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Silk damask embroidered

I frequently find myself surrounded by piles of beautiful fabrics. Mind you they are usually just small 6″ x 6″ square samples of a fabric but nonetheless, they are one of the biggest pieces of the design puzzle. Finding just the right fabric can sometimes bring an entire room together. I remember when I was in school we spent hours studying line, form, building code, auto cad, etc. but fabric was but a small portion of the program that I was in. It was usually only at the very end of a semester that we would quickly pull a few fabrics together to present along with the rest of the architecture that we had been slaving over.

But I have always had a particular weakness for fabrics, see my earlier post on Linen.  I had learned quite a bit about linen and about textiles in general from one of my first jobs out of college. I was working for a woman who had just started her company importing Italian and Portuguese textiles. She was a great designer and looking back now I realize how much that experience was a seed for the career I have now.

It wasn’t until I worked for a local high end residential firm here in Seattle that I discovered “fabric”. I had the unique opportunity to be assigned to specifying an entire ship. It was being re-done with nearly all of the fabrics being replaced. It was basically like doing a hotel, except every room was different. Each room had to be luxurious, comfortable, and able to withstand multiple guests and deal with extra harsh conditions at sea such as salt water air, and bright sun.  The image below isn’t the boat I worked on but was similar in style. Our client was very private so no pictures were allowed.


I started from the top deck and worked my way down to the underwater lounge. There were fabrics for pillows, sofas, chairs, window coverings, bedding, ceiling panels and built ins. There were also some new furniture pieces to be specified but the majority of my work was to come up with the fabric themes for each of the rooms. I would work through a floor and then present to my boss for review. Sometimes I was on the money, sometimes I had to replace a fabric or two. Sometimes I had to go back and re-work it all. (Wait a second, no one told me he hated green.) But frustration aside, it was a great experience and I really honed my eye.


Now that I have my own firm, I still find myself going through wing after wing at the design center, except now its my design, for my client that I’m trying to find that really special fabric for. I can have a very specific idea in my head about what I am looking for and sometimes I can’t seem to find it. This frustration led me to wondering about designing my own fabric line.

There are some other women in the industry that by watching their progress have shown me what a small fabric line can look like. People like Lauren Liess out of Virginia.

0314Lauren-Liess-5165Victoria Larson in Annapolis

Victoria Larson

Locally we have Kassana Holden, from Vashon Island who not only does the designs for her fabrics she also prints them right there in her studio using her wide format Epson printer.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 12.12.57 AMWatching their progress has started me on a journey. Not exactly sure where I will end up with this but I’ve got a big stack of books on textile design, and I’ve been combing the internet looking for ways to get my designs printed on the types of fabrics I love.  I’ve already found out so much. Everything from resist-dyed silk satin damask (rinzu), embroidered with silk and metallic thread as you see in the image I posted at the very top.

warp weft image

To the basics of fabric design like what warp, weft, selvedge, and bias mean. I’ll keep you posted as I move forward and look forward to your feed back as I get ready to select my own designs.

Images courtesy of http://www.metmuseum.org, http://www.boatsinternational.com, http://www.frannbilus.com, architecturaldigest.com http://www.laurenliess.com, http://www.homeanddesign.com, http://www.bergamotstudio.com, http://www.the-stichery.co.uk

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