Archive for June, 2011

Time to start making!

Today was one of those really productive days. The kids had a long drawn out daddy-kid date complete with petting cows, playing in a thunderstorm and swimming in the pool. Not at the same time, mind you. I, on the other hand, had the entire day to myself. This doesn’t happen a lot. And when it does…watch out! The Mama goes crazy. In the studio of course. With paper and ink. Don’t get any wild ideas.

On the agenda is illustration. The kind I can really only do with no interuptions. The kind that is like the dumping and explosion of ideas I’ve had in my head since the last time I had a visual dumping in my sketch book. It’s nice. And in short breaks I allow myself on these illustration marathons, I discovered (well, I actually did something about my long-time-ago discovery) Instagram.

Bing! Now I can keep you up to date a little better with what’s going on in the studio! You know…Peeping-Tom style. So if you aren’t hanging out with me on Twitter or Facebook, please do! I’m on there every day, with little bits and pieces of what’s going on behind the scenes.  I’d love to show you pics of the new studio. The picture above is in the shipping room, which we are retrofitting for more fabric type stuff. More on that later…but speaking of fabric…

Some of you are starting to get it in your sweet little mailboxes! Which means, it’s time to start keeping track of each other’s projects!

Here’s some pictures from Heather and Megan from Quilt Story. They got theirs in yesterday, and Wow! They’ve already started quilting! It’s going to be so fun to see all your gorgeous projects. So, in preparation, I’ve added some FLICKR groups so that we can all keep up with the projects we’re making.

So, come and join here and be ready! Sign up and we’ll have a party. A really fun Children at Play sewing party:

Sarah Jane: Children at Play Flickr Group

Sarah Jane: Embroidery Flickr Group

Sarah Jane: Prints Flickr Group (for the non-sewing/art on the wall photos!)

So there is a list coming of all the stores you can find Children At Play...I promise. I am getting emails daily begging for a list of where you all can get it. I hope to have that in the next couple days! BUT….if you know of where, or if you are a shop…PLEASE comment below. So far, I know Fat Quarter Shop does, Hawthorne Threads, Hancocks of Paducah, and lots more…I just don’t know for sure yet. It’s shipping this week, and some stores have it, and some stores don’t yet. So if YOU have any more info…let’s share and be friends. Just comment below, and I’ll add it to my list.

Well, knock yourselves out and have a blast!


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Color Stories.

I think a lot about color. I think a lot about color and how it makes me feel. How it changes depending on what you combine it with. How combined colors can tell a certain story. What I love about color, is that it’s something that I can record in a camera. Camera’s are fast, and just like I mentioned in my last blog post…the sketchbook doesn’t always make it in my diaper bag. Not to mention a complete set of colored pencils ready for action. Pa-leese.

And when I don’t have a camera, color is something I can record quickly when i see it. The other day, when I was driving, I saw a woman in the greatest blouse that was orange and purple and turquoise. And what did I think about all day? Orange and purple and turquoise. I saw it everywhere I went…and I hadn’t even appreciated that combination until I saw it in a random blouse.

When I start working on a fabric collection, color is often one of the first things that come to me. Once I have even just the start of a color story I want to play with, the design and composition comes so easily because I know how the colors can now interact. Maybe it’s the painter in me. My high school chemistry senior essay was on the history of paint, and the chemistry of mixing colors in both mixing and applying light (Which I got an A on because my chemistry teacher knew nothing on the subject I am sure!) But anyways, I digress. Color is everywhere! I love it. I crave it. I also find it very fascinating to follow color trends and look at why people love certain colors in certain eras. Isn’t it just fascinating? History reveals itself in color. People reveal themselves in color. It’s a mighty fun thing to think about. And now that I’m working on my next fabric collection….dun-dun-dun…color is bursting at the seams again. I love it! And you might just be seeing some of these colors very soon. Just sayin’



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Soft Spaces & more Children at Play

We’re starting to get more soft spaces in the house.  It’s been painful for me to not decorate my kids room when we first moved in to the house. When we moved in, I was in the beginning stages of getting fabric designed, and I knew I’d want to use Children at Play to decorate their room. The walls are the ugliest color, and we’ve been rather make shift with the space, but good things come to those who wait! I really hope to finish their space this summer, and really make it special. But it’s coming along, and it’s so wonderful to have these fabrics in their room…my kids love looking at all the details in the fabric. It’s really so wonderful to watch them so responsive, and it just makes all the hard work worth it.

These particular pillows were made by Susan, and I still can’t get over that hexagon pillow…all hand sewn and just gorgeous. Aren’t they amazing? When we moved in, I was in the beginnings of get fabric designed, and so I didn’t dare touch my children’s bedroom because I knew I’d just want to sew for them with Children at Play fabric. So, the walls are still brown, but it’s starting to be a much more welcome space.

These fabrics are a mix of the Meadow and Playhose line, fyi.I knew you’d ask:)

And, for the update, I just got word from Michael Miller, that the fabric is shipping out next week! I’ll be making a list of retailers soon, so you can get it from your favorite shop. Horray! It’s finally coming…can you believe it?




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POST EDIT: Warning…this post might be rather jumbled and is a true stream of conscienceness. But the truth is, it’s something I don’t talk about much, and I need to. So. There you go.

With our new house, one of my priorities was to have lots of places to make together. As a working artist, you’d think that would be a simple and obvious request. But as a mother and with this little business of mine, I’m often surprised how hard it really is for me illustrate while my kids are making. I can embroider, sew, do crafts and draw bits and pieces of projects we do together, but I don’t usually get a chance to just have my own drawing time. Maybe it’s cause they are still so young. Maybe it’s because when we make together, I’m teaching and guiding (and cleaning up!) more than not. I think mostly it’s because now that I get paid for what I illustrate, I can easily fall into the mind-set that drawing is “work” and not “play.” And since most of the day is filled with playing, and lessons, and cooking, and cleaning….I often forget to let myself just PLAY!

Sitting down with my sketchbook to fill some pages while the kids create beside me, is usually followed by Addie wanting to color in my sketchbook instead of hers…which I love. So I let her. I get out another sketchbook for me (I have several that I float between for this very reason), and then Ian’s pencil breaks and I need to run downstairs to grab a sharpener. And then Ella wants to color on Ian’s paper, so he goes up in the cupboard to find some more. But in the mean time, he wants to sculpt. So we set up the table for clay. And then I open my sketchbook while the kids are playing, and water spills all over, and clean it up. But before I do, Addie wants to rip out her page in my sketchbook to hang on the wall. So I rip it out, and then Ella is hungry. And when I get her some raisins, the others want some too. And now it’s lunchtime. And I think I’ve maybe started drawing a small little head with shoulders, with a scribble of crayon next to it. And so it goes. It’s almost like “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”

I absolutely love being creative the kids, but, I’ll be honest… I haven’t really found any solutions to getting real art work done except for when they are tucked soundly in their beds. I wish it weren’t so. But I’ve also come to the conclusion that making time isn’t about getting any particular project done…it’s just about making. Which, hello, is the fun of it, right? But even though I get to be creative at night, I’ve made it a point to be more creative and draw while they are. And even if I never get to turn a page in my sketchbook, I’ve seen how valuable it is to draw for myself while they are creating. Instead of only teaching, or giving ideas,etc. I am making more of a point this year to let them see me drawing.

Which actually brings me to another topic: often, since they know mom can “draw anything” …it’s actually a fine line I walk with drawing with them. Often when I do draw, they just ask me to draw for them. And when I stand off and let them come up with their own ideas, they can sit at the table for a really long time.

But, seeing mom draw and mess up is something we’re working on right now. Even last night’s bedtime story was about a time when I learned that all art is beautiful and mess-ups only lead to new ideas. It’s really amazing to create and teach my kids about creation…their needs are always changing, and so are mine. I love it.

So it’s funny…even though the house is filled with tape and scissors and glue, and there is a constant source of pencils & paper in any given place in the house….even though we make together all the time and do creative  projects together….sometimes I forget to just forget about my “projects” and just play just like my kids do. Silly, really.

So, I’m putting pressures of deadlines aside, and just playing more this year. It’s more important than I ever realized to say it out loud…kinda like losing weight or giving up caffein. So, there. I said. it. But truthfully, like any profession that you love…once it’s something you get paid for, it’s easy to forget to play. Something that a busy mommy can easily forget. Man! Why do we forget so easily? Being a responsible adult is nice and all, but isn’t playing what makes it all worth it? So. Playing. It’s good. And it needs to be given a bit more attention. I can just here the Goddess of Play now. She’s saying, “Thank you. It’s about time.”

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Sunshine Girl.

Ok. You have to indulge me today. But this week is Ella’s birthday, and I just can’t get over how much I am in love with this girl.

She is my sunshine. And even though her favorite words right now are “NO!” and “I NOT!” she is one of those toddlers that is adorable even when having a fit.

She’s been a beauty ever since she first came. And I don’t just mean her darling face and smiling eyes. But her soul is pure sunshine. I just can’t get enough of her!

This week I’m rather sentimental. She’s my baby, but is she really 2 years old? I was in a really interesting place two years ago. We were between moves, I was between big illustration projects. I spent several months with post-partum depression…trying to work through a lot of emotions and life plans. But Ella, even when I was pregnant with her, has been my light. Just seeing that smile makes it all melt away. And now that I am in a much better place than I was 2 years ago, I realize even more how much that big person inside that little body is capable of. She’s my joy!

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Introducing: On Parade panel and a floor pillow project

Hello! I’m back to show you some more fun we’ve had with this fabric. Children at Play was designed with a lot of projects in mind. As a designer, I really had to think about how this fabric would be used with children in mind: I thought about clothing, bedding, interiors and quilts. You’d think, “Well, of course…that includes it all!” But, when you are designig fabric, you really need to think about the end result. And this panel print was intended to be a runner for the bottom of skirts and dresses, but I hadn’t realized how well it works for bedding or like this….floor pillows.

Now that I have this fabric in my hands, it’s really amazing to see it in use. Being my first line, I’ve never had the experience of having something in my head translate into something in my hands like this. I mean, to see your illstrations on paper is one thing. But to have your children snuggle up and sit on them is another. I am still pinching myself!

This is called On Parade, and it runs on both sides of the selvedge, so it can get double use.The one below is with the Rocket Launch Club and Rocket Prints. I am rather addicted…and want to make so many more!

I found this floor pillow tutorial on Living with Punks, and this panel print works perfectly for it. It’s inspired by the floor pillows at Pottery Barn, and are really nice because they are flat on the top, and they have a handle for the children to move around the house. Here’s the post with pictures and instructions.

I will add that we added an inch to the top, and good 5 inches to the length of the side fabric to make it a wee bit bigger.  I also added some upholstery grade iron-on lining (by Pellon) to make it a bit more ready for lots of wear. You can get it at any general fabric store. It’s a pretty easy project, and really fun to make!

My kids love these. They really are the perfect portable furniture! I am SO glad I found this tutorial. They are getting a lot of use, and I think we need some more around the house. Right now we use them in the “library” (our living room) since we don’t really have much furniture in the house. So I just had to share…I think you’ll love making them too! Have fun!

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New Embroidery Pattern PDFS

Well, well well!

It took me long enough! So many of you have been camping at my doorstep with sleeping bags waiting for these to come. And so hello! Here they are!

8 new embroidery designs are here and ready for you to play with!

I’ve been working on these for WAY too long…tweaking, getting the colors right, the instructions right…and all of that. I’ve had embroidery patterns in the shop before, but these are different. They are full color, full guides and full of fun!

So, let me introduce you:


For the most part, these designs were created with the beginner in mind. But there are a few that have some really fun tricks that I plan on showing off a bit more in the coming weeks. But all the designs have stitching guides as well as how to create all the stitches required.

And really….if you are new to stitching, you can do these! I promise…it’s so fun and very magical to stitch up a design on your own. Not to mention that there are so many ways to use the embroidery once it’s finished…tea towels, pillows, wall art, aprons, the list goes on and on.

{Dress pattern by Oliver & S}

A while back, I asked a lot of you to help me with my embroidery patterns, and I had SO much help! It was amazing. But what learned from that experience, is that we all stitch differently and have different approaches. What I was able to do from all of that help, is see how my patterns were working and where they needed more clarification. So, I can honestly say that these designs have been worked through and are ready for the world!

I hope you enjoy these designs. I plan on coming out with new ones with every fabric collection. Many of these are meant to go with the CHILDREN AT PLAY line, and they work so well! I can’t wait to see what you all do with them!!

But, since the fabric won’t be in stores for a couple more weeks, it’s smart to start the stitching now. Even though these designs are meant to be simple (some are more advanced!) they still take time! But ooooooohhhh so therapeutic!

Oh, and these are just the PDF’s. Iron-ons will be available at the beginning of July. You can make your own iron-ons from these PDF’s or you can wait till July! Stay tuned!


I’ll be starting a flickr group soon, so stay tuned! I’d love to see all your designs:) And thanks again to ALL of you who were a part of the process: Julie for stitching so many of the final pieces, all of you who stitched my drafted patterns to see if they were working or not, my husband who put up with me poking my fingers during intense movies that really could have done without interruption…the list goes on.

Click here to purchase.

Spread the word…and happy stitching!



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Children at Play: Family Tree

Hello! It’s Friday!

When did that happen? This is the first week of summer for us, so I kinda woke up and realized I haven’t really posted anything really interesting…well, I have lots to share in the next couple weeks. But breaks are good, right?

So. Let’s start talking a little more about Children At Play. The fabric isn’t even in stores yet, but should be soon! And until then, I want to introduce you to it bit by bit.

So, let’s start with the family tree, shall we?

{image from Samantha Cabrera}

The family tree print is one of my favorites. I’ve had this idea in my head for a long time…ever since I came out with the print version. This Family Tree is a place for children to see their parents, grandparents and great grandparents all in one place. And it’s been a great addition to the shop!

But what is so great about this panel print, is that now you can create a quilt that can last even longer! And it’s much, much bigger (24″ x 44″ panel) so you can really make a statement with it…or incorporate it into bedding, etc.

What I love about this panel, is that is leaves you open with a lot of options. On mine, I have stitched my children’s names down at the bottom, randomly where the children are playing. And then for the tree itself, I have stitched the names of my husband and myself, and then our parents and grandparents. But what I also did, and you can see down below a little bit, is I have stitched the pet names that my children call them! So, below my father’s name, is Papa. And below Kenneth’s father’s name is Bee-baa (which is what my children call them). And next to my grandmother, I stitched “Tutu” which is what she went by, etc.

This is now hanging in my daughters bedroom, and LOVE that she strokes it every night before she goes to bed. She can feel the stitching. She loves the “bumps” from the quilting. She reviews the names of some of her great-grandparents that have since passed, but that she still loves and remembers. It’s a precious way to keep your heritage alive with your children in mind.

I’d love to see how you end up quilting yours! This one is done with dark brown embroidery floss (you could also use fabric pen I guess), “Wallpaper Flowers Berry” and “Meadow Light pink” Fabric.

I’ll be starting a flickr group too, for all of you to share your ideas!

So….That’s my first intro to Children At Play! I have a lot more…and maybe by the time I’m done, you’ll have some in your hands already. I can’t wait to see what you all make up with it!

Happy weekend! Sending hugs and kisses to you all….






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