At Pins & Needles we are constantly meeting so many incredibly talented people whether they are behind the scenes designing the fabric, patterns or kits we carry, the authors of some of our most popular books or of course our customers and students who inspire us everyday to fill the store the most unique and quality creative materials. So it is always a thrill to unveil our featured guest for the monthly P&N blog post “In Your Stylish Craft Kit”.
For this month we are so pleased to introduce you to Jennifer Moore of Monaluna Fabrics. We are sure you will agree that Jennifer is a super talented designer and many of the fabrics she has created are on our list of favorites!
Before we dive in to hear from Jennifer we wanted to share a bit about her background…she has worked for many years as a surface designer for some of the most popular fabric companies including Robert Kaufman and Birch Fabrics designing exclusive collections for them until going off on her own in 2010 when she launched Monaluna. She works from a 100 year old farmhouse in Walnut Creek California – sounds pretty fabulous to us!
Unique to Jennifer is that she is one of the few companies that designs modern and relevant fabric that is 100% organic cotton with AZO free dyes. We would describe her sensibility as a combination of modern, whimsical, a bit playful and retro and we love that she mixes bold prints and color! You will find animals, references to nature, kitchen appliances, musical instruments and geometrics – the fun is how she pairs them together!
Her latest collection called “Raaga” has been flying off the shelves – especially the elephants and the pomegranates. Stay tuned when we announce the arrival of her “Free Range Collection”. In addition to her fabrics we stock a selection of her garment patterns – the “On The Go” dress seems to be a favorite at the shop!
We were so excited that Jennifer agreed to be a guest on our blog that we are doing a give-away of a fat quarter bundle of some of our favorte prints from the Raaga Collection. Enter to win at the bottom of the post!
So now let’s hear from Jennifer….
Where do you get new project ideas from?
When I’m designing fabric collections, my ideas can really come from anywhere, but often they come from my own daily life. The Modern Home collection that came out last fall was drawn largely from things around our home – our cat Sadie sleeping on the sofa, my Chemex coffee pot, and llamas, which are my favorite animal and were guests of honor at our wedding. The Monaco and Havana collections featured scooters based on my own blue scooter, and birds that were inspired by the flock of “modern birds” that hung out at the KFC on the corner by our house in Oakland. This fall we’ll be introducing a collection called Urban Patch, which was inspired by my daughter’s book The Curious Garden, and by the urban gardening movement, which is really very popular where we live.
What inspires you when you start a new project?
I wish I were more process-oriented, but I’m almost always motivated by the image I have of a finished product. I tend to get an idea or an image in my head, and then I’m strongly motivated to see the finished product. That helps me work through what can be the tedious parts of the creative process.
What inspired you to get into your craft? Or was there event that prompted?
I have been working in the design field for a long time, but it wasn’t until 2008 that I started designing fabric. I was working as a freelancer at the time, and had some extra time on my hands, and was starting to sew more. I had ideas about the fabrics I wanted, but couldn’t find them in my local shop, and so I started to paint out what I had in mind, and I eventually licensed my designs to Robert Kaufman Fabrics. Around the same time, I started to learn about organic cotton, and that led me to start my own organic fabric business a couple of years later.
How do you go about choosing your materials for each project?
When designing fabrics, I usually start with the materials that have the right feel for the collection. I almost always paint some of the designs, but some collections use more pen lines, or hard-edged computer drawings. It often takes me a few tries before I get the illustration style right, and even the weight of pen line can make a big difference in the feel of the design.
What’s the one thing you would love to learn how to do?
Screen print! I absolutely love the look of screen printed fabrics, and when I first started designing fabrics I really wanted to hand-screen them. I tried to teach myself, but it was only partially successful, and I realized that our little apartment wasn’t really set up for a full-scale screen printing operation, so I went back to the computer.
What is the number one thing you must have in your kit at all times?
A plain ol’ number 2 pencil. Although I use all kinds of different materials during the design process, almost all of my designs start with a sketch, no matter how chicken-scratchy. If I’m on a bus or BART and realize I’ve forgotten a pencil I get a little panicky.
Do you have a favorite pattern?
Currently, I’d have to say Oliver + S’s Ice Cream Social dress. I made one for my 3-year-old daughter Anabelle, and I’ve been seriously thinking of trying to scale it up to make one in my size. It’s the perfect little summer dress. For adults, I really like our Tea Blossom Tunic that came out this spring.
Do you have a favorite place you like to buy supplies from?
There are so many great online fabric shops that I love, but usually when I’m buying supplies I need them right now, so I often go to Piedmont Fabrics in Oakland, or Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley. For art supplies, I get kind of giddy at our local Dick Blicks. It’s almost overwhelming.
What is your favorite tool that you use all the time?
My rotary cutter. I cut a lot of fabric for my business, and I don’t know what I’d do without it. However, I did just read a compelling article on the benefits of tearing fabric cuts, so maybe it’ll get a little less use in the future.
What is your favorite creative tip?
Get out of your routine. Go for a walk somewhere new, or shop in a different part of town. Or travel! I find that new experiences, even small ones, can really refresh my creativity.
Where is your favorite place to work?
I really love working at our dining room table. It’s a rustic maple table that was made by an Amish furniture-maker when I was in college, and it looks out over our back yard. It’s a very calming place for when I really want to focus. When I’m sewing on really nice days, I’ll sometimes set up a sawhorse table on our back deck, and that’s a perfect way to work and enjoy the weather at the same time.
Just like a chef with his pantry essentials, can you list what your crafting essentials are that you have to have on hand at all times?
Pencils and sketch paper, paintbrushes, gouache paint and Bristol board, fabric, pincushion, rotary cutter and scissors, embroidery floss, thread and needles, my scanner, computer and sewing machine. Kind of a mixed bag!