Designer Spotlight: Kathy Doughty

Designer Spotlight: Kathy Doughty

Great fabric is a sewist’s best friend, but it also comes with a background that can transform creations from a beautiful piece to an amazing, visual story. spotlights the stories and designers behind the collections that will further inspire each maker and the projects they create.

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Meet Kathy Doughty and her more recent collection for FreeSpirit Fabrics: The New Vintage Collection.

Passion from the Start

I was very young when I discovered my passion for art and design! My childhood memories are about watching my mom create or decorate everything around us. My grandmother shared her spirit with me as a beautiful artist and, in fact, I have a suitcase full of her sketches, notes and work under my desk. These early visual experiences formatted a life’s search for personal expression. In the early days, I would write and try to draw but when I found quilting it was as if my hand had real purpose.

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The Aesthetic- simple and sweet

Eclectic. Impulsive. Creative.

New Vintage Takes Flight

FreeSpirit New Vintage was inspired by my love of vintage design and, of course, birds. I love how birds are the perfect motif for presenting colour combinations as well as texture. A few years back, I purchased a needlepoint canvas imprinted with roses. I drew a bird over the existing roses which made something old, new and personal! While I was working on the needlepoint, Kaffe Fassett, a well-known knitwear designer, artist and master of color, came to visit and he started stitching the checkerboard background. I took that needlepoint canvas and made it into a bag and everywhere I went, people commented on my bag.

image of needlepoint bird

This inspiration led me to create the L’Oiseau design. I pulled the checkerboard plaid, inspired by Kaffe, from the background in the needlepoint to create Tapestry Stripe! From there I went through my piles of vintage fabrics and found the rose for the design named Charmed. And I love plaids, so fashionable in home fashion and on the Paris runways. Plaid provides a linear compliment to florals and adds graphic impact to the collection.

image of New Vintage Collection

The Perfect Partnership

I have been working with FreeSpirit Fabrics since the start of my shop. In fact, my love for what FreeSpirit represents; new, different, colorful, modern fabrics, actually helped to define the style of my shop, Material Obsession. My customers were often shocked back in 2003 with the new colours, big scale prints and the change in direction from more traditional fabrics. They used to walk in and ask for kits using the fabric. The process of making kits helped strengthen my personal style. Now the trend has caught up with us and quilters are loving the colour.

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We are all looking for inspiration and its at our finger tips with FreeSpirit. They start the story with collections that are new and fresh. The fabrics are colourful and dynamic prints that activate the imagination as well as the stash! It has been a natural partnership for me since FreeSpirit’s family of designers, like Kaffe Fassett, Brandon Mably, Anna Maria Horner, create the style of fabrics that I work with in my shop as well as my personal projects and books. As an educator I teach how to use interesting fabric, colour and scale in projects to create engaging results. Why go anywhere else when you have what you want on hand!

Choosing Favorites

Oh dear, Sophie’s Choice… I love the way these fabrics all work together but I have to say that Plaid in Marmalade is my favourite! I love it… especially paired with one (or all!) of the L’Oiseau.

Sewing Trends

I am all about Organic Appliqué, the idea of creating my own shapes and compositions with fabric while telling a story of personal choices. The trend now is to combine a variety of cultural influences like Boro from Japan and Kantha from India. I have done big stitching since I started quilting so these trends appeal. It is exciting to see these artisanal crafts get more exposure and to watch how they are interpreted.

DIY Project

I get a very personal sense of satisfaction when I make a quilt with my fabric, knowing I designed the fabric as well as the quilt. When I see others inspired to use my fabric, it is just a very nice, rich sense of satisfaction. I particularly enjoy the idea that my fabric might entice a new quilter to get started since it is my goal to make everyone in the world a quilter.

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Must Makes

That is a long, long list! I work in the shop every day and every time a new product arrives I want to run home and play with it…even after 17 years of unpacking deliveries I still get excited. Right now, I have a medallion appliqué quilt started on my design wall. We just got some new thread, Perle cotton size 8 colours from Wonderfil Threads, that I am loving for a Boro Collage project and I have a stack of things on the go that makes me want to stop looking!

Go-to for Inspiration

Anna Maria Horner is my go-to fabric designer. We seem to be on a similar trajectory with using appliqué and colour. I also follow Barbara Brackman as I love the historical stories of traditional designs. Of course, Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably offer up the colour palettes of success.Outside of FreeSpirit, I am loving Sally Kelly Crafts, Beyond the Reef Patterns and Pat Bravo at Art Gallery. It is nice to get the mix of designers.

Coming up next…

On a personal note, I have been married and have lived in Australia for 30 years! Big milestone!! I will be traveling to the USA for a few teaching tours in April/May and again in July. In October, we will travel to Houston for the International Quilt Market trade show and I’ll release a new collection. In addition, I’ll be teaching around Australia!

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Staying Balanced

I joke that over summer I only left the house for yoga and groceries, it’s true. I am dependent on regular yoga to keep my life and body in balance. Music is the soundtrack to all my projects and I can’t quilt without the radio! I am fascinated by hearing musicians talk about their process and how similar it is to ours!

A Woman of Many Talents

I cook like I quilt… random combinations. In fact, I became a designer because I can’t follow directions. My dad once said that eating in my kitchen was good and bad. Good in that he knew he’d get a good meal and bad in that he knew he’d never get it again as it was completely impromptu! That sort of sums it up!

image of Kathy

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