Interview: Anna Maria Horner on Good Folks


Good Folks – Byzantine Palette

The extremely talented and busy Anna Maria Horner‘s fifth fabric collection, Good Folks, was recently released by FreeSpirit. Good Folks is full of meandering florals that nicely bridge the divide between graphic and organic, complemented by the stronger lines of the Greek-influenced “Buttoned Up,” and the bold, versatile circles of “Cathedral.” And as always, the colors are sumptuous and innovative — for me Anna Maria’s collections have always doubled as lessons in color theory! Good Folks is a smaller collection than last year’s Garden Party, divided into two palettes, one warm and one cool, of 12 fabrics each.

I was interested in the unique influences behind the collection and her journey as a designer, and she was kind enough to answer my questions …

True Up: Congratulations on Baby #6! How is he/she doing?

Anna Maria Horner: Thank you! He/she is doing quite splendidly, thank you, and is fighting for space these days … as I imagine he/she will continue to do for years to come around here :)


“Small Gathering”‘s four colorways

How is Good Folks like and unlike your previous collections?

Hmmm. I would say that it is similar in that it is primarily guided by color, emotions, and memories, but these memories feel a little more dear to me and a little more nostalgic. Actually, two of the prints are reprinted from my very first collection, Bohemian, so it feels like I’m spending time with old friends in a way. Technically though, the Small Gathering prints (above) are the first that I have ever designed so that some of the design elements overlap one another and create an additional color in the overlap. This is a common thing to do in printing, but never a technique that I’ve employed. It has such a different feel because of that, though, and I really enjoy how tangled the leafy branches feel because of that tiny little difference. The functional overlap is also something common in vintage fabrics.


Good Folks oilcloth, from Anna Maria’s blog

Oh, and also two of the prints will be available in 55″ wide oilcloth (SOON) which I am super thrilled about. And not just oilcloth in the traditional heavy, plastic-y Mexican variety, but it is our actual smooth FreeSpirit cotton that has been coated, so it is very supple and easy to work with.

Do your kids help you with your design process? How?

Well … yeah. Just the nature of having visual work happening in the center of a busy home invites everyone in the nearby to have an opinion and a role in the process. I do pass every print and every color by my 17-year-old (uber) stylish daughter, just because I like her insight as to whether she would wear this or that, etc. And the littler ones will often give me cues on naming colors when I ask them what it reminds them of.

Good Folks was inspired by various sets of things, but all of the notions in my mind had kindness involved. Odd? Perhaps. But can’t think of how else to say it. Old European linens. Family. Hand-loomed wool bedspreads. Meals. Fields. Embroidery. Needlepoint kits that I spent summers in Greece as a child occupied with. The icons of the village churches. Layer upon layer of mismatched bed linens piled on top of my floor palette in the upper room of my Yiayia’s house to keep me warm even though it was the middle of the summer. Tablecloths drying in the sun. Memories of what my cousin’s dowry of linens looked like. All the details. All the work. All the warmth. All the good wishes. Weddings. Wine. Love. Goodness.

–from Anna Maria Horner’s blog entry introducing Good Folks

I loved your explanation of the influences for Good Folks on your blog … it seems like you have a wealth of textile-y childhood memories … what’s it like to bring that to fruition? Did you paint/draw it all from your head? Or do you reference books and other documents?

I love the process of keeping my memories fresh when invoking a collection with these thoughts as I work. I feel like I’ve succeeded when someone can describe the feeling of a collection nearly the same way I would, but without the benefit of the experience or hearing my own explanation first. But when they get it, that’s the best part. In fact, to have someone like Kaffe Fassett stand in your Quilt Market booth, and go on and on describing why he likes this or that about the collection, and how he instantly recognizes the European influences, well, there’s no describing the creative joy that brings.

I do just draw, and draw and draw, and every now and then I’ll come across something … the bend of a flower in an image, or the combination of a few colors that strikes me, so I find a way to include that somehow. I have sets of ideas in my head about what should be included, and then am on a constant hunting/gathering phase, until I feel I have enough influences to work with which I’ve made notes to myself about, then put it all together. I don’t research documents of fabrics, or anything, but come across alot of images in art, furniture, that I store in my head, by just going to the flea market, flipping through art books. In the case of this collection, my own linen drawers of handmade goods from my family in Greece were inspirational.


Good Folks – Adriatic Palette

Having six prints in four colorways each then divided into two palettes [Adriatic and Byzantine] … that’s a bit of a departure for a quilting cotton collection — can you talk about how that evolved? Is that your decision or does FreeSpirit tell you what they’re looking for from the beginning?

Well, I guess I am a complete spoiled brat, in that, I make all those decisions. If they had any objections, I am sure they would let me know. But I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a lot of freedom in how I put a collection together.

What I’m learning more about within textiles, is how the store owners are sellling them — which is evolving — and I am trying to make that easier for them. I know that it’s a lot to take on a full collection from any designer, and therefore the 44 fabrics of Garden Party, while I enjoyed working that large, is overwhelming to take on as a retailer. So simply creating 24 that all work together well with no thought involved, is simple to pick up, without having to figure out which to take which to pass up, etc.

I also have to keep in mind the right amount of collections to put out a year. If it were up to me, I would put out fabric constantly, however, two or three collections a year seems to be about right for me, and I’m slowly settling into a good flow of that. My ideal is putting out two quilting weight collections and one home dec collection per year, and to continue to experiment with different substrates, like oilcloth and such in small amounts to keep them interesting and versatile. I also think it’s important to be mindful of the previous collection that is still sitting on store shelves, and follow it with something that will marry into those bolts beautifully for the retailer. Anyway, I could go on and on. I am just fortunate to have this as a medium!


“Festival” in Dusk

The large-scale vertical stripes of “Festival” seem unusual (in a good way!) for quilting cottons … I can see it being cut up for patchwork and looking like 4-5 different prints, or left together and making a strong statement by itself or mixed with other prints — was that your intention?

This is exactly my intention. I get giddy thinking of how many ways you can use one fabric in parts and as a whole. And I actually think of this fabric as a plaid. When I first had thoughts about including something like this in Good Folks, I just new I needed something plaid like, but with a unique element, something more organic. The stencil-like pattern that runs through this (like a “festival” through a village street) actually was first only present as an allover print in the “fortune” print, but then it told me to line it up, and march it down my plaid fabric! In fact, there are many of my fabrics that I work on to create a lot of variety within one piece, even the “Small Gathering” print works this way, but Festival is probably the best example of this.

And again, do you have to sell the idea since it’s so out of the box, or is this a collaborative decision with FreeSpirit?

Well it’s collaborative as far as them saying, “yay, let’s go to print”, but again I am blessed with lots of freedom. They’ve come to expect me to work this way, and I think they’re happy for it. (I hope!)

What are you sewing right now?

All my sewing machines are underneath my dining room table currently because of the remodeling that we are ALMOST done with. But a few things that are in the works are a Good Folks quilt, that will be a free downloadable pattern soon, and some baby stuff, naturally.

What are you reading and listening to lately?

We’ve been listening to Adele in the studio, and unfortunately only reading the back of my eyelids lately whenever I get the chance.

What is next for you?

My first collection of sewing patterns is off to the printers this week, so that’ll be the next launch, then more fabric this summer, oh yeah — the baby, and a big project that combines all three of those events! More soon!

{ Thanks so much, Anna Maria! }

Good Folks is available now in many of your favorite local and online quilt shops. As always, please leave sightings in the comments!


  1. larissa says:

    wow. just wow. such a talent, and this collection is just a treat for the eyes. thanks for your blog, btw. I’m on here often, and it’s a great resource.

  2. Kristin says:

    Great interview. Free Spirit is wise to spoil her. I so appreciate the fact that she considers the retailer in the design process. Wow! I have to say that the collection *is* much more manageable with only 24 bolts. This is my favorite group of hers yet. Thanks, Kim! Thanks, Anna Maria!

  3. Jona says:

    Love this interview! I really enjoy learning about the different thought processes that the designers use. And I also appreciate the 24 bolts as opposed to 42 (it’s so much easier to say “I’ll take it all!”).
    Anna uses such rich, glowing colors. Her fabrics are a feast!

  4. Joanna says:

    Anna Maria, you are an inspiration for sure! The new collection is gorgeous and I can’t wait to get my grubby little hands on it! Thank you Kim for the great interview :)

  5. Thank you for this interview. I love getting to know the designers better, especially since I spent so much time with their work. These prints are even more beautiful in person (as always) and truly inspired.

    Thanks Kim & Anna Maria!

    :) Diane

    ps. Great pictures. I am now thinking I should have ordered the blue and green colorways for my shop, but I was so struck by the oranges, yellows and pinks that I went with that. I’d love a bit of the Festival in Dusk for myself though…