Umbrella pops up as fashion statement in quilters mecca

Melissa Marie Collins of Frond Design Studios of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, showcases her fabric line, “Carpe Diem,” at the recent International Quilt Market in Houston. Collins is one of a collective of artists whose goal is to turn original art into fabric in strong, saturated colors. She designs items to decorate the entire home, as well as the dress she’s wearing and her collection of umbrellas. “I want to let sewing be part of your lifestyle, in your kitchen, in your living room and in all areas of your home,” Collins says.

Two new paintings on canvas by Melissa Marie Collins are scheduled to debut next summer as a new fabric line called “Dreaming Tree.”

Erin Schlosser of San Antonio, left, and Melissa Ybarra of Dallas collaborate on fabric and items made from it at their “Garden Party Tango” booth for Wyndam Fabrics at the Houston market. Ybarra designs the material, and Schlosser makes the patterns for sewing that cloth into a multitude of products, including quilts, pillows and handbags.

An Angelina jumper by Marie-Madeline Studio of Seneca, Mo., includes an accent apron over a full, flared skirt and a jeweled floral corsage in the company’s latest children’s wear pattern.

Loyse Hinkle of Grand Junction, this columnist’s daughter, Houston traveling companion and quilt photographer, purchased this scarf with a jewelry pendant at 
A Charming Affair, an exhibitor at International Quilt Market. This scarf and necklace combo is a hot fashion item this season.



■ WHAT: Show and sale by Grand Junction Crazy Quilters — quilts, Christmas stockings and stuffed animals on display; ornaments, note cards, etc., for sale.

■ WHEN: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23.

■ WHERE: Grand Valley Books, 350 Main St.

■ INFORMATION: Call Janet Popish, 434-7478, about the show and membership in this group.

Rain falls rarely here in our high desert region, and demand for umbrellas in these parts is negligible.

This fall and past summer, admittedly, have been out of the norm with a couple more inches of moisture than usual to spike us above our paltry annual 8-inch allotment. All the same, I don’t have an umbrella stand full of bumbershoots waiting at the front door.

I might be able to rustle up an old folding one from underneath our car seats or the corner of the trunk if a deluge erupted, but, in general, it’s not an accessory foremost in my mind.

However, at the recent International Quilt Market in Houston, umbrellas not only were in vogue with designers on the show floor, they also were downright essential.

The skies opened up on the third day, pelting raindrops on the city, which, unlike Grand Junction, is not known for its paucity of precipitation. Everyone scrambled for an umbrella; even hotel concierges handed them out to market-goers desperate to stay dry until they reached their destination.

Inside the George R. Brown Convention Center, 36-year-old fabric designer Melissa Marie Collins twirled a most fashionable umbrella, parasol-style, over her shoulder, as several more hung by their handles as though they were giant hibiscus blossoms descending from a white wooden arbor over a lavishly decorated bed. An artist with Frond Design Studios in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Collins was showcasing her current fabric line, “Carpe Diem.”

“I want to let sewing be part of your lifestyle, in your kitchen, in your living room and in all areas of your home,” she says. 

In keeping with her “seize the day” attitude, Collins wore a multi-patterned dress of her fabric, an entire 10 yards of it. Her designs start as paintings, with the intention of showing the actual brushstrokes when they become fabric. She says she doesn’t want “that aspect to be lost in translation” during the art-to-cloth process. 

Collins is one in a collective of artists whose goal is to turn original art into fabric for Frond Design Studios. Strong, saturated colors are the company’s hallmark. The actual hand paintings can be purchased online at frond

“I’ve always been an artist,” says Collins, as she shares two new paintings on canvas displayed in another area of the exhibition booth. Large, playful swooshes of paint form “Dreaming Tree,” which will show up next summer in a new fabric line.

“I don’t block out the child in me,” she says of her fanciful style.

At 18, Collins took her first painting class.

“That’s when I found my voice and my medium,” she says. “You know how you embrace what you’re created to be.”

Her voice comes out loud and clear.

On another exhibition floor aisle, two more young designers merged their respective visions into one, promoting “Garden Party Tango” fabrics and patterns for Wyndam Fabrics, based in New Jersey.

Trained in graphic design, Melissa Ybarra of Iza Pearl Designs in Dallas turns out florals and geometrics in this fabric collection, while patterns are offered by Erin Schlosser of San Antonio.

They work well together because, as Schlosser says, “I really like to use Melissa’s fabrics.”

Their collaboration of quilts, pillows, furniture cushions, handbags and other trendy décor filled their booth. Schlosser, an interior designer and a member of Janome’s Education Team, has taught sewing for more than 15 years.

One of her clever patterns is a circular floor cushion. Called the Petal Panache Cushion, it measures 26 inches in diameter and includes a handle so it can be easily moved around.

Make multiples and stack them, the women suggest, because adults, kids and even pets like to use them.

At Marie-Madeline Studio’s booth, children’s clothes took center stage, often in romantic florals.

Again, it’s a team of four young sisters and their mother developing sewing patterns in Seneca, Mo. Two of their newest for little girls were on display. A sweet apron accented the full flared skirt of an “Angelica” jumper with a halter neck and a huge bow tied in back. A fabric flower corsage added to its boutique style.

The second pattern, the “Charlotta” jammie set, comes with a nightgown, tops and shorts or pants with two sleeve styles and shirring around the sleeves and leg openings.

The women also sell ready-made products and make custom clothing.

Overall, it’s a fresh, youthful verve pervading today’s quilt scene. These energetic designers excite a new generation who crave all sorts of craft projects and handmade fabric art.

They are in a sewing mood and, don’t worry, no one is about to rain on their parade.

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