Welcome Home

Anna Maria Horner is an inspirational, strong, powerful, creative, and all around magical woman. She is one of those industry icons you’ll love even more after you’ve met her. Her personality is magnetic, her generosity and compassion endless. We’ve long adored her designs and have a feeling that many of you understand exactly how excited we feel every single time a new collection gets introduced.

Imagine our delight when she came to us with not one, but two collection ideas for 2022… the first of which is Welcome Home, a stunning autobiographical tribute to the idea of home and how it is truly about the people involved, the feeling a place invokes, and where our hearts lead.

Anna Maria chose to curate two 5 small spool mini collections, one in each of her primary go-tos– Aurifil 50wt & 12wt. The boxes offer the perfect partner to her fabrics making sure that makers have complementary colors for piecing, quilting, appliqué, big stitch quilting, embellishment, and embroidery — a rich, bold, and beautiful creative journey!

Today, we’re thrilled to feature our recent conversation with Anna Maria– a bit of inspiration, a bit of insight, and all the wonderful things to come in her own words.

First, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. You know we adore you!! I had the pleasure of attending one of your lectures a few years ago and, along with a room full of attendees, I was tremendously inspired by your creative journey. Without giving it all away, could you share a bit of that story? 
Of course! I was lucky enough to be brought up in a home where I was surrounded by many handmade things, from the paintings on the wall to the wool blankets on my bed, to the clothes in my closet.  And not just handmade, but handmade by my family. So I always knew what was possible and a worthwhile and fulfilling occupation. You could say my environment gave me a natural affinity for the handmade, and my personal traits and interests just sort of dictated that I pursue this as a career.

What first inspired you to bring your art to the textile industry? 
I was invited to create a collection for FreeSpirit Fabrics back in 2005, by Donna Wilder, the founder and first art director. I was taken by surprise at how deep and broad the industry was, and eventually understood the invitation to be rare and very lucky!

What is your connection with quilting – is there a history there or did you come to it on your own. Is it a practice that you’ve shared with your children?
Despite growing up around so many craft disciplines, from both sides of the family, quilting is NOT part of my family history. As sort of  a lovely narrative, I like to think that I am completing the family circle of crafts.  My children have always had quilt making in their proximity, but their involvement has always been self led.  I think my role is explicitly to provide good supplies and tools, as well as loads of encouragement and praise. I’ve watched them make symbolic quilts as toddlers, real quilts as young adults, and they’ve offered opinions and help with my work.  I envision that for each of them their lives might come back to quilting, at some point, if now it is only a passing interest. It is an honor to be the source of what quilts might come to mean to them.

Do you have a preferred artistic expression or do practices like painting, quilting, embroidery, and interior design fulfill you in different ways? 
It is rare that I am not happy to sit and do handwork, such as applique, hand quilting, and drawing even. Those are not events, that is just living.

However painting and larger artworks take more preparation for me these days because those supplies are not front and center in my workspace.  And that goes a bit for home decor projects as well, because there is usually a bit of deconstructing that goes along with home decor, and you have to really make a schedule for that.  Like any creative, though, I am prone to spontaneity and often will switch gears quickly because the “what if” in my head is too loud to ignore.  I find satisfaction in very big and very small artistic endeavors, they all do something for me.

Do you remember the very first quilt you made and how completing it made you feel? 
I do, it was in a textile class in college and I suppose the overwhelming feeling I had upon completion was anticipation…. to make the next one.  But this was YEARS before I landed back in front of patchwork, and the approach to that first project was from such a different point of view.  It was in the context of earning a fine art degree.  However that idea- quilt as two dimensional art- has stayed with me to this day.

Have you ever had one of those ‘aha’ moments in quilting and if so, what was it?
It was not one moment- but more a turn in approach. Once I had taught myself a plethora of traditional blocks, and patchwork techniques over the first 6-8 years after my first fabric collection, I started seeing MY quilting in my work.  And what I mean by that is I finally felt I had developed a voice through my combinations of very traditional piecing, and very contemporary scales and styles of applique. And the methodology had sort of solidified itself all on its own – the process of going from the sketch of a quilt to the finished product.

What inspires you to continue creating? 
I’m inspired by whatever I am not sure that I solved in the last one… whether it is a quilt or art for a fabric collection.

It has been a wild 2 years, for sure. How did the changes in the world affect your day-to-day? Now that we’re starting to see bits of normalcy creeping back in, what are you most looking forward to both professionally and personally? 
My day to day did not slow down at all, it got busier and more complicated.  I was managing my 3 youngest children in their distanced/online learning environments. My online business (both annamariahorner.com and craft-south.com)  doubled because so many people were at home and had a greater desire and more time to do handcrafts.  However we were performing the fulfillment on a skeleton staff due to safety concerns and Covid-related staff changes.  That demand for textile and sewing goods trickled into my design work as well, and we had to turn in collections earlier, turn in more of them, and wait longer for the goods. PHEW! I am tired just thinking about it all again!

In the midst of all of that I somehow moved to a new home and have been here a year. At this very  moment I am most excited about the refreshed staff arrangement that I have, as well as the new studio that I am building at our new home.  I left a beautiful studio in the big family home we occupied for almost 20 years, but I am excited to start fresh on something that suits my life and work now.

Let’s talk about Welcome Home. How did these past few years inspire the direction of the collection?
Well, I was missing my favorite cities and my favorite people in them.  And specifically missing that feeling of familiarity, comfort and “home” that I have in several places around the world.  I was also moving house, as previously mentioned, so I thought a lot about the idea of home.  I really enjoyed naming every print after a favorite familiar city and imagining what images go with each in my mind.  The collection ended up being a little autobiographical, so it is special to me.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Welcome Home Quilt Club? When is everything kicking off and where can curious makers find all the pieces needed to dive in? 
Yes!  The Club is essentially a 5-month quilt along, hosted by myself and FreeSpirit Fabrics and all of the participants will finish with the Welcome Home Quilt that I designed. 

There are loads of shops who are participating, which means you can search this page for your favorite, or someone local, and join in.  Once you are signed up with a shop, you will receive the fabric and pattern to create the quilt, and you can also join the dedicated Facebook Group.  The online group is great to join because you can view and share progress with other quilters. I also post a video there every month with extra tips and chat about the quilt making process. 

There has been a little delay in the shipping of the fabrics, so we hope shops will have everything at the end of June/beginning of July.  Because of that we are waiting to begin the 5 month club (video postings) during the last week of July, so there is plenty of time still to join in!

This page at FreeSpirit Fabrics, goes over all the details, as well as has links to some of my videos presenting the collection and the club!

You curated two mini Aurifil thread sets to accompany the Welcome Home Quilt & complete collection– featuring 5 small spools of 50wt AND 5 small spools of 12wt. These are traditionally your go-to thread weights for Aurifil – can you share why and where you’d use and highlight each?  
Yes- I am in love with these threads, and especially in love with our palettes and the beautiful boxes we designed! 

For 50wt- honestly I use those for all my machine sewing, as well as basic hand sewing including applique and binding by hand.  I also use it to thread baste my quilts, because it does not tangle easily on long lengths and it does not snap easily when I am pulling through the quilt sandwich.  

The 12wt it is my absolute favorite for hand quilting, so I love having plenty of colors!  Sometimes I am in the mood to use several colors on one quilt, and other times a single color on the whole quilt. Either way, the palettes are drool worthy and lustrous!  I also use the 12wt to do more illustrative applique, for instance, when I stitch down raw cut pieces with several rows of dense sashiko.  

What makes these collections an absolute must-have for all makers working with Welcome Home?
I chose the colors for the 50wt collection to really work in between all of the shades of Welcome Home  for your more basic machine sewing of garments or anything else.

For the 12wt I chose shades that sink into the colors of Welcome Home as well as those that give a little color pop of interest. So many quilters collect their fabrics long before they have plans for them, and it is extra nice to have the custom-chosen threads waiting for you too.  It’s the cherry on top once you have decided on the perfect project!

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?
I know that I am in the obvious position to suggest this, but I really think it matters to have beautiful, quality materials.  I have heard people say my whole life “well I’m not sure I am going to like it, so I did not want to spend the money.”  Well one thing I can assure you of, is you probably will not like spending hours and hours of your time only to be left with something made from low quality materials! Anything that takes you time, should last and be loved.  You deserve it!!  I would much rather have fewer really special materials than a mountain of low grade supplies that do not inspire me to do my best work. There is enjoyment in the beauty along the way, and if you love the materials you are working with, you are getting so much more than just the finished product.

We’re fishing for sneak peeks… what’s coming up for you in the second half of 2022 and where can we find you?
Well, my backyard has stakes in the ground to build my new studio as I write this in early June!  The hope is that we see a completed building by the end of this year. In late Summer we will be sending my cotton lawn collection, Vivacious, out into the world and I’m finishing up a new dress pattern that is perfect for it!  In October,  I will be attending Fall Quilt Market (finally) after the Covid hiatus to present next year’s collection and club. Never, ever a dull moment! And a whole lot of those moments are shared on my instagram account @annamariahorner! Thank you so much for having me- I love my Auri-Fam! :)))

HUGE thanks to Anna Maria for sharing her insights and for just being an overall amazing human! We can’t wait to see what you all do with Welcome Home!

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Check out Anna Maria Horner’s Bio HERE

** All images courtesy of Anna Maria Horner

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