I hope you all have been well! Thank you for the sweet and understanding response to my shuttering True Up. It really means a lot to me.
As promised, I’m finally posting about my new project. At Fall Quilt Market we officially launched Cotton + Steel, a new brand/division of RJR fabrics. Melody Miller is the creative director, and the other designers are myself, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Alexia Abegg, and Sarah Watts. Oh, we just whipped up a little DOCUMENTARY FILM about all of this. Well, by we, I mostly mean Greg Miller, Melody’s husband, who is an incredible filmmaker and photographer.
It’s really only been nine months in the making so far. What started out as Melody’s search for a new home (around Quiltcon time in February) took on steam and quickly evolved into an idea for an entire new company. She came to me along the way for my thoughts, and by some lucky twist I got brought on as a designer. RJR, by the way, has been simply incredible to work with. We got to visit their Torrance, California headquarters and of course it was super cool for me to see the inner workings of a fabric company for the first time, including art director Yuko Hasegawa‘s studio, the warehouse, the machines that feed fabric from rolls to bolts, the whole operation! Rick Cohan, the owner, is a third generation textile businessman, and knows everything there is to know about the industry. Everyone at the company has been warm and welcoming and everyone is so excited for this new direction. We all wanted to do this the right way.
So, hooray, I’ll be a fabric designer! Finally! My focus will be vintage reproductions, curated and styled into quirky, semi-narrative collections (read: novelty prints!). As you might know, vintage was my first love and it continues to be my strongest, and I’ve always wanted to bring my favorite prints back to be enjoyed and used by a new generation. My first collection is called Homebody, inspired by the joys of solitude and puttering around the house.
Despite me wanting to celebrate the antisocial streak that I imagine we all have, I have to say, we all conceived of Cotton + Steel as an old-school textile design studio, emphasizing mutual inspiration and collaborative creativity. At Quiltcon, while Melody was scheming, I was sitting in Kathy Miller‘s lecture on Tammis Keefe, where she talked about imagining working in design studios of old, a bunch of women chatting and painting the day away, bouncing ideas off each other and laughing and complaining and creating. The talk really had a profound effect on me, because I realized that was exactly what I was looking for. We all have a tendency to isolate ourselves behind our screens, but I am not one who can or wants to be creative in a vacuum. I’m not much of a believer in fate, but it does feel like that’s exactly what this all is.
When Melody and Sarah conceived the name, they were thinking of the old American landscape, cotton mills and steel mills. I assumed the steel referred to scissors and Greg thought it meant sewing machines. So, it works on a few levels, which I think is awesome. What is really important to us, though, is honoring the traditions of the industry and the spirit of creativity that drives us all. Though we are inevitably going to be called RJR’s “modern” brand, we really want to draw on the traditions and spirit of our predecessors.
We will be unveiling our collections at Quilt Market, right before they are ready to ship. Which means, no online sneak peeks before that. We want to build the excitement and we definitely don’t want you to be tired of seeing them before they are even available to buy. What I can tell you now is that we will have have our individual collections on quilting cotton, lawn, and cotton-linen canvas (more substrates to come). Being on multiple substrates from the get-go was very important to all of us.
We are all working from a master palette, so there will be many mixing and matching opportunities. We also have a 30-something-piece basics collection and our own C+S solids. So, Homebody, August (Sarah’s collection), Mustang (Melody’s), Hatbox (Alexia’s), and Moonlit (Rashida’s), will be shown first in May in Pittsburgh and be in stores in July. And of course, we are beside ourselves waiting for our big launch.
I have to say, while it was painful for me to not get to see all the new collections at Fall Quilt Market, it was a great change of pace for me to not be running around from appointment to appointment. We got a great response and I feel like I’m home now.
I think that sums it up. Except to point you to all places to find us. We will see you on your social media channel of choice!
P.S. There has been some interest from other folks in taking over True Up, so I’ll be working on that in the weeks/months to come. Keep your fingers crossed for a 2014 True Up relaunch.