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Needlework, new laminates, and notable trends...

Breaking down the post-Market buzz

by Rhianna White

It’s been a few short (very short) weeks since the close of spring Quilt Market in Salt Lake City, and we’ve officially had time to recover (sure...let’s go with that!), reflect, and review some of the exciting new designers, products, and trends to which we were introduced at the show.

While there were some definite surprises on the show floor, much of what we saw appeared to be a continuation of the smaller trends and design themes noted at previous editions of Market—amplified to a larger scale this show.

Fads in fabrics

While traditional prints remain major players on the fabric stage, it’s the modern prints in vibrant colors that are really stealing the scene. Every turn on the Market show floor seemed to reveal a new collection of contemporary prints in dazzling shades of yellow, lime, grass green, aqua, cherry red, tangerine, and shades of pink—many accented with clear, clean whites.

Still, we couldn’t help but notice that, among those vivid hues, the “gray as a neutral” trend we first mentioned after fall Quilt Market is still in full effect.

The Pure Elements Collection from Art Gallery Fabrics.

Furthermore, eInsider noticed a larger variety of solids—in terms of both color and weight—than at previous Markets. In addition to the ever-popular Kona® Cottons from Robert Kaufman, we were also excited to see the new Pure Elements collection from Art Gallery Fabrics and Designer Essential fabric bundles from FreeSpirit Fabric.

Equally thrilling was seeing the proliferation of organic fabrics within the quilting industry, as evidenced by new collections from Birch Fabrics, new exhibitor Monaluna, and Cloud9 Fabrics, the latter of which has even released a new “Price Sensitive” collection of quilter’s weight cottons.

Further proof that organics are becoming even more mainstream: new additions to Robert Kaufman’s greenSTYLE line from designers Nancy Mims and Katie Hennagir, Amy Butler’s fabulous new Organic Soul collection for Rowan, and the new Organic Elements brand from Clothworks, the first collection of which is Safari Sweet from Penguin & Fish designer Alyssa Thomas.

As expected, small projects—particularly “cutesy” and child-inspired patterns—remain widespread, and there are no shortage of sugary-sweet fabrics to match. Fun, whimsical items such as rick-rack, pompoms, and vintage-inspired buttons make for the perfect embellishment to these youthful prints and projects, and were easy to spot throughout the Market show floor.

Fashion and accessory patterns—many from independent designers—also continue in their popularity. And it seems that quilting fabric manufacturers are finally trying to capitalize on this trend by introducing fashion fabrics for garment sewists.

Select voile fabric prints from Tula Pink’s Prince Charming collection.

In addition to her new organic collection, designer Amy Butler also introduced new rayon, corduroy, and voile fabrics from her popular Soul Blossoms collection. New collections from FreeSpirit designers Valori Wells (Wrenly) and Joel Dewberry (Heirloom) both include sateen and voile substrates, while new collections from Tula Pink (Prince Charming) and Anna Maria Horner (LouLouThi) include prints in both voile and laminate.

The softer side of laminates

A growing number of designers have released laminate cotton prints over the past few years, but it wasn’t until this spring Market that eInsider felt it could officially be labeled “a trend.” We spotted so many bright, cheerful laminate prints on the show floor, it almost had us hoping for a little rain (if only for an excuse to wear this adorable raincoat from designer Lila Tueller).

Lila Tueller’s “Deluxe Organizers,” shown in laminate fabrics from her Lola’s Posies collection.

And while many may associate the term “laminate” with the rigid, heavy oilcloth-like material of the past, the reality is quite different. Today’s laminates, “unlike their not-so-user-friendly predecessors,” Tueller says, “are soft, flexible, and forgiving. I’ve found that they are surprisingly easy to work with!”

Tueller has released a total of 12 laminated cottons for her newest collection for Riley Blake, Lola’s Posies. “The laminated cottons really lend themselves to handbags and accessories because of their ‘wipe-off-ability,’ which makes them super practical for everyday use and abuse,” she says. “Of course, laminated cottons can also be used for tablecloths and placemats, seat covers, shower curtains and caps, simple totes, and shopping bags. And I think if we used our imaginations a little, we could come up with many more ideas!”

Tueller also introduced a couple of new patterns at Market, which were designed specifically for use with laminates, including the sweet “Posie Bag” and her “Deluxe Organizers,” which include several organizers, cosmetic cases, laptop bags, etc. “They are super cute, highly functional and versatile, and very handy to have around for travel or any number of uses,” she adds.

Designer—and now, with the release of her new book, Girl’s World: Twenty-One Sewing Projects to Make for Little Girls, author—Jennifer Paganelli can also speak to the virtues of today’s laminated cottons.

Select laminate fabric prints from Jennifer Paganelli’s Honey Child collection.

Through FreeSpirit, Paganelli has previously released laminated fabrics for her Poodle, Queen Street, and (most recent) Honey Child collections. “I believe in laminate,” she says. “I have sent out 100 envelopes for people to try our unique’s not your mama’s oilcloth!

“It’s wider (54”), so you can make quite a number of projects from one yard,” she continues. “It’s easy to work with, and it opens the door to more lifestyle products—raincoats, outdoor tablecloths, makeup and cosmetic bags, wipes for babies—anything you would like wipe-able and easy to clean. It’s new and a bit more costly than cotton fabric, so I think that causes some resistance. But to see the products being made up, I know folks are enjoying them. I think it is a new slow-moving trend, but if you try it, you’re hooked!”

Consumers should also be on the lookout for select laminate prints from several Timeless Treasures collections—England Swings by Rebekah Merkle and Portobello and Vice Versa by Alice Kennedy—in addition to Riley Blake’s Sugar & Spice collection by The Quilted Fish designer Amanda Herring.

Small stitches, big trend

Equally on-trend this season is needlework—particularly hand embroidery. Designers are incorporating hand stitching and embroidery into a variety of projects in some really creative (and seriously gorgeous) ways.

Perle cotton and embroidery floss kits from the new Anna Maria Needleworks.

The most obvious (or at least, buzzed about) example would be designer Anna Maria Horner, who has partnered with Westminster Fibers and Anchor embroidery floss to launch her new Anna Maria Needleworks. It currently consists of two collections of two-ply Perle Cotton (which can easily be used for hand quilting as well) divided into two color palettes—Geranium Wall and Reflecting Pool. Each gift box contains nine skeins of around 85 yards each.

The Needlworks collection also contains two envelopes of six-strand embroidery floss—each with 12 skeins of around nine yards of floss—in her Seafaring and Radiant color palettes. Horner says that each color was carefully chosen to coordinate with her new LouLouThi fabric collection, which will soon be expanded to include six needlework prints (yardage printed to look like cross-stitch) that will be released in July. Plus, she’ll also soon begin offering project kits, preprinted project yardage, and solid Aida cloths as part of the Needleworks collection.

But this trend certainly doesn’t stop with Horner. Children’s book illustrator and new textile designer, Sarah Jane (of Sarah Jane Studios), was at Market promoting her new fabric collection for Michael Miller, appropriately titled Children at Play. This charming collection features sweet, nostalgic images of childhood play in four colorways and themes—“Playhouse,” “Meadow,” “Over the Fence,” and “After School.”

Sarah Jane’s “Make It Do” embroidery pattern, as seen in her Market booth.

Sarah Jane also released eight embroidery patterns at Market, all of which complement her new fabric collection, “but are in no way reliant upon it,” she explains. “My embroidery patterns have been designed with the booming trend of hand embroidery in mind. I’ve had hand embroidery patterns in my [Etsy] shop, but these are iron-on transfers, which really make the process much easier. My designs have line work that is relatively easy to trace, but they do feature children. So, if you’re not accustomed to tracing the lines right, it can be easier to just iron on the line work!”

Each of the patterns—with names like “Playing Dolls,” “Three Little Birds,” and “Make It Do”—were designed for use by everyone from beginners to advanced stitchers. “They use mostly simple line work—back stitch or split stitch for example—but many come with a few stitches that experienced hands will love as well, though these are always optional to the design.”

The new patterns will be available in mid to late June, but retailers can pre-order here now.

U.K.-based designer Aneela Hoey—whose Sherbet Pips collection for Moda generated quite the buzz at fall Market—introduced her newest fabric collection, Little Apples, at spring Market. Both collections are full of sweet, whimsical illustrations of child-like figures and images. But as it turns out, the designer is also quite the needleworker who creates charming embroidery patterns (which she offers for sale in her Etsy shop here).

Aneela Hoey’s “Cherry on a Tree Swing” embroidery pattern.

It was, in fact, two of her embroidery patterns—“Scoot” and “Cherry on a Tree Swing”—that served as the inspiration and starting point for her Sherbet Pips collection. “I think the attention to detail that is involved in creating an embroidery pattern lends itself very well to designing fabric too,” she says.

“I draw inspiration from what I know and the world around me,” she continues. “As a stay-at-home-mom of two young daughters, most of my embroidery patterns involve children and the way they play. I like to use a lot of filling stitches in my work because I love the way it looks when done. I always try to keep things dreamy and whimsical, because that is the way I see my girls.”

Not surprisingly, Little Apples was also created from sketches inspired by Hoey’s daughters and playtime—children playing ring-around-the-rosie, hula hoping, or reading books. She is currently working on a small group of embroidery patterns inspired by the new fabric collection.

Pine Mountain Designs’ “Wonky Wildflowers” quilt/embroidery pattern.

Among the newest—and most popular—products from Market exhibitors Pine Mountain Designs are two small quilts, “Wonky Fall Foliage” and “Wonky Wildflowers,” both of which combine quilting with hand embroidery. The company offers numerous quilt, embroidery, cross-stitch, and punchneedle patterns, but owner/designer Sandra Workman says it was these two quilts, which incorporate embroidery, that were met with the greatest response at Market.

“Whether it is in a quilt, a pillow, a picture, or a dish towel, I have seen an increased interest in this art form [embroidery] both from my wholesale customers and, particularly, the customers who frequent my store,” she adds.

So, now you know—embroidery is officially a hot trend (and showing up in some new and interesting places), laminates are all grown up and all the rage, and fashion fabrics are finding a place in the quilting industry. We hope we’ve made some of this year’s buying decisions just a little easier for you!


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