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January Prints Interview on Fabric Design & Sprout Patterns

Grainline Studio | Sprout PatternsHey! Did you see our posts about our presence on Sprout Patterns?! Sprout Patterns is an online service where you can have one of our sewing patterns printed directly onto Spoonflower fabric. We also have a Spoonflower shop!

Our shop is populated with surface designs from the very talented Michelle Vondiziano of January Prints. Michelle was born in Nicosia, Cyprus, but grew up in Michigan where she studied art history and painting. After a stint as a gallery assistant, Michelle found herself in the world of textiles at the Chicago-based company, Unison. It was here that her love and understanding of textile-design flourished. Since then she has moved with her family to Pennsylvania where she works independently on her designs while raising two children. We are so excited to be working with her! She is awesome and we wanted you to get a chance to learn more about her. Here is a conversation that we had with Michelle and wanted to share with you.

Sarah: Michelle, what is the kernel of your design aesthetic?

Michelle: The inspiration for my work comes from stamping, primitive designs, traditional batik, and my 5-year old daughter's drawings. I have always been fascinated by the relationship of color and pattern established through repetition. It's one thing to draw a design, but how does it look repeated over and over again? I love the negative space created by batik and other resist techniques as well as the simplicity of geometric shapes. Those things go a long way when incorporated into a simple repeat.

Sarah: How does your original idea or inspiration evolve into a complete design?

Michelle: I usually begin with a hand-drawn, hand-stamped or hand-painted design, then scan it into my computer to experiment with color. From there I have to determine the scale, keeping in mind what the design will be used for - apparel, wallpaper, home textiles etc. It's easy to go too big or too small, so I have to be sensitive to the design's application.

Sarah: As design is an amorphous process we are curious… how have your inspiration and methods changed over time?

Michelle: Living in a rural area for the first time in my life, I am inspired by the landscape, skyscape, and change of seasons. Feeling closely connected to the natural environment, I'm inspired to get more hands-on with my process, moving away from digital design, and pursuing hand-dying, hand-stamping and natural pigments. This past summer was the beginning of my indigo and resist tea-towels, which have set the stage for a new collection.

Sarah: When did you start sewing, and what is the first thing you sewed?

Michelle: I began sewing around age 7, but believe me, that does not make me a good sewer. I did not pursue it. My mother, on the other hand, was an amazing sewer, and I have vivid memories of her sewing up matching outfits for the two of us! She also made me tons of Barbie clothes. I think the first and most sophisticated thing I ever sewed (with her help), was a Barbie bra. 

Sarah: What is your favorite Grainline Studio pattern to sew? 

Michelle: I will be sewing my first Grainline pattern as we speak! I've chosen the Lark Tee with boat neck and long sleeves.

Sarah: What is the funniest thing you have made? 

Michelle: One of the funniest things I've made is a pair of DIY bell bottoms. You know the ones where you start off with a pair of grungy jeans and then add the triangle of fabric at the bottom? Yes, I sported those for a while in middle school. 

Sarah: Thank you for chatting with us Michelle!

Michelle: I'm so excited to work with Grainline Studio again. It's come full circle from our first collaboration back when they were Hound. That was my first custom apparel project, thanks to Jen Beeman's confidence in my work. Going forward with our current Sprout/Grainline Studio project, I can't wait to see what fabric combinations people choose. What a beautiful way to work collaboratively across the board!"