Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Long and Winding Road...

Skirt was made with my Enchanted Garden collection for Riley Blake Designs.  Pattern is  from the book "Sew Serendipity" by Kay Whitt.
I've often been asked, "How did you get into designing fabric?" The question always brings a smile to my face, because the road I took to get here is one of many twists and turns and surprises that constantly popped out at me along the way. I've always had a love of art and creating, I don't ever remember a time when I wasn't looking forward to sitting down to make "stuff."  I used to raid my Mother's trash can for toilet paper rolls and would make them into tin soldiers or bird feeders. I loved to fold paper and create interesting origami...and I could never resist getting out my box of watercolors and make the colors swirl with the swish of a brush. 
Flannel Rag Quilt created with my first line of fabric "Wanna be a Cowboy" for Riley Blake Designs. Instructions can by found on my blog.
So naturally, when it came time to go to college, I decided I wanted to study art...more specifically Illustration Design.  While in school, I studied editorial design, children's illustration, advertising illustration and more.  I found that I loved playing in the details of my creations...I loved painting the backgrounds, and getting into the decorative or textural elements of the design. More than anything, I loved playing with COLOR. By the time I graduated, I thought that I would enjoy illustrating kids picture books and magazines. 
(you can see how I still love children's motifs with the appliques I designed for this dress I made for my daughter. You can read more about the bunny designs here.  The dress itself is based on the Feliz Party dress pattern by Nancy Langdon.)
I still love detail too...couldn't resist adding extra tiers and length to this already "over the top dress."
However, after college, I decided to explore...I stayed in Yellowstone park for a summer and painted, and then travelled down to Colorado to explore an artist community down in Manitou Springs.  It was there in Colorado that I met my future husband.  He whisked me off my feet and we married, then moved to Japan for three years. I taught watercolor classes there, sold painted wood crafts at craft fairs, and took lessons in Sumi-e painting.  What an experience that was!  Japan is so full of color and life--it's left a lasting impression on my design eye! 
Cowboy shirt fabric from my Wanna be a Cowboy 2 collection for Riley Blake Designs
We moved back to Colorado where I took a job at the local Sear's Department store as an in-home custom decorator.  I had a few freelance illustration jobs on the side, but wanted more of that. We moved again to Washington and I continued my home decor job there until I decided to branch out on my own and start my own custom decorating business. While I enjoyed this line of work...it wasn't where my heart was...my heart was still with creating pictures, painting, designing with type, and picking color combos that were of my own choosing.

I enjoy intense combos like this bright and bold color scheme that you will find in my Enchanted Garden collection for Riley Blake
Then, I had my first baby, and one day while standing in the check out stand with my grocery cart, I noticed a magazine that had some cute scrapbooking ideas.  I'd never scrapbooked, but having a little wee one in tote now, seemed like as good of time as any.  I was hooked...I loved it!  So much so, I started entering contests with great results.  I won some fabulous prizes...one of which was to be on the creative team for Memory Makers Magazine. I got to travel to CHA... and just before the show, I decided I wanted to create a product proposal and see if I could interest someone in my ideas for scrapbook papers.  Creative Imaginations was very interested.  I've been designing for them since 2005. 
I can't resist adding illustrative details to applique design...like this doll's bloomers.  This quilt block was designed for the All Dolled Up quilt that was given away at Spring Quilt Market.

So suddenly, I found myself in the middle of an art licensing career and was starting to really like it. I started licensing my designs in other areas too.  I joined up with some local artist friends for a monthly critique group, and one of the artists there brought me a catalog for a local fabric company and suggested I contact Riley Blake.  I did just that, and presented my Wanna be a Cowboy collection...to my delight...they loved it!  I've been designing fabric for just two years, but it has QUICKLY become my favorite design outlet. Sewing used to intimidate me so much...but now I enjoy it immensely. It fits so well with the winding paths I've been traveling on...from working with fabric as a custom decorator, to my love for detail pattern and texture, my love of playing with color, and the various influences I've had through my travels and life's experiences...designing fabric seems to be a great fit for me. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to combine so many loves into one area of design. The people at Riley Blake are wonderful to work with, and it's so nice that they are only 15 minutes from my home.  
Decadence Collection for Riley Blake Designs
I've been anxious for August to come, as I have another new line releasing then.  It's been pre-selling in paper for a while, but the actual fabric starts shipping next month!  Yeah!  The line is called Decadence and hits on some of my Japanese influences, as well as my love for fun and funky color.  The color scheme is based off of 70's kitchen appliances.  You remember, Harvest gold, Avocado, Orange, and Russet refrigerators, don't you?  We loved them in the late 60's and throughout the 70's...hated them in the 80's and 90's and we have come full circle to that fun color scheme once again.  I updated the look of the color scheme with a modern twist...sophisticated lines, and intricate details.  This line comes with a fabulous border print that would make gorgeous edges on your quilts, bedskirts, pillowcases...or even a dress. I can't wait to start playing with it.  I'm hoping you will enjoy it too!

If you would like to keep up on what I'm working on, or if you would enjoy creative inspiration from my creative team members, you can follow me on my blog or on my Facebook page.

Thank You for inviting me to guest post this week!
Samantha Walker


  1. Samantha, your fabrics are beautiful and used in such wonderful projects :) Yay you and thank you ever so much for sharing !!!

  2. Your daughters dress is amazing, do pretty and perfect for little girl. Do you sell you fabric in the UK?

  3. Thank you for sharing today. I love the Cowboy line - so few little boy lines. Look forward to your fall 'Decadence' - love those color blends.

  4. Beautyfull dresses You made. so pretty children.

  5. Good Morning Samantha..your talent is beyond words...your dress for your wee one is just over the top scrumptious...I sew love ruffles..your line amazing....all wrapped up with you... I applaud your winding road which led you to us too...all the very best...

  6. Like many of us, you have re-invented yourself and we applaud the end result, because we are in love with your fabrics! Thanks for sharing your story and your designs are amazing! Love the Cowboy line - and can't wait for Decadence!
    Jacque in SC

  7. Well, I'm still not sure I'm ready for those colors in my appliances, but anywhere else in the house would be fabulous!!!

  8. You mean I should have kept all my harvest gold appliances - refrig, stove, washer, dryer, etc, etc??!! Can't wait to see you new line in the stores!! Congrats!!

  9. Oh my, yes, those were my "Wedding" colors! How fun to bring them back. Thank you for sharing your story and your talent with us!

  10. I loved hearing about your journey to fabric design. I've wondered how that happens - I guess it's different for everyone. I'm not creative at all and I envy those of you who can "see" things before you make them! blessings, marlene

  11. I loved hearing about your career journey - and look forward to Decadence coming out. Thanks for sharing from judy C in NC

  12. After reading this post I said to myself, "That is what TALENT looks like!" Amazing! I love your line, your designs and how stinkin' clever you are - bloomers under a doll dress that is already applique heaven! You blow me away! xo, Nan

  13. Hola, Samanha your boy and girl are very beautiful. You are very great desiger,you color fabric I like very much. come back again please
    Brigitta in Kenya

  14. Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. I enjoyed hearing from each of you. ;o) Someone asked if you can get my fabric in the UK...I know that Riley Blake does sell their fabric to some stores out there, but I do not have specific knowledge of which stores and what they have purchased from Riley Blake. So...it's out there...you just might have to hunt a little. ;o)

  15. Samantha, thank you for sharing your story. Your models are the cutest. I like yout new Decadence line. Speaking of the 60's- I still have my avocado green ironing board!

  16. Hello Samantha, you are amazingly driven. Proud to know you. It is nice to be our age and have you as a mentor. Looking forward to your new fabric. I have purchased your patterns and fabric, love them.

  17. Thank you for your post as was interesting to hear about your move into fabric design.

  18. Ooooooooooo! I just love those bunnies!
    xx, shell


You think they are just words...they are sew much more than that...your wee messages tell me, you are kind, smart and important...