Fabric8 Finalist Profile – Sara Berrenson

MAY 21, 2012

This is the third 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 you can read all about designer Sara Berrenson. Look for our fourth designer profile soon!


Watercolor Blooms by Sberrens, Sara Berrenson

I was born and raised in LA, and currently live in Santa Monica. I attended college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where I majored in art and design. Getting out of LA for a bit to go to school was one of the best decisions I ever made. Not that I don’t love LA, but it was so nice to live in a quaint little town where you always run into people you know! And it was so beautiful too, surrounded by rolling green hills and wineries.

I’ve always loved fabric and I started sewing around age 8. First it was doll clothes, then it progressed into clothes for myself. I made a lot of really cool vests – it was the early 90’s after all! – leopard print, neon floral, a print of little tiny buttons, with buttons. (Who doesn’t want to wear buttons on buttons?) Then I started sewing pillows for the bed, curtains, you name it. I loved going to the fabric store with my mom – still do! – and can spend hours looking at all the cute prints. At this point, I have so much fabric I could be considered a borderline hoarder. But that’s ok.  Thanks to Ikea it is now organized chaos.

For as long as I can remember I’ve also loved art, so it seemed like a natural progression to combine my two loves of fabric and art.  That’s how I got started designing fabrics. I heard about Fabric8 through the Spoonflower website, and am so excited to be a part of this contest!

When I’m not designing fabrics, I love traveling, being outdoors, and doing crafty projects. I have a huge love of interior decorating. Every second Sunday of the month you can find me at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, hunting for cute furniture to refurbish or knick-knacks for my apartment. The rest of the time, I’m hiking in the Santa Monica mountains, bike riding, running on the beach, drinking a mocha at a coffee shop, going to wine tastings, watching American Idol, horseback riding, reading, sewing, painting, drawing, and obsessively swapping out the fabrics on my couch pillows.

I do a lot of sewing and crafting, maybe too much! I need to cut back because the crafts are taking over my living room and kitchen. Since I live in a one bedroom apartment, there’s not really enough room to have a designated workspace. So I have to decide whether I’d rather have my couch or kitchen for the day. Usually the couch wins, which means a lot of eating out!

Whenever I see something, I think “Oh, I can make that!” Then after several failed attempts, I realize I definitely cannot make that, and it’s best to buy it from the crafters who do it best. The project that I am probably most proud of is a Halloween doll created for the Aids Foundation charity auction. I called her Creepy Cute because she had a gigantic pumpkin head and wore a sweet little pinafore dress. It was my first (and last) time creating a doll. It was a lot of work, but it was for a great cause!

I don’t watch a lot of tv, but I’m always reading a book. Some of my recent favorites are Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and Await your Reply by Dan Chaon. I pretty much love all kinds of music, but lately have been listening to a lot of upbeat poppy stuff when I design. Some favorites are Lenka, Miss Li, Florence and the Machine, April Smith and the Great Picture Show, The Sounds, and my boyfriend’s band, Capital Cities.

I am constantly inspired by other artists and fabric designers. I spend way too much time on Pinterest, but that’s how I’ve discovered a lot of great artists. One of my favorite Etsy artists is Ashley Percival who does adorable illustrations of owls in glasses. Also BerkelyIllustration, who does all sorts of animals in suits and ties. (Can you tell I love animals?) I’m also super inspired by the fabric designs of Luli Sanchez, Imogen Heath, Amy Sia, Tanya Brown, Lilly Pulitzer, and I have a few Florence Broadhurst patterns framed around my house.

When I heard I was one of the Fabric8 finalists, I was shocked! And super excited! Then I had to reread it to make sure that I read it right the first time! I was actually in the Starbucks drive-through at the time. They must have thought I was really, really excited to get my caramel macchiato.
After reading the theme for the contest, I was so excited because I love the look of watercolor, especially on fabric. I debated on what to draw for about 2 seconds, then I knew I was going to do a floral print. Figuring a lot of people would enter flowers, I thought perhaps I should consider a different subject but I absolutely love floral prints–in clothing, in my living room, in my fabric hoarding collection–so I couldn’t resist! After narrowing that down, I just started painting. I wanted something cheerful with a sporadic placement of the flowers, as if they had been tossed up in the air, and it just evolved from there.

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