Some people are just over the top creative. Last month the quilt club I am a member of in
Rochester, NY, Genesee Valley Quilt Club, invited Susan Rooney as the guest speaker. Susan is one very talented local gal. Not only was her presentation very informative, but I found it interesting and enlightening, as well.
Susan is a fabric designer, pattern designer, works with paper, and is just chocked full of creative ideas. She looks at simple every day things, like a flower, stones, fences, and things we often pass by, and comes up with textile
designs. Fabric is designed not just as a stand alone fabric, but often with companion designs that can be used in a similar colorway to work together in a quilt or other project. Other colorways of the same designs are also usually available. After creating the design, it is first printed on special large sheets of paper, sent to the textile manufacturer, printed on fabric, sent back to the fabric designer to check for color quality, design printing, and more. This may even happen more than one time.
Did you know that there can only be 18 colors on silk screened fabric (most of quilting fabric today is silk screened)? Most fabrics will have a row of color dots next to one of the salvages. These are the colors that were used to print that fabric. And certain colors do not work well next to each other because they will look like mud. A lot of thought must go into the design of our quilting fabrics which include the design itself, often a compilation of a number of smaller elements, the size and scale of the design, the space around these elements, the repeat of the pattern, how the colors will print out, the colors used on the fabric, and more. It is a lot of work. When we see the fabric in the quilt shop, all we are really looking at is the pattern and color and how it will look in our project, never thinking about how much time and effort went into the design process itself.
Recently Susan started playing with a new type of textile design, one that we will probably see
more of in the future, digital printing. This type of design offers more flexibility and freedom of both the design with the option of much larger designs that do not repeat many times across the width of the fabric and an unlimited color pallet. Some companies offer digital printing to anyone, such as Spoonflower printing on demand and a local Rochester business, Red-Dog Enterprise. A number of the major textile manufacturers are even starting to print some fabrics with this method.
When you look at the beautiful quilting fabrics available today, there is such variety in design, thousands of different colors and color combinations, and inspiration everywhere. Susan has taken her creativity beyond just designing the fabrics into designing patterns. Many of her fabrics are very colorful, some whimsical, others geometric or floral. Susan designs patterns to promote these fabrics, and even designs applique and embroidery designs to be used with her fabrics and patterns. Her patterns include purses, bags, table toppers, wall hangings, and more. I purchased one of her bag patterns, Tidal Wave Bag, 15″ x 15″, that has a bag base and reversible bag cover. “This Holds It All! Tablet, books, folders and magazines” with two large pockets inside and a cell phone pocket. It will be large enough to carry things to a club meeting, or use when we travel. I have never made many bags, but this one looks like a lot of fun and will be very useful.
Locally Susan was asked to design the Western New York Row by Row patterns in 2017.
Being creative again, she changed the row concept to a block concept for a more cohesive final design. In fact the blocks could even be joined in more than one configuration!
At the meeting presentation that day, Susan told us she would rather design the fabric and patterns than make quilts. Aren’t we luck we have over the top creative people like her to keep us going with delightful fabrics and projects to use them?
Now. . . . . the hard decision . . . which fabrics will I choose for that bag?