Rolling around in fabric

Last November, I received a heavy carton... it was full of 29 rolls of my fabric, a preview from Windham Fabrics.

Glen and Finley were there to share in my excitement.

Finley was so taken with it, that he climbed inside to roll around!

So pretty! So satisfying!

In Tags

Step by Step

There were a lot of steps involved once Windham Fabrics said yes to an UPPERCASE collection. Here are the highlights of the process.

Decisions, decisions.
The first part of the process is to whittle down two dozen spine patterns into a more practical number.

Which colours?
Next, I survey the typical UPPERCASE colours and create a representational palette of hues used most often.

Colour corrections
I go through lots of ink cartridges printing off swatches and designs. I pair each design with the others to make sure everything is cohesive.

Subtle shades
Getting the colour just right takes a lot of comparison. It’s so subjective as well as being at the mercy of technology.

Strike offs
Once the designs and colours have been approved, Windham creates handprinted strike offs so that I can approve the colour and printing registration.

So thrilling
How exciting and fulfilling to see my name and logo on the selvedge! Shown here on the fabric strike off samples.

Project design
I design quilt patterns and select existing sewing patterns and projects that will best show off the beauty and versatility of the UPPERCASE collection.

It’s really real!
Weeks later, and 29 rolls of fabric arrive at my door. It’s still top secret. I have to create a look book that will be used by sales reps to sell the collection to fabric stores.

Sew, sew, sew.
Time to set up my sewing machine (and enlist the help of some friends and my Mom) to start sewing the samples.

Make (and admire)
Some of the projects combine paper and fabric, like these recovered sketchbooks in all sorts of enticing patterns. I can’t wait for the collection to be out in the world!

In Tags

Flip through the new issue!

A quick flip through the new issue:

Or a more leisurely low-res scroll:

Either way, UPPERCASE is best enjoyed in person... in glorious ink on paper!

Subscribe or renew today with the code "hoorayforspring" for $15 off.


Congratulations to Aga Kobylinska

I had the pleasure of sending some good news today to Aga Kobylinska, the winner of the Make It In Design Module 3 Giveaway! Aga is a surface pattern designer based in Warsaw, Poland.

"It’s wonderful, vibrant city, full of fantastic opportunities," she writes. "I love to live and work here. But I’m also addicted to travels! I’m constantly fascinated by the beauty of nature, cultural diversity and human creativity."

When I asked her how she felt about being the recipient of the free class, in which she'll learn how to monetize her surface pattern designs, Aga replied, "I've never felt ready enough to send you my portfolio for review so I'm amazed by your email even more." I think that's a very common feeling... we never think our portfolio is good enough or ready or finished. I'm glad that Aga and the dozens of other artists took the leap to share their work with all of us. Having the confidence to share your work is the first step in building a successful career.

Follow Aga on Instagram and see more from her portfolio.

If you're wondering how Aga was selected, I read all 77 comments and clicked over to the participants' links. (Remember to read contest directions carefully! It is stated clearly in italics that to enter you must include a link to your website or instagram. If you don't have a portfolio yet, then you're not quite ready for this class.) From reviewing the links, I narrowed it down to 12 of the best portfolios and then the team at Make it in Design selected the winner.

The Makers Summit

This guest post is by Tatjana Mai-Wyss, a freelance illustrator in South Carolina. She was our correspondent at last week's Makers Summit in Greenville.

UPPERCASE donated magazines for the Makers Summit goody bags. Photo from the Makers Summit Instagram.

UPPERCASE donated magazines for the Makers Summit goody bags. Photo from the Makers Summit Instagram.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend a couple of inspiring days at the Makers Summit in Greenville, South Carolina. This conference is billed as an “event designed for creative entrepreneurs who want to grow successful businesses". I was impressed to learn that the guests and attendees had come from all over the country. How lucky for me to live less than an hour away!

Tatjana with the business card wall.

Tatjana with the business card wall.

Attendees could stick their cards to the wall.

Attendees could stick their cards to the wall.

The event takes place on the 5th floor of a new office building in the middle of the city. The space is bright and airy; two floors connected by an open staircase with great views of downtown Greenville. The workshops, peer group meetings and expert consultations are held in various classrooms, while the keynote speakers and discussion panels bring everyone back to the stage area.

On Friday, keynote speaker Justina Blakeney kicks things off with a bang. She is enthusiastic, colorful and engaging in person, and her talk makes a definite impression on everyone. Throughout the weekend speakers refer back to her thoughts on finding your passion, focusing on your goals (remember your “north star”) and prioritizing your worklife. Personally I like the part about “moving on”, finishing a project and moving through to the next thing without obsessing too much. (My new mantra will be: "is it good enough?”) I’m impressed by how approachable and charming she is, and enjoy meeting her later over succotash and bourbon/ginger ale cocktails at the “Best Craft Party Ever."

Lettering print by @jennyhighsmith from the goody bag. Photo by @kukajuice.

Lettering print by @jennyhighsmith from the goody bag. Photo by @kukajuice.

Most of our lives as creatives are spent in our offices/studios and on our own, so the best part (and also the most challenging sometimes) is being part of a group and meeting so many interesting people in such a short amount of time. It’s so much fun to know that your badge gives you licence to walk up to a stranger and ask any amount of questions over your morning coffee.

Photo from Makers Summit Instagram

Photo from Makers Summit Instagram

Speaking of coffee, the food at the summit deserves mention. There is stylish coffee (and fresh smoothies) throughout the weekend, beautiful (and delicious) cakes for Friday’s coffee break, three fun venues for Friday’s party (my favorite is an outdoor terrace with colorful cushions and twinkly lights) and a decadent breakfast buffet on Saturday. Homemade donuts for saturday’s coffee break continue the party atmosphere, and now that I think of it, the emphasis on good food might be a southern thing.

Photo from the Makers Summit Instagram

Photo from the Makers Summit Instagram

The focus of this conference is really on making something concrete and getting it out there, so the discussion panels centre on resources and funding for small businesses, scaling up and managing a growing business, and marketing all around. The panelists have a good variety of approaches and perspectives and answer questions thoughtfully. 

Workshops, peer group and expert sessions can be a bit more customizable and let you ask questions specific to your experience.

It will probably take some time for me to digest all the information from the Makers Summit, but I’m very glad I went, and very happy to have made new friends and experiences.

Follow Tatjana on Instagram and see more of her portfolio here.

Make it in Design: Course Giveaway!

Together with our friends at Make it in Design, we are offering a very special prize to ONE very lucky reader - one free place on the next Module 3 class of The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design worth $CAD680 (£359)!

Module 3 – ‘Monetising your designs’, is a five-week online course where you will learn everything you need to know to monetise your designs! The classroom can be accessed around the clock so you can join from anywhere in the world, and fit the course into your busy life. 

The course details the major money-making opportunities available to you as a designer, including; freelancing, licensing, selling outright, manufacturing and more! Module 3 also includes free access to leading trend forecasting site WGSN for a limited period AND the Make it in Design little black book of industry contacts!

Course alumni have gone on to launch their own design studios, win national awards, be featured in design books, on leading blogs and more. Fancy a bit of this action too? Read on to find out how to enter.

The class includes the following:

• How to identify multiple streams of income for your designs
• How to sell and license your designs (what they don’t teach you at art school!)
• The ins and outs of freelancing
• How to get into manufacturing your own product
• How to choose the right distribution channel for you
• How to negotiate a contract that is right for you
• How not to get ripped off
• How to manage your time and money
• How to manage stock levels
• How to get a job in design
• How to stay motivated


• How to create a pattern portfolio to show to potential clients
• How to apply patterns to mock-up product templates and room sets
• How to turn a placement print into a technical repeat for wallpaper or fabric
• How to design a Trade Show Brochure in Adobe Illustrator

Invaluable industry information such as colour print specifications for both paper goods and textiles.

You will do this by actually creating a mini portfolio for potential licensing clients; a trade show plan and a business development plan.

PLUS you will learn everything you need to know about trade shows (getting in, getting ready and getting customers!)

AND the Make it in Design money-can’t-buy bonus little black book of industry contacts!

And if that wasn’t enough, you also get full access to leading trend forecasting site WGSN for 90 days (this alone is worth more than the entire cost of the course!


One place on The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design – Module 3 ‘Monetising Your Designs’ runs for 5 weeks from April 4, 2016, delivered online) 

How to enter: 

Check out the course website to find out more about it, then head back here and leave a comment at the bottom of the post in 50 words telling us why this course would benefit you right now and how it could transform your career. You must include a link to your website or Instagram to be considered.

Deadline: March 14 Any comments left after this time will not be counted. The winner will be jointly selected by UPPERCASE editor Janine Vangool and The Make it in Design team and announced on March 17.

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

This competition is to win a place on Module 3: Monetising your designs starting April 4, 2016. One entry allowed per person. The winning place is not transferrable – either by date or to another individual and must not be sold on and no cash alternative will be offered in the event that the winner is unable to use the prize for any reason. By entering this competition you agree for your entry to be promoted on the Make it in Design and Uppercase website and their associated social networks. If you have already signed up for the April Module 3 class and are selected as the winner you will be offered a refund.