For the most part Northcott will be producing lines of fabric based on my hand-dyed fabrics. In addition, however, there will be printed fabrics based on elements from my quilts. In the last few months we've gone through a couple of ideas, which involved me doing a fair bit of dyeing to try to produce a line that would work and reflect the correct season when the fabric will be released. The other challenge for me, seat of the pants dyer that I am, is that I want a second set of fabrics almost identical to the set I am handing over to Northcott for photographing, scanning, etc. That second set is what I will use to make things from this line of fabric.
This meant having to keep records of sorts. I would write down what I did on a piece of paper, but when all the fabrics came out of the dye baths, I couldn't always tell which was which. This was compounded by the fact that some of my favorite dye colours have changed lately (OK the purists will be saying "told you so", you should have only used pure dye colours and done all your own colour mixing, but alas I love the complexity of already mixed colours when they split). So it meant getting used to the new chartreuse and the new avocado, and the new dark green, etc. Then one day I dyed some fabrics, stacked my containers on my dryer to batch, and a few hours later all the containers had toppled to the floor due to the vibration of the dryer, which had clothes drying inside. Well don't ask what my floor looked like! But the fabrics were gorgeous and I can't reproduce them exactly because I don't know exactly how long they batched! So you can see the challenges here!
I eventually settled on the plan of writing the dye colours and amounts used on the selvedge of the fabric with a pigma pen. For example, in the photo below, "D chartreuse" stands for "Dharma chartreuse" (purchased from Dharma Trading company). The fact that no other information is present means I used only one colour at full strength. The challenge here is that I need to make notations while the fabric is dry, or the ink runs, so I have to plan it all before I even wet the fabric.
We've reached the day though where I can share the news. Northcott loved the fabric line, and are rushing it through, so that it will hopefully be released in January 2014. That means it won't probably hit the stores until August, just in time for autumn. And the palette? All I can say at this point is that it is inspired by my quilt below, Losses 1. Look at all those yummy gold-greens, poison greens, etc!
And one of the things I'm really proud of is that Northcott Fabrics is a Canadian company!
So now I'm thinking about a pattern I can publish using the above colours.
The other part of the relationship with Northcott is that they will become the distributor for my patterns. Those of you who are pattern designers know what a benefit it is to have a distributor so you don't have to do all the marketing and selling yourself! The one thing that made me hesitate though, was that I wasn't really planning to publish patterns. I do have a few patterns that I use in conjunction with teaching, but I don't sell them anywhere else. Publishing and selling patterns means having to write clear and fool-proof instructions. So that's another challenge I'll be taking up this winter.
The deal with Northcott comes perhaps at a perfect time for another reason. During the last few months I decided I would create two hosta patterns to use for teaching. I've already booked my first hosta class for March, and will take bookings for hosta classes effective March 2014. The wonderful thing is that the patterns can be made with greens contained in the line of fabric with Northcott. One of my concerns was always that people would want me to provide the hand-dyed fabrics for a hosta class, and how would I keep up with all that dyeing? Now at least there will be fabrics out there readily available.
This week I've been in the studio and have built these two small hosta quilts from the two new patterns I've drafted. I've tried to keep the designs fairly simple for people who have never tried this method before. I'm not sure they will stay on these backgrounds, but I haven't fused them yet so I still have time to change my mind.
This is pattern one. Interesting how the green looks so much darker on a spring-like background
and so much brighter and lighter on a dark and dramatic background.
In addition, I'm planning a series of floral quilts, to replace the patterns I've been using in my "In Full Bloom" class. I intend to publish these as well and hope there will be fabric lines with Northcott down the line. Here is my new poppy, that I designed this summer and finished this fall.
Peekaboo and I have lots of work to do this winter. She's training to be my studio assistant :-))
I'll write soon about my other major winter project.