Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Imagine This!

We are thrilled to introduce the first Paintbrush Studio collection from Linda Carlson and Diana Henage, the Designing Duo. We hope you'll enjoy this introduction to both the story and the eye-catching prints of these twin sisters. 

First, the collection, appropriately titled Imagine This:

Q. Can you give us a brief history of the Designing Duo?
Linda: We have designed fabric for very young children through adults who love color and high-contrast graphics since 2005. All juvenile prints within each collection are designed to grab a child's attention, which promotes neuron and dendrite growth in the very young. The non-juvenile prints in each line speak to modern, contemporary, and traditional fabric lovers with the same bright hues in high contrast graphics and whimsical shapes that sewists and quilt makers want for their home decor, fashions, and accessories.

Q. How do you design fabric together?
Linda: Since we both live in Mexico, MO, it's easy for us to call, text or email, ''I've got a great subject for another line!" We each look for what inspires us in nature, on trips, from photography in magazines, toy trends, and themes in children's literature. Diana magically reads my mind coming up with her own artwork for the subject after we discuss the overall theme. Our husbands aren't surprised because they've always said we share one brain. When Diana comes up with a subject, she calls and says, ''Come over and see what I've done." The themes are always something we both enjoy doing, seeing, or could imagine. 

Q. What do you like best about working together?
Linda: We feel privileged to work with each other because we are best friends who can cajole, be sassy or silly, and know it's just all in fun while seriously thinking about how we want to portray the collection. We get to laugh with each other just like when we were kids. It's a very loving, working partnership as I listen to her about what works in creating the designs, and she listens as I explain what quiltmakers' and sewists' technical needs are in the fabrics they choose.

Q. Tell us about your passion for designing this brain-based fabrics.
Linda: Before 2005 I visited fabric stores across the country when teaching classes. I could see only the usual pastel prints for young children, when I knew those weren't the hues that they could best ''see'' first after birth. So I found brain-based research on the preferred colors and graphics from infant brain growth studies. Combined with Diana's Specialist degree in Gifted Education and a Bachelor's degree in Art Education, we designed our first line.

Q. Is there a print in the Imagine This! collection that started it all?
Linda: Diana drew tiled squares of whimsical animals, flora and abstract designs on separate 4'' squares to portray the theme. She was asked to combine some into a kind of collage that we feel is the essence of the creative collection. Just imagine this…a world with a creature or flower with such funny markings!

Q. What are each of your favorite prints in the collection?
Linda: I am thrilled with all of them because the graphic prints as well as the whimsical prints are so Diana! I see her hand in every one of them.
Diana: I was pleased with the opportunity to include animals like the giraffe, one of my granddaughter's favorite animals to draw. Most of the graphics started as simple doodles with a natural flair.

Q. Can you talk about the two colorways?
Linda: The red, white, black and gray prints are not only trendy, but are the same hues most distinguishable by infants. The high contrasting red, white and black hues grab a baby's attention and foster their ability to concentrate and focus. The multicolor prints are just plain fun for youngsters to 'tweens, pre-teens,, teens and adult lovers of bright, engaging graphics.

Q. How did the name come to be?
Linda: Because of Diana's experiences with gifted kids from elementary through high school, she often posed open-ended questions like ''what if…'', ''Can you imagine…?"My recollection is that we were looking at her early artwork and brainstorming names. I pointed to one figure and just commented, ''Well, imagine that!" To which she replied, ''That's it! Imagine That!" While working with FabriQuilt, the art director sent scanned copies of some drawings with suggestions and referred to the collection as ''Imagine This." We decided we liked it better. Voila—Imagine This was born!

Q. Can you talk about some of the prints in the collection?
Diana: The tiled squares (blocks) are graphic shapes, lines and circles that appear in the overall print along with the imagined animals. Some combine with others to get a modern, patterned look of overall texture and movement. The harlequin pattern was actually part of something else we're working on, but it perfectly complimented the Imagine This! prints. 

I wanted to make some of the purely abstract shapes appear three-dimensional, so I changed the size of spaces between the shapes and used various pen widths to get a swirling stippling effect. It reminds me of smoke or nebula in outer space.

Q. Tell us about the free Imagine This pattern on our website.
It's a skill building combination of machine pieced half-square triangles behind machine appliqu├ęd circles. As a teacher, I like to create quilts that appeal to all students regardless of their favorite technique. The classes I feature have either hand applique or the machine piecing and applique combination.

Here's a little more inspiration for the Imagine This fabrics--patterns and kits for these quilts will be available on Linda's website in June.

Mod Rules! uses a set of octagonal templates in the blocks and adual wave edge ruler for the sashing.

It's Hip to Be Square features different sizes of a wavy square.

Pools of Diamonds showcases two sizes of diamond rulers.

4th of July features the Fons & Porter wedge template and 60 degree pyramid ruler.

Find out more about the Designing Duo here.
See the entire collection here and ask for it at your local quilt shop!


  1. As the pictures started to come up as the email loaded, I started to smile. Who could resist that giraffe and his/her long-eared friend? Surely there is a children's story that goes with all these characters. What fun! Love the "go with" pieces too.

  2. I have to see these up close they are just amazing!!

  3. Absolutely LoVe!!! Imagine This! fabric line

  4. The tile square blocks in Imagine This! are so fresh and creative. I love this fabric line. I am working on an I-spy quilt for my grandsons. These tile blocks with the support fabrics will be perfect to include in the quilt.

    Also the 4th of July quilt with its wheel blocks is definitely calling to me. Your fabrics make this quilt special.