Meet the Maker: Fabric Designers Tanya Whelan and Amy Butler

Fabric Designer Amy Butler #textiles

Fabric design has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years, from pretty whimsical florals to bold and bright chevron prints, cute animal repeat prints to simple polka dots, you can pretty much find whatever design you’re after for your latest project.

Advancements in technology now mean it is possible to design your own fabric prints, and have them sent off to specialist companies to print them onto fabric for you, so you’ll truly have a one of a kind design.

Fabric designers Tanya Whelan and Amy Butler are both super talented designers based in the United States. Their styles vary greatly, with Tanya inspired by antique furniture, textiles and vintage objects to name but a few, and Amy often taking inspiration from the natural world.  Resulting in some truly beautiful fabrics, that would make the most beautiful patchwork quilts and spring bunting.

Tanya Whelan . . . born nostalgic

Fabric Designer Tanya Wheelan #textiles
For Tanya Whelan,creative inspiration comes from her passionate love of old houses, historic architecture, antique furniture, vintage objects and artefacts of all kinds, and most especially antique textiles – she’s a girl who can literally go weak at the knees at the discovery of the ‘perfect’ rose strewn antique quilt.

“Modern nostalgia best describes my fabric collections,” says Tanya. “My fabrics often feature fresh, clear, vibrant colors applied to vintage themes. Pretty motifs are infused with a clean bright colour palette that allows simple projects like bags, aprons and household items to come to life without a lot of piecing. Of course, the collections work just as wonderfully for quilters who love the process of cutting, piecing and quiltmaking too.”

I can go literally weak in the knees at the discovery of the ‘perfect’ rose strewn quilt.

Tanya has been sewing and crafting since her childhood, having learned the joys of creativity from the many talented women quilters, artists and crafters in her family, especially her mother.

She lives in America, in the historic city of Norfolk, Virginia, where on any given Saturday she can be found in a musty corner of her local antiques shop rummaging through mountains of textiles searching for the perfect sunny 1940s’ tablecloth before reupholstering a cool old chair or playing with her children on the front porch.

Amy Butler . . . just loves fabrics

Fabric Designer Amy Butler #textiles

I grew up in Ohio and after graduating I began working at Hallmark as a design director. After a few years my husband and I started our own design studio. I also wrote a few sewing patterns for Country Living magazine. After the patterns were no longer distributed through the magazine, there was still a demand so I decided to see if I could sell them. Over time my sales slowly increased and have become the backbone of my brand. I was also approached by fabric manufacturers to create my own fabric line, which was truly a dream come true for me.

My inspiration continues to change and evolve. I’m thinking about colour and pattern all the time and I often turn to the natural world for inspiration. I’m always taking photos of flowers on travels; keeping an eye out for beautiful color combinations. My garden is an endless source for ideas. I also find loads of inspiration from things like ethnic textiles and artefacts, and I have bowls filled with antique trims, buttons and beads. I use them all in my mini inspiration displays and my pin boards are covered with drawings and paintings, family art pieces and lots of photos.

My garden is an endless source for ideas. I also find inspiration from ethnic textiles and artefacts.

Over the last few years I’ve been incredibly inspired by recent travels to Indonesia, England and India. My designs look like an international travel log filled with luscious
florals and ancient ethnic graphics.

While there’s tons of energy and creativity to be found in travelling, I don’t always need to go far to find inspiration. A trip to a local farmer’s market, a walk in the woods or a day
at an auction can give me enough inspiration to last me for weeks.


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