Amy Butler - New Fabric for Spring 2006!

If you've been following my blog for a few months now, you may have discovered that I like to sew (geek), enjoy making patchwork quilts (super geek), design and stitch pillows and window treatments for myself (uber geek) and well... I absolutely love fabric (okay, that part is cool). You also may have heard me rave about Amy Butler Designs. I posted about her in early March, but now that it's officially Spring and her new collection just released, I had to mention her again.Amy's stunning collections, Belle and Forest, feature dozens of new prints inspired by nature, oozing with pure happiness in fresh vibrant prints. These super-yum fabrics can be used in many of your creative projects from seat cushions to making fun Barbie clothes for your little girls collection. If you have a daughter, you could ask her to work on a sewing project with you, she could help select some pretty fabric and together, you could stitch up new duvets and panels for her dollhouse.

As I write this, I'm transported back in time to when I had this super deluxe handmade dollhouse that my aunt and uncle crafted for me out of wood. I remember the day the package arrived and how excited I was as I stood in my living room in awe, clutching my cookie monster, gazing at all the rooms in my new dollhouse wide-eyed and amazed. My aunt took the time to also design and build every single piece of furniture inside - none of it was plastic - only teak, pine and birch was used to construct this mid-century modern Barbie townhouse. My aunt even installed funky wallpaper in each of the rooms and hand-painted the artwork that 'hung' from the walls. My mother then embellished the place with duvets (well, we called them bedspreads back then) and fancy window treatments. We worked on sewing projects for Barbie fashion and decor for hours and many, many years after that little house arrived. Sewing with my mother made for many bonding moments. I think fabrics draw women together. Little girls with moms, friends with other friends. Maybe that's why I'm so inspired to create things, often in a workshop environment with other women. Sewing can be so much more than a creative hobby, especially if you pull together your children or a few friends and enjoy it with some good music, homemade iced tea (I'm really going back to my southern upbringing now) and a basket of sweet rolls.

If you don't know how to sew, no need to feel left out. To get a feel for using fabric in creative ways, start small. I'm barely past the basics myself, so don't worry, it takes time and patience with yourself. For now, take it in baby steps. You can quickly add some of Amy's fabric to a vase: read this article about a no-sew DIY project. You can also invest in a great electric staple gun, sold at your local hardware store, and make everything from inspiration boards to display over your desk to padded headboards and new dining room chair pads.

If you truly love home design and yearn to stretch your dollar, I suggest taking a few sewing lessons at your local fabric store and then, invest in a basic sewing machine. I own a Bernina that I'm very happy with, and it cost only $350 USD. When you think of how much you'd have to pay a seamstress for two simple rod pocket panels, the machine pays for itself after you've completed only one or two projects for your home. My seamstress charges $150-200 for one window valance. (this fee does not include the cost of fabric, lining, trim, rods or installation fees.) See what I mean?

If you do sew, or plan to get started soon, Amy carries easy to follow patterns for creating everything from pillows to handbags, available at many fabric stores and on various websites. Just google "Amy Butler Patterns" to locate them. She even posts free patterns that you can download from her website. I'm loving her birdie the cat download - it's just toooo sweet, don't you think?

I hope you've enjoyed seeing Belle and Forest, and if you would like to talk about your current sewing project, or if you have questions about getting started, post a comment below and I'm sure you'll find others that will reply and inspire!

(photos from amy butler)