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.