Friday, December 08, 2006

New title: Fabric designer

So, I'm in my car, driving home from the park when my cell phone rings. I shouldn't pick up. One, I'm driving; two, I'm still out of breath from the three-mile run. But I answer anyway.

It's a new customer. Nothing at all to do with the kid's book business. It's a lady who just discovered my flannel fabric designs in a sewing store, and she's excited to be speaking with the fabric designer. Fabric designer? Who me?

She loves my designs, she says, and wants to know where she can find more of my work. She has all kinds of questions, and she's shared a few of my patterns with members of her sewing club. They are excited about my patterns that feature children of color. I'm ecstatic, of course. But problem is, I don't know much about the fabric industry. And, typically I don't shop at sewing stores.

But I decide to give it a try on a recent trip to Hobby Lobby; I need to start somewhere. While the wife shops for Christmas decorations, I slip away, inconspicuously, to the sewing department. Hands in pockets, I look up at the ceiling, then down to the floor. Several ladies briskly rummage through the many fabric selections; the energy is high. I key-up my macho swagger a few notches. Pretending to be uninterested, I steal a few glances at the rolls of flannel and fleece.

Another guy walks past, hands in pockets, too. Dang! Is he checking out the fleece, incognito, too? Surly a guy dressed in cowboy boots and wearing a handlebar mustache isn't gonna concern himself with the details of rubber-ducky flannel print. He walks past me and joins his wife, glancing over at me. I suddenly felt the need to ask him, "How 'bout those Dolphins," and slap him a high five. But I didn't press my luck.

Finally, I stop in the center of the fabric department. Panic! What's a brotha like me be doing in the sewing department of Hobby Lobby? I'd better get myself out of here before someone thinks I'm stealing something.

And that's when it hits me: Yes, in addition to being a children's book illustrator, who sometimes hides book covers when reading them in public, I am now a fabric designer, too! With a renewed sense of Versace, I snatch up some fabric samples. I study the designs! I consider artist's choice of colors! I swim through that flannel and fleece like a triathlete in a strong man competition!

And I survived with my manhood in tact. Now, to those around me at work, I just need to explain why I spend so much time cruising sewing and fabric websites.


Kim said...

Very cool new title!

My double dutch jumpropes arrived today :-) Eagerly awaiting the new fabric so I can sew something neat for the kiddies!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Don. While I haven't ever shopped for fabric (oh wait, that's not true...but it was for totally manly reasons, of course), I do feel a little odd whenever teens see me walk into the teen section at a bookstore. Even though I'm just doing research so have no reason to feel nervous, I keep my eyes focused on the book spines and I don't look up...cuz they smell fear. I swear it.

- Jay

rindawriter said...

Don, don't feel shy at ALL about associating in fabric stores! Swagger a bit! All the lady sewers/quilters know a man looking around in the sewing area for more than five minutes must mean a man with TALENT! Because men sewers are among the top talents in designing and doing fabric art, that's why! We have two brave male quilters in our guild, one manages the pricy only local quilt store, knows all the lady quilters,goes to tons of shows, and both he and his wife do nice quilts. The other guy designs his own quilts after he retired and was our Artist of the Year one year!

I think you should post enlargable photos of the prints on your website easily accessible and associated with your name and where to get them for the sewers/quilters. And I think you should post photos of projects that folks make with your fabric, each with the short little sstory, a few lines of why the maker chose it (Internet show and tell for the sewers/quilters! They love showing off their work) And...if you can find a good quilt designer to design a few quilts using your fabric...well, then you can start selling patterns to go with the fabric.....a niche area, true, but sewers/quilters love to have it easy to make stuff from designers. Put it all on your it all more closely with your name as designer rather than only the manufacturer.

Kaffe Fasset one of the very, VERY top men designers for quilts, doesn't even sew his own quilts that he designs! He designs them with a quilter and has HER do the sewing! People love his stuff, check his books out in the library.

cloudscome said...

LOL I love this post. I am going to make stuff with your fabric too as soon as I get out from under this pile of Christmas gift projects. I'd love to be able to post pictures of what I make on your web site like the previous poster suggested.

cloudscome said...

LOL I love this post. I am going to make stuff with your fabric too as soon as I get out from under this pile of Christmas gift projects. I'd love to be able to post pictures of what I make on your web site like the previous poster suggested.