Reflections + Predictions ~ Kathy Miller

on December 30 | in Interviews + Profiles, Sewing Trends | by | with 18 Comments

Our Sewing Industry Reflections + Predictions series continues with Kathy Miller, co-owner of Michael MIller Fabrics and all-around expert in all things related to the sewing industry. Kathy knows color. She knows trends… If you’ve ever been to her schoolhouse sessions at Quilt Market you’ve likely left with notes furiously scribbled on paper and complete respect for Kathy and her company. Kathy and Michael Steiner have grown Michael Miller Fabrics by leaps and bounds since their start in 1999; chances are you know, love and own fabric from quite a few of their collections. We’re so pleased to share Kathy’s thoughts on 2011 and her predictions for the year ahead.

We want to know what you think too! Answer any or all of our questions for your chance to win one of three $20 gift certificates to Sew,Mama,Sew! (You can use it for some of your favorite Michael Miller Fabrics!) Don’t miss our previous interviews in the series: Amanda Jennings and Amanda Carestio.

Sew,Mama,Sew!: Looking back at the 2011 sewing scene, what trends stand out in your mind?



      Need I say more? They’re everywhere– I think it’s kind of the collective unconscious thing; we’re all “into” them now.



The color WHITE.

      Whether it’s a background in a quilt or a print, it makes everything clean, fresh and sparkly. All colors look great next to white.


      3. A continuing, evolving acceptance of

new fabrications

      for multiple uses– craft, home, quilting, needlework.



Large scale prints

      : Our “eye” has definitely adjusted over the past few years to larger scale prints. Thank goodness! I LOVE large graphic prints.




    , and all hand work.

Sew,Mama,Sew!: What did you make that you’re most proud of?
Kathy: Since I haven’t had time to sew I’ll have to say the Quilt Market booths we did. The whole process of creating and building the booth is an exhausting, nerve wracking team effort (and our team is REALLY FUN!). You never really know if it’s all going to come together until you’re there– When it does the smiles are worth it All.

Cotton Couture Solids Debut/ Fall 2011/ Houston

Vintage Picnic/ Fall 2011/ Houston

Color Stories Debut/ Spring 2011/ Salt Lake City

Super Heroes/ Spring 2011/ Salt Lake City

Sew,Mama,Sew!: What was your favorite fabric collection or print?
Kathy: In reference to Michael Miller; having to pick a favorite fabric collection or print is like picking a favorite child– I love ’em all! Really! Our licensed designers never cease to amaze and inspire me.

Although… For a chuckle, check out “Pink Elephants.” It’s retro, slightly tipsy pink elephants– Perfect for cocktail aprons. At Quilt Market I kept getting puzzled looks when showing the header sample; later I noticed that it’d been mislabeled in the “Baby” category!

Sew,Mama,Sew!: Are there any trends you’re over and done with?
Kathy: No, as soon as I say I’m over something is when I’m proven wrong by doing exactly that. Years ago I said trying to sell gray or brown to our market was like telling kids to eat their veggies. Now browns and grays are a major trend (our color story, Urban Grit).

Sew,Mama,Sew!: What are your thoughts about social media? How is it going for you? What do you love or hate?
Kathy: Love and Hate– I think that’s a good way to summarize my relationship with social media. I LOVE being able to tap into such a rich wealth of inspiration and be in constant contact with others. Besides our quilting/crafting/sewing world, I follow a lot of blogs on color, interior design, marketing and the creative process. Combine that with linking to all the blogs through Pinterest and you end up with a bad combo of major sleep deprivation and a highly stimulated brain.

Unfortunately we creative types have our own brand of procrastination– hunting, gathering, researching all media, magazines, books, blogs, Pinterest… At a certain point I just have to push away from the computer and phone and get some work done. The other end of the studio is where the real income-producing work gets the done. Very hands-on.

Sew,Mama,Sew!: What sewn projects have you seen this year that you absolutely love?
Kathy: LOVE this bold graphic Houndstooth Quilt Pattern by Vanessa Christenson of V and Co.:

Sarah Jane’s Embroidery Patterns— They’ve inspired me to pick up a hoop, needle and floss and start stitching:

Laminate umbrellas; I can’t wait to try this. This one from Emily Herrick of Crazy Old Ladies Quilts:

… And this one from Sandi Henderson of Portabellopixie:

Sew,Mama,Sew!: What do you predict for 2012?
Kathy: The color blocking trend is just getting started. Everything from quilts to clothing and shoes will continue and become more prevalent with new and unusual color combinations.

The tactile nature of fabrics will become more important– More variety in weaves and finishes, and surface-printed textures (with pigments and frosted metallics).

Sew,Mama,Sew!: Are there any bloggers, authors or designers who you think will be rising stars in 2012?
Kathy: David Butler; his debut menswear collection really hit the mark. There’s so much change going on in our market right now I’m sure there’ll be rising stars that aren’t even on the radar now.

Sew,Mama,Sew!: Can you tell us anything about what to expect from you in 2012? Any projects or life-changing goals you can share?
Kathy: I can’t say much and I’m not big on previewing too early. But… There’s some great stuff developing as I write this:

  • I’m totally smitten with Violet Craft‘s new collection.
  • Sarah Jane swashbuckles her way back to our hearts.
  • Patty Young has some big stuff in store for next market.
  • Pillow and Maxfield are coming through with their fabulous color sense and graphic punch.
  • Mark Hordyszynski is creating more surprises from his home in Hawaii.
  • Laura Gunn: Stay tuned for some dramatic showcasing of her work.
  • Emily Herrick: She’s been off and running since her first collection. The next one won’t disappoint.
  • Paula Prass is painting as we speak. I can’t wait to see what influence moving to California has had.
  • Patty Sloniger made a spectacular transition from Spoonflower contest winner to licensed designer, showcasing at her first Quilt Market. Expect more from this very talented newcomer.
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18 Responses to Reflections + Predictions ~ Kathy Miller

  1. Few things can surprise me and yet I feel that way. Hmmm I’m full of positive impressions – Mary from

  2. Linda says:

    The five 2011 trends Kathy shared, have had the most impact on me. With credit given, I shared them with members of our Des Moines Chapter of The Modern Quilt Guild. Kathy’s trend-spotting is spot on!

  3. Kelsey says:

    That’s too funny about the elephant print being miscategorized. Yeah, inebriated elephants might not be the most appropriate baby fabric ever…

  4. lm says:

    I love the graphic larger prints too. Tiny florals are fine in their place, but bigger squares demand bigger prints.

  5. cheri says:

    Those pink elephants are so cute!

  6. Jennyroo says:

    I’ve never considered a patchwork houndstooth before. Gorgeous! And the smaller the squares/HSTs you are willing to cut, the more intricate the final design will be!

  7. Becky Greene says:

    I would love to make my own umbrella! What an amazing idea!

  8. amorette says:

    great shouting out, of designers of fabric and patterns. i have to check these out!

  9. Jennie P. says:

    The houndstooth quilt pattern is interesting. Never seen that before.

  10. Gwen Windham says:

    I enjoyed reading your reflections and predictions! REALLY love the cute Houndstooth pattern and am going to have to do one of those quilts this year– in honor of “The Bear”! Roll Tide! 🙂

  11. Erin says:

    Love Michael Miller fabrics. I just bought some of the Sarah Jane Children at Play (I know a little late) and I can’t wait to start on an outfit for my daughter’s 2nd birthday. It’s going to be so cute especially with those fabrics.

  12. Sarah McGrath says:

    Homemade umbrella, I never would have thought of that, cool.

  13. […] check out previous interviews in the series: Katy Jones, Elizabeth Evans + Liz Evans, Tasia Pona, Kathy Miller, Amanda Jennings, Amanda Carestio. Let us know what you think too for a chance to win a gift […]

  14. Shari says:

    What was your favorite fabric collection or print? Hands down, Echo, by Lotta Jansdotter. I would have loved to have seen this released in a cotton voile or cotton shirting or linen or cotton/linen substrate although I am seemingly making due with the quilting cotton.

    What do you predict for 2012? Breakout year for David Butler. Curious Nature order will definitely by over 50 yards! Cannot wait to see his next collection and hopefully more substrates.

  15. Mari says:

    A prediction for the coming year: everyone’s love of vintage prints will still be present, but it will be slightly less prominent since it’s been going strong for so long now and since more solids are coming to the fore. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  16. kelli says:

    Kathy must be amazing. I’d love to spend an afternoon with her picking her brain.

  17. MarciaW says:

    Kathy, thanks for taking the time to comment on trends. I look forward to your resuming weekly Wednesday posts on the MM blog.

  18. Liz Mouse says:

    Love Patty Young, can’t wait to see what she has next in store for us. But I don’t get the solids trend Kathy was talking about, unless that is specific to quilt makers. I mostly make clothing and accessories and I’m not seeing a solids trend there yet. My favorite collection from 2011 was AMH’s Loulouthi! So many ways to love it, the latest of which is the velveteen!

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