quilter — I’ve tried it, but it’s not my forte.

One of the more whimsical things I’ve made was a “Hobbit”, “Lord of the Rings”, inspired fabric to make a pouch from http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/488604 . My husband just loves it, and it makes an interesting conversation piece. Apparently there are quite a few more floating around in the world somewhere! http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/488604

Hobbit Pouch

Hobbit Pouch

Hobbit Pouch

Quite a bit has been for home decor (in a way), especially in preparation for festivals and feasts in our tradition. Many fabric icons have adorned our walls http://www.spoonflower.com/collections/8362 , and fabric-kits/sets and throw pillows for activities around major yearly events like Easter/Pascha http://www.spoonflower.com/collections/8361 and Christmas time http://www.spoonflower.com/collections/8358 .

I have made felt-board characters with the appropriate color associations (colors are meaningful and a language of their own in the art of the Eastern Christian icon), and coming this year will be a project kit of stuffed/plush standing Nativity Scene characters, all with the color associations and postures of the Byzantine and o/Orthodox understanding.

Nativity Felt Board

Nativity Felt Board

Again, it is out of need that I created these items so we could have them for our own use. Not surprisingly, many other people have bought them for their homes, too, and I’ve gotten quite a few messages of “thanks for making this” because it isn’t available anywhere else.

Lana: How long you have had your shop on Spoonflower.

Julie: I can’t hardly remember! uploaded my first design about three, or four years ago, perhaps in 2009. in that time I have uploaded 104 designs, many for private use or that were custom orders/requested by people. The rest can be easily seen in my shop.

Lana: Is surface design more of a hobby or are you hoping at some point to be picked up by a company?

Julie: This is definitely more of a hobby. If a company wanted to pick me up that would be neat-o!, but it would have to be a very specific company oriented towards a very specific kind of audience/buyer. The subject matter of most of my stuff is very particular, and otherwise it’s all been somewhat random and eclectic not a lot of heavily themed & coordinating collections. In the meantime, I’m just glad for all the people who have found good uses for my designs, and I’m glad to have brought their projects a bit of creative joy. When I started this, I didn’t think many other people would find my designs useful!

Linda lives in the North East of England. At the birthplace of George Washington’s family on the Washington side. Linda has some really fun designs that I enjoy.



Lana: How did you find out about Spoonflower in the first place?

Linda: I did a search on the internet. I had used a large printer for fabric at college and when I left I thought there was bound to be somebody who would print fabric to order. It was a surprise to find that I could sell my designs too but it was several years before I actually joined Spoonflower.

Lana: When did you open your shop on Spoonflower?

Linda: 2012

Lana: What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself as a designer?

Linda: Not sure ……

Lana: Which design did you enjoy working on the most?

Linda: It is right that I do enjoy working on some designs more than others. The more complicated ones are more of a challenge and there is a bigger sense of achievement when they actually repeat. But there is also satisfaction when a design that was simple to do looks good. I did enjoy doing the creepy crawlies design. The spider web part was a doodle I did in a sketchbook some time ago. When the creepy crawly contest came up I did some research on spiders and then drawings of them to add to the spiders web.

  Lana: Do you have a favorite design?

Linda: I don’t have one particular favorite and I may like something more one day than another, today I like the doodle tree collection, the kokeshi dolls and an old favorite, all queens.



creepy crawlies

creepy crawlies

coloured doodle trees repeat

all queens

all queens

Lana: What inspires you the most in your creative process?

Linda: Anything I see could inspire me, no one thing comes to mind. I am always doodling, either on paper on on my tablet. On one occasion someone suggested that a certain doodle would make a nice fabric, so now I look at the doodles to see if I could develop them into repeat patterns. I like to take photos of places I visit, inspiration could come from something I see such as a tiled wall or a flower.

Lana: When did you realize that you were a creative soul that has to create?

Linda: I’ve always enjoyed being creative since I was a child. When I had children myself I was a stay at home mum and I started designing knitting patterns and that was the start of designing repeat patterns. Which led to embroidery, and a City and Guilds course, then to college for a degree in textiles and surface design. Lana: What mediums do you work with to create your designs? Linda: I don’t stick to just one medium, some are created on paper with pens, paint etc, some have been developed from embroidery and printing on fabric, some from photographs and some were done entirely on the computer or tablet. The tablet is my latest doodle craze. Some designs are started on paper then are developed on the computer but all are put into repeat patterns on the computer.

Lana: Do you enjoy sewing as well as creating designs?

Linda: No not really, I get very stressed when sewing garments in particular. I do sew books, bags and pictures but not garments. I made a couple of cushions from fat quarters [see kokeshi image, I quilted the fabric for the cushion]. I am planning on making a quilt with some of my swatches which I got in January …. Lana: Are there other places you sell your designs? Linda: There are other places where I have items for sale – art on my website

[http://www.linsart.co.uk/shop.html], Zazzle [http://www.zazzle.co.uk/linsart], Art Gallery.co.uk [https://www.artgallery.co.uk/artist/linda_calverley]

Lana: If you weren’t pursuing designing what would be your next favorite thing to do.

Linda: When I’m not designing I’m usually doing something else creative like making mixed media books and art, digital photography or embroidery. http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/linsart


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