Tag Archives: fleet and flourish

Meet the Designer – Maureen Cracknell, Part Two

Welcome back! Today I want to share a bit more about Maureen Cracknell and her gorgeous work. If you haven’t yet read it, part one of this interview was posted here yesterday.

When I spoke with Maureen last week I became intrigued by her stories and her developmental process as an artist. What most impressed me though, was her humility. She spoke with such a genuine tone and it was incredibly easy to have a great conversation with her. I asked her to talk about what inspires her when she is working on a line of fabric and she told me some wonderful stories.

It seems that sometimes, drawing, painting and then designing a line of fabric is very therapeutic for Maureen; it is a way to process and work through a life experience. She shared two of these stories with me.

The first one was when she designed her very first collection, Wild and Free.  This was the first line Maureen designed for Art Gallery Fabrics. Her mentor, Pat, had been encouraging her to take the step and design a line of her own. However, Maureen held herself back by worrying it ‘wouldn’t be perfect’, that maybe her work would be only ‘mediocre’. She was afraid to put herself out there and kept saying she wasn’t ready yet.

In June of 2013, Maureen’s father passed away. This was a time of intense grief, as one would expect. Out at a restaurant, sharing a meal with her family, Maureen ran into a friend of her father’s. He was expressing his condolences to her and he asked her if she was designing fabric. Maureen was somewhat taken aback and replied no, she was not. This friend told her that her father had mentioned Maureen would be using her artistic skill to design fabric. Her father told this friend that he was so very proud of her and knew she would do well as a designer, that he was proud she was going to be ‘making fabric’. This conversation between her father and his friend stuck with Maureen and she took it as a message from her dad that she could indeed do this.

At about the same time, Maureen received a call from her mentor, Pat Bravo. They talked and Pat mentioned that the whole Art Gallery booth was ready for the upcoming Fall Quilt Market show. She said they were only missing one thing. Maureen, of course, asked “what is that”?  Pat’s reply was, “you, we are missing your fabric”. Maureen was blown away and this was just the gentle push she needed to jump in and begin.

In Wild and Free, Maureen used drawings she already had as well as new pieces of art to create the line. There is even a design based on drawings she made with her children. The star fabric, Midnight Roof, is one of these. This simple blender is based on a game Maureen often played with her children where she would draw a line and then the child would add a line. They continued this back and forth sharing and together, they would create stars. She and her children also played this game to create hearts (with each person drawing half of the heart) as well as portraits where they each add to the portrait, turn by turn.

When Maureen agreed to jump in and start designing her own line, Pat generously made herself available to Maureen, teaching her how to use Illustrator for design purposes. They had many Skype sessions with Pat guiding Maureen through the design process as well as teaching her to use the software. Not long after they began, Maureen’s first line, Fleet and Flourish, was displayed in the Art Gallery Fabric booth at Quilt Market.  Maureen won Best New Exhibitor that year! What an amazing start to her career as a designer.

The next story is as heartwarming as the first! The current Maureen Cracknell line that is flooding quilter’s stash everywhere is Garden Dreamer. It is just a fantastic collection of florals, both large scale and small, with shades of greens, blues, corals and purples. Truly a gorgeous line of fabric, she told me the story of how it came about.

When her children were little the Cracknell family lived in a house which happened to have a very small yard. Her neighbor, Leslie, kindly asked if Maureen would like to bring her children to play in her yard so they would have a little more space to run around. As any sane mother of three young children would, Maureen happily accepted the offer. She and her neighbor became very close and their children grew to be friends.  While the children played, Leslie taught Maureen to garden.  They spent many playdates together in the yard, weeding and tending the garden. This was Maureen’s introduction to gardening and she enjoyed being in the yard with her friend and both of their children. Her neighbor had a very green thumb and grew gorgeous perennials in her yard. She took the time to teach Maureen how to garden, what the names of the plants were and what sort of environment they would grow in. Sometime later the Cracknell family moved to a larger house. When they moved, her neighbor dug up plants, dividing them from her perennials so that Maureen could plant them in her new yard. Unfortunately, not too much later, her neighbor was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. Maureen was very supportive of Leslie during the treatment phases but ultimately she passed away. Grieving this loss in her life, Maureen created Garden Dreamer in tribute to her neighbor. She says that “Leslie passed away just before I began sewing but I know she would be thrilled about all of this.”

I think the emotion Maureen pours into her work translates to beautiful color and composition. Her fabrics are full of joy. I asked Maureen whether she had any input into the adorable selvages that Art Gallery puts on her fabrics. She explained it was actually up to the in house designers at Art Gallery. They design her promotional materials as well as the beautiful selvages. I don’t believe I have bought a piece of fabric just to get the cute selvage, but it is a fun bonus to see a pretty selvage trimming the fabric I bring home. Art Gallery for the win here!

Fleet & Flourish Booth at Quilt Market

We had a nice time reminiscing about her experiences at Quilt Market as a part of the Art Gallery team. It was heartwarming to hear the love Maureen has for her partners at Art Gallery. She is both indebted to them for all she has learned from them as well as invested in the company as a loyal member of their team of designers. She spoke about the way that Art Gallery fosters an environment of collaborative teamwork.

From left: Sharon Holland, Pat Bravo, Katarina Roccella, BariJ, and Maureen Cracknell

I want to interject here. My experience thus far with Art Gallery as a new shop owner has been superb. I have called numerous times with questions on process, delivery dates, shipping cost, etc. Each time I have been greeted with warmth and a kind hello. Sometimes I find myself talking with a knowledgeable customer support person and other times my call is taken by none other than the owner, Walter Bravo. He treats me with as much attention as he would a large operation; I am never made to feel less important because my orders are usually five bolts at a time. This impresses me deeply. Prior to retirement, I managed a Human Resources group for quite a few years. I know first hand the benefits of fostering an atmosphere of teamwork and collaberation within a group of employees. The team becomes like a family and the positive effect of this trickles down and is felt by customers, thereby increasing their loyalty to the company. I am an example of this. I am proud to carry Art Gallery Fabrics in my shop.

Being the curious sort and not wanting the conversation to end, I also asked who makes the decision to make her fabric into the usual gorgeous cottons that Art Gallery produces as well as knits, canvases, voiles and, soon, rayon fabrics. This is a collaborative decision made by the designer and the team at  Art Gallery but the head designers have the final say. I am happy to see the other types of fabric offered as it allows for so many different sorts of projects. Art Gallery does an awesome job with their lookbooks. If you haven’t taken a peek, it is worth your time. There are samples of everything from home decor, quilts, dresses, skirts, totes, bags, pillows and more. Free patterns are offered on many of the examples. If you want to see the book for Garden Dreamer, click here.

I hope my posts have given you a peek into Maureen’s work and creative process. I feel like I made a new friend after chatting with her and I am grateful for that.

As I mentioned yesterday, Maureen’s Garden Dreamer fabric is on sale through Sunday, March 19th. Save 15% this week only. No coupon code needed, prices are already adjusted.

Wednesday WIP Report

A little of this and a little of that – this has been the routine in my sewing room this week. For the most part, I have been quilting the baby quilt for my almost-here grandbaby. She is due March 3rd and I know my daughter-in-law has reached the point where she is done being pregnant. Those last few weeks are just miserable. I hope this little girl makes an appearance soon! The quilt top is finished and the quilting is nearly finished.

The quilting is coming along fine though. It is hard for me to sit and quilt for long periods of time. My neck becomes very grumpy if I sit for longer than 1/2 hour or so. It is better this way. I break it up and get other things done in between. I have been quilting a flower on each HST and a little heart on the sashing between the squares. So cute.

The hearts are a bit on the wonky side but such is life. I have a feeling the baby won’t be too critical of her Grammy’s stitching.

I have jumped in on a quilt along. It is hosted by Maureen Cracknell and Sharon Holland, both are designers for Art Gallery Fabric.  They are calling it the Sewcial Bee Sampler. A block design is released each Wednesday and today is week three. If you are interested, there is plenty of time to catch up.

 

With each week, there are giveaways for those who participate. Needle & Foot will be sponsoring two of the giveaway Fridays; one in June and one in July!! Here is the pull I selected for the Quiltalong.

I am using the rest of my fat eighth collection of Fleet and Flourish (designed by Maureen Cracknell). I added a fat quarter bundle of solids from the Pink Castle subscription I received for my birthday. I am being very judicious with the Fleet & Flourish and hoping I have enough. We shall see!

The first three blocks look great!

Each block is framed but when I got to the third block, I decided to wait before framing it. I am wondering about my choice of gray and navy blue as frames. So, I need to ponder that one for a bit.

Ok – that is the update for now. Projects are moving right along. 🙂 Hope the same is true for you!  Linking to Let’s Bee Social and Needle & Thread Thursday. Links are available at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

 

 

Fleet & Flourish- A finish

Fleet and Flourish is a gorgeous line of Art Gallery Fabrics designed by Maureen Cracknell. I was lucky enough to receive a set of fat eighths of this line from my kids for my 2015 birthday. It was one of the monthly shipments of the fat eighth club at Pink Castle Fabrics. (Pink Castle never disappoints!!) I love this set and really had a tough time cutting into it. But that is so silly. What good does gorgeous fabric do for me if it is sitting up on a shelf in the closet?

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I decided to use it to create a mid-size quilt; either to be used as a baby quilt or a wall quilt. It has been a long while that I have looked at the large star quilts that float around Pinterest. I have several pinned and decided to pick one and make it. (If ever you are in need of ideas, you are welcome to check out the bazillion pins I have collected over time.) This was not the first star quilt I have made. Back in the early 1980’s I made a large star quilt for a queen size bed for my parents. unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of it but I remember it was navy, maroon, and cream colors. (It also faded terribly because of the large windows they had in their bedroom at the time.) I decided it was time for another one – though on the smaller side.

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I used the tutorial at Diary of a Quilter to look at dimensions. Her blocks were a bit bigger than mine. Having the bundle of fat eighths (which measure 9″x18″ each) set a limit to what size I could use. I cut 9 inch blocks and then sub-cut them into triangles. The four corner blocks were made with 8 1/2″ squares. After playing with the colors, I stitched the triangles together and squared them into 8 1/2″ squares.

This very simple project is a perfect use of this fabric as many of the prints have a bold scale such that leaving the pieces rather large shows it off well. Aren’t the colors just gorgeous? I am a huge fan of Maureen Cracknell and there isn’t a line of hers that I don’t love! As an added bonus, I still have a number of pieces left from the bundle. More Fleet and Flourish to play with!

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Once the star was built, I put a simple 2 1/2 inch border around it to make it just a bit bigger. I used my walking foot to quilt the star with soft, wavy lines. Then I stitched a couple of straight lines through the border. I think I may add one more line on the inside of the border.

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The border worked to enclose the star and to show off this scrappy binding.

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Doesn’t the binding just tie everything together?  For the backing, I used the same neutral fabric as the border. It is actually a batik fabric but doesn’t really look like one to me.

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At 36″ x 36″, this is a lovely baby quilt or would be pretty hanging on a wall. I have listed it in my Etsy shop and hope someone will snap it up soon.

 

Linking to my favorite places, all of which are listed at the top of the page, under Link Ups.