An Exclusive Interview with Kaffe Fassett & Brandon Mably

Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably visit the Florals shop in Quilt Town, USA - 2019
Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably visit the Florals shop in Quilt Town, USA – 2019

Color is king when Kaffe Fassett comes to town! In 2019, we were thrilled to host the world-renowned color guru himself at a workshop and a lecture highlighting his latest projects. It was a feast for the eyes to see the Kaffe Fassett Collective’s designs up close and personal and our fabulous social media manager took a moment to sit down with Kaffe and Brandon Mably to chat about the sources of their inspiration and how they are able to collaborate so seamlessly together. These two amazing guys spoke candidly about their personal influences, the joy of teaching and learning, and how they intend to spread a love of color throughout the world! 

You’ve been designing for decades. What eras have called to you the most? And maybe the least?

Kaffe: I would say, probably the most influential in my life was the “hippy” times. You know, I arrived in England in 1964, when the Beatles were just bursting onto the world. And so they encouraged us all to go down to the flea markets and vintage shops and buy wild doorman’s uniforms and make our clothes out of Indian bedspreads and god knows what. You know, there was a freedom of fashion and so forth, so that was an incredible time. I would say that’s probably the most influential event, that freed me up to just make myself up, reinvent myself. 

Are there any eras that didn’t provide that inspiration?

Kaffe: I didn’t like when I went through the 50s, because I felt it was very stodgy and conservative. Because, you know, if you grew your hair more than a quarter of an inch longer than everyone else, if you met someone they’d say, “Why don’t you get a haircut? What’s wrong with you?” It was very annoying. You couldn’t be yourself. And that’s why I suppose that hippy time was so important because you could totally be yourself. But I look back at it now and I realize there was a lot of color … all the sort of pastel colors. I mean, it’s interesting when you see a revival of that time that they don’t get the color right. They don’t get enough pink and duck egg blue, all those wonderful high colors; the girls in canary yellow, twinsets and pearls, scarves, and their big, flowing skirts, all that stuff, it was interesting. The thing is, those poor girls, their hair had to be absolutely perfect! If it was in a bob it had to curl under, not a hair out of place, it was very plastic. So, there was a lot of stuff I didn’t like about that time. 

And Brandon, how about you?

Brandon: I’m not old enough to have opinions about that. You know, for me, if it doesn’t move fast enough, I’ll grab it. I’m looking for a play on color and pattern and rhythm, and because Kaffe is more into Rococo and brocade and flowers, and I’m more about the repetition of markings, it could be chewing gum stuck to the pavement, it could be a zebra pattern, you know it’s what’s going to make dance and movement and pattern, and they all feed my imagination, but it’s never one thing. One thing will lead to another thing, so it’s never a direct take. 

Kaffe displaying fabric strips on a quilt wall.
Kaffe displaying fabric strips on a quilt wall.

How do you see color evolving? 

Brandon: We’re changing. Because in the past we were working with a lot of saturated color, but now you’ll see the fabrics coming out from ourselves have a little bit more edge and a little bit more contrast so when you cut up the fabrics, they give you a little bit more flicker, a little bit more play, rather than being more of a saturation. You will still have that color saturation, but it’s different, and also the patterns and structures that we’ve been inspired by having a little bit more contrast rather than a dense pattern. So, we’re changing all the time and we’re learning from our workshops, other people in our classes inspire us. 

What insights have you garnered from people who have taken your classes?

Kaffe: Use of black and white is the strongest thing. Just people doing wonderful, contrasting things ‘cause that never used to be part of my vocabulary so much. I think what I’m trying to do always is to get clearer. I see a lot of my fans will take all of my big flower fabrics and Phillip’s big flower fabrics and put them together and end up with something very mushy, kind of chop suey. And so I try to get more clear and a little bit more definition in my pieces so you can actually see the structure. So, I suppose that’s what’s come out of the classes, really. 

Is there a benefit then from using precuts where the collection is completely packaged in one?

Kaffe: It would never occur to me to pick up a package of something and try to make it work. One of the things that we do in our workshops is have people have a huge variety of fabrics to choose from and then sort out the ones that are disturbing the peace as it were, not making the color glow. It’s very difficult to do that if you’re very limited by somebody else’s choice of fabrics you should use. But, you can take anything and make it work. 

Brandon: But the prepacks are fantastic for those who are a little bit intimidated by making a choice in so much color and pattern that they’re not used to. 

Kaffe: Anything that gets people started, gets you going, is fine with us. Then they can come to one of our classes and refine the whole thing. 

You’ve mentioned something about using blacks with the colors and how the white kind of drowns out the color of the fabric.

Kaffe: Well, I wasn’t saying using black, but I would use … I’ve just done a whole range of shot cottons that are quite subtle colors. Those kinds of colors go beautifully with the more florid, expressive colors of flowers. 

Brandon: I mean, every color has its place, but white steals the intention from color. Black attracts and pushes color forward, more than what you possibly needed unless you control a color. Lots of shades of whites can be beautiful, lots of shades of darker tones and blacks can be beautiful, but put those with neon colors, they’re gonna fight. 

Kaffe: What white does is overshadow the color and, very often, rather than helping it to glow. And that’s what our whole thing, what our workshops are trying to get people to do is to make color be released and have its full potential. Billions of people in the world think white is a wonderful background for fabrics and we just are there to differ with them. 

Jenny visits with Kaffe (left) and Brandon (right) during their 2019 visit to Hamilton, MO.
Jenny visits with Kaffe (left) and Brandon (right) during their 2019 visit to Hamilton, MO.

That’s a great experiment though too, right?

Kaffe: You know something, I think you learn as much from what doesn’t work. Okay, now I see that. I never need to do that. I can see that that blend doesn’t work. It doesn’t do anything for the color. So, good. Now I’ve seen all those quilts. I can just go and do something different.

Brandon: We will never stop learning because color is so unpredictable. And it’s not about a theory or a color wheel or a process. Neither of us had any education about color. But what we’ve done is we have a level of confidence to allow ourselves to make mistakes and learn from that. 

And what would you say to people who maybe struggle with allowing themselves to make mistakes?

Kaffe: There’s a great fear of getting color wrong. Our whole lives are experimenting and playing with color. We got past that fear.

Brandon: People judge themselves too harshly. One of the big lessons that Kaffe taught me at the very beginning is “have a go. Just try. Keep on trying.” But also if you don’t like it, guaranteed somebody else will. So stop thinking you’re making it for a particular reason. Just enjoy the process and see what comes out of it. 

You both experiment with art and creating in different mediums, how do you think that helps you when it comes to designing fabric and working with textiles?

Kaffe: Everything we do is experimenting with color. If you make a bouquet of flowers, if you throw cushions onto a couch, if you choose wallpaper, or whatever. Basically, what we’re doing is making mosaics, we’re making rag rugs, we’re designing fabrics, we’re making quilts, we’re doing knitwear, we’re doing needlepoint—it’s all playing with color. And then we have exhibitions which make a great kaleidoscope of groups of colors, so that that really has a dramatic, theatrical impact to the people that come to that museum and see our shows. 

Brandon: It’s an incredible journey what we’re on because we basically hand paint all our artwork, nothing is done on the computer, then it goes off to Charlotte, North Carolina, then it’s sent out to Korea and it comes back in fabric form. And then we get to cut it up and then rearrange that on our design wall into a large scale arrangement and that gets sewn, instructions are written, and then we go out to a lavish location and photograph that. And we choose aesthetic locations that the whole thing has a harmony. 

Kaffe: The location actually reflects the color that’s in the quilt. 

Brandon: So we’re completely controlling the look. And there’s play, play, play, play, and we never have a plan, until even the photoshoot, we’re living by the seat of our pants. That’s why I have no hair! I used to be a long, blonde, curly-haired, Tarzan-looking, gorgeous George. But look at me now!

With the books, like Quilts in America and Quilts in the Cotswolds, were those unplanned?

Brandon: We go and go a 2-day recce (reconnaissance). So, we access a place. And then we go back. We don’t know what the weather is going to be like. We know what time of year it is. We haven’t got the quilts made. They’re still being given birth to until the week we fly away. 

Kaffe: I mean so much so that one of our locations was a fabulous park full of incredible tulips in Holland and we said to them, “Can we come and photograph here tomorrow?” and they said, “Absolutely!” But overnight they cut every flower down in the entire park. And you forget to ask questions like, “ You’re not going to cut your flowers down, are you?” They thought we were coming to photograph black earth, I guess. Because that’s what we had. So we said, “What have you done with the flowers?” They said, “They’re dumped out in the back.” So we took the girls out and threw the models down on top of dead flowers. And that was our shoot. That’s how unplanned it is. 

Do you design separately and then come together? 

Brandon: Yeah. I mean, we’re in the same space. We’re just in different rooms. 

Kaffe: We encourage each other in our designs.

Kaffe signs an autograph for a fan during his 2019 visit to Hamilton, MO.
Kaffe signs an autograph for a fan during his 2019 visit to Hamilton, MO.

Switching gears a little bit, about how long have you followed Jenny and the Missouri Star story?

Kaffe: Well, I heard about this story. They said this woman in the middle of America has become the businesswoman of the year and then this mythological thing of how it all came about. You know, it’s just amazing. It’s an extraordinary story. Is somebody writing her story?

Social Media Manager: We’ve documented it a few times, but to sit down with her and create a book like yours, we should totally do that. 

Kaffe: Totally! Because that’s a great, great story. We came here very curious to see the spot where all this happened.

Brandon: We heard about it at the Houston Quilt Market, it was like a virus, everybody was talking about it, and how this online, educational website was also selling and it was just bringing more interest to the world and how it was kind of encouraging more people. And then we started to hear when they were taking over a town and introducing shops and we didn’t think it would be as together as it was. We thought there would be a shop here and a shop there, you know. It’s not always you can buy a high street (like a main street), it just doesn’t seem possible. So, when we were brought up from the airport, we were driving, driving, driving, we were thinking, where the heck are we going. And then we saw a big, billboard sign saying “Quilt Town” and we were like, hey!

Your designs and your creations resonate with people from old to young, beginning to advanced, why do you think that is?

Kaffe: First of all, there is a big nostalgic element to the way I design. I look at the world of decorative arts: old carpets, old wallpaper, old things, so there’s a big nostalgic element to that. Brandon’s far too young to have any nostalgia, so he produces these very funky, modern, kind of primitive, exciting, geometric designs that work very well with our, Phillip’s and mine, kind of very floral, painterly fabrics. So, there’s a great combination, but I would say that more than anything else, that it’s the color that has grabbed people. For some reason, the quilt world was so enveloped in past history that all the color was browned down. So, we had a lot of browns, ochres, you know, pale creams, and everything kind of had milk in it or earth in it. And I wasn’t into earthy colors. To me, when I travel the world, I see Gypsy caravans, and I’m very attracted to circuses and fun fairs, and, you know, vulgar, crazy bright colors. So, I love all that and I put that into my fabrics. And Brandon does too. His color is vibrant.

Anything you would like to add?

Brandon: Absolutely. I totally agree. I think a big part of why our audience is wide is that it’s a collaboration. There’s three artists involved and Phillip is an extraordinary painter, but it’s Kaffe’s colors that are what people see. It’s very rare that Phillip’s actual, original artwork is seen by the public, and colors, because he doesn’t do colorways, and then Kaffe puts the magic into those. And then he does his own colors. And I kind of give them a little bit of separation or space. They call me “zany”—I should change my name. And yeah that appeals to those who want to be a little bit more daring. And there are those who, if they can’t cope with my wacky contemporary, they can lean more towards Kaffe and Phillip. And so it’s a very good blend. 

Where do you see quilting and creating evolving in the next 5, 10 years?

Kaffe: As we have taught over the years and traveled, we see people improving unbelievably, so that our workshops now, there’s nobody that falls through the net. Nobody that doesn’t actually make it to the end of the project. They may have a fragment of something, but they’ve got something up there that tells us the color they’re doing. And so, I would see improvement, improvement, and that people seem to be getting much more our message about how color can be vibrant and sexy, rather than contrasting and edgy. You know, it’s like the formulas of white backgrounds and contrast. When I first came into the industry, this woman said to me, “You have to understand about patchwork, if you’re going to get into it. There’s three elements: there’s the light and the dark and the medium, and you have to have those elements always in a quilt.” And so there are these formulas that people go by, rather than, what makes that color suddenly come alive? So, I would say it’s improving and I have great hopes for the future because every year that we go out, every set of workshops we do, they get better. 

Brandon: I believe, I think we’re in a world of education. Missouri Star is a huge part of that by Jenny giving her tutorials, and I don’t think a shop can exist without giving workshops because what you’re doing is, you’re encouraging your customers to be a little bit more adventurous, try something new and daring and step out of your comfort zone. So you feel a little bit more open. So yeah, I think it’s our responsibility to get people to just try and, not just scare them, but try to get them to be a little bit more daring.

We’re so proud to announce that our Missouri Star Starlight Block of the Month quilt will feature fabrics from the Kaffe Fassett Collective prints. Click below to learn more about this exciting new BOM and get stitching with the master of color himself!

The Missouri Star Starlight Block of the Month quilt.

Artist Spotlight: The Quilting Marine

Join us LIVE on Tuesday June 1st at 11:00 am cst as The Quilting Marine joins Missouri Star Live as a special guest!
The Quilting Marine

People often find quilting in times of need to help them through difficult situations – that’s how The Quilting Marine first discovered his love for quilting. After serving 20 years in the United States Marine Corps, The Quilting Marine found quilting as his therapy for PTSD related issues. Now, he has a new goal and his YouTube channel says it best, “I taught myself to quilt and would like to help you make quilts that you can admire for years to come.”

What is your favorite part of the quilting process?

My favorite part is piecing the blocks together and giving the quilt away for someone else to enjoy. It’s the building of the quilt for me and is my therapy. I don’t get wrapped around the wheel on everything else. I live behind the mantra of “it’s only fabric” and “it’s only thread”.

Who are your favorite fabric designers?

Robert Kaufman; Michael Miller; Riley Blake; Brother and Sister Design 2009

What notion or sewing tool are you most dependent on?

I depend mainly on my omnigrid rulers, rotary cutters and my machine, the Brother PQ1500sl. And if I had to throw something else in, it would be the Oliso iron.

How were you introduced to sewing and quilting?

I taught myself around the time my grandson was to be born. I wanted to create something for him that was one of a kind.

Join us LIVE on Tuesday June 1st at 11:00 am cst as The Quilting Marine joins Missouri Star Live as a special guest!
The Quilting Marine at work on another project.

What was the most frustrating sewing project you ever worked on?

The one for my grandson was my first quilt and was the most frustrating because I entered a world that I had no idea about. Once I realized that there wasn’t much to create a quilt, that is one of the reasons it attracted me. The repetitiveness of building a quilt keeps me sane. Even though the process is repeated, the result that comes from it is different every time.

What do you do to find inspiration/encourage your creativity?

I find my inspiration from watching other quilters and add or take away from what they have created to make it my own. I love using a lot of color when building my quilts. Colors to me bring out the quilt.

What occupation would you like to try if sewing/making wasn’t an option?

I would love to be a hard hat diver/saturation diver. They get paid handsomely to do what they do and the risk is tremendous.

Who is your favorite fictional character?

The Punisher. He is a normal guy who has no superpowers and takes on the responsibility of fighting crime. I like normal guys who do extraordinary things.

Join us LIVE on Tuesday June 1st at 11:00 am cst as The Quilting Marine joins Missouri Star Live as a special guest!
A beautiful example of The Quilting Marine’s artistic ability and craftsmanship.

What fabric have you been hoarding/saving the longest?

Batiks are my all time favorite and whenever subscribers send me fabric, I will hoard Batiks until I find something that the fabric is perfect for. I don’t normally like flowers, I’m not the flower guy but the 2009 Brother Sister Design Studio Fabric has me hoarding it too. This one is super hard to find now so I hoard it as much as I can.

Describe your perfect day.

A day on the beach in the Caribbean with my wife, a fishing rod with a line in the water and no hook and a cool drink. Sleep, wake, piece a block and repeat. Maybe some eating in there somewhere as well.

Want to know more about The Quilting Marine and his incredible journey into quilting? Join us on Missouri Star LIVE, June 1st, 2021 at 11:00 am CST, as he joins us as a special guest! Until then, be sure to follow him on Instagram and Facebook and don’t forget to subscribe to his YouTube channel to keep up with his journey while learning more about the art of quilting.

Artist Spotlight: Heather Bailey

Heather Bailey

Meet Heather Bailey, a full-time professional artist, a patented inventor—and a world-re- knowned star in the textile, craft, and decorating arena. With her sophisticated floral designs and smart geometric prints, Heather has inspired a new generation of crafters and home decorators to embrace art and color in their everyday lives.

Heather’s creations, including fashion and home-decor items, have sold worldwide in the best stores: Fred Segal, Henri Bendel’s, Bloomingdales, and more. InStyle, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Seventeen, Country Living, and other top publications have all highlighted her unique fabrics and creative designs. Heather has contributed to books on business and on personal style. And, she has published dozens of innovative quilt patterns, sewing patterns, and embroidery patterns for the sewing industry.

What is your favorite part of the quilting process?
I particularly love to bind a quilt by hand. As the sole provider for a young family with more than one business to run, I rarely sit on the couch! So, finishing up a quilt not only delivers the satisfaction of a completed project, but it also offers my best chance to relax into the soft, comfy couch with my kids and watch a movie together. I know that some quilters dread this step, but I love it!

Who are your favorite fabric designers?
I am intrigued by the simplicity of architect, C.F.A. Voysey’s art-nouveau-style textiles and the versatility of Florence Broadhurst’s work, from groovy mid-century geometrics to elegant, detailed florals. As for current designers, I particularly enjoy Brandon Mabley’s work. He is a joyful, delightful person and his enthusiasm for playful design and bold color is reflected in his fabric designs every time. He makes me smile.

What notion or sewing tool are you most dependent on?
Barbara Willis offers a tool called The Stuffing Fork. It used to be available in stores, but now it’s only available on her website, I think, so it’s pretty obscure at this point. It’s a simple, skinny metal bar with a plain handle on one end. At the other end, the metal bar has a slit cut into it. This minimal design is truly the most amazing stuffing tool I’ve come across. It grabs a bunch of stuffing like nobody’s business. It does a marvelous job at packing gobs and gobs of fluff into even the smallest areas when needed. All of my popular pincushion designs are stuffed firmly, and I use The Stuffing Fork every time. This approach not only gives the pincushions a nice weight on the table, but it also rounds out the forms of each design for a polished, professional result.


I love the fine-point water-soluble marking pen that Clover makes. It outlasts its competitors and provides a crisp blue line every time. I use the Clover pen to mark fabrics as needed for all of my sewing patterns and embroidery patterns.


I adore the edge-stitching for my sewing machine. The blind-stitching foot does the trick too. They each have a vertical metal plate at the center of the foot which guides a folded fabric edge through the machine. With the needle positioned off-center, this guide provides a stitched line which runs perfectly parallel to the fold. It’s the ideal tool for professional-looking top-stitching—which comes in handy for a variety of homespun projects like aprons, totes, tablecloths, machine covers, etc.

How were you introduced to sewing and quilting?
My first craft obsession was paper. At 4-years-old, I filled my bottom dresser drawer with heaps of paper: white paper, lined paper, construction paper—any paper I could get my hands on. With the assistance of a stapler, scissors and glue, I’d busy myself for hours building all sorts of intricate 3D creatures, from robots to elephants.

When I was eight, my family and I went on a vacation to the mountains. At some point in the stay, my father parked our van near a trail-head and left the vehicle to investigate whether he wanted to explore this area or move onto another trail. My mother was in the van with us, knitting in the front seat.


My father was gone for what seemed like forever to me at that age and I was incredibly bored. I eventually asked my mom if she would show me how to knit. Instead, she pulled out a crochet hook and taught me the basic single-crochet stitch. Before my dad was back to the van, my Barbie had a brand-new skirt. That was my very first foray into textiles.


With the gift of a small Learn-to-Crochet book, I took off with my new hobby and became a crocheting dynamo. I made purses, and I designed clothing for my dolls. Teachers at my school ordered gifts for their children. Third grade, age eight—my first business! Once, I crocheted a three-foot long banana slug after I returned from sixth-grade camp in the redwoods—partly due to a lack of resources as my only yarn at the time was an enormous cone of coarse yellow yarn that I had picked up at a thrift store.


I also started sewing while in elementary school. My first project was a pair of flip flops made from terry cloth and cardboard. Again, this somewhat-silly project was born of the materials I had on hand; when the sewing bug bit me, the only fabric I had access to was a nest of terry-cloth scraps in my mom’s closet.


With permission to use her sewing machine, I set up a table in my bedroom, shut the door, and studied the machine’s buttons and dials until I had something that resembled a stitched line feeding out of the machine. I wish I had a picture of those flip flops. I don’t think I ever wore them beyond the few small steps from my room to the kitchen to show them off to my family.


In junior high school, my skill level improved by leaps as I reconstructed clothing and sewed outfits from scratch. Pants became skirts, old tee shirts became headbands and my first love, Steve, received a plush, articulated teddy bear dressed in a Michael-Jordan jersey for Valentine’s Day.


In high school, I learned quilting. My mother knew all of the tips and tricks for perfect piecing so I was very good at it from the start. My first quilt was for my own bedroom, but every other quilt I made for the next fifteen years was given to a friend or family member. The perfect gift! There aren’t many gifts that someone will use and enjoy every day for years and years and know that they are loved.


By the time I was 17 and in college, my preoccupation with all things handmade picked up serious speed and I soon learned my way around many new arts: knitting, spinning, weaving, stained glass, upholstery, ceramics, bead making, faux finishing, silver smithing, illustration, and painting. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Clothing in Textiles at age 20.

What was the most frustrating sewing project you ever worked on?
I once made a clutch purse from an expensive orange-and-red tie-dyed goat pelt someone gave me. I combined this with crocodile-embossed red patent leather which was just too thick for my machine. I was determined—and there was a lot of hammering on a wooden block to try to compress the material. I got through it, but the purse didn’t have the crisp, professional lines I was going for. The top edge of the purse needed more structure and more layers than I could dare tackle with a standard home-sewing machine.

What do you do to find inspiration/encourage your creativity?
My favorite hobby is “Learning New Things.” I listen to audio-books and podcasts nearly every day. I learn about psychology, history, art, writing, family systems, cooking, barn-building, you name it. On average, I consume the equivalent of two or three books every week. When my mind is engaged in new ideas, albeit from a diverse range of topics, I’m able to simultaneously dive into creative auto-pilot. It’s like one half of my mind is happily learning while the other half of my mind is happily drawing, painting, or sewing—and they don’t get in each other’s way. The information doesn’t need to remotely relate to what I’m
creating. I could be learning about the Bay of Pigs while drawing a peony floral design.


The only time I cannot multi-task like this is when I am writing. Writing requires my full focus! So, as long as there are new topics I’m curious about and I’m feeding my mind a steady stream of intellectual input, creative output comes as a natural byproduct. There is so much to learn, thank goodness, I don’t imagine the fountain of creativity will ever run dry.

What occupation would you like to try if sewing/making wasn’t an option?
This is a tough one because when I want to do something, I do it! I find a way to fit it all in. If sewing weren’t an option, I would focus my energies on fine-art painting, and I would build my body work in that realm. However, if I couldn’t make visual art of any kind—fabric, quilts, paintings, and so forth—then I would spend all of my professional creative energy writing and teaching—spreading my love for art, color, design, innovation, business, family, and the creative life.

Who is your favorite fictional character?
Elf—because “smiling is my favorite!” and enthusiasm is my love language.

What fabric have you been hoarding/saving the longest?
I once stumbled across a set of my exact childhood bedsheets on eBay—peachy butterflies and flowers on a yellow pastel background. I snatched them up! I figured if I gave them a deep, deep clean, they could make their way into two quilts one day—one for me and one for my older sister with whom I shared a room. We had matching bedding. I also came across the exact fabric that my mom used for appliques in my very-first homemade blanket when I was three or four. I jumped at the chance to buy that piece, but it disappeared right when I put it in my cart. I messaged the seller through other listings and gave it a good go, but I never heard back. Boo!

Describe your perfect day.
The “perfect day” seems like a fiction to me, so I’m going all in. I wake up in Paris. My own good man gives me a big, warm hug and we chitchat about the latest things we are reading or learning while I get ready for my day. I feed the kids a warm breakfast and set them up with their own ideal activities. Then I head out into the sun to ride my bicycle to a morning painting lesson from the reincarnated John Singer Sargent. I magically absorb all that he could ever teach me in those short three hours. At a corner cafe, I enjoy a baguette sandwich while I plot out a new fabric collection in my sketchbook. Along comes David Bowie, also reincarnated, who sees one of my paintings rolled up in my bicycle basket and stops to inquire. He commissions me for a giant portrait of him. We brainstorm what outlandish costumes he might wear—the weirder, the better. I agree to draft the costume
pattern and make it happen. We call my teenage daughter who nearly faints when David Bowie says hi.

I have to get going. I have a meeting with my publisher about my book on tenacious creativity. I stop by a charming chocolate shop on the way back to my family and pick up a giant bouquet of pink peonies with pops of craspedia—my favorite fresh-flower combination. With carefree abandon, we eat at all of the chocolates before dinner and share stories from the day. After dinner, we snuggle up on the couch for a movie while I bind a quilt made from my latest fabric collection. More warm hugs for everyone—long ones—long hugs are the best. Then finally, a bath by candlelight, a foot rub—I’ve gotta throw that in there too—and it’s time for bed! You can only do so much in one day.

Want to know more about Heather Bailey? Check out her blog at HelloMyNameisHeather.com or head over to her website HeatherBailey.com.

Get to Know: Jacquie Gering

Jacquie Gering.
Jacquie Gering

Meet Jacquie Gering, a modern textile artist based out of Prairie Village, Kansas. She began quilting in 2009 and her quilting style has evolved from first exploring traditional quilting to settling into her own way of creating that encompasses a modern, minimalist style that she works through today. 

We had an opportunity to ask Jacquie a few questions ahead of her special appearance on BLOCK Party on Thursday, March 18. Keep reading to get to know Jacquie, from her favorite tools to her history of sewing, and join us on Thursday to see her in action!

What is your favorite part of the quilting process?

Design is my favorite part of making a quilt, but design is a key component in almost every facet of making a quilt: creating the pieced design, choosing color and fabrics, choosing a quilting design and even that final design choice of picking the right binding or deciding to use facing rather than binding. 

Who are your favorite fabric designers?

I don’t really have many favorite fabric designers since I use almost exclusively solid fabrics when I make my work. The one shelf of prints I do have is filled with fabrics designed by Yoshiko Jinzenji. Her prints are unique in the fabric world. They are sparse yet graphic and they have always intrigued me.  I’ve been purchasing them since I started quilting in 2009, but it’s taken me years to figure out how her prints integrate with my aesthetic and how to use them effectively in my quilts.

What notion or sewing tool are you most dependent on?

The one tool that I couldn’t do without is my sewing machines. They are the workhorses in my studio.  I have a Brother Nouvelle 1500s which is a semi-industrial straight stitch machine that I use pretty much exclusively for piecing. It’s a beast. It sews fast with beautiful stitches and it never needs to go to the shop. It is simple to operate and to care for, yet it has the features that I require for good piecing: presser foot pressure adjustment, needle down, thread cutter, multiple feed dog settings and a knee lift. I love that it’s fast. My other machine is a Bernina 820 and it is always set up for quilting. I bought that machine so that I could quilt my own quilts. It has a large harp space to support quilting large quilts and it is sunk into the table so that my quilts are well supported when I quilt. It does more than it needs to for me and because of the level of complexity of the electronics it’s fussier than my Brother, but I take pristine care of it and have learned it inside and out and what it takes to make it work for what I need it to do. Both my machines are covered when not in use and they are cleaned and oiled regularly to keep them in tiptop shape.

How were you introduced to sewing and quilting?

The women in my family introduced me to sewing. They were all accomplished seamstresses.  My mother taught me to sew as a child.  She was my 4-H leader and tried her best to teach me the sewing skills she thought I might need. I was pretty much a failure in her eyes. I didn’t love sewing or making my own clothes and accessories though as the obedient daughter I did. I wasn’t very good at it and since I didn’t love it I abandoned it as soon as I could buy my own wardrobe. The women in my family quilted as well, but I didn’t really see it as interesting or special so I didn’t learn to quilt from them. I discovered quilting much later in life through the art world. I stumbled onto quilting after seeing the Gee’s Bend exhibit. I found those quilts intriguing and so different than the quilts I knew growing up. I bought a sewing machine and dabbled a bit. The timing was serendipitous. Quitting my current job corresponded with my discovery of quilting and on a whim I decided that quilting was the career I wanted to pursue. I fired up Google and taught myself what I wanted (needed) to know and I’ve been learning ever since.

What was the most frustrating sewing project you ever worked on?

I’m not sure I can say. Frustrating is an odd choice of words for me. In fact, I looked it up because something felt weird about it. Frustrated is “feeling or expressing distress or annoyance, especially because of the inability to change or achieve something.” Some pieces challenge me and some are abject failures, but that’s all part of the process. I always feel like change is an option for any piece I make. If something’s not working I change it whether it be design, fabric or technique. Failure is how I learn. Some pieces get started, abandoned and may get resurrected and live in a new form in the future. Some are still in the closet. I may have learned all I can from them at this point. 

What do you do to find inspiration/encourage your creativity?

I know that this is a trite thing to say, but inspiration is everywhere; you just need to look for it and recognize it.  I get inspiration from design concepts like line or space and concepts like pressure or flow or from events in my own life or in society in general. I consciously teach myself to slow down and notice and to think about, study and explore those things around me. I could have enough design fodder for my entire quilting career simply from exploring the concept of line. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with too much inspiration and I have to focus and try to sustain myself in one place. I’m a starter and I jump to shiny pieces of inspiration to start new projects rather than finishing or deeply exploring where I currently am working.

What occupation would you like to try if sewing/making wasn’t an option?

If quilting weren’t an option I’d be exploring some other area of art or design. I love designing in my own home. I’m a gal with a power tool and I’m pretty good at paint, drywall, wallpapering and tiling. My husband and I have renovated every home we’ve lived in. We designed and built our own home out in the Kansas countryside. It was so much fun since I got to make every decision that went into that house from designing the placement of the electricity to the kitchen. We’ve moved six times since 2013 and every time I move into a new place I get to play interior designer. 

Who is your favorite fictional character?

Cookie Monster is my favorite fictional character. Cookie Monster lives his passion. I admire that. He’s also curious and asks questions when he doesn’t understand. He’s the opposite of a know it all. He’s also a great example of what’s on the outside is not necessarily what’s on the inside.

What fabric have you been hoarding the longest?

I don’t hoard fabric. I use it. Nothing that I own is so precious that it won’t go in a quilt someday.  I do have one piece of fabric from 2015 that I still have that is special. It was a piece of Yoshiko Jinzenji fabric that I bought at QuiltCon and she signed it for me. Of the few yards of that print that I purchased I have about 8″ left and that 8″ has her signature. I should probably frame it for my studio. When I first started quilting I didn’t have any idea how to buy fabric or what to buy so if I saw it and liked it, I bought it. I made loads of buying mistakes those first few years and ended up with fabric that I didn’t want to use. As I figured out who I was as a quilter, I set about reducing my stash and developing a more curated collection of fabrics. I don’t have a gigantic stash any more. Too much fabric overwhelms me. 

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day would be spent with my husband in New York City. We love the energy, diversity, and opportunities of the city. I’m sure it would be spent with time at the MOMA or Guggenheim or some other museum, music or dance venue with time to explore and walk a neighborhood or read a book in the park with a good dose of people watching and of course there would be coffee, a great bottle of wine, friends and food, delicious food.

We can’t wait to have Jacquie join us on Thursday, March 18th at 6:00 pm cst for our BLOCK Party!

You can keep up with Jacquie by following her on Instagram and Facebook. Don’t forget to swing by her website, www.jacquiegering.com, and blog, too!

Get to Know Blair Stocker before Missouri Star Live!

Meet Blair Stocker: owner of Wise Craft Handmade, quilter, designer, author, crafter, teacher, and more! Here are a few things about Blair, who will make a special appearance on Missouri Star LIVE Tuesday, February 16. We found out her favorite quilting tool and what her perfect day is – keep reading to learn more about Blair!

What is your favorite part of the quilting process?

I really love every part of the quilting process- the way the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I get a new design idea, picking fabrics, repetitive piecing (which I like to call my Netflix time), quilting, hand sewing on the binding. Each part has its own positives for me. I guess if I’m forced to pick a favorite part, maybe designing and picking the color palette for a quilt. I worked in apparel design for many years and coming up with seasonal color stories was always my jam, so this part can feel similar.

Who are your favorite fabric designers? 

I love Ruby Star Society, Denyse Schmidt, Alison Glass, so many others too. Any sort of colorful fabric line with little things like flowers on them just gets me every time.

What notion or sewing tool are you most dependent on? 

My Ruby Ruler™, most definitely. I don’t design any quilt or lay out any blocks without it. It helps me find what I like to call “quilt sparkle”.

How were you introduced to sewing and quilting?

My maternal grandmother taught me lots of things like knitting, simple sewing when I was a preschooler. (Just a side note, I don’t know if I’d have the patience to teach a preschooler to knit!)

What was the most frustrating sewing project you ever worked on?

The Weekender Bag by Amy Butler. I tried to make one probably 15 years ago and broke the sewing machine I was using at the time. I thought my sewing days were over, but I REALLY wanted to make that bag! (I still have it!)

What do you do to find inspiration/encourage your creativity?

My husband and I officially became empty nesters this year and decided to make a big life change and move from Seattle, Washington to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I pinch myself every day that we live in such a beautiful place. Even though it’s a bit challenging to visit local museums and shops during the pandemic, I have managed to visit a few. So inspiring. Although, even just walking around downtown Santa Fe is so inspiring to me too. All of this, and daily doses of unlimited sunshine have done a lot for my creativity.

What occupation would you like to try if sewing/making wasn’t an option?

I have always said that if I didn’t do this, I would love to do something with linguistics, maybe voice analysis. Regional accents have always been very interesting to me, and I’m pretty good at picking up on where people are from. For example, I am from North Carolina, I met a woman here in Sante Fe who immediately felt like “kin”, I knew she had to be from NC. When I asked where she was from, imagine my amazement when we both realized we grew up 30 minutes apart in North Carolina and went to the same college!

Who is your favorite fictional character?

No question- Arietty from The Borrowers. I loved how the world was so big (literally!) and full of wonder to her. As a kid, I wanted nothing more than for Arietty and her family to live under our floorboards.

What fabric have you been hoarding the longest?

That’s easy- Liberty of London “Ciara”. I don’t hoard it, but I do buy it by the yard(s) and would have a bolt of it if I could.

It’s my favorite of any fabric in the world. I have used it in many quilts, like My Liberty Spikes quilt (see picture below). I played with altering the color of it by bleaching some of it a little. All the printed areas are the Ciara print in the same colorway, just some are bleached a little, some a lot, and some none at all.

Describe your perfect day. 

Well, I awake to a clean house, magically done while I was sleeping! After that, spending the entire day in my studio (which is being built as an addition onto our house this year) just sewing and designing quilts. Listening to music, true crime podcasts, or some sort of inspiring self-help audio book. Then, closing up shop for the day (by closing the antique door/entrance to my studio) and having dinner with my husband, ending the day with junky reality tv. Mixing a day like this with days spent at museums or talking shop with fellow creatives is really about all I need out of life.

You can keep up with Blair on social by following her on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Don’t forget to swing by her website, https://wisecrafthandmade.com, too. If you want even more, join Blair in her private Facebook group, where she hosts community stitch alongs.

Tune in to Missouri Star LIVE with Misty on Tuesday, February 16, when Blair shows off her the Ruby Ruler, and teaches you to find your “quilt sparkle”!