If you’re like me, you’ve fallen in love with the work of Heather Bailey over and over again as she posts some of the most beautiful photographs of her work on her blog. She debuted her own fabric line called Freshcut™ for Free Spirit Fabrics where you’ll be able to bring that Heather Bailey aesthetic to your own sewing projects. I got a chance to talk to Heather Bailey to find out about her sewing inspirations and what lies ahead for her in the new year.
Nat: How did you get your start in crafting and what kinds of crafts do you do?
Heather: My first craft obsession was paper. At 4-years-old, I filled my bottom dresser drawer with heaps of paper: white paper, lined paper, construction paper – any paper I could get my hands on. With the assistance of a stapler, scissors and glue, I’d busy myself for hours, building all sorts of intricate 3D creatures, from robots to elephants. It wasn’t long before I learned to crochet, outfitting my troupe of beloved dolls and Barbies in a rainbow of wild duds. Quilting was next, followed by knitting. By the time I was 17, my preoccupation with all things handmade picked up serious speed and I soon learned my way around many new arts: spinning, weaving, stained glass, upholstery, ceramics, bead making, faux finishing, silver smithing, painting and children’s illustration.
Today, I enjoy the artistic freedom that comes from a broad base of experience. And, with the tools and supplies I’ve collected throughout my explorations, my studio is a virtual craftstore. Soldering iron? Got it. Spinning wheel? Got it. Wood-burner? Got it. Yarn, fabric, ribbon, clay? I’ve got those too.
Needless to say, when it comes to crafts, I like to hop around a bit – a little bit of this, a little bit of that and a whole lot of sewing.
Nat: Your blog, HELLOmynameisHeather, has the most amazing projects and the most beautiful photography. What made you decide to start your own craft blog?
Heather: The night that I discovered blogging, I couldn’t sleep. It was a mixed bag of ‘Wow!’ and ‘Where’ve I been?’ I was searching for info on my broken sewing machine and, like Alice into Wonderland, I stumbled into a magical new world. I haven’t since returned. My daily routine is now strewn with a colorful new cast of characters and storylines.
As a journaler and an all-around busy gal, starting my own blog was a natural and immediate conclusion. Nevertheless, it was months before I had met my various business obligations and could tackle a new frontier. HELLOmynameisHeather was born the following spring, in May 2006.
Photography followed as a matter of course. Pretty projects deserve pretty photography. And, although my husband is a professional and extremely talented photographer, he’s too busy to do my blog-bidding. So, I quickly added photography to my must-learn list and jumped in. I’ve picked it up pretty quickly, though I still can’t explain what an F-stop is.
Most people assume that my photos are his, so I think I’m doing pretty well. I resist the urge to correct them – most of the time
Nat: Tell me more about the new line of fabrics you designed. What was the design and color process like?
Heather: Freshcut™, my debut collection of fabric for Free Spirit, hits stores this month. Freshcut offers a range of forty high-quality, quilting-weight cotton fabrics that are perfect for all sorts of crafty projects.
With Freshcut, I set out to develop a collection with all the charm of a beloved fabric stash, thoughtfully assembled over the years, with an assortment of prints that are not only individually delightful, but also magical when combined. I wanted projects and quilts made from Freshcut to have built-in sparkle and intrigue, a sophisticated playfulness.
Though I adore vintage fabric and design–and therein certainly lay some underlying influences–all of my fabrics are original. Each design started as a pencil sketch in my trusty sketchbook. When I’d hit on a delicious idea, I’d redraw the design onto Bristol board with greater care. Then, these second renderings were painted out and scanned into my iMac where I could best direct their color combinations. After calibrating my printer to my monitor (learning curve here), chosen designs were printed out, neatly stacked, and sent on their way to the fabric mill. Lastly, after two rounds of strike-offs (sample runs from the mill), colors were perfected, final decisions were made, and the collection was sent to print.
Nat: Where do you find your inspiration?
Heather: Ah, a most tricky question. For me, pinpointing inspiration has always been a difficult pursuit. Inspiration is everywhere. As an artist, I’m keenly aware of the colors and forms of my environment. A slow stroll through an antique store, a brisk walk through the mall and a quick jog through the neighborhood can all spark new ideas. Ever elusive, my inspiration typically boils down to color combinations and general design styles. I begin sketching and one idea leads to another – a very difficult process to describe succinctly.
Nat: What other craft blogs, web sites and books do you enjoy?
Heather: Like many, I subscribe to dozens of fabulous blogs. I’m thrilled that so many women are discovering the fun and fulfillment of handicrafts. Equally exciting is the supportive community that has developed around blogging. And, though I don’t boast time to absorb as many blogs as I’d like, there are certainly a few that have risen to the top of my list:
Alicia Paulson is an inspiring writer and a fellow maker of happy things.
Hillary Lang has turned her adorable blog into a happening crafty business.
So has Amy Karol.
Anna Maria Horner, another young fabric-designer, keeps me company and makes me laugh.
And, QuiltersBuzz is a great resource for quilt-minded folk.
Random, I know, but the best book I’ve read lately is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. It’s not only a gripping tale of revenge and forgiveness, but a surprisingly comfortable read for a book written in the mid-1800s. (I swear, it reads like a movie.) Next, and in keeping with a theme, I plan to tackle The Three Musketeers. I’ll have to upload the audio version to my iPod though, so I can ‘read’ it while I craft, right?
Nat: Of course! Audiobooks and podcasts are so cool to listen to while you craft.
I like your sewing tips like how to tie your favorite knot. Do you have another sewing tip you can share with our readers?
Heather: Yes. Here’s a great one… When you’re stuffing a softie that has fine little details or sharp little points (like the beak of a bird or the tip of a cat’s ear), twist a little bit of stuffing onto the end of a shish-ka-bob skewer and dab some white glue (Iike Elmer’s) onto the stuffing. While tacky, carefully use the skewer to fill the pointy spot with this stuffing. When the softie is stuffed and the glue has dried, the points will stay pointy.
Nat: What kinds of craft projects are you working on this winter?
Heather: I’m in the process of designing a collection of sewing patterns. Projects range from children’s toys and sewing tools, to women’s accessories and home décor items. I’m also putting together a website and gathering my thoughts for 2007’s fabric collection. Fun and busy times.