New Designer: Linzee McCray

That’s right.  Linzee McCray!  The same Linzee who writes a weekly post for The Cutting Table!

That’s Linzee, kayaking in Minnesota.  By the water is one of her favorite places to be.

For Linzee Kull McCray, it’s always about the stories. An innate curiosity about people, what they’re passionate about and life in general has taken her on a journey that she never would have imagined.

Journalist. Author. Museum Curator. Quilter. Knitter. Wife. Mom.  Daughter. Friend… and the list goes on.

When I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she quickly replied “a vet.”

Just as quickly, she told me that her Mom knew by the time she was seven that Linzee would be a writer. Despite her mother’s wisdom and insight, it wasn’t until she was an adult that she went back to school to pursue a degree in journalism.

While she learned to sew and make garments at a young age, she didn’t make her first quilt until fifteen years ago. She caught up quickly, making eleven quilts that first year.  What remained a constant was a love for textiles, especially because of the role they played in women’s lives.

Linzee at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the opening of an exhibit featuring quilts included in her book, Art Quilts of the Midwest.  This is one of several quilt exhibits based on her book.  She was a Guest Curator for the Iowa Quilt Museum in Winterset, founded by Marianne Fons.  When she made her first quilt using a pattern from Fons & Porter magazine, Linzee never expected to be working with Marianne putting together an exhibit at her museum.

But taking risks and being open to new opportunities is something she’s always done – has tried to push herself to do more of.

A decade-long fascination with feed sacks culminated in writing Feed Sacks: A Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric, published by Uppercase in 2016.

 

When I asked her why she loves feed sacks, Linzee replied, “I love the huge range of fabrics – more than 18,000 documented prints and colorways – that reflect nearly forty years of fabric design, ranging from sweet little floral prints to graphic geometrics.  Just when I think I’ve seen them all, I find another surprising pattern on the shelf of an antique store or in a quilt block.

These are a few of the feed sacks in Linzee’s collection that were used in the Feed Sack book.

“I’m inspired by the talented designers of feed sacks who largely labored in obscurity, but I’m most deeply inspired by the women who stitched clothing, curtains, diapers and dishtowels from them.  I want to pay homage to them.  Often of necessity, they wasted absolutely nothing, but within those parameters, they created quilts, clothing, and domestic textiles of great beauty.”

Did she ever think she’d be designing fabric for Moda? No. But she didn’t expect to publish two books within a few years either.  She has a busy life – married to her husband, Paul, for forty years; two grown daughters – smart, funny, independent young women; and many friends.  She’s in book clubs, a Scrabble club, knits, works at a quilt shop, teaches and probably about fifty other things she forgot to mention.

She loves spending time kayaking, gardening, taking pictures – she was a yearbook photographer in high school – and relaxing at a family cabin in Minnesota.

Would you pass this up to work?

But Linzee’s motto is “when someone presents you with an opportunity, grab it!”

So when Cheryl Freydberg, Moda’s Director of Design, asked Linzee if she’d be interested in designing a line of Feed Sacks for Moda, Linzee’s husband said “You can’t not do this!”

After all, Linzee already had an extensive collection of feed sacks from which to draw inspiration.

How lovely is this?

Her debut collection is Feed Sacks: True Blue.  Keeping the collection in a single colorway was inspired by the feed sack collections at the Briscoe Center for American History in Austin, Texas, where Linzee did research for her book.  She wrote, “Librarians brought indistinguishable grey boxes from the stacks and inside each box were page after page of feed sack swatches arranged in color order.  I loved just sitting and admiring the dozens of green or red or orange swatch pages – I’d fan them out on the desk in front of me.”

Choosing blue for the first collection was easy.

These are a few of the prints in Linzee’s Feed Sacks: True Blue collection for Moda – swatches from the strike-offs.

“I selected blue for my first collection because I grew up in a house of blue – as a child, I ate off blue dishes, walked on a blue carpet, and was frequently dressed in blue clothing sewn by my blue-loving mother.  Blue is comforting, classic and modern all at the same time”.

More of Feed Sacks: True Blue – coming at Fall Market, shipping April 2018.

To learn more about Linzee:

We’ll be sharing more about True Blue in the coming weeks and months but for now, Feed Sacks: True Blue will debut at Fall Quilt Market in a few weeks, and it will be in shops in April.

Unless I keep it all for myself.

Happy Thursday!

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39 comments on “New Designer: Linzee McCray

  1. Beth Esser says:

    Absolutely wonderful! Both Linzee and her line!

  2. Barbara Esposito, The Quilted B says:

    I am always amazed at the plethora of talent represented by the ladies at Moda! It is humbling and inspiring. I do believe I need a LOT of this beautiful fabric Linzee! Thank you Carrie for this wonderful post!

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Thank you, Barbara. I am, indeed, in amazing company! And Carrie did a great job—I’m not used to being on the “other side” of these blog posts and she made it easy. I’m lucky to get to work with her and all the wonderful folks at Moda!

  3. Susan says:

    Love the story, the book, the fabrics! Can’t wait!

  4. Deborah Dority says:

    Oh my goodness I always thought of feedsacks as just a solid white or off-white, sometimes with a stripe of one or two colors. My eyes have been opened!!! And blue is my favorite color. It’s a sign!

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Oh, you have so much to look forward to, Deborah! When you start looking into the range of prints and color combinations of the original feed sacks, you will be hooked. It was not easy to select just a few for this line. So glad you are excited about blue, too!

    • Linzee McCray says:

      You have so much to look forward to, Deborah! When you start looking into the range of prints and color combinations of the original feed sacks, you will be hooked. It was no easy task to choose just a few for this line! Glad you’re looking forward to blue, too!

  5. Dang, another fabulous collection I HAVE to have! Beautiful Linzee!

  6. Joy Dickson says:

    These are going to be wonderful.

  7. Tracey says:

    Congratulations, Linzee!! I like what I see!

  8. amq97 says:

    Oooh, simply delightful to get to know Linzee better and ALL the things she loves and is good at! Ahhh, the blues!!! Allison C. Bayer, Plano, Texas USA

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Thank you, Allison! Carried did a great job with the post—I’m very honored that people are reading it and taking the time to comment. I hope you enjoy the fabric!

  9. Cathy Clark says:

    Linzee, you’re a great inspiration! Now I need some patterns for that feed sack line. 🙂

  10. dondim says:

    What an amazing woman! This line is going to be very popular with both traditional and modern quilters I think.

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Wow! Thank you! The book has been popular with both modern and traditional quilters and I’m hoping the fabric is, too. There were so many feed sack prints and colorways produced that there really is something for everyone.

  11. Hildy says:

    I love these fabrics and I know my mum will love them too!

    • Linzee McCray says:

      You know, Hildy, I think my mum (mom) will love them, too. I can’t wait to show her! She’s no longer sewing but will still be able to “pet the fabric.” Her love of blue was a great inspiration for this line. So glad you like them!

  12. Janice says:

    What a joyous collection and thanks for more of the background, Carrie.

  13. Kathy Schmitz says:

    That’s wonderful!!!!! Congratulations Linzee! Can’t wait to see your fabrics.

  14. Julie Hardgrave says:

    Wow! How wonderful will that be? Congrats to Linzee and Moda! Great idea!

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Thank you, Julie, and for your sweet email, too. It means a lot coming from someone with such a rich feed sack background!

  15. Diane says:

    Can’t wait to start selling them in the N.W.!! Thank you Linzee!

  16. SarahZ says:

    Wonderful post, and lots to look forward to!!

  17. JanetF says:

    Very exciting … can’t wait!

  18. Marianne says:

    I have a small stack of feedbacks I purchased off eBay years ago and always thought Mode should do this! Yay! Can’t wait!

    • Linzee McCray says:

      You’re so lucky to have those, Marianne. My collection continues to grow—they’re hard to resist! So glad you’re excited—me, too! Thank you.

  19. Jeanne says:

    I LOVE blue!! Great first choice! 😉

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