An interview with Carrie Bloomston

Carrie Bloomston’s debut collection, Collage, is arriving from Windham imminently! I just love introducing you to new designers, so I caught up with her for an interview about the new collection, her business and her inspiration. Read on to find out more about Carrie and see some gorgeous samples stitched up with Collage!

Carrie Bloomston

The Village Haberdashery: Collage is a really unique collection! What inspired the collection and how did you translate the idea into fabric designs?

Carrie Bloomston: When I set out to design this line, I knew I needed to design a line that I would want to sew with. The prints will feel like a collected stack of drawings and papers and notes just beckoning you to COLLAGE. When I design a quilt or project, I like to use fabrics whose prints tell a story that complement what I am trying to achieve. Some fabrics have too much story, and that makes make them hard to incorporate into a design. Fabrics in a quilt or a project come together to create a chorus of voices–a harmony. So, I just approached the design process as if I was designing for myself. I like dots, stripes, textures, almost solids, words, newspaper, and a few playful novelties.

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Carrie’s booth at Spring Quilt Market

TVH: You’ve been an artist all of your life, but Collage is your first fabric collection. Was designing fabric an easy transition from your other creative endeavours? How did your partnership with Windham come about?

CB: Yes and yes! The opportunity to design fabric is a great and most excellent gift for an artist. Seriously. We work all our lives to develop a voice, and a relationship to specific art materials, and an esthetic (not to mention content!) and then someone comes along and says, “hey, you wanna put that on fabric?” Ummmm…duh…yes!

Start with your heart. Be who you are. Kindness first. Shine your light. Celebrate your inner artist™. Those are the things I intend to do with my designs. At 40, I understand more now how to accept, love, and trust myself as an artist. So I just listen to the tiny urges I feel­–even if they are crazy ideas. I do them. It is totally OK to fail.

My partnership with Windham came about because they saw me at Quilt Market and we began a conversation. I spoke to a few other companies, but I chose them. As a business owner I rely heavily on my intuition,. All things being equal, I will always choose kindness. I like to say that it is all about the humans. I choose nice humans as partners for my business, because the bedrock of my brand is kindness, acceptance, love, creativity, generosity. So, I choose nice humans. Business seems to be about a lot of things. We are always paying attention to the top line, the bottom line, production, distribution, etc. But those are just mechanics. The whole thing can’t go without effective relationships–hence, humans!

My advice: always listen to your gut and pick nice people as partners–you want to be able to be relational with the people you will spend so much time working with. And let me add, that I hit the jackpot with Windham. Their company shares my values. I have now spent heaps of time with at least ten of their staff people and they’re all lovely and interesting and kind– and a pleasure to work with.

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Collage Staple Dress

TVH: To launch Collage you put together a brilliant blog tour that is full of inspiration. Were you surprised by any of the projects that the bloggers came up with using your fabric?

CB: Oh, thank you! The funny thing is that I didn’t set out to do that blog tour on purpose. It evolved. When my industry friends found out I was designing fabric, they started emailing me and telling me they’d like to sew with COLLAGE when it was ready. I was so surprised. So I started a list on my wall, and it grew very long. Then, when the fabric arrived I asked everyone how much they wanted of which fabrics and sent them yardage. You see, I didn’t tell anyone what to sew, they chose their projects/inspiration. My tagline for SUCH Designs is Celebrate Your Inner Artist™. That phrase informs my whole brand. When I hired a designer for my website, for example, I didn’t really tell her what to do, I just let her do her thang. Same with my graphics, logo, and even with the quilting on my quilts! I just honor and celebrate the voices/talents/and creativity of others. For me, that is the way to get the best work from creative people. We all need a framework, but it is always more fun to have creative freedom, than be told what to do!

I would say I was shocked by Erica’s (Erica Sage from Craftyblossom) hand-tied dimensional flying geese quilt … I was surprised by how much love she poured into that gorgeous piece, and how she really listened to the fabric to find her inspiration.

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I was shocked by Julie Goldin’s quilt made using the Simply Woven tutorial from Jessica Kelly. That quilt also really honors the spirit of COLLAGE, which is meant to be used as a stack of textures and art papers to be cut up and played with.

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I was amazed and dazzled by the Rock&Roll princess dress from Karen LePage because it is absolutely spectacular and special. I told her that I wanted a dress and that I like my clavicles so I’d like for them to show We picked a few examples from Anthro as inspiration and she got to work. She used boning, and diagonal hems, and hem tacks and the whole thing is incredible. When I wear it, I kinda feel like I’m getting married every day! By the way, she is available for hire for custom dresses!

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But I must say that every single project that came back to my studio touched me and I was honored to have such a talented army of women sewing for me from their heart! The blog tour seemed like a perfect way to showcase the talents of the incredible designers.

The Nest Quilt

The Nest Quilt

TVH: When can we expect your next collection and what else do you have in the works?

CB: The next collection will release in April 2014. I have been toying with ideas..too many ideas! I like the part in the design process in which I narrow the field. I like having tons of options/directions and then using some democratic process (and intuition) to choose the right path. I am playing with lots of things and also doing quite a bit of writing.

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Figgy’s Scirocco dress in Collage

Thanks Carrie!

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