Fall Quilt Market 2011: Dear Stella

So there is a pretty significant divide between the quilting, home decor, and fashion worlds. This divide hasn’t evolved out of mutual dislike, it’s just different focuses, different distribution models, different markets. But, newbies don’t always anticipate the divide, and it may take them a while before reality sets in. They proceed blithely, armed only with an innocent love of fabric and the art and craft of sewing, until they learn that the most beautiful home dec fabrics are available to the trade only, and that fashion-forward prints on garment-friendly fabrics are still really difficult to come by, that there is a somewhat-but-not-totally-generational divide between “quilting” and “sewing.” But I think this naivete is good. When I started True Up I was definitely one of these people, and I decided at some point to keep pretending the divides don’t exist, in hopes that ignoring them will make them go away (that always works for other types of problems, right?!). In fact, spending so much time in my internet shelter, I truly do forget, and every time I go to Quilt Market I’m beat over the head with the reality that the divide still exists. But none of “my people” want those divisions. We just love fabric and want access to every kind.

I’m not on the manufacturing side of the fabric industry, but from my perspective, the divide is disappearing, and it’s disappearing quickly. And the change is all coming from within the industry that we call the quilting industry but that’s becoming a misnomer. There is an emerging “lifestyle fabrics” industry, a term I believe was coined (I think) by Westminster Fabrics. But the lifestyle fabrics industry sees that there is a significant number of people who love all kinds of sewing and handwork, and wants to cater to that market.

Dear Stella is a great example of how the tide is turning. This new brand, from the get-go, is a lifestyle fabrics brand. Dear Stella is led by Jamie Arcuri and Lindsay Galloway (that’s Lindsay in the picture above). Jamie is the director, more on the business side, and Lindsay is the senior stylist, but the creative direction is a shared effort. Lindsay was Senior Designer at The Company Store, so she’s bringing that experience to table. Interior fabrics always have to walk the line between timeless and trendy, and that’s exactly what Dear Stella’s initial offerings are all about. They are fresh, versatile, upscale-feeling, and many of the prints span the divides between fashion, home dec, or quilting/crafting. Everyone was gushing about their booth, and I heard the adjective “design*spongey” more than once!

The collections are all quilting cotton, with some prints also on canvas and laminates. I don’t think the American retail fabrics have changed enough yet to where a company can not be trying to capture the quilter-who-only-makes-quilts, and focus on producing quilting cottons, but maybe that’s just because no one has tried yet. But it works everywhere else in the world, so why not here?

That’s not to imply that I’m anything but thrilled with the launch of Dear Stella. “My people” were still bemoaning a lack of modern print choices only a few years ago, and I think there’s still plenty of unmet needs in the quilting cotton world alone. I’m excited to see what people do with these prints (you might start with one of their free projects) and to see what’s next from the brand.

All of the collections you see here are in stores now.

{ Mimosa }

 

{ Palladium }

 

{ Yard Sale }

 

{ Heirloom }

 

{ Lanikai }

{ Meet Me at Sunset }

{ J’adore Stella }

{ Anchors Aweigh }

 

{ Solids and Stella Dot }

2 Comments

  1. rachael says:

    it is amazing what i’ve learned about fabric and who makes what, etc. over the last two years since i’ve started really branching out in my fabric buying (read: not just buying everything at someplace like joanns) and how difficult it can be to find some items. i’d love to see the selection of knits designs start to approach the wealth of quilting fabrics and patterns that are commercially available. it seems that other apparel fabrics are becoming more common substrates, so maybe knits will follow. eventually. thanks for this post. def cohesive ;)

  2. thank you for explaining my frustration so coherently! it’s a ridiculous division given how versatile the average sewist is or wants to be! Who simply quilts quilts these days? Once again, true up rocks.