Get to Know Jessica Swift

A Colorful Q + A With Jessica Swift | Fabric Depot

We are excited to have Jessica visit our store this coming week. We've asked her to share with us some fun facts about herself here on our blog.

Wednesday, July 2nd Jessica will be at our retail store in Portland, OR for a meet-and-greet. Come in from 11am-2pm to say hello!

Jessica's newest collection Harmony with Blend Fabrics, is available in-store and online.

 Jessica Swift | Harmony | image via Jessica Swift

You are first and foremost an artist, how did you get started as a designer? 

I discovered design blogs in 2006 and was instantly smitten with the repeat patterns (and the designers who created them) I saw bloggers featuring. I didn't know being a pattern designer was an option for a career, and I didn't go to school for commercial art, so it was like a whole new world opened up to me. I immediately began teaching myself how to use the computer programs I needed and how to create repeat patterns. It took me about 9 months to get up to speed, but once I had the hang of it I never looked back! I know I was meant to be a pattern designer.
We love supporting our local designers, how long have you lived in Portland? What is your favorite thing about the city?
I've lived in Portland for just 2 years, though it feels like much longer. I love it here! My husband started his medical residency at OHSU, which was the reason for our move. My favorite thing about the city is the trees! The monkey puzzle trees in particular. I just love all the varied plant life here, especially in early spring when it's lush and raining.
How long have you been designing fabrics? What got you started in the textile industry?
I signed my first fabric licensing contract in early 2010 and have been designing consistently since then -- fabric seemed like a natural fit for my colorful designs. My mom and Grandma always worked with a lot of fabric when I was growing up, and I thought it would be so cool to see my own fabrics amid their beautiful stacks. I've always loved fabric, too, even though I'm not the most experienced sewer, and fabric stores have always been a place of inspiration for me.
Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?
Everywhere! Inspiration is often hiding in the least likely places -- a stranger's scarf walking down the street, a billboard, the shape of a leaf or flower.... I find that when I have my eyes open, inspiration is everywhere. But that's the key: I have to have my eyes open for it. I've always been extremely inspired by color and how to use it in interesting and unique ways, so I often start a new pattern or painting just by playing around with a color palette. Travel also inspires me a lot and the places I visit often find their way into my designs.
Is sewing something that inspires you? Are your designs created to work with garments or quilts?
Sewing does inspire me, yes, though I don't sew very often -- I have dreams of making a dress from one of the Harmony fabrics! I'm not a very experienced sewer (ie: I can sew things that are square), and I don't know anything about the construction of garments or quilts, so no, my designs are not created to work specifically with any type of project. Fabric design is all about the color and the pattern for me, and not really the end product. (Is that weird to admit on a fabric blog?) ;)
You are extremely encouraging to your followers, what is it that encourages and motivates you to dive into your creativity?
I'm encouraging to my followers because I need to be encouraging to myself. I find that if I'm going through something or feeling a certain way that I'd like to turn around, it's likely that someone in my community needs to hear that very same thing. I love the feeling of losing a sense of time when I create, and the feeling of satisfaction of completing something from the seed of an idea to a finished piece is like no other. I just love to make things. I've always made things. It's not really a matter of encouragement or motivation, but more a matter of it just being something that I love to do and have always done. It's part of who I am. So I guess expressing my ME-ness in the world is what motivates me!
Is there a story behind your latest line, Harmony?
There's not really a story (how boring is THAT answer?). I can tell you, though, that the collection began with the moth print. I'm kind-of obsessed with that moth print. I saw a moth somewhere (I can't remember where now), and got a hankering to draw one, and then I drew a few more, and the moth print was born. From there, the rest of the collection bloomed. The 2 different colorways in the collection are sort-of about dark and light -- we need both to create Harmony, don't we? And within each colorway there is also dark and light. We wouldn't have dark without light. We wouldn't have good without bad. Accepting + understanding that is what harmony is all about, I think.

Thank you so much, Jessica! We cannot wait to see you on Wednesday! 
Take a look at Jessica's website:
Jessica Swift | eBook

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