Stories are at the heart of many fabric collections, but it’s especially true in the case of one of Moda’s newest designers, Stacy Iest Hsu. And it’s not just the stories themselves, but the mood they create. Stacy, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, reads nightly to her three children. While her two eldest kids could read on their own, they still enjoy gathering evening. “No one’s fighting, everyone’s peaceful, and though they’re sometimes working on projects of their own, they’re still listening,” says Stacy. “It’s my favorite time of the day.”
Stacy hopes that Lil Red evokes that time of day for other busy moms, as well. She created the cut-and-sew dolls as a quick project with a handmade touch. “The dolls are a product of thinking about how I live my life and my busy schedule,” Stacy says. “I wanted to help people make things, even if they don’t have a lot of time.” In addition to the dolls the collection includes complementary prints, perfect for stitching pillows, curtains, quilts (both doll- and human-sized) and even clothing. “I love designing fabric because people will make amazing things with it,” says Stacy.
A native Californian who grew up on a dairy farm, Stacy credits her upbringing with instilling a love of making things. “There weren’t a lot of people around, so you get creative,” she says. She also grew up in a crafty family—both her grandmothers and her mother sewed. One grandmother even made dolls for her 18 grandchildren. “When you’re little you don’t realize the hard work that goes into it, but as I’m doing this I realize how special it was.”
After studying fashion merchandising and textile design, Stacy worked for Gymboree, designing fabrics for their layette division. While she loved the work, it was difficult to balance with the demands of parenthood and she left to freelance, creating designs for Baby Gap and Pottery Barn, among others. But working with Moda is a special thrill, as her mom is an avid quilter and “fabric collector.”
“I grew up going to quilt shops and sewing stores and my mom always told me Moda had such great fabrics,” says Stacy, who first submitted designs to Moda after the birth of her second child. Though she was turned down, she was also encouraged to keep trying. “That was about seven years ago, and today I feel very, very lucky. The day I started with Moda I could tell I would love the way they treat people who work with them. And being part of the quilting world makes me feel like I’m back home.”
Sharing her love of creating is important to Stacy, and she’s passed that on to her own children. “We are busy with sports and stuff, but I try to keep it boring for the rest of the time,” she says. “It’s kind of annoying as a parent to have kids say ‘I’m bored,’ but eventually they figure it out. My studio is a shared workspace—I keep things like boxes and fabric scraps for them to use and it amazes me what they come up with.” Her older children know how to operate her sewing machine and though her ten-year old son is now “too cool” to sew, her daughter has her own fabric stash. “I love to hear the sewing machine in the background and knowing she’s doing her own thing.”
Lil Red is slated to ship to stores in January and Stacy’s working away on her next line. “My husband will say ‘What do you want to do when you retire?’ and I tell him I just want to keep working,” she says. “I love my job and I love hearing back from people who have used my fabrics. To be a part of Moda is a dream come true for me.”