My 4 Favorite Fabric Designers


there’s quite a few things I’ve figured out after almost 15 years in this business, but one of the most important things just might have to do with fabric selection! Because in the beginning I had a REALLY hard time finding fabric that “played well” with my designs. There’s actually several reasons why;

  1. There’s not a decent fabric store within 90 miles of my house and it took me a  l-o-n-g  time to figure out how to shop for fabric online.
  2. It took me longer than normal to establish my own personal style.
  3. I didn’t realize that large prints can really look FABULOUS on my bags.
  4. I did not know that there are a few fabric designers out there (four in particular) that regularly bring collections to the market that are “in my wheelhouse”.

So now when I start thinking about fabric for a new design, the first place I look is at the collections of these four designers (listed in no particular order) and here’s why!

Paula Nadelstern– I’ve been using fabric designed by Paula (for Benartex) for several years now and it never fails to inspire me. It’s even been featured on the cover of our HipBag Hybrid pattern. If you’re familiar with my work then you know I have a penchant for creating kaleidoscope designs via fussy-cutting but when I use Paula’s fabric I can generally skip the fussy-cutting since many of her collections ALREADY feature gorgeous free-standing kaleidoscopes! And here’s a fun tidbit… I’m made up a couple of Flaptastic Bags with some totally yummy fabric from Paula’s new collection last Fall to be displayed in the Benartex booth at the Fall Quilt Market. I can’t wait to see what she creates next but in the meantime, here’s a fun story about Paula you might enjoy reading!

Peggy Toole– I’ll admit it, I like a little glitz and bling weaved into the fabric I use and Peggy Toole’s collections (for Robert Kaufman) generally feed this need! Some of the flashiest bags I’ve ever made were those that featured Peggy’s designs! And besides the gold and silver metallic highlights, I also enjoy featuring the various medallions that are interspersed in her designs. It seems that no matter what size bag I am making, I can always find a medallion of just the right size for the bag front. Case in point… we featured this dramatic & incredible medallion on the bag that graced the cover for our Flaptastic bag. All in all, it just FUN to work with Peggy’s fabrics and I highly recommend it!

Jane Sassaman– And if we’re talking about fabric collections that are unique, whimsical and one-of-a-kind, then Jane Sassaman’s designs (for Free Spirit Fabrics) qualify above anyone else. Her prints are fun without being folksy or cutesy and her use of color is always exciting and another thing I like is that in every collection Jane usually includes 2 or 3 selections that have a larger than normal repeat which is perfect for bag-making! And in addition, she also features coordinating smaller-scale prints which are perfect for using as a trim or a lining! Case in point… we featured this dramatic Sassaman print on our Festival Pocket Belt.

Jason Yenter– It’s really only been in the last couple of design cycles that I’ve been using fabrics by Jason Yenter (for In The Beginning Fabrics), which I find to be just a little more on the traditional side while still having design elements that are in a size and scale that works very well for bag-making. And since I have a love of anything Art Deco, I flipped when I saw this purple fan print from Jason’s Deco Elegance collection and it made a fantastic pattern cover!

And now…. it’s YOUR turn!

Do you have a favorite fabric designer that you find you “go to” on a regular basis? If so, I’d love for you to share it with us below, because I (or others) might like to add it to our list!  And remember, we love reading your comments and answering your questions too, so please feel free to leave either or both in the space provided below.


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