Interview: Mark Cesarik on Cosmic Burst and “Pop Antique” Style

{ Mark & his wife Cara at their first Quilt Market in Salt Lake City. }

Mark Cesarik describes himself as a surface designer, graphic designer, fine artist and doodler—and his fabric designs are a fusion of each of those styles. He burst onto the fabric scene with Sew Bettie, a collection of kitschy, fun designs featuring moustaches, dogs and other quirky motifs, printed by Spoonflower. Thus far, Mark has released two collections with FreeSpirit Fabrics, Calypso Swing and Morning Tides. His latest fabric line with the company is Cosmic Burst, shipping in April.

You had a very interesting path to becoming a fabric designer—would you share your story?

I can honestly say that I probably would not be involved in this industry if it weren’t for my lovely wife, Cara—an avid sewer, crafter and quilter. She asked me to make a fabric design for a pattern she was working on after she discovered Spoonflower. One thing led to another and we created SewBettie, our online fabric business in which we printed at Spoonflower and sold on our website. After about two years of running SewBettie I ended up signing with Westminster/Freespirit and the rest is history…

Boxer Fabric

{ Boxer Fabric – A SewBettie print available from Mark via Spoonflower. }

You’ve now released two collections of fabric with FreeSpirit, Calypso Swing and Morning Tides, with both of them featuring bright colors and shapes that make me think of a warm escape. What story are you telling with your fabrics?

That’s a good question! Both of those collections are very “warm” and “fun.” I think that when I was designing those collections that is what I had in mind, something fun and playful. My next two collections will show off my dark and complicated side… (Just kidding! But in all seriousness my first two collections certainly do represent the lighter side of things.)

I like to use the term “pop antique” when describing my style.

Morning Tides Pincushions

{ Pin cushions made by Cara Cesarik using Morning Tides. }

While definitely not “dark,” Cosmic Burst does take a sophisticated turn (I’d describe it as “classic meets contemporary”). What was the inspiration for this newest collection? What story are you telling? 

Cosmic Burst is definitely a more sophisticated look, in terms of the motifs especially. my first collections have more simple and lighter motifs, whereas there is much more detail and information in each print in Cosmic Burst.

I chose the title “Cosmic Burst” because I thought that it had more of a modern “out of this world” feel to it. With a few of the designs, my initial inspiration was kaleidoscopes—the way that kaleidoscopes have a limitless amount of information and every time you look at them you see something new. I wanted to juxtapose these designs with a few more simple ones as well and when I was finished I kept on thinking of the word “cosmic” and “Cosmic Burst” came from that.

Light Speed

{Light Speed from Cosmic Burst, releasing this spring.}

What sort of bribe do I need to offer you to get you to preview the Cosmic Burst fabrics before they’re introduced at spring Quilt Market?  I know you posted a (teeny, tiny) teaser on your blog. 

Well, I can report that the entire collection is now on display on my website. I think that the collection is in line with what my previous ones brought to the table but with a little bit more maturity. Certainly I am growing as a fabric designer in terms of my own taste as well as in terms of what works and what doesn’t.

Cosmic Burst
{Cosmic Burst. 1) Gamma Ray 2) Radiowaves 3) Building Blocks 4) Venus Trap 5) Milky Way 6) Moon Stones 7) Solar Panels 8) Light Speed}

Cosmic Burst - Alternate Colorway.

{Cosmic Burst – Alternate Colorway.}

I know I’m probably not the only person who remembers reading on your blog that you and your wife integrated fabric from Calypso Swing into your wedding decorations. What came first, the fabric collection or the wedding colors? ;)

The collection certainly came first! In truth, I had actually finished this collection more than a year before we were married… but the pinks and grays certainly leant themselves to the festivities. :)

{ Place setting at Mark and Cara’s wedding, featuring Calypso Swing. }

Finally, I have to ask… Will we ever see your wonderfully kitschy Sew Bettie fabrics—especially fabulous mustache prints—on fabric store shelves? *fingers crossed*

Well one thing I can say is that you can still get them on my SewBettie Spoonflower page… we’ll just have to wait and see what comes next!

Les Moustaches

{ Les Moustaches – Mark’s popular moustache fabric, released under the SewBettie name through Spoonflower. }

Images courtesy of Mark Cesarik, used with permission.



  1. Cara says:

    Awwww…. isn’t my husband sweet? thanks for doing the interview Sarah and Kim!

  2. Thanks for this interview. I find this sort of thing so inspiring and helpful. I loved the little snippets from artists in Kim’s book, so I love reading about how different people approach fabric design. Thanks and more please!