While it sounds like gender-bias or stereotyping, if you’ve worked in a quilt shop or for a fabric company, you know that one of the frequent questions is “why isn’t there any great quilt fabric for boys?” Or men.
Lydia Nelson of Dreamy Quilts knew all about that. As a quilter and Mom of three boys, she had trouble finding fabric that had the look she wanted. So she set out to change that by designing a contemporary-vintage collection that suited boys. The result is Mighty Machines – Lydia’s third collection for Moda.
Darling Little Dickens was her first – a wildly popular collection that featured Lydia’s drawings and paintings rendered in a contemporary children’s color palette.
This was the original artwork for Darling Little Dickens.
That was followed by Hushabye Hollow… imagine woodland creatures and bedtime stories.
As beautiful as the collections were, Lydia’s boys were growing and she needed something a little different.
What inspired Mighty Machines? Did you start out with the idea of designing a collection for your boys? Yes! I love making quilts and clothing for them and I found that the boys’ fabric was a bit lacking. It was often “cartoony” and lacked the timeless, classic look I wanted. My boys are typical in that they love planes, trucks and machines of any kind so I knew that’s what I wanted to include.
Your color palettes are always so distinctive – they look and feel contemporary and vintage at the same time. Is that something you think about? Yes! I love colors that will look beautiful and “of the moment” in any decade, and at any age. Vintage, but not dated. The colors for this collection work for any age, including mine! The vintage plane print is a good example, it’s perfect for a baby boy, teenage boy and probably ever for grandfathers.
Why this color palette – what drew you to these specific shades? I am always inspired by the colors used by companies like Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn Kids. The shades look and feel sophisticated and classic, but not adult. I also share their aesthetic for a clean look, prints that aren’t too busy.
This quilt and pattern is titled “Garbage Day.”
Did you ask your boys for their input? Or their approval? Of course! They weren’t much help beyond “trucks!”
What did they think of it? They love it – and I loved watching them open the box when my yardage arrived. They were so excited! They started digging into the box, pulling out pieces and “calling dibs” on their favorite prints.
The quilt shown is Mighty Machines.
I love your Trucks quilt pattern! Did you sit down with the goal of designing a truck block? Was it easier or harder than you thought it would be? I knew I needed a semi-truck quilt – for my boys, for the collection and for the challenge of it. It was so easy – so yes, easier than I thought it would be. Rectangles, triangles and appliquéd wheels. That was it!
I also love another one of Lydia’s quilts – Dolls.
So I had to ask… while you don’t have a girl yet, do you have an itch to design a collection just for girls? That would be a lot of fun, and I love the idea of drawing prints inspired by my paper “Dolls” quilt and pattern.
At Market and elsewhere, Lydia shared a beautiful quilt that combines fabric and knitting. (She’s lucky this made it home… with her.)
When I asked her about it, she wrote, “My mom owns a yarn store in Arkansas called ‘Mockingbird Moon’ so yes, I also love to knit. I made this using the Heirloom Blanket pattern by Erika Knight, it’s from her Natural Nursery Knits book. It incorporates yarn, fabric and lace trims for a beautiful, distinctive look. It’s definitely for the more experienced seamstress and knitter because sewing fabric to knitted pieces can be tricky.
Painter. Quilter. Maker. When you think of your work, which description would you put first? Or do none of these fit – would you use a different word? Designer? Designing fabric has been such a joy because it lets me incorporate all three of these words or titles into a single finished piece or product. I love to draw with pencil, add color with watercolors or colored pencils, then work with them in Adobe Illustrator. That’s been very addictive because it’s fascinating to watch your work change with different colors and scales… or rather, being able to use the program to change the original artwork and color.
2018 is a New Year and your big plans for the year are to… ? We will be welcoming our fourth – and yes, final! – baby in July so that’s a pretty big to-do for this year. I also want to draw and paint more. While it’s really easy to get swept away with filling orders and the “work” side of things, I’m going to focus on being more creative every day, even if it just ends up being for me. I have so many creative passions – drawing, writing, decorating our home, quilting and knitting. I also started my own stationery company – Downtown Paper Company – and I’m excited that some of my cards will be carried at Terrain, one of my favorite stores.
Even though Lydia teased that she knows she sometimes loses focus and skips from one creative activity to another, it’s clear that her first focus is her boys and family. Cuddling, reading a book with the boys, wiping away tears, working on homework or practicing the violin will always take priority over work – and my creative pursuits. They’re only young for a little while and I’m not going to miss a moment of it. It’s funny but sometimes I feel like I am always moving at the speed of light, but accomplishing things at a snail’s pace. I suppose that’s how it is for a lot of us… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Never mind little boys… I want some of this collection!
(And thank you Lydia for the pictures! I hope I didn’t whine too much.)