Fabric8 Finalist Profile – Heather Dutton

MAY 18, 2012

This is the second in our series of profiles of the eight finalists in the Fabric8 contest, a competition from Spoonflower and Robert Kaufman Fabrics to discover a handful of the world's best amateur textile designers. Today we're offering a lovely interview with Heather Dutton. Look for more profiles next week!

Afternoon Tea by Heatherdutton, Heather Dutton

I was born in Maine but we moved around a lot when I was really little. We eventually settled back in Maine when I was about 8 years old and I grew up in the small college town of Orono.

After I graduated from art school at the Savannah College of Art & Design, I lived and worked out in San Francisco for a number of years. I later moved back to Maine, bought a great old farmhouse and now I live in the adorable seaside town of Kennebunk. 

I got started designing fabrics when I was working as a fashion designer in San Francisco. I’d always had a passion for fabrics and part of my job at the time was to work with the in-house textile designers and a handful of print studios to develop and pick prints for the clothes I was designing. I’d always loved drawing and doodling different ideas that popped into my head and after watching the textile designers, I started to get drawn more and more into the world of surface design. Eventually I was lucky enough to find a job that combined fashion design with a little bit of surface design and from that moment on I was hooked. I do think it's funny that I design patterns for a living but 95% of my clothes don’t have a single decorative pattern or design on them. I think I own 2 or 3 things with a print and I hardly ever wear them. What’s that all about?

About a year and a half later I branched out on my own and started Hang Tight Studio. I heard about Fabric8 on the Spoonflower blog and I was crazy excited when I saw that you guys had teamed up with Robert Kaufman for another big competition! I was a little intimidated by the theme of “pen & ink” since I’m seriously watercolor challenged and it’s not a style that I’m used to designing in. To be totally honest, I almost didn’t even enter. A few days before the deadline to enter I got completely inspired and I decided that it was crazy not to at least give it a try. I’m ridiculously happy that I did now and it was really fun to branch out and do something a wee bit different. 
When I’m not designing fabrics I love working on new goodies for my Etsy shop, hunting down cool vintage treasures at local flea markets, and going on fun adventures with my sweet Sussex spaniel, Emma Jean. We both love walking on the beach or being out in the woods.  Living in Maine, there are tons of cool places to discover.

I love to sew and make little goodies for around my house or for friends and family. I recently made my very first handbag using my Chillout fabric and it makes me giddy every time I use it! Sometimes I have to pinch myself that it’s so easy and affordable to have my designs printed onto fabric thanks to Spoonflower. Sewing has always been fun but it’s kicked up a notch when you’re sewing something using fabric that you designed!

The list of fabric designers that I admire is a mile long but some of my absolute faves are Amy Butler, Heather Moore (Skinny Laminx), Khristian Howell, Joel Dewberry and the brilliant husband and wife team Brejer (Breanne and Jeremiah Simpson). I’m a bit of a movie freak and I honestly don’t know if I could pick a favorite but one of my favorite books would have to be The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My fingers are crossed that someday it will be made into a movie.

My first reaction when I found out that I was one of the Fabric8 finalists was a seriously stunned “WHAT???!!!!” That was quickly followed by a racing heart and complete giddiness! There were so many incredible designs in the semi-finals round and even though I had my fingers crossed that I’d make it through, the other designers had set the bar pretty high. I was in my studio getting ready to start my day when I found out. I was so excited by the news that I didn’t get very much work done that day. It’s a huge honor to have been selected out of so many amazing designs and I can’t thank everyone enough for all the votes and support!

It sounds kind of silly but my creative process for this design started when I was doing dishes. My favorite coffee cup looks like a deep tea cup and as I was washing it I got a visual flash of all the different elements that ultimately ended up becoming a part of my design. Doilies, birdies, biscuits, tea cups and a swirly-edged pocket watch. It seriously was a burst of inspiration and it was actually “THE” moment that I decided I was going to enter to the competition. The next morning I couldn’t wait to start sketching all of the elements that had popped into my head. I didn’t know exactly how the design was going to take shape but once I scanned my sketches into the computer, turned them into vector art and started moving them around, the design just sort of fell into place.

Since I’m watercolor challenged I did the next best thing and finished the design by faux painting it in Photoshop. My hat goes off to the other designers who actually painted their designs! I don’t have my whole collection planned out yet but I’ve been playing around with a couple of coordinate designs already. There will definitely be more doilies & birdies popping up, some fun tea tins and a vintage inspired floral. My mind’s racing with ideas and I’m excited to dig in and finish the rest of the collection! 

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  • I love your entry and can’t wait to see the rest of the collection. It was great to learn about the whole process and your “aha” moment. Good luck Heather! Btw, I have the same thing with clothes–everything solid but work on designing patterns all day long. What _is_ up with that? 🙂