Weaving stories into repeat – how I wove memories of my grandmother into fabric design

Weaving stories into repeat – how I wove memories of my grandmother into fabric design

When my grandmother died a year ago, I didn’t have time to process it. At the funeral I had two young, very lively girls to keep an eye on, which took most of my mental energy. Over the next year, I slowly felt it sink in, but a very busy year with three little girls meant time to pause and reflect was at an absolute premium. While creating this design, I was finally able to take some of my memories and grief and reflect and remember.

I’d love to share part of that process with you. If you sew something with this fabric perhaps my memories resonate with yours, and you can further weave your own into your creating process.

Snowdrops and crocuses I planted in my garden last year

A year ago my grandmother’s house was sold. She had died the year before after a long full life. The months after her death, I visited her house a few times while her children slowly worked to empty it of all the memories of decades of living there.

Sketching an idea for the design

For me, the garden was filled with memories. Growing up across the world from my grandparents, I didn’t see them often, but I do have memories of long slow weeks of summer spent there as a child. My oma was similar to me in that she was fascinated with many different kinds of creating. She sewed her own clothes (she actually gave me her sewing machine when I was in university, which I carted home on a six hour train ride), loved watercolour, calligraphy, and many other techniques. I learned from her to put in the time to learn a technique or a process, and to believe that if I put in the effort, I can learn to do anything well.

I spent a lot of time editing the layout until it had the flow I wanted. Fine-tuning the repeat was done on the computer.

So one spring morning last year, I walked through her garden one last time and chose some plants to dig up and put in my own garden: some of the many clumps of snowdrops and crocuses in the grass, a lavender plant to remind me of the smell of lavender, an astilbe for the fountain of white flowers in spring. This design is a celebration of those flowers, and drawing and painting them was a way to remember my oma, and think about the many things I have learned from her. I used her paintbrush and watercolour paper to paint and remembered the times I talked about painting and designing with her.

Once the final layout was ready, I got out my watercolours. Painting by hand gave the design the fluidity I was looking for that was missing in the digital version.

This year I’ve already seen the snowdrops start to push up through the grass and I love the idea of plants, which die off in the winter and grow again in the spring, as a symbol of my memories of my oma and the things I’ve learned from her being given the space to grow in my life and be passed on to my children.

The final design as wallpaper – spring watercolour florals

Spring watercolour florals will soon be available both as wallpaper and fabric in my shop. I can’t wait to order some fabric and sew something beautiful. Have you ever planted a plant as a memory? What are things you’ve learned that you’d like to pass on to others? I’d love to hear your story!

karin

I'm a fabric designer fascinated with the intricacies of seamless repeats. I enjoy creating vector designs as well as working with linoprint and watercolour. I've lived in 5 countries and love to use special places and memories in my designs.

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