debra gabel

Fabric Designer Debra Gabel

From Row by Row Experience fabric designer, Debra Gabel, who shares how she created our Home Sweet Home fabric collection for 2016.

Designing the souvenir fabric collection for Row by Row Experience begins with the theme for that year.  Row by Row’s creative team decides on the theme – usually 1-2 years ahead. We have our themes picked for the next two years. In the spring of 2014, we threw out the idea of Home Sweet Home. We lived with the idea and we still liked it by fall.


Houses and Homes Pinterest Board

Houses and Homes Pinterest Board

I started thinking of design ideas immediately. I typically go to Pinterest and search for art having to do with the theme. I made a private Pinterest board based around art for houses, homes, dwellings, etc.

Once I ponder over the inspiration board on Pinterest that I put together, I get out my sketch book and just start drawing. Sometimes I start on the computer and skip the sketch book. I scan in my sketches to Adobe Illustrator and then I redraw everything in line form.


Studio “Citrus”

Once I have a complete black and white sketch, I start coloring in the spaces. With Home Sweet Home we colored the houses with the Timeless Treasures collection of basic fabrics named “Studio” instead of flat color. It gave the art a sketchy look and made it coordinate perfectly with all the colors in the “Studio” line.

After I get all my sketches done, I make an “idea board” on the computer and we go from there. The idea board includes sketches, color swatches, notes, and concepts. I share that with the Row by Row (RxR) team and the Timeless Treasures (TT) team who will be manufacturing our fabric.

2016 HSH Original Art Idea Board

Home Sweet Home Idea Board with Original Art

Then I worked closely with an amazing artist at TT named Ruby Batra. I sent her the art and she dropped in the “Studio” texture to the black and white line art.  The Home Sweet Home fabric is quite detailed which means the art prep for printing on fabric is tedious and time consuming.

The TT team and the RxR team worked closely tweaking the art to be appealing. We had 5-7 different coordinates to create. We usually start with the main focus fabric, which in this case was called “packed houses.” We spun off the border and stripe from the main fabric.  Several new colors in the “Studio” line were created too.

The art was complete in spring of 2015 and then went over seas for the technical color separation into 18 screens for printing. Colors can vary widely at this stage. When the overseas technicians feel they have the color matched as closely as possible they make fabric proofs called “strike offs”.  These are 1-2 yard samples of the actual art on the actual fabric with the actual inks that we get to see.   We review the strike offs and make changes.  There may be a second set of strike offs.

Home Sweet Home Packed Houses and Coordinates

Home Sweet Home Packed Houses and Coordinates

Eventually when it is all approved, they go to production. Typical production is 30-45 days. Then the finished goods are shipped over the ocean to the USA.  That takes another 30 days. Fabric is then taken from huge rolls and wound onto the traditional 10-15 yard bolts we see in fabric shops and shipped to stores.


Home Sweet Home Border Print with new Studio colors

We got the first strike offs for the Home Sweet Home fabric earlier this summer and made revisions. It is now in the printing stage and will ship to quilt shops in January for 2016.  We don’t have actual fabric to show you yet.  But, we do have these illustrated swatch boards so you can visualize the final designs.


Home Sweet Home Map Print with Studio coordinates

It’s now

Fabric Plates Print and Home Sweet Home Stripe

Fabric Plates Print and Home Sweet Home Stripe

November, 2015.  Last month, we announced the new 2016 theme–Home Sweet Home–to a tremendous response from Row by Row fans everywhere.  Shop owners got the first glimpse of the new fabric at the Quilt Market trade show in Houston last week and now we’re showing it to all of you.  But, for me, I’m already working hard on 2017…and pondering the possibilities for a 2018 theme.

I am grateful everyday for my gifts of being able to create fun designs for quilters to share all over North America. I am passionate about quilting, designing, teamwork, and inspiration!  Thank you for letting me tell my story.

THANK YOU, Debra, for sharing your story and taking us along on the exciting journey of fabric design.  Watch for the Home Sweet Home Collection in your favorite local quilt shop in January 2016.  

Stay tuned for more exciting news about our Home Sweet Home fabric collection coming next week.

Be well.  Row happy.  Stay in touch. bobbin looking left