Tula Pink is an American textile designer and quilt maker with a love of print and pattern. Her two books, Quilts from the House of Tula Pink and Tula Pink’s City Sampler, are packed with inspiring projects for modern quilters. I asked Tula Pink about her latest collection, Salt Water, and what she enjoys about designing and working with fabric…
What do you love about textiles?
“I love the possibility that textiles offer. Fabric is like affordable art but in a different way than hanging a canvas on a wall that can only be looked at and admired. Fabric allows you to take all of these beautiful pieces and combine them together to make something that a person can really use. It’s art that becomes a real part of your life and that makes it totally unique to any other kind of decorative piece.”
“I made my first quilt when I was twelve but I didn’t really take quilting seriously until I was in my twenties. That is when I really started honing my craft and I became insatiably thirsty for knowledge. I really wanted to make things right rather than just making things. I am like a sponge when I run across really experienced quilters. I ask them a million questions and make them show me things. I am sure that I have annoyed my fair share of knowledgeable sewists.”
Do you have a favourite colour?
“When it comes to fabric, my favourite colour is rainbow. For me it’s not so much about one particular colour but how all of the colours come together. When two colours that shouldn’t work actually do, that is a magical moment!”
How do you go about designing a new fabric collection?
“For me, designing fabric is all about the concept. I start with a main theme and then keep re-examining each piece to make sure it’s telling the right story. In the case of Salt Water the theme was the ocean. I couldn’t throw a bunch of flowers and leaves in it because that wouldn’t make sense but I can make a floral type of print with seaweed and coral. My collections are shockingly traditional when you break them down, but the added narrative and the fun little critters bring a lot of playfulness to the table. Colour plays a major role in all of my designs as well. It’s the last thing I do but the most crucial bit. Uninspired colour choices can ruin a great drawing.”
“I grew up in Southern California on the beaches of Malibu. The ocean has always been a big part of my life. Now that I live in the middle of the U.S. I am totally land-locked so my ocean themed fabrics are like going home for me. Salt Water was me reaching out to those memories and taking my mind on a bit of a vacation. The ocean is so vast and mysterious that I feel like I can imagine it to be anything I want. I like creating my own realities.”
Do you have a favourite design or colour way from this range?
“I love each colour way for different reasons but the ultimate goal is always to make them all go together as seamlessly as possible. The blues are neutral for me. Everything in my world goes with aqua – like a great pair of jeans, it looks good with everything. The green colour way has a lot of subtle colouring to it – I think that is the most sophisticated of the palettes. And the corals are just a great big punch of colour!”
“This is such a personal question. For me, the best quilts are the ones that mean something. I love a quilt that tells a story. Visually speaking I like a quilt with unexpected flavour, like a radical pop of colour. I like a quilt that tells me something about its maker, even if it’s subtle.”
What are your top tips for anyone who wants to start quilting?
“My best tip for a new quilter is don’t fall into the pit of perfection. Like anything, it takes time to get good at quilting. Let yourself have fun and along the way you will pick up techniques that make your piecing better and more precise. I see too many new quilters getting frustrated because their quilts don’t look like the instructors’ quilts. Just remember that quilting is a hobby, not surgery, and nobody is going to die if you make a mistake!”
“It depends on the project and what my goals are for a quilt. I quilt because I love fabric, so the fabric and colour selection is my favourite part. I like to start with a main fabric, something with some colour and personality, and then begin pulling coordinating pieces from that main fabric. I prefer prints over solids. I only use solids if I absolutely have to – it’s a last resort. I would much rather have a tiny print or a tone-on-tone piece. I will even dye a piece of fabric before I use a solid, but sometimes there is just no way around it. In my books and patterns my quilts need to be replicated so I try to use fabrics that are current, but in my personal quilts anything goes.”
What are you most looking forward to at Festival of Quilts this year?
“Festival of Quilts is always really exciting for me because I get to see all of the people that I talk to all year long on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I have this whole online life that gets a little more real when I travel. I get to put faces to names and share my projects and theirs in person. I always come home really inspired to create more work.”
Tula Pink’s fabrics are distinguished by her unique quirky style, and her latest collection, Salt Water, includes gorgeous designs themed on the ocean. Tula’s first book, Quilts from the House of Tula Pink, features 20 fabric projects, from contemporary quilt designs to smaller accessory sewing projects such as an embroidered lampshade, pretty cushions and even a stylish shower curtain! Her second book, Tula Pink’s City Sampler, includes 100 unique quilt blocks to inspire you – create a modern quilt of your own or try one of the 5 city-themed sampler quilt projects designed by Tula. Check out Tula Pink’s website and visit her blog to find out what she’s been up to!