Welcome to this Saturday's featured sponsor, Monaluna, creators of modern, fresh, organic fabrics. Jennifer, the designer behind all of this fabric goodness, recently sat down to answer a few questions from me.
Me: Careful blog readers will know that I adore your fabrics. The Kid's super cute bucket hat that he wore last summer was made in your "scooters" pattern. Where do you get inspiration for your prints?
Jennifer: That hat is just adorable! My print inspiration tends to come from all kinds of places, but the Scooter print was a pretty personal one. When I first moved to San Francisco, I got a little blue scooter, and that was my main form of transportation for years. I became a huge scooter fan, and I guess that love worked it's way into my first independent fabric collection. Other sources of inspiration are travels - Taali was partly inspired by a year living in Denmark and traveling around Scandinavia - and even the local flora and fauna (especially birds!) near our Bay Area home.
Me: Tell us a little bit about how you got started with Monaluna.
Jennifer: I first got really interested in designing prints for fabric in 2007 when I was freelancing and doing a lot of creative projects on my own. I couldn't find the right fabric for a sewing project I was working on, and I started imagining different prints that I wanted and sketching them out. Soon, I had a whole collection of prints that I thought would work well for fabric, and I eventually began licensing them to Robert Kaufman Fabrics. Around the same time, I heard an NPR piece on cotton farming in India, and how harmful the chemicals and pesticides were on the farming communities there. I began learning more about cotton farming, and organic cotton alternatives, and I became increasingly interested in promoting organic cotton in whatever way I could. Finally, I decided to start my own organic fabric company, and the idea for Monaluna was born.
Me: Also, can you talk a little bit about the process of taking an idea and turning it into the fabric I buy at my local fabric store? I love to imagine that it just magically appears, but somehow I think the reality must be quite different!
Jennifer: Ah, I love to imagine that it would just magically appear too! It always seems like it should be that easy when I first start a new collection, but it inevitably proves more challenging.
Usually, I start a collection with an idea - a style or an image - and I start to collect sketches and pictures that help flesh out the ideas in my head. I create a mood board first, and then I start painting or making more detailed sketches. Most of the prints start out as paintings, but then I scan them into the computer and establish the colors and repeats in photoshop. There's always a lot of muddling around getting the prints right, getting them to work together, making sure the scales work together and getting the colors right. My husband and I end up spending a lot of evenings looking at the prints on their board and making little tweaks and changes until the group really works together and feels just right.
Then, finally, I send the artwork to the mill. The mill creates the screens, chooses the ink colors (sometimes a bit of a challenge getting that right) and creates the first strike-off of the print. Once the strike-off is approved for art and color, the printing process can begin. The mill sends me a "bulk reference" of the first printing, which I then need to approve for hand-feel.
Then the fabric is finished and packed on bolts and bagged and boxed up to be shipped back to me. Shipping from India can take 8 or 9 weeks, plus some time to travel through customs, so the waiting seems endless. Once it's delivered to my doorstep (literally), I pack up orders and send them out to my customers, and it appears at your local fabric store!
Me: I hear you're working on two new collections. Is there anything you can tell us about those? Or is it top secret?
Jennifer: Well! I mentioned that there's always a lot of muddling around getting the collection just right, and this time my two new collections got muddled into one. I had been planning to do two smaller collections - a graphic, midcentury-feeling group and another collection of just geometrics and blenders. As it happened, though, they all worked really well together, so they merged into a new collection called Modern Home. I'm planning to introduce it at quilt market in October, so I can't give too much away, but I'll tell you that it has a fresh, midcentury-modern feel, lots of crisp geometrics and llamas!
Jennifer is generously giving away a bundle of fat quarters from her pretty "Fox Hollow" collection (pictured above). To win, visit Monaluna and come back and leave a comment about your favorite print. As usual, the giveaway will close on Wednesday.