Friday, March 20, 2009

Blog tour: Welcome, Heather Ross!

Today, I'm thrilled to bring you an interview with fabric designer Heather Ross. She's recently written a book, Weekend Sewing, and she's worked on everything from children's pajamas to stationary. She also has the coolest first name ever.

HVM: Thank you for spending this time with me! Let's jump right in. I've read that you spent some time studying law before you changed directions and studied fine art- I feel as though so many of us "creative types" feel passionate about our creative work, yet apprehensive when considering making our creative life into a career. What was the deciding factor for you?

HR: The word "studying" might be an overstatement. I was extremely unsure about what to do, work wise, for some time, and tried a few things out before ultimately ending up here. I loved animals and being outside, so I did jobs that allowed that for as long as I could, but there were just too many ideas needing to get out so eventually I started drawing and taking classes in everything from printmaking to silver casting and one thing led to another....





HVM: Tell us a little bit about your creative process. What inspires your designs? How much do you tend to morph your ideas as you move from inspiration to finished design?


HR: Usually it’s a character that shows up in my sketchbook, like my little mermaid. I imagine a dynamic, a conversation, an interaction, and go from there. I suppose that’s why my prints are referred to as "conversational".


HVM: I love the line of pajamas you design, Munki Munki. Many of our readers have smaller scale businesses, but wonder about wholesale and retail relationships. Can you share with us a little bit about how this relationship developed? Any advice for designers looking to jump over to retail/wholesale?


HR: I started Munki Munki (as a childrens wear line) when I was 26. By 30 I realized that I was neither good at or interested in running a manufacturing company, as much as I loved the brand and the creative work. I sold Munki Munki about four years ago and have continued to design for the brand.


I think that by working in both manufacturing and licensing and by getting to know other designers and companies I have learned one very important lesson. You cannot use someone else's life as a model for your own. If you want to be a successful creative entrepreneur, focus on what you do well, not on what is working for anybody else. The most successful designers (be they fabric, pattern, or clothing designers) in this market are women who have built beautiful, healthy, and fulfilling lives for themselves, and have become inspiration for others by doing so. That inspiration, ultimately, is the most important product that they design, and something that is very difficult to fake or to license out.




HVM: You have been sewing and knitting since you were a little girl- can you recall a project you made early on that you were especially proud to have made?


HR: I knitted a little scarf from embroidery thread, using toothpicks. It was for a little blue jay that my cat had caught and killed, and I wanted to bury it properly and express my regret. It was red, and I was in the second grade.



HVM: What professional goals do you have for the next year or so? What are you dying to work on that you haven't been able to yet in your career?


HR: I am in the very beginning stages of becoming children's book illustrator. I am really ready to allow my characters, mermaids, gnomes, unicorns and surly princesses, and the worlds they live in to develop. I am hoping to continue to be a resource for mothers and children, especially little girls with extremely active imaginations. I do hope to design more sewing projects and fabrics, and maybe even another sewing book. One thing I have always wanted to do?? WALLPAPER.
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Thanks so much, Heather! We can’t wait to see your new projects!





Now, for the really fun part… interested in learning more about Heather’s projects in Weekend Sewing? We’ve got a copy of the book to give away to one lucky commenter on this post! Just leave a comment sharing with us the project you’d like to make using Heather’s fabric, or the part of our interview today that you enjoyed the most. A winner will be drawn at random on Monday, March 23rd, and posted here.
You can thank Heather for her pearls of wisdom in person (and take your copy of the book you've won from this post to be signed!) at two upcoming local events:

March 21
Silver Spring, MD
Demo and signing at Honfleur Home – 1pm
More info:
here

March 29
BALTIMORE, MD
Demo and signing at Atomic Books in Hampden 3pm-5pm
More info:
here

Happy commenting, and good luck!


35 comments:

Rachael said...

i think my first project would be an apron!

Tiff said...

I'd love to make one of the bags in the book...Or just some cute totes and pouches.

Dani said...

I'm dying to make the summer blouse! I'm thinking of using her 'Seahorses' in aqua...

Sarah said...

I am so incredibly excited to hear she is illustrating childrens books. I ordered some of Heathers green horse fabric the other day and then found a really pretty vintage sheet with greens yellows and creams at the goodwill. I am excited to make a quilt with them. I love so many of the projects in her book but the everything tote is my favorite thing so far.

The Lenarts said...

I think I would start with making the pouch for my make-up when traveling. Then maybe some dresses. Thank you.
Oh, and I think illustrating a children's book should be fun. Heather, you should defenitely do it.

Sweet Pepita said...

I love how one thing leads to another and how each chapter of our lives gives us the background and the courage to go on to the next. Good luck with your illustrations! I'm sure they will be fantastic.

I actually really *need* to make an apron!

Ms. Fine said...

Definitely the summer blouse. I've got several fabrics I'm itching to turn into those lovely blouses!

Ashley said...

I'd love to make a summer dress. I'd love it in any of Heather's fabrics - they're all so soft and wonderful! I'm currently working on a baby quilt using the fuchsia and gold prints from the mendocino line.

Sarah said...

I would love to make the summer blouse, and the apron looks really cute too!

Melody said...

I like reading that Heather is going to be a children's book illustrater. Will she be writing as well?

Also I loved the story of how she knitted her first project. Very sweet.

melodyj(at)gmail(com)

Carey said...

I have grand plans to make a number of dresses and tops for summer using the patterns in Heather's book. I'm so excited to get back into garmet sewing. If it goes well, I have friends that want me to sew for them too. Fun!

Sewing is such a wonderfully fulfilling pastime. Books like Heather's have certainly encouraged me to dust off my machine and get back to it. It's very edifying stuff.

Amanda said...

I would love to make the summer blouse - but all of the projects seem like something that I would like to make and wear/use over and over again. I think the blouse would look very nice in some mermaid fabric.

Red Prairie Press said...

oh boy... I think it would have to be an apron for me too. or a quilt? oooo. This is thrilling!

bowerbox said...

i'd go for a summer dress... even though my last few attempts were abandoned halfway through :(
great interview!

emadethis said...

I love the wrap skirt in this book. I would love to make one with the blue and red floral print from Heather's new line.

Jennie said...

I want to make a sundress from the mermaids fabric from the Mendocino line. I've started on a mock-up so I can test the fit before I cut into my mermaids.

Lolly Gaggle said...

The very first thing I would make is the wrap skirt. I'm really looking forward to it!
I love the story about the bluejay scarf. This blog tour has been lots of fun and quite charming.

pinkkiss said...

I need to dust off my machine, been dying to sew up some new clothes for summer so maybe a summer dress or blouse? Great interview:)

jp.session said...

I would make an apron out of several different prints. I want Heather Ross fabric (and book) in my house!

Jessie B. said...

I'm thinking about making a swimmer friend a lined bag for her swimsuit out of Heather's Underwater Sisters fabric. I love the idea of mermaids keeping my friend company while she swims!

Heidi said...

I just bought a sewing machine and I'd love to make an apron. Then, the list would rapidly grow, hopefully as my sewing skills greatly improve.

Small Fox said...

I think I want to make one of everything! I made a quilt using Medoccino and I love it!

Angie said...

I used to be so against wallpaper but I've been coming around lately! Go for the wallpaper!!

Abigail Leigh said...

I'd love to make the Weekend-Away Travel Bag!!!!!

michelle said...

I would love to sew my first garmet ever fromt this book....all of the projects look great and do-able!

Heather said...

Reading that Heather's illustrations become characters for fabric design sounds like a perfect jumping off point for working with childrens books - can't wait to see where that goes! ~Heather

Jennifer said...

I've only ever sewn two things in my life from patterns, but this book makes me feel like its definitely time to try again! I think my first project will be the cute little summer dress! Looks to me like it would make a baltimore summer a little more bearable! great interview!

stefanlil said...

I would choose a wrap skirt for my first project- just in time for spring.

Carrie said...

Wow, I had no idea Heather studied law. :) I did too--maybe we are kindred law/fabric spirits.

seemommysew said...

I want to make the Everything Bag..and then move onto everything else in the book!

She said...

I think my first project might be the summer blouse!
maumauisginger(at)gmail(dot)com

Abbington said...

I really like the yard sale skirt, and I think Heather's fabric would suit it really well.

alethea norene said...

I'd make a bustle for my hussle of course!

vanessa said...

i've been meaning to make and wear more skirts. i'd start there. thanks for the interview!

Aji said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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