Sarah Golden, Surface Pattern Design Guide

 Image from Sarah Golden's  Instagram

Image from Sarah Golden's Instagram

I'm pleased to share with you the title page for the Surface Pattern Design Guide, 2nd edition, illustrated by Sarah Golden. For an assignment in Lilla Rogers’ Make Art That Sells illustration course, students designed the opening title page to this guide. There were many outstanding designs to choose from! Sarah Golden’s submission was selected for her simple botanical motifs, playful composition and integrated handlettering—a great example of current styles in surface pattern. 

 The title page for the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide, 2nd Edition, is illustrated by Sarah Golden. Look for the Guide as part of UPPERCASE issue 32 (Jan/Feb/March 2017).

The title page for the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide, 2nd Edition, is illustrated by Sarah Golden. Look for the Guide as part of UPPERCASE issue 32 (Jan/Feb/March 2017).

 From Sarah's  Instagram

From Sarah's Instagram

Sarah Golden is an artist and fabric designer living in Sacramento, California. Block printing and gouache are her favourite mediums to work with. She creates a modern and handmade style through carving and through hand printing on paper and fabric, along with her use of colour. A love for Scandinavian design, vintage fabrics and geometrics inspire her work. Sarah’s first fabric collection for Andover Fabrics comes out in February 2017.

The Surface Pattern Design Guide is part of issue 32. Subscribe today!

A new design for the new year

 I ordered a  Pom Maker  tool and went a little overboard on making pom poms this Christmas!

I ordered a Pom Maker tool and went a little overboard on making pom poms this Christmas!

 I got this far and ran out of yarn! fortunately, my mother in law haD a good supply of yarn and I was able to keep POM and carry on.

I got this far and ran out of yarn! fortunately, my mother in law haD a good supply of yarn and I was able to keep POM and carry on.

 The wreath wasn't done until after Christmas, but at least it will be ready and waiting for next year's festivities! Or perhaps I'll just bring it indoors to enjoy year-round. It's nice to pet it once and a while!

The wreath wasn't done until after Christmas, but at least it will be ready and waiting for next year's festivities! Or perhaps I'll just bring it indoors to enjoy year-round. It's nice to pet it once and a while!

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a lovely holiday and are feeling rested and ready for the year ahead.

As I mentioned in my newsletter today, one of my goals for 2016 was to revamp this website. It's the digital window into what UPPERCASE is all about and very often the first in-depth experience someone will have with the magazine before they subscribe or see a copy in person. The site really needed some focus and a much stronger home page. And in the backend, I've had my site hosted with Squarespace for a decade (!!!) and the navigation and organization was getting out of hand.

I've been thinking about the redesign for months—gathering ideas, jotting notes, saving urls on websites that I like, musing about it, wishing it would magically get done by itself... but my print projects always necessarily take the forefront of my to-do list. And readers will know that I put out a LOT of pages in 2016. Four magazine issues and the 544-page Feed Sacks book! 

With my workload done for the holidays and some mental space to tackle a medium that's quite a bit different than print, I started fleshing out the site redesign. I selected a new Squarespace template (I'm using Five) and got the basic framework ready. Full screen video on the home page has been on my wish list for years and I'm happy that there's the support to make that very easy to do now. With issue 32 fresh from the printer, I shot three different videos, trying to get the best possible result. I'm still not 100% satisfied with the video on the home page, but I'm sure I'll improve it with each subsequent issue. I'm a learn-by-doing sort of person!

After a very pleasant and mostly technology-free Christmas, on New Year's Eve—in that concentrated flurried feeling of having to get everything clean, sorted and ready for the change of the calendar—I dove in to the redesign. (Do you feel like that on New Year's Eve? I even felt compelled to clean the inside of my microwave. And I enjoyed doing it!)

The new design went live yesterday and there are still some elements to smooth out and improve upon, particularly on the blog page and some typographic elements... but the best thing about it is how this online renovation makes me feel enthusiastic and energized about the work I'll be doing in the coming year. A fresh new home for the new year.

coming up next

There are two new volumes in the Encyclopedia of Inspiration in progress: Botanica and Stitch•illo will be coming your way in the first half of the year. (You can still order the set and Feed Sacks will ship right away or you can purchase the books individually.) I have more plans and projects that I look forward to sharing with you soon.

And of course, the mainstay and core of what I make and do: UPPERCASE magazine. The January/February/March issue is on its way to subscribers and will soon be at stockists worldwide.

be published in uppercase

Want to published in the spring issue? The open calls for submissions are posted and submissions are due January 16.

Mia Whittemore, Winner of the UPPERCASE + Windham Fabrics New Designer Competition

Mia Whittemore, Winner of the UPPERCASE + Windham Fabrics New Designer Competition

The 100 designers featured in the forthcoming issue 32 were selected from 788 submissions entered into the Surface Pattern Design Guide call for entries. Submitters without past or current fabric licensing arrangements were also eligible to enter into the UPPERCASE + Windham Fabrics New Designer Competition. Of these entries, I further whittled the selections down to 20 artists whose portfolios represented a variety of styles and personalities. From there, Mickey Krueger, Laura Jaquinto and the team at Windham Fabrics selected a winner who will receive a licensing deal with Windham Fabrics for their own fabric collection.

After considerable review of the artists’ submissions and online portfolios, Laura Jaquinto says, “Ultimately, we picked Mia Whittemore. Her variations in her illustrative style as well as her sense of colour was what sold us on her work. I think she nailed it in her brief bio: ‘Mia’s hope for her patterns is that they bring colour and joy to everyday life.’”

Read More

Feed Sacks book exhibition

Thank you to everyone who came to the studio on Sunday, November 27 to celebrate the arrival of Feed Sacks: the Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric written by Linzee Kull McCray. All pre-ordered books have been sent out now—it is exciting to see them starting to arrive around the world! (If you didn't pre-order, the book is shipping from our fulfillment warehouses, but without the limited edition cloth sacks packaging.)

Make Something Monday

Today's the day to create a good old-fashioned made-by-hand gift.

It doesn't have to be something complicated, just something simple showing your recipient that you took some time. Time is precious; showing someone that you took time out of the busy season to make something heartfelt is powerful and will be appreciated.

Create something that comes from YOU.

It could be a handwritten card, a little embroidery on a hankie, some cookies made from scratch, a simply sewn pin cushion, an ornament made from found objects, a collage of pretty pictures, a finger-painting made with your child, a snowman in the yard (Instagram him holding a message for your friend!), a crocheted granny square coaster, a handmade notebook of blank pages with a found-paper cover... these are just a few little ideas that pop into my head.

Stay away from DIY posts and Pinterest!

These days, it is too easy to get bogged down into the perceived perfection of Pinterest and the tyranny of step-by-step craft instructions. Today's the day to unplug from these distractions. Comparing yourself to others and following directions can be so detrimental to genuine creativity. Use your own ideas, your own resources, your own ingenuity... you will make something that is from you and your heart.

Make something out of nothing.

Be experimental. Be silly. Creativity comes from letting yourself go a little bit. If you worry about stitching a straight line, today's the day to zigzag. Just gather up all your creative supplies onto the table and see what emerges.

Enjoy the process. Making things is a lot of fun!

 Happy Monday.

Feed Sacks: Afternoon Tea and Book Party

This Sunday, November 27, the UPPERCASE studio will be transformed into an exhibition of gorgeous vintage feed sacks. Join us for tea and some sewing with feed sacks in celebration of the release of the Feed Sacks book. Books purchased in person come packaged in a dress print sack and make a beautiful and unique gift!

UPPERCASE studio, second floor of the Devenish Building
Suite 201b, 908 - 17th Ave SW


So. That was a week that will go down in history.

Although I often contemplate the subjects for days, I always write my weekly newsletter the night before or the morning of actually sending it. I want these emails to be conversational—my musings about what's happening behind the scenes, what I'm working on and what I'm thinking. I strive to make them uplifting, encouraging, inspiring.

I'm drawing a blank on how to do that this week.

The last time I wrote anything political in my newsletter was at the end of June and although the majority of people who responded to that message chimed in with sympathetic feelings, I had some pushback from a small number of newsletter readers. "Keep politics out of your posts," someone wrote.

Perhaps that's wise advice for a business to follow.

But that's not staying true to my values.

I believe in equality and acceptance of others. I believe in the rights of the LGBTQ community. I support immigration. I'm concerned about the environment. I am against racism, sexism, misogyny and the spreading of hatred.

These are the values you will see reflected in my magazine.

As you look through the current issue #31, you'll see that this has been on my mind. I strive to include a diversity of perspectives—and often these stories are coming directly from you, my readers. If you're a reader of this newsletter or magazine and feel under-represented, I encourage you to submit your art and your stories. I'd love to hear from you. 

Earlier this year, I gave away 100 subscriptions to individuals who couldn't afford them otherwise. Today, I'm pledging to do that again, but this time to non-profit community-minded organizations within Canada and the United States. If you work for a non-profit or know of one that would benefit from receiving some quarterly bursts of colour, art and inspiration, please make your suggestions here.

(If you'd like to sponsor a subscription for a fellow reader, that option remains in the online shop.)

Actually, now that I've written this message I'm starting to feel a bit better. There's always something you can do!

(This message was originally emailed to recipients of my weekly newsletter on November 15.)

Last weekend to enter the Surface Pattern Design issue!

 This example is by  Catarina Guerreiro , a Portuguese print designer who submitted a nice selection of prints.

This example is by Catarina Guerreiro, a Portuguese print designer who submitted a nice selection of prints.

The Surface Pattern Design Guide call for entries closes on Monday, September 12 at midnight in Calgary. No exceptions! Don't wait until the very last minute, either, since your artwork needs time to upload to the system. The UPPERCASE + Windham Fabrics New Design Competition also closes then—to be considered for this contest, just click the appropriate box on the form.

Issue 31 is on press today! Mailing data will be finalized next week, on Thursday, September 15, so make sure you've subscribedrenewed or updated your address. (Don't forget to use the code "fallforit" for $15 off subscriptions and renewals.) 

Have a nice (pattern-filled?) weekend!

First look at fall...

The fall issue (October/November/December) is nearly done. Just some proofing and final touches and this baby is off to the printer. The cover is by Australian artist Amy Joy Watson who used watercolour-tinted balsa wood laced together with embroidery thread to cradle balloons in this piece entitled Pop.

Here's a closer view:

It's always a challenge to find or commission one iconic image for the cover, something that encapsulates the themes and ethos of the magazine. But what I love about this image is that it has a sense of wonder and of surprise... you can just imagine those balloons lifting and spilling forth from the exterior capsule. It speaks to both themes: performance and costuming/garment-making. The artwork is in the act of becoming. Whether those balloons spill out, pop or eventually deflate—there is a performance at work. And, to my mind at least, the threaded container is like a jacket of sorts, protecting what lies within.

I also love how the facets and folds echo the cover of issue 29. I try to have some repeated element or motif; this helps to keep them all part of the same visual family.

And the background pattern?

I started with a simplification of the form of Amy's sculpture, the centre balloons represented by a circle with a triangle base and cover. The horizontal lines were inspired by her linear threads and the spine pattern from issue 28. Finally, the dots represent the balloons, but also the holes within a button, my nod to the garment-making theme.

As ever, UPPERCASE is a labour of love. Please subscribe, renew and tell your creative friends!

Admit One

Dear Reader,

I scanned this collection of old drive-in movie theatre tickets for the fall issue. Aren't they pretty in their analog-ness? At a glance, they appear to be pretty much the same, but yet when you look at them individually they're full of quirks and moments of vernacular and typographic bliss.

I strive for this with each issue of UPPERCASE: to create something that feels familiar to its loyal readers, yet reveals new interests, unique details and fresh perspectives. The same, but different. 

After 30 issues, the challenge doesn't get any easier. If anything, it gets harder. Because I keep pushing myself to do things I haven't done before. 

Consider this: I am looking and searching and curating and evaluating visual culture on a daily basis for the magazine. I see a lot. And so in the magazine, I include things that really stand out. That spark my curiosity. People and subject matters that I am willing to invest my time and resources in getting to know.

In issue 31, the issue I'm designing currently, I'm exploring territory that challenges me personally. The general theme is "performance" and how it relates to the visual arts, craft and design. Whether it is performance art, theatrical sets and costume design, dance and movement—if I imagine my (introverted) self in some of these settings, I am really out of my comfort zone. But that's good. If I'm growing and learning and being inspired through this content, I know you, my readers, will too. Related to performance is the notion of costuming—how what we wear reflects who we are. (Or how we shape how the world perceives us through our clothing.) Garments and sewing clothes are another thread of exploration in this issue.

Creativity beyond yourself—creativity that tests your perceptions and expands horizons—now that's the best kind of inspiration.

Subscribe to UPPERCASE magazine.

Crimson Tate: Paper Obsessed

Heather Givans is the energetic force behind Crimson Tate. She's a quilt-shop owner in Indianapolis, fabric designer, quilt designer and maker. She's a fellow designer with Windham Fabrics, but I hadn't yet met Heather when I saw that she had tagged me in a somewhat strange Instagram picture a few days before this year's QuiltCon.

Once I met Heather in person, I realized that my fears of some bizarre internet stalking were unfounded. Turns out that the ransom-note style cutouts of faces were a fun little prop — during QuiltCon she put different pictures of fabric designers and quilters in one of the open pockets in her Letters from Home quilt displayed in the Crimson Tate booth and made with the UPPERCASE collection with Windham Fabrics.

Heather's fabric collection is also out now and UPPERCASE readers will love it. It's called Paper Obsessed and features designs and drawings inspired by notepaper, letter writing, paper airplanes and envelopes. It's very cute:

 photos by Eric Lubrick  

photos by Eric Lubrick 

Above is the Letters from Home quilt in Heather's collection.

Heather writes, "Nothing is sweeter than a handwritten letter. The act of opening an ornately lined envelope only to find kind words from your grandma, mother, or friend is a treasure not soon forgotten. Create an heirloom quilt to mark milestones such as weddings and graduations, to honor those serving in the military, or to remember any special life event. A modern take on the signature quilt, Letters from Home is the ultimate love letter."

Her Look Book is really nice (I looked at it when I was working on my own, thanks for the inspiration, Heather!) The paper airplane motifs and quilts are clever, too.

Windham Fabrics is giving away a bundle of Paper Obsessed fat quarters on every stop of the Paper Obsessed blog tour! Heather is also including a pattern called the Correspondence Mini Quilt plus some Paper Obsessed swag.

Leave a comment below about how your paper and sewing obsessions combine. Make sure to include a link so that we can contact you. Comments close noon MT, July 25. 

July 12 Windham Fabrics ::

July 13 Heather Givans of Crimson Tate ::

July 14 Sarah Sharp of {no} hats quilts ::

July 15 Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE Magazine ::

July 16 Karen LePage of Gentle Clothing ::

July 17 Jenny Leisure / David Barnhouse of Crimson Tate ::

July 18 Heather Jones of Heather Jones Studio ::

July 19 Eric Lubrick of Eric Lubrick Photography ::

July 20 Annie Unrein of By Annie’s ::

July 21 Amanda Castor of Material Girl Quilts ::

July 22 Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness ::

July 23 Giuseppe Ribaudo of Giucy Giuce ::

July 24 Karen McTavish of Karen McTavish Quilting Studio ::

July 25 Kristen Wright of Two Blondes and a Sewing Machine ::

July 26 Heather Givans of Crimson Tate ::

Calling Card: Fairy Tale Summer

Carla Sonheim is a regular supporter of UPPERCASE magazine through her Calling Cards. She has a really fun class on offer that starts next week. Check out her terrific class video!

Fairy Tale Summer

Fairy Tale Summer — our last class of the summer* — begins this coming Tuesday, June 21! We are re-running an edited version of the year-long class from 2014, “Year of the Fairy Tale.”

Assignments will be modified slightly for the summer session for a “doable” class, but you will have forever access so you can revisit the lessons anytime (and do the full assignments if desired). This is the last time this course will run live.

Class dates are June 21 – August 11, 2016; we will illustrate 8 fairy tales, one each week; each fairy tale includes both a drawing assignment (Tuesdays) and a mixed-media assignment (Thursdays).

Just $149. Click HERE for details and to sign up!

P.S. Previous “year of” participants can join again at no additional cost… email me to get on the list: 

Fabric flowers by Laura's Sage Country Quilts

My life has been a blur since coming home from Quilt Market — I've been in full-on design mode and proofing mode to get issue 30 done. Which it is. Except for the whole printing, logistics and shipping part!

I met some nice and talented people at Quilt Market. I gave away some charm squares and there were also fat quarter bundles for sale, so now I'm starting to see what people are making. Fun!

I enjoyed seeing Laura Estes' sweet fabric flowers and I gave her a charm pack to play with.

"The Jumbo Coin Ruching Guide, TR700, designed by me and produced by Quilting Creations International is an acrylic tool used to mark 5 inch and 2 1/2 inch strips of fabric with a scallop line to stitch and draw up the fabric to form petals," she writes. "With the 5-inch charm squares, one scallop is marked on each of 19 or 20 squares, and as each petal is stitched and drawn up, they are joined together then formed into an approximately 6 inch bloom. The process is easy and fun for all skill levels, and there are some tutorials on my blog."

Craft Fair Apron

Inspired by an old apron with ample pockets found at a flea market, this modern take can hold your phone, cash and more. I call this my Craft Fair Apron since it would be handy if you're selling at a fair and need everything at hand.

The original apron was basically a strip of fabric with a fancy printed pocket sewn on. The ties are threaded through a sleeve along the top so you can were the apron gathered or pull it around for a more sleek effect.

For my interpretation, I used strips of different fabric to mimic the pocket motif.

I didn't want to line the pockets, but I also wanted them to be nicely finished since I'll be reaching in there for my phone and notebooks frequently. So with half-inch seam allowances, I ironed the extra in half and folded neatly under. Then top stitched. 

I like how it turned out. Maybe I'll just where it around Quilt Market to carry business cards and pins!

Quilt: Spines

Here’s an idea come full circle: a quilt design inspired by the spines of UPPERCASE magazine—the thing that inspired this very fabric collection in the first place! My son was my willing model for the Look Book—he even art-directed some photos.

The quilt was sewn by Heidi Pridemore of The Whimsical Workshop for the Look Book. Free pattern available at This design is fat quarter friendly.

Hey, where'd everyone go?