Cottage Bleu is Robin Pickens’ 10th release outside her basics collection, Thatched. She regularly uses a lot of bright colours in her work, and the colour scheme of Cottage Blue is no exception—while additionally offering a calm and contemporary coolness.
Robin is a professional artist, a graduate from the University of Michigan School of Art, and a long-time designer. She began her career in broadcast animation and has in recent years worked as a surface designer. She licenses her designs for cards, calendars, giftware, and housewares, and even has a couple of colouring books—so it was only a matter of time before she started designing fabric, too.
Her entry into fabric design was as a result of winning a 2015 Fabric8 online contest with on-demand fabric printing company Spoonflower. The Fabric8 contest had set out to find a new designer for Moda based on a collection of botanical designs—and Robin won the prize. “When I won the Fabric8 competition, it really changed my life,” Robin says. “I had no idea how much I would enjoy the entire process of making quilts and how wonderful quilters are with creating community.”
Cottage Bleu is a full size collection with 38 SKUs and a full selection of precuts. This collection ranges in shade from a range of navy blues through to an almost-chartreuse green, also featuring florals of various sizes, some organic stripe and thatch blenders, and the hero motifs of butterflies and hydrangeas.
“Most of my floral [collections] have a bold, large main print and a colour story,” she notes. “The rest of the coordinates support those shapes and colors. I have light to deep blues in those big fancy hydrangea blooms. By adding in pops of citrusy yellow butterflies, I can complement those blues and also the green and seafoam/teal shades. The main flowers are more realistic and the other fabrics have fanciful line drawings of flowers and little sketches.”
“I love working with colour and the moods it creates. I get a lot of inspiration from nature. Flowers have incredible ranges of colours with some so delicate and soft and others with rich jewel tones and amazing patterns. Even the range of greens in leaves and seed pods and grasses are just delightful.”
Robin’s designs tend to have a hand-drawn and watercolour look. It’s a style she uses frequently, and in that spirit, she has also authored a couple of books to introduce watercolour to beginners.
The homely quilt designs of English Breakfast and The Collector that are being released with Cottage Bleu are intentionally inspired by our collective experiences over the past year, and the fact that we are all staying at home so much more. She explains: “I wanted to make a line that had a pretty home decor feel. Some of the quilts are tied into the idea of decorating the home by using blocks that suggest ginger jars, vases and tea cups. I love blue and white china and enjoy having a nice break for tea with pretty dishware. Why not celebrate that with quilts?”
The English Breakfast design with stacked tea cups is a mini-quilt design that you can make with just a charm pack—and would also look great as a table topper. The other three quilts are larger, lap-sized designs. RIng Around The Posies is a wreath-styled, modern pattern designed for a jelly roll. Wind Drifter uses different size HSTs to create a faux flying geese pinwheel-esque design.
Robin notes that while her mother was a keen quilter, she herself only only began quilting seriously after becoming a fabric designer. She says she now ‘has the bug,’ and regularly designs patterns to go along with her collections: “I now enjoy coming up with quilt pattern designs just as much as designing the fabric lines.”
Cottage Bleu from Moda Fabrics is arriving in Canadian stores this month, and Robin’s Thatched and Solana lines are already available. We encourage you to touch, feel, and experience the fabric you’ll use for your next creative project at your local quilt store.