Curiouser and Curiouser

Tula Pink has been curating thread collections for Aurifil for years. She was one of our original designers… one of the few who helped to launch a whole new way to view and consume thread. She has a strong creative vision, an eye for color, and we’re endlessly inspired by her distinctive designs, her quilty innovation, and what she brings to the whole quilting industry on a business level.

We love that Tula follows her own creative path while simultaneously instilling so much passion and creative action in makers around the world. Her fabrics are nothing short of iconic with particular patterns popping up in all sorts of delightful places, including apparel, handbags, quilts, home décor, and even tattoos!

Our whole team gets a little giddy with each new collection and we’re so grateful for the collaboration. We’ll take any chances we can get to shout our admiration from the rooftops! Today, we have the pleasure of introducing Curiouser and Curiouser, 20 Small Spools of 50wt thread designed to perfectly partner with Tula’s latest line with Free Spirit Fabrics. (Check out the digital catalog HERE)

Image by Jade of @lovelyjubblyfabrics

The threads are delivered in a matchbox style box– the cover slides off to reveal two smaller collections, perfectly constructed with a bit of extra Tula artwork for good measure. We know these threads will be your new sewing room go-tos and would encourage you to visit your local quilt shop (or Tula’s shop right HERE) to snag your very own set. But… don’t take our word for it… Trust Tula. <3

20 Small Spools Cotton 50wt
Colors included:
1104, 1133, 2135, 5015, 2105, 1231, 2880, 2835, 1148, 4093,
2270, 4020, 2588, 2479, 2423, 2026, 6726, 2770, 2520, 2581

To view this on our website, click HERE.

We have a sneaking suspicion that most of our readers know exactly who you are and wait with baited breath for each new collection just like we do! But, we’d love to know a bit more about how this journey began for you. How did you first delve into such a gloriously artistic world?
The world that I put on fabric is the world that I have always lived in my head. It’s nice that other people can see it now too and it is really really nice that some people seem to like being there. I was raised to follow passion. That was a big theme in my family from the start. Every person in my family is wildly, obsessively passionate about something and then has made their life about it. From the start my thing was always imagination and world building. It’s amazing how much that support and encouragement from an early age really gives an adult a sort of confidence in expression. 

For some reason fabric really hit home for me in a way that other mediums like painting or sculpture never did. There is a collaborative nature to designing fabric for quilting in that you are making a raw material that other people use to express their own ideas. There is something really beautiful about that. I hand a lot of control over to the people who use my fabrics which is so cool because I get to be surprised by my own work a lot. I have a specific vision for the fabric when I am designing it and then someone else will make something and take it to a place that I wouldn’t have. There is a very powerful kind of magic in that process. 

Check Mate Quilt by Tula Pink

You didn’t get your start in the textile world, but rather in the music business. How did you make the transition between the two? Do you find that your background in music contributes at all to the direction that your art has taken?
I never intended to design for the music industry. It was the second real job that I got after college. The first job I had was as an exhibit designer for a small museum in L.A. Both of these jobs have informed how I run my design career today. I use what I learned as an exhibit designer to stage my trade show booths and photos. That job taught me how to explain a concept visually so that other people understand the message. That was a really important thing to bring into this career. I think of my fabric releases like album drops. There is a build up to that “launch” and a single that you know is going to be the “hit” that you focus on early and then all of the other “tracks” or in my case prints have to support that single in a way that tells a larger story. In those days I was telling someone else’s stories so it’s really nice now to be able to tell my own. There is a lot of freedom in telling my own stories and a lot more vulnerability, too. 

Have you ever had one of those ‘aha’ moments in quilting and if so, what was it?
Yes there have been many “aha” moments throughout my career. One of the early ones that has stuck with me all of this time is that I have to make my own quilts. I have to experience my fabric the same way that the maker will experience it. It is the only way I will know how my fabric works and how it should evolve. I genuinely design what I wish I had in fabrics. I feel like that if I, as a maker myself, wish I had a specific print or color then other people are probably wishing for that too, so I try to provide it. 

Queen of Hearts Quilt by Tula Pink

What inspires you to continue creating? 
My main fear is that I won’t get to realize all of my ideas before I die. I know that sounds sort of morbid, but it doesn’t feel dark to me. I have a finite amount of time and I want to see as many of the things that I see in my head in the real world as I can. That is where my passion and fire comes from. When I have an idea it’s like I can’t stop thinking about it until it exists in real form that I can hold in my hands. I make it just so I can stop thinking about it. To make it is the only way to quiet my mind. There are no words for the kind of satisfaction I feel when I have made a thought real– it is the most comforting and content feeling in the world. I literally live for that feeling.

This was a wild year, for sure. How did the changes in the world affect your day-to-day? What have you missed the most? What are you most looking forward to once the world starts to open up a bit more? 
Oh wow, yeah this year has been insane. The biggest change for me personally has been that I have not traveled in about 15 months. I was actually pulled out of a trip midway through the event when the country shut down. It was a tornado of chaos trying to get back into the United States before the lockdown happened. We had no idea what was going to happen so we had to get back home quickly. I am usually on the road for at least half of the year. While I don’t miss being gone all the time I did feel like I was missing that connection with other makers and the people who would come and see me speak or take my classes. I started doing a weekly video to reconnect and that has been really nice. I like that it is so immediate;  this is what is going on today, right now! It is a lot more spontaneous and natural than a planned event or lecture. I am enjoying the flexibility of it. 

I am most looking forward to seeing friends and family again. I have a large extended family and I miss the holidays with everyone there and all of the chaos and conversation and everything that comes along with that. My small immediate family all kept a sort of quarantine pod and were really careful so we could still see each other and not be totally isolated but there are a lot of people that I haven’t seen in over a year that I miss a lot.  

The Hatter Quilt designed by Stacy Day

What has been the biggest benefit of a year of staying home?
I have had a creative explosion in the last year. The lack of distraction has been really helpful. More than anything I have had the time to tinker on things and wonder creatively. Normally I was always trying to fit in a deadline between traveling. I was always trying to get something done in time to make a flight for some event. Now I get to spend time with my work and really push it further. Most importantly to me I have had time to wander creatively. I have done a lot of things that haven’t worked but that is just as helpful as the things that do work out. Having time to explore was something that I had forgotten about and I am incredibly grateful to have found that again. Without being ordered to stay home I would not have done it. 

Let’s talk about Curiouser and Curiouser. What inspired you to create a collection based on such an iconic tale? Does the story have a personal connection? 
Curiouser and Curiouser is based on Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I read it when I was a kid and it was the first thing that I had ever read that felt familiar to me. I have read it every couple of years since then. I have always felt like I perceived the world around me a little differently. Alice in Wonderland made more sense to me than actual real things did to my 10 year old mind. I keep reading the book to remind myself to stay open to other interpretations and to hold on to that sense of possibility and wonder. Most of all the story reminds me to not take things too seriously all of the time. There is a time for seriousness and focus, but wonder is really important too.  

Is it true that your sister was the inspiration for your Alice? Can you tell us a little more about the role that the bond that you two share plays in your art?
Yes! My sister Jo and I have always had this very close bond. She has this passion for joy that I am really drawn to. She showed up one day at my studio with our mom and she had a bow in her hair and I thought OMG she is Alice! I had to draw her. I have always shied away from making an Alice collection because it was too big and too important to me. When she showed up with that bow I took it as a sign, it was like the universe was telling me that the time had come. 

View the video HERE

We are 26 years apart in age which is a really interesting dynamic for sisters. I am more than a sister but not her mom and not really a friend like we would be if we were closer in age. It is a really interesting relationship. I have very close relationships with all 4 of my siblings. We all have very close but very different relationships with each other. My family is really close! We spend A LOT of time together especially now.

Your coordinating Aurifil collection features 20 Small Spools of 50wt thread. Why are these colors your must-haves? Why is 50wt your preferred thread?
I adore 50wt. It is strong enough to hold fabric together and tolerate both machine and hand stitching but still fine enough to be precise and delicate enough to disappear into my English paper piecing stitches. I prefer a cotton thread and this is just the best thread for my style of sewing. I found Aurifil early in my career and just never found anything I like better. Why mess with a good thing!

Image by Chelsea of @pinkdoorfabrics

The colors are matched to the Curiouser collection but really serve my general palette as a whole. I try to account for what I will need across all of my projects. Some of the colors were chosen so they will disappear into the fabric and some were chosen to accent and embellish the colors in the fabrics. I try to make sure that I have a thread that will suit every need– patchwork, top stitching, quilting, hand sewing. I think about all of the needs I will have working with a fabric collection and then look for solutions to each one. I want people to have thread that will work for this particular fabric collection but I definitely want it to be useful beyond that. Thread can last a long time and it needs to be multi disciplinary to be truly useful. 

Just so we have a tiny bit of education in here… what is your absolute TOP TIP for someone just getting started with their own maker journey, in need of a little expert guidance?
My absolute best advice or tip is that Perfection is really boring. Striving for perfection is an admirable quality but achieving it is never actually going to happen. When I finally let go of trying to achieve perfection, my life as a maker became a lot more freeing and satisfying. You can’t explore creatively and enjoy yourself while aiming only at perfection. It is frustrating and sewing is not something we do to be frustrated it what we do to let go of frustration. If you’re not having fun or enjoying yourself when you’re sewing then what is the point?

We’re fishing for sneak peeks… what’s coming up for you in the second half of 2021?
So. Many. Things. But not even you will break through my defenses. 😉

Cats or Dogs: DOGS!
Shoes or Barefoot: Shoes, I LOVE shoes, all kinds of shoes.
Country or City: Country. I need space and quiet.
Camping or Glamping:  Neither. I am a home body.
To the Mountains or to the Sea: The sea. Water is really calming.
Favorite Notion: Sewline glue pen. Sew Tite magnets. Micro-serrated scissors.
Go-to sewing room playlist: Too eclectic to list in a speed round LOL!
Current binge-worthy show: The Great Pottery Throw Down and Schitt’s Creek. It’s a toss up.

HUGE thanks to Tula for giving us a peek at her process today! What will you make with Curiouser and Curiouser?

Looking to make your own Curiouser Quilt? Free Spirit Fabrics has you covered! Follow the links below for more information.

Checkmate Quilt
Cheshire Cats Diva Quilt
Cheshire Cats Flake Quilt
Pawn to Queen Quilt
Queen of Hearts Quilt
The Hatter Quilt

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Tula Pink is an illustrator, a fabric designer, a quilter, an author, a maker and a generally good person who enjoys talking about herself.

Tula graduated from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, CA. It was fun but she was tired of being broke so she decided to get a job. Tula worked briefly as an Exhibit designer for Museums in Southern California, where she grew up, and when that became too quiet she relocated to the music industry. After about 5 years of that her ears began to bleed so she left her job and California and went in search of a new home. The plan was to move as far east as she could get without renting a boat and work her way back west until she found a place she liked. Tula got about half way and then she ran out of gas money so she stayed put.

Tula now lives in a small mid-western town outside of Kansas City, MO in a house that used to be a barn and still sort of looks like one. Tula’s main function in life is fabric design. She lives for it. Her signature designs have been adapted to fabrics, woven ribbons, paper products, needlepoint kits, embroidery patterns and sewing machines and can be found in independent fabric shops and retailers all over the world. Tula is most recognized in her industries for her dark sense of humor, a flair for hiding animals in the strangest of places (artistically, not literally) and her boldly unique use of color and pattern. Tula comes from the “more is more” school of design where there is never enough space and always room for that one last thing.

Today Tula Pink works closely with the good people at Free Spirit Fabrics to develop multiple fabric collections every year, is an Ambassador for BERNINA sewing machines, develops collections for Aurifil Threads and Renaissance Ribbons and writes books for F+W Media about quilting and sewing. She works all day everyday and gets very cranky when she is asked to leave the studio or if Tula Pink is her real name.

For real deal up date info on Tula Pink, her Studio and projects follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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