Evolution of a New Fabric Design

I’ve been designing fabric now with Benartex for 6 years and have released 8 fabric collections so far (with the next one in the works now). Over this time, I’ve learned a lot about my style and how to put together a cohesive color story. Today I thought it would be fun to explain more about how I created the designs for my newest collection called Stitchy.

Click here to view all Stitchy fabrics by Christa Watson for Benartex.

Usually I start with very simple line drawings on paper and add more details as I go. Sometimes they’ll evolve into something completely different and other times they’ll stay relatively the same. My Hashtags print was the simplest design but one of my favorites. I literally drew a bunch of pound signs on a white background in photoshop with pink ink. This was my original drawing below, so that’s my actual penmanship, messy marks and all!

It was a simple matter of putting the design into repeat and replacing the original ink color with a few more hues to match the rest of the prints in the group:

The Stitches print, which is the title name for the whole line, was very straightforward to create. I started with one of my favorite modern machine quilting designs called “Geo Chains.”

I included a simplified line drawing of this design in my Block Chain Quilt pattern:

When I wrote my book 99 Machine Quilting Designs, I revisited this motif and mixed it up so that the design was a little bit more random and whimsical:

Then it was a simple matter of shrinking down the scale and putting it into repeat on several different background colors. I absolutely love how the final version turned out! I really enjoy including at least one fabric in each collection that’s based on my actual machine quilting designs.

The Crossweave print took the longest to develop. I originally drew out a very simplified design years ago that I called “Dot Dash.” First tried to include it in my Gridwork collection, but it just didn’t fit. Then I wanted to squeeze it into Black, White & Bright, but again, it didn’t jive with the rest of the group. I’ve learned that I can’t force a design, no matter how much I like it!

Finally, I had the idea to color in some of the dots and squares to form a secondary design print, sort of like a cross stitch design. But even that took a few tries, too! First I tried to go “cutesy” with a heart motif, but decided that’s not really my look or style. Then I tried randomly coloring in the squares, but that didn’t do much for me either.

Finally I leaned into the geometry of the print and enjoyed creating a simple cross woven design by coloring in the squares on the diagonal. I used several shades of the same color to give it a bit of depth and sparkle. The hardest part was figuring out which colors I wanted the center dots to be, LOL!!

Threaded Lines was another idea that I’d had in my head for awhile. Here are some earlier evolutions of this design. I literally called the green dashed lines “chicken scratch” while I was working on it, LOL! I wanted simple lines, but not THAT simple for this print.

I actually like the deep red jewel-toned look below, but thought the style read a little more “sophisticated contemporary.” To me, this didn’t fit with the overall look and feel that I was going for.

After a bit more work, it evolved into the Threaded Lines print that I love below. That’s MUCH better, don’t you think?

Sunny Day was the easiest print to finalize, mainly because the team at Benartex did most of the heavy lifting on this one. Whenever I’m designing a collection, I work with a graphic designer and the marketing team to finalize the scale, coloring, repeat, and all of the other technical stuff that needs to occur before printing can begin.

Every now and then they’ll make suggestions or send me ideas to explore. I fell in love with the sun/stars motif they sent me immediately, and together we tweaked it until it was just right.

Often times quilters will ask where I get my ideas, or how I start on each collection. Most of the time I start with a seed of an idea, develop a color palette, and then naming the group usually comes last. Other times I’ll have a specific theme I want to explore and then will design everything to coordinate. It’s a bit of a messy process, but one that I enjoy!

If you’ve sewn with Stitchy or are working on a current project using this collection, please let me know. You can use the hashtag #stitchyfabric on social media or share images in my Christa Quilts Facebook group. I’d love to see what you are making!

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