The International Inspirations of American Jane

If you take a look at Sandy Klopp’s fabric, it’s easy to see the influence of trips to France. In her newest line, Le Petit Poulet, handsome roosters and rabbits pose in circular frames, paisleys mingle with posies, and bees flit by a wire fence. But France isn’t the only country that’s left it’s mark her designs.

Sandy grew up in Holland, Michigan, the site of an annual festival celebrating tulips. Those bold, bright blooms, and the mix of patterns in the traditional Dutch costumes worn by festival participants, animate her fabric designs and inspire her palette, as well.

Other travel-related influences include Saudi Arabia and Iran, where Sandy and her husband lived and taught and where the patterns and colors of Persian carpets caught Sandy’s eye. The visual richness of all these destinations mingle in her American Jane fabrics.

“When I first started designing I wasn’t really trying for a particular ‘look,’” says Sandy. “I just did what I liked.”

Sandy learned to sew on her grandmother’s treadle sewing machine as a child. Her sister-in-law encouraged her to make her first quilt and later Sandy honed her skills working in quilt shops in Northern California.

“I pretty much love the whole design process,” says Sandy. “I love seeing the fabric stacked up and holding a grouping together. I love cutting it into little stacks, ready to sew. I love sewing it up to see how it comes together and I love quilting it.”

Is there anything that doesn’t thrill Sandy about her profession?

“The only thing I don’t love is writing patterns,” she says with a laugh. “You have to switch to the other side of your brain and it’s hard to go back and forth.”

Sandy appreciates being able to express her design influences in her work for Moda. “I feel like I fell into the best possible place to be when I joined up with them,” she says. “I’m so impressed with the way they take care of their people and allow them to do what they do best. From Mark (Dunn) right on down, they know their business and they do it because they love it.”

On the Road… with Moda

Store samples and models are your best sales asset. When you display your fabrics in a beautiful quilt or other finished item your customers can visualize how the colors will work together because you’ve shown them. Even if they don’t choose to make the exact same pattern your sample was created in they feel confident the fabrics you have used are complimentary.

If you have groups that are not selling as well as others use those fabrics to create an appealing store sample. Every week I hear store owners say “It isn’t selling well but I haven’t done anything with it yet.” Some groups seem to walk out the door and others need an attractive pattern to show their real potential.

I’ve included pictures from Quilt Essential in Devils Lake, ND. This store has a stunning quilt gallery. I appreciate the time I get to spend there admiring the inspiring projects and displays. Katie and her staff have a store sample completed from nearly every fabric collection housed under their roof.

Merchandising Tip: I have bags on the brain this week. When creating a display for bags and bag patterns be sure to house all the bag essentials in one area so your customers and staff don’t have to hunt for the items they need to complete the project. Bag essentials include…zippers, buttons, closures, handles, and interfacing…just to name a few.

Display Idea: Bags from the ceiling! What a great way to get your customer’s attention…hang your bag samples from the wall or ceiling. Be sure to hang them with in “reach” so they can inspect all the options…pockets, zippers, magnetic snaps, and buttons.
Terri’s Treasures Iron, MN

Class Option: Speaking of bags….Many stores offer bag classes and have great success! Most quilter’s are comfortable with the straight lines of their traditional pieced blocks and simply need a little encouragement to be introduced to the endless world of bags and purses. Most of us love the feeling of accomplishment provided by bag patterns…you can typically finish one the same day you start it.

Northern Exposure Quilts Warroad, MN

Barbara Brackman: Bringing the Past into the Present

Barbara Brackman is known for looking back in time. A preeminent quilt historian and designer of historically influenced fabrics, there’s no doubt she gains inspiration from days gone by.
But Barbara doesn’t need to look too far back to remember what inspired her love of textiles. This 1950 photo of her grandparents, William and Anna McNally, and their 13 children (including Barbara’s mother Cecelia, third from left) provides all the reminder she needs. “I had the most beautiful aunts and I thought they were the essence of glamour,” says Barbara. “That’s where I got my love of fabric.”
Barbara studied art and special education in college, and began quilting as a stress-relieving hobby. She collected antique fabric and quilts and was intrigued with learning how to value and date them. At the time, few reproduction fabrics were available and she and Terry Clothier Thompson, who shared a studio, overdyed new fabric to get the antique look they loved. Moda liked the look too, and since then Barbara’s produced more than 20 lines of fabric.
“I design historical fabric because I understand it so well,” says Barbara. “I have hundreds of fabrics I use for inspiration.”
She’s also a voracious reader, immersing herself in histories and historical novels to better understand the culture of a particular time period. “I read and read until I can answer questions like ‘How would a woman think in the 1820s?’ ‘What would her religious and political feelings be?’” she says. “My reading often suggests themes for my fabric.”
Barbara admits that while she’s entranced by the past, there are things about current life she enjoys. One of them is Photoshop, which she used to enhance this photo of herself with her dog, Dorothy Barker. Even using modern technology, her resulting illustration is a tip of the voluminous hat to John Singer Sargent, who painted at the turn of the 20th century.
With her newest line of fabric, Civil War Reunion, Barbara looks to the past once more. “The focus of the fabric isn’t the war,” she says, noting that 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. “This line talks about the reunion of the States after the war. The country was able to get back together, and that’s what I think is so interesting.”

Web Tips: Custom iPhone Bookmark Icons

Promote your business by creating a custom Bookmark icon for the iPhone.  This is a great way for your customers to keep your website or blog close at hand with just a single tap on your custom icon.

Step 1: Create custom icons that are 57 pixels x 57 pixels and save them as PNG files. This custom icon can simply be a logo, image, or anything else that easily represents your company or website in a small area. Common programs that have the ability to save a file as a PNG file are Adobe Photoshop or Fireworks.
PLEASE NOTE: the resolution for your image should be no larger than 72 dpi.

Step 2: Rename the file to apple-touch-icon.png

Step 3: Upload the file to your root directory on your server. The root directory is where the files are stored directly under your domain, such as

That is it.  Now on your iPhone, simply go to your website and download a bookmark to your iPhone.

HINT: There is no need to create the highlight or curved corners that you see on all the bookmarks on your iPhone.  Apple takes care of this part for you.

Have fun!