We’ve all drooled over Amy Butler’s fabrics and patterns and her new book, “In Stitches” is no different. The spiral bound book featuring more than 25 sewing projects is a feast for the eyes. You’ll find yourself in a dilemma just to decide which project you want to start first. Should you start with the “Short Pleated Apron” or the “Kimono-Style Robe”? Or maybe you should just go for it with the “Patchwork Duvet Cover”? The projects all center around different rooms in your house (living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and office) as well as fashionable items for yourself. The well-designed book (simply beautiful) has a pocket in the front cover holds all the patterns nicely and the spiral bound makes it easy to lay flat for reference. With all the beautiful Amy Butler fabrics that go along with each project, you’ll also find yourself wanting to snatch those up as well. A must have book for any crafter who loves to sew.
As busy as Amy is, she didn’t hesitate to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions. Here’s our interview with Amy Butler where she talks about her craft, her new book, and her upcoming projects. Thanks Amy!
Nat: How did you get started in crafts?
Amy: Through the years my husband David and I have grown our business by living multiple “design lives”. We each have had successful careers as illustrators, and brand and product developers. In 1997 we started producing lifestyle stories for Country Living magazine alongside our studio work. I became their resource for producing “how to” stories that provided inspirational ideas for using vintage fabrics. The magazine was short on space, but we needed to get instructions to our readers so they could
make up the projects. This is how Amy Butler Sewing Patterns began. I licensed the Country Living brand and produced my first two sewing patterns that were featured in some of my articles. Soon after the magazine eliminated it’s fulfillment services and I was left with the challenge of how to get these patterns out to the broader market. In 2002 I attended my first International Quilt Market where I exhibited in my first 10′ x 10′ booth, decked out in quirky vintage modern fabrics highlighting my patterns. Since then, I’ve been
blessed by enthusiastic support from the sewing community and I’m proud to say that great retailers worldwide now carry my sewing patterns.
My first fabric collections were created with Free Spirit fabrics. They gave me an incredible opportunity to design fabric…..which has always been my dream! After several successful lines, our contract expired and I began working with Rowan, a relationship that had budded through our experiences working together on a knitting bag collection. As they say, timing is everything, and I feel I have landed just where I need to be. I started working with Rowan in December 2005. My first collection ” Belle ” just launched this spring. I am having so much fun working with this grouping! I’m incorporating a lot of the fabrics in my new book that I am currently producing called “Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern” a lifestyle / inspiration book to be published by Stewart Tabori & Chang, due out Spring 2008.
Nat: What inspires you?
Amy: My biggest inspiration comes from travel and my garden, which explains my obsession with florals! Travel is so influential. It takes me away from my day to day tasks and encourages me to think differently, helping me to pay attention to new opportunities. Travel gives me the “mental escape” I need in order to refresh and renew my creative focus. My garden is a never ending resource for beautiful color and design. Each season I have a different show, from Spring to Winter. Nurturing my garden and discovering the precious details feeds my soul, it’s one of my favorite places to spend time.
I’m also inspired by the time I get to spend with my husband and friends. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by creative spirits and fun loving people. We all get excited about crafting together, antiquing, plant hunting, gardening and fashion! Spending time with my favorite folks is a constant source of inspiration and energy.
Nat: What design approach do you take with the many different things you do such as designing fabrics, sewing patterns, accessories, as well as your new book, “In Stitches”?
Amy: I am always in the process of collecting inspiration in all kinds of forms. I make my “creative piles ” all year long and pull from this inspirational reserve as I begin to design a new collection of fabric or create a new sewing pattern. The ” CP ” consists of photos from trips and my garden, drawings / sketches for new pattern ideas, snip-its of color from magazine tears, and bits and pieces of antique fabrics with fabulous color.
For example, when I start working on a new fabric collection I pull my color palettes together by building color “stories” intuitively by making a collage with coloration and textures I love. I then match color chips to my color stories and complete my palettes. I almost always make way more palettes than I need, but I love have as many options as possible to react to. I trust my gut and go with my top 3 -4 favorites.
Before I began work on In Stitches, I went through a very detailed conceptual process outlining the project content and point of view for the book. Once I had fine tuned my proposal, I worked directly with my editor at Chronicle to finalize and tweak the projects. With contract and deadline in hand, I developed a schedule and timeline to follow in order to be able to meet the delivery date to Chronicle. It took us nearly 7 months to complete the book. I am fortunate enough to have developed the instructions and illustrations with my work mates here at the studio .I sequestered roughly 15 local women to help me sample, test ( about 6 times per project, some more ) all 27 projects. After several rounds of technical editing, illustration changes and photo styling and shooting all the projects, I birthed my first sewing book, which for me personally, has been extremely rewarding!
In the past it had taken about 3-4 months to complete one sewing pattern, so you can see, working on IN Stitches revolutionized our pattern writing process. I learned so much! And it was fulfilling to watch my work mates grow too.
Nat: Your book, In Stitches, is amazing and it’s filled with creative inspiration (love the book design) and there are lots of projects that I want to make right away. It’s a sewing pattern book that I have never seen before. What made you decide to write In Stitches?
Amy: Thank you! thank you for your kind words. In Stitches is a major collaboration between myself and my editors at Chronicle. It’s incredible what you can develop with folks of like mind. Chronicle is simply one of the most creative publishing houses out there. They are experts at concept and presentation and the book design and format all came from Chronicle’s sourcing and design resources. We brainstormed together to establish the ” feel ” of the book, and they understand the importance of creating a final product that is in sync with their house and my brand.
The idea of doing a sewing book actually started 3 years ago! Country Living had originally wanted me to do an Amy Butler for CL sewing book but their publishing rights were purchased by another company mid stream and the new company was not producing sewing titles. So I took my proposal, re-worked it, and shared the idea with another smaller company and that proposition fell through due to their budget issues. Patience in hand, and having worked with Chronicle on ” Found Style ” I approached my editor with the idea and she loved it! The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Everything does happen for a reason. Sometimes it just takes perseverance and patience to find the right place for a new idea.
Nat: What is a typical day like for you in your studio?
Amy: I get up a couple of hours before work, about 7ish and meditate and exercise, either running close to home or training in my local gym. Dave and I always have a ” coffee talk ” on our top deck after breakfast before we hit the studio downstairs. We have a great system, easily dialed in after having worked together for over 16 years.
Each day is different and I think I’ve re-defined the word multi-tasking. The majority of my day is full of managing my business, promotion / marketing, trouble shooting production issues, answering emails, working with my lawyer, setting up contracts, and bits and pieces of creative time. I have several projects going at once, in any combination of pattern / book design, pattern manufacturing, licensing new lines, fabric designing and manufacturing development.
I am SO fortunate in that I get to work with an incredible group of people here in my studio and my community. I do not do it alone. My husband David is a huge support as well. Being able to work this way is so satisfying!
Nat: Do you have any sewing tips or tricks you can share with us?
Nat: What projects are you working on this fall and winter? What should we be looking out for?
Amy: Thanks for asking. I do have a lot of fun things ” in the works”.
1) Right now I am finalizing the marketing and promotion for my my new fabric line with Rowan that launches at the International Quilt Market next month. The collection is called ” Lotus ” and will be available in stores in January. I’ll be posting teasers and info on my web site soon!
2) I am going through my final rounds of testing for my brand new Fall sewing pattern that will also launch at Quilt Market next month. The pattern is called ” the High Street Messenger Bag “. Designed with both girls and guys in mind. It’s a clean, modern shaped messenger-style bag that maximizes space while remaining sleek in it’s silhouette. With multiple interior pockets, an easy access pocket on the flap interior, stylish pleated pockets, and a super-easy magnetic closure-this bag is as functional as it is fashionable. For the classroom, boardroom, or wherever life takes you. Interior holds 14″x12″x3″, enough for a 14” laptop and notebooks! It also has room for your Ipod! I’ve attached a photo below for a sneak peek!
3) I am working on the launch of my official Amy Butler web store where I will be selling my finished goods that I’ve manufactured with my fabrics, as well as my books and other licensed products. Fingers crossed, the store will open mid December.
4) I am working on the final design selections for the launch of my line of Scrapbooking papers with K & Co. The collection is gorgeous with some fun surprises! The line will launch this January and be in stores soon after.
5) Soon I will start creating my artwork for my Spring collection of sewing fabrics for Rowan! Two deliveries a year keeps me pretty busy. Sketches are on board, but no official name yet.
6) This Spring My ” Sunblooms ” stationary line with Chronicle Books launches. Sales to retailers will start in January and the collection should be available at retail soon after.
7) Dave and I are currently working on my lifestyle book “Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern” for Stewart Tabori and Chang. It’s in line with ” Found Style ” but with an Amy B. voice. This book will launch Spring ’08.