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An interview with Lucie Summers

I only briefly met Lucie Summers at Quilt Market in November, but her debut collection for Moda, Summersville, seriously stuck with me. I was awed by the quilt she’d made for her “boothlet” and went just completely mad for the collection. To me it feels like it belongs in the beach house I’ll never own, in which the decor is minimalist but cozy with lots of white and pops of colour (just google image beach cottage chic if you can’t picture that). Perhaps because of that picture in my head, there is something about Summersville that calms me and just makes me feel happy. Does that make any sense?

I’m not alone in my passion for Summersville, because the collection has entirely sold out (as in it’s all been sold to shops, like this one, which will have it in stock very soon! has it in stock here!) Since Market I’ve been in touch with Lucie quite a bit and as a result she’s hosting screen-printing workshops for the London Modern Quilt Guild at her studio. The first has already taken place and the attendees have come away thrilled. Lucie also agreed to do an interview with me for this here blog, so I’ll get to the point and share it with you! Thanks Lucie!

Credit: Lucie Summers

The Village Haberdashery: How long have you been designing textiles? Where did you learn the craft? When did you decide to make a career of it?

Lucie Summers: My background is in printed textiles, which is what I had a special interest in at art school, then after that, I opened up a patchwork shop with my mum called The Colour Room. In those days, quilt stores like ours were not usual in the UK, and we were quite ahead of our time. We did workshops and got a reputation for selling ‘bright’ fabrics – I had very strong opinions about what I liked and didn’t like, and the result was a very non-traditional mix of colours and textures! Once I had my first son, I decided I just wanted to be a ‘mum’ for a while so we closed the shop. It was a fabulous time, but helping other people with their work was actually rather draining and didn’t leave mum or I the time or energy for our own work.

After my second son was born, nearly 7 years ago, I decided to pick up where I left off at art school and started to play with screen printing again. After discovering Flickr, I began uploading some photos of my work…one thing lead to another and after encouraging comments from my Flickr contacts, decided to open an Etsy shop called lusummers. To begin with, I mainly sold paper collages – with two small boys it was easy to pick up and put down my work at a moment’s notice! I started to combine the collages with screen printing, then got back into quilting. I didn’t want to use the fabrics everyone else was using so set about creating my own, and Summersville was born, and much to my surprise became quite a hit.

Credit: Lucie Summers / Quilt Market quilt

TVH: What is the story behind your collaboration for Moda? Were you discovered?

LS: I’m so excited to be described as a ‘Moda’ designer, especially having been a fabric retailer in the past! It’s a bit of a long story, but basically, I asked my friend Katy to help me compile a list of the best fabric manufacturers and sent off emails to a few of them asking for their submission guidelines. I kept the guidelines in my inbox to spur me on to submit some ideas, but didn’t really get around to it – I was lazy, and actually, I was afraid of failure. Then, about a year later, completely out of the blue, I received an email from Moda asking if I was still interested in submitting – they’d been looking at my blog and liked what they’d seen. So of course, this was just the kick up the bum I needed! I sent off examples, received an email saying they loved them and that the samples were being sent off to the mill…fast forward to a year later, and my ‘Summersville’ collection is out in quilt stores across the world and I’m waiting for samples of my second collection!

Credit: Lucie Summers

TVH: Can you tell us about a typical day in the life of a surface pattern designer?

LS: Well, I’m very lazy and get out of bed the latest I possibly can, around 8am. We try to be out of the door for school at 8.40 and I’m back from dropping the boys off at about 9.10. After a coffee, I sort out emails, print out any orders etc. I don’t like people having to wait for their orders, so I try to print and package that day. Now we don’t live in town, I don’t go to the post office especially but fit it in with other tasks. Even so, I’m usually waiting in line 3 or 4 days a week!

My work is so varied – some days I might be playing with fabric for a quilt, others I’ll be scanning and manipulating my drawings into designs for fabrics or for a company that sells my mugs. Sometimes I might be writing magazine articles, writing blog posts, thinking up tutorials…just the way I like it – there is no real typical day!

Credit: Lucie Summers

TVH: You have such a distinct, recognisable style and colour palate. Will future collections complement Summersville or will you take a new direction?

LS: My plan for the moment is to stick with my hand drawn, distinctive look. It might change down the line as my work develops, but certainly with the second collection it will compliment Summersville rather than be a totally new look. Because it was designed at the same time it probably is more of a ‘proper’ collection. With Summersville some of the designs were created up to two years apart because they were already designs i was selling in my etsy shop. I sent Moda my whole back catalogue of designs and they picked the ones they like the most so they were a mix of older and new designs, it’s quite eclectic. I’ve got an idea that’s a little more, i don’t know, risky? for my third line, but we’ll see what happens there!

Credit: Lucie Summers

TVH: What do you have planned for the rest of 2012 and into 2013? Are you showing a new collection at Spring Market?

LS: The second line will be seen at Fall Market so I won’t be there this spring. It would be nice to have a few lines out a year, but we’ll see – it’s up to Moda and whether they like my ideas! I’ve got something quite exciting up my sleeve for the rest of this year, I can’t say too much about it yet because it’s not set in stone, but if it goes ahead I shall be very busy this summer. I’m also beginning to teach – I’ve a few workshops booked in London, and locally.

Credit: Lucie Summers

TVH: What are your favourite things to sew? When you’re not sewing with your own fabric, whose do you sew with?

LS: My favourite thing to sew are mini quilts or 12 inch pieces for walls. I definitely err on the side of improv and I rarely make anything from a pattern. I enjoy making stuff up as I go along. I’m definitely not a fabric snob, I couldn’t care less about who designed what or whether it’s the latest cool collection…I’m more drawn to bright fabrics than anything else and I’m partial to spots and dots. I’m always on the look out for nice vintage stuff in charity shops and I’m getting quite a nice collection of scandinavian style designs. I’ve got some of Aneela Hoey’s Sew Stitchy collection and I keep stroking it. I’m far too scared to cut into it! Some of them go brilliantly with Summersville so I shall make something gorgeous soon!

Credit: Lucie Summers

TVH: How do you feel about Summersville selling out?!

LS: Amazed. Humbled. Thrilled. Excited. I just hope to heck the second line isn’t a flop!

Thanks Lucie! There is no WAY your second collection will flop!

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