Say Hello to New Moda Designer Crystal Manning

Crystal posing in a field of joy in her handmade dress and fabric design.

Crystal Manning can’t imagine a day without color, and she’s got a purple bathroom and turquoise studio to prove it. “I have to negotiate wall color with my husband,” she says. “If I lived by myself I’d probably go pretty crazy.”

Crystal, who hails from Kansas City, will be sharing that love of color when her first fabric line, Wild Nectar, debuts at Quilt Market next month. As you might imagine, its nature-inspired prints feature vibrant hues. “I can’t imagine ever doing neutral tones,” she says.


Crystal’s journey to fabric design dates back to about the fourth grade, when she was living in a small northern Missouri town. Her mom recognized Crystal’s talent for art and arranged for lessons with a local artist. “I enjoyed it, but didn’t know what I could do with it as a career,” she says. In college she opted for a business degree and in her advertising classes that she found herself drawn to advertising imagery and the idea of graphic design. After college she worked for more than fifteen years as in-house designer ad agencies and for the Precious Moments giftware company, located in southern Missouri. Four years ago she and her husband, a high school teacher, moved to the Kansas City area and Crystal continued to work remotely for Precious Moments. Then, about a year ago she made the big decision to go out on her own.

Crystal’s sewing space is in the corner of a spare bedroom with a closet that has a growing fabric collection.

“I’d learned a lot about giftware and decided to work toward licensing some of my own surface patterns,” she says. One of Crystal’s efforts involved having her designs digitally printed on fabric, even though she didn’t know how to sew. “I wanted to be able to create something with it, so I bought a sewing machine in 2015.”

Crystal’s assistant, Piper

Since then, Crystal’s stitching skills have improved greatly. She especially enjoys creating simple garments. “I don’t labor over them too much,” she says. “I’m pretty happy with my abilities. I can put in an invisible zipper, so I’m good.” Her interest in quilting came when she partnered with Lindsey Rae of Sew to Grow at Quilt Market last year. “As I was exposed to the different forms of quilting at Market I found I was really drawn to modern quilting,” she says. She’s designing three patterns to go with her line, and will be sewing them herself to display at Quilt Market. She also stitches small projects for her Etsy shop.

Crystal working in her basement studio space. Paint and fabric must be in separate rooms.

When she’s not sewing you’ll find Crystal hard at work on her surface pattern designs, which also appear on swimwear and on Precious Moments giftware, too. A self-described night person, she takes care of email during the morning hours, while she sews and paints during the evening hours. (She started as a “plein air” painter and still makes time to create original oil paintings.)

A vintage Simplicity shift dress made with Wild Nectar fabrics alongside one of Crystal’s oil paintings. The framed piece of J.C. Nichols Fountain, a Kansas City landmark, is one of many she has on display in her home.

When she’s not got her nose to the grindstone, Crystal and her husband, a high school business teacher who is working on his doctorate, enjoy cheering on the Kansas City Royals, taking evening walks in historic Liberty, Missouri area, and giving in to their appreciation of coffee at local shops. But, she admits, they’re mostly pretty low-key and often work into the evenings.

The Wild Nectar collection

I asked Crystal if her accomplishments could be attributed to being super-organized, and she demurred. “I don’t know if it’s that so much, but I don’t give up,” she says. “I keep trying, and try to get better at what I do.” The color-lovers among us can be grateful for Crystal’s persistence, and we’ll soon have her fabric to inspire our own creativity.

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25 thoughts on “Say Hello to New Moda Designer Crystal Manning

  1. I love Crystal’s fabric line. Actually I love everyone’S fabric lines. Ha! But I’ll be dead long before I use up the fabric I already have! Maybe I could sell some of it, or give it away. What to do, what to do….. (I’m already on your mailing list)

  2. Beautiful fabrics and exciting colors. She will be a great addition to the team. Love the sunflowers and the dress in her photo. My sister who lives in Mississippi grows sunflowers every year and I enjoy them so much. She always sends me pictures. Kay H

  3. So very beautiful! It’s so wonderful to see someone following their passion. Your journey is inspiring and it’s awesome to see how our experiences weave together over a lifetime to make us who we are. Congratulations and best wishes as your journey continues!

  4. Beautiful fabrics, not sure we will be able to get them in the UK but we can drool from afar. I’m sure you will be happy with the people here.

  5. Anyone who has a kitty assistant and loves color is OK in my book! I will be looking out for Crystal’s
    beautiful new fabric line.

  6. I’m a color person also. I absolutely love these fabrics! They are beautiful and I’m sure would look great in more traditional quilts which I like to do as well. Love her studio’s! So jealous of all the natural light. Mine is in the basement so my DH had to wire my “natural” light in! And of course no studio is complete without a kitty!

  7. GREAT JOB Crystal, I do not know you but I well know your little momma and dad. And it is a joy to see your hard work and dedication get the recognition that it deserves

  8. Crystal is not only a gifted designer, she is also a phenomenal person. I was honored to work with Crystal and am so happy for her.

  9. Crystal sounds like a very interesting designer and will do well I am sure by the looks of her fabrics….so different and striking colors….good wishes sent to her on her first solo market.

  10. Thank you all for your wonderful comments. This is a new adventure for me and it’s good to know that my designs connect with other people.

  11. Reeeeealy love this new line! Congrats Crystal! So talented! Can’t wait to add this to my stash!

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