In honor of Mother’s Day, we introduce Moda’s newest designers. Both are mothers, and one is the mother of the other: Welcome Kathleen Whiting and her daughter Natalia Bonner!
Natalia and Kathleen are familiar figures in the quilting world. They’ve written two books together (Cabin Fever and Modern One-Block Quilts) and Natalia, a Gammill Quilt Artist and a quilting instructor at Road to California and QuiltCon East, has three on her own (Beginner’s Guide to Free-Motion Quilting, Visual Guide to Free-Motion Quilting Feathers, and Next Steps in Machine Quilting). In 2011, Kathleen was named McCall’s Quilting’s first Design Star. Both have won numerous awards for their quilts and their work has appeared in popular quilting magazines. But they’d never included “fabric designer” on their list of accomplishments…until now.
Their first line, Thrive, will debut at Quilt Market. Inspired by Natalia’s quilting, with color inspiration from Kathleen (who does interior design, in addition to working in an emergency room as the unit secretary where she keeps track of tests, checks on medication orders, and calls Life Flight), the pair describe the fabric as a modern blend—“a cross-over of tone-on-tones and a ‘batiky’ look.”“My mom is really, really good with colors and putting them together, and the prints are all from my quilting,” says Natalia. “They read as solid, so they’re great blenders and also can stand alone.”
Kathleen thinks the colors will work well for home dec projects, in addition to quilting. “The colors and prints aren’t too bold and people will feel comfortable using them,” she says. “They’re very gender-neutral.”The teamwork that went into creating this line is typical of the pair. Quilting is practically in their blood—Kathleen remembers playing under quilting frame at her grandparents house, while both her grandmother AND grandfather stitched with friends. She kept quilting and eventually realized she no longer needed to buy a pattern and designed her own. Kathleen shared her love of quilting with her five children and though a couple expressed moderate interest, Natalia was smitten early. She remembers “stealing” heavy-duty upholstery fabric scraps from the drapery and home décor store her mom owned and stitching them together on an industrial sewing machine. “I made some really, really awful quilts,” she says. She entered one in a county fair and it somehow wound up in the adult division, where it received several negative comments. “But I was really proud because I got a dollar for it.”
Fast forward to ten years ago, when Natalia was eight months pregnant with her first child. One day, she up and quit her job as a dental assistant to start long-arming. “I went and bought this expensive machine and decided to figure out how to make it pay for itself,” she says. “I never even knew it could be a career, but I started quilting for hire and it gave me the opportunity to be home with my two kids.” It seems to have given her many other opportunities, as well.“I’ve quilted quilts for the Moda bake shop and for nearly everyone at Moda,” says Natalia. “Designing fabric had always been a dream and I decided to reach out to them. I’ve always loved Moda, so working with them has been everything I expected—really awesome.”When it comes to creating a quilt, Kathleen and Natalia are like a well-oiled machine. “I give Natalia ideas and she gives me some and we totally work off one another,” says Kathleen. Though they live 300 miles apart, they’ll use overnight mail to ship quilts to one another when they’re apart. “When we’re together, she’s the stitcher and I’m the presser and binder. Natalia has never bound a quilt and I’ve never quilted one. We seriously are the best team ever.”
Welcome, and Happy Mother’s Day, Kathleen and Natalia!