Once Upon A Time with Franny and Jane

frannyjane_qmbooth For Franny and Jane, the story’s the thing.

Franny (Frances Newcombe) studied children’s book illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and believes that creating a fabric collection is a form of storytelling. And you may remember that Jane (aka QuiltJane) is a sucker for stories of crime and mystery (you can read our earlier interview with her here. So when the two of them got together to design a fabric collection for Moda, they wanted to tell a tale. The result is Manderley, a unique collection of ocean-and-mansion inspired fabrics.

Jane’s Enchanted Garden pattern sewn in the seaside shades of Manderley

(A journalism professor told me never to use the word “unique,” claiming that nothing truly is, but in this case I think he’s wrong. While Manderley has all the elements of great collection of quilting fabric, it does double-duty, as it was designed specifically with English paper piecing—aka EPP—in mind. Elements within the fabric—flowers, turtles, bunnies, and birds—were scaled to fit perfectly within one-and two-inch EPP templates.)


So how do two people, who live on two separate continents—Fran in Los Angeles, and Jane near Brisbane, Australia—go about designing such a collection? Well, technology plays a big part in making it possible.

“We spend a lot of time on Skype and we text, too, so we communicate almost every day,” says Fran. “We share files on Dropbox and share screens. But we do get distracted and laugh a lot.”

Manderley’s motifs fit perfectly in the EPP templates used to create these pillows.

That’s probably because the two share more than computer skills. Fran remembers that when she and Jane met at Quilt Market in 2014, Jane called her a “soul sister.”

“I somehow knew intuitively that we were meant to work together,” says Fran.

Jane’s Lotus pattern is on the right. Manderley’s fresh colors really pop against the dark background.


While Fran’s and Jane’s creativity evidenced itself when they were young—both remember making doll clothes and Fran loved decorating her dollhouse—their lives took very different paths in adulthood. Jane trained as a scientist and worked in IT and bioscience, while Fran did television graphics for NBC, The Discovery Channel, and other stations. Both eventually left their full-time careers to freelance and spend more time with their sons—Jane has two and Fran has one—and both had fallen under the spell of quilting.

Their combined efforts bring the best of both their worlds—Jane mathematical and pattern design skills and Fran’s drawing and graphic design skills have crossed over to enhance their line of fabrics. “Together we’re a great match and hope to bring a wonderful product that people love,” says Fran.


Their collection is named after the mansion in Rebecca, the 1938 novel by Daphne DuMaurier that was adapted into a thriller/mystery film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940. Though the story’s themes align with Jane’s love of mystery—a young woman marries an older man and moves to his slightly sinister seaside manor—the fabrics are anything but gloomy and focus on secret gardens, Asian-inspired decorative elements, seashells, and flowers, all done in fresh hues. For Quilt Market, they took their story and worked it into an incredible range pillows, bags, coasters and quilts, including those Jane designed just for Manderley.

Jane’s Baltimore by the Sea pattern

But that’s their story. And now it’s your turn. As Fran says, “With each choice a fabric designer makes, they are telling a unique story. In turn, the quilter will rearrange those fabrics to tell their own story.”

Have you ever thought of quilting as storytelling? What’s your story?

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16 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time with Franny and Jane

  1. We had the BEST quilt show last week. We did a bed turning tea with two quilts from each member. Their first and last quilt was the theme to show how each had progressed through the years. I have always said that EVERY quilt has a story. The only complaint from our 120 tea attenders was that there was not enough Kleenex as there were some real tear jerkers. There are only 12 of us but we put on a memorable day. You should check it out at these links
    It was some stories that will be talked about for awhile!!

  2. Thanks for this post….the fabrics are incredible! Those two ladies are a great talent match.

  3. These fabrics are amazing! Cannot wait to get my hands on some of it….
    I have never thought of a quilt telling a story, but I really like that concept! I have always thought about the story of the quilt itself….particularly when the quilt is a gift….how the pattern was chosen, what prompted using certain colors and fabrics, etc.
    Your post has given me a whole new avenue to follow in the way I will make those decisions going forward!!

  4. This is probably not the right place to get this info out but I need to have someone connect me to the right person.I have thru an estate sale come across some of Modas fabric that I understand is quite rare and I would like to know how to get the info out that I have the fabric.It is called Glamping Maryjane and I have two complete layer cakes and 8 2/3 yds of the signature fabric on the turquoise background and 2 1/3 of the pink dot that is a companion to it.Is there someone I could talk to about possibly selling it either to one person or possibly split it up.

    1. You might try one of the local quilt shops. Possibly they could tell you what it is worth, refer you to one of their customers who will purchase it or refer you to the local quilt guild.

  5. my story is that I’m dying to get that applique pattern: I love it!!! Great line, and I’m looking forward to being able to buy it!! Great job!! Hugs, H

  6. Those quilts are amazing, and the fabrics are beautiful. Thanks for bringing them to us.

  7. Frances, I met you at the Sew N Sew in Glendora in March, you told me about Manderley. I kept the note about it next to my computer. The fabrics are gorgeous, I can’t wait to find it, there are several designs I want to buy. Thank you for telling me about it.

  8. what a great article – thanks so much for the back story about Jane and Frances and their new fabric range – I LOVE Jane’s Baltimore by the Sea and also her Lotus quilt – so awesome !

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