An interview with Patty Sloniger, our favorite bugs-in-a-jar fabric designer

NOV 9, 2011 updated Apr 26, 2021

Those of you who have been with Spoonflower awhile will likely Patty Sloniger, fabric designer for Michael Miller Fabricsremember our Project Selvage contest from early this year, and Patty Sloniger as the winner.  Stephen had the pleasure of meeting Patty and her husband in person at Quilt Market a couple of weeks ago and posted a few photos of her booth in his Quilt Market report, but we wanted to talk to Patty more about her two new fabric collections being released with Michael Miller in January. Read on for more on Patty's fabric debut at Quilt Market plus a BIG giveaway of her lovely fabrics!

Patty's fabrics stackedJust a couple of weeks ago, you debuted your new “Backyard Baby” and “Bella Butterfly” collections at Quilt Market in Houston.  I know that you actually live in Houston, so was that your first time attending Quilt Market?  What were your overall first impressions as a debuting fabric designer?

It was my first time to attend Quilt Market, and the Festival side, too, on the following weekend. I had no idea what I’d been missing all these years of living close by! My first impression was just, wow…. I had expected to see some really amazing fabrics, but I was totally blown away by some of the booths themselves. The creative ways that designers and manufacturers alike put together their spaces, and the quality and detail in the quilts and sewn samples I saw was both humbling and motivational.

How would you describe your experience becoming a professional textile designer to what you imagined before winning Project Selvage?

Haha, I read “professional fabric designer” and still have to remind myself that my fabrics are going to be on shelves in stores! The production process is definitely a long one, with long periods of time in between contact and not a lot of tangible reminders that something amazing is actually going on behind the scenes. It’s easy to forget for months at a time that you have this exciting project going on.

Now that you’re a licensed designer with MIchael Miller, what role do you think Spoonflower will play in your fabric designing life?

I'm probably not going to have as much time to spend on Spoonflower as I’d like but I plan to continue spending most of my free time here. There are tons of ideas in my head that still have not made it onto fabric yet and I plan to use Spoonflower for as many of them as possible! I’d love to upholster something for my house, and make anything out of the new cotton-silk, not to mention getting back into the swing of weekly contests.

BackyardBaby_LRI find your “Backyard Baby” designs so appealing, especially the “Bug Jars” prints that remind me of how I spent a lot of my time growing up.  Can you talk a little about the specific inspirations behind both your new collections?  

I actually heard that a lot at Market, and I love that so many people can relate! The inspiration for "Backyard Baby" was all about playing outdoors and the wonders of nature that you can find in your own backyard. My most cherished memories of growing up aren’t of watching tv or playing video games, but things like climbing trees, staying outside until it was too dark to play hide-and-seek anymore, and catching fireflies. My inspiration for the girl’s collection, “Bella Butterfly”, was a bit more decorative. I wanted to take what are traditionally more formal patterns like damask, paisley and houndstooth, and reinterpret them in a sweet, chic way for baby.

How did you get into designing fabrics? Are there any other designers whose work inspires you?

Spoonflower is totally to blame for my fabric design career. From my first attempts at uploading art I’d already made and trying to force it into repeat, to actually creating art elements specifically for a design, I learned it all right here. I’m inspired by so many other designers and have to look no further than SF to find the vast majority of them.

I know that you like to sew so would you say that you try to design fabrics that you’d like to sew with personally, or does that not really come into play for you?

I think that once the sewing bug bit me, I definitely started designing fabrics with the end result in mind, sometimes with a specific sewing pattern already picked out. I’ve found that sewing with your fabrics is a great learning tool. You get to see firsthand which aspects of a design do or don’t work, especially in a collection. Sometimes you’ll find it’s not necessarily something that’s wrong, but maybe something that’s missing.

Do you have any other fabric collections in the works at the moment?  

I am working on new fabric designs for Michael Miller, but am not sure if they’ll be for the upcoming Spring Market or for next Fall Market in Houston.

Thanks, Patty!  And now for that giveaway I mentioned. Patty has graciously shipped us all the prints from "Backyard Baby" and you can win a fat quarter of each, plus a hand-picked selection of six fat quarters of some of Patty's designs available through Spoonflower. Just comment on this post to be added to the drawing for this big stack of loveliness.  Entries will close on Tuesday, 11/15 at 7:00 pm EST, and we'll announce a winner at noon EST Wednesday, 11/16.  Good luck!  GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED FOR ENTRIES.  STAY TUNED FOR ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WINNER TOMORROW AT NOON EST!

By the way, the winners of last week's giveaway of The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook & Sewing in a Straight Line were: Carole Henshall of Vancouver, BC (CheeseandChutney on Spoonflower) and Fabio Prado of New York, NY (Umbelas on Spoonflower).

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