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. She is truly just an all around good human, sharing her passion for life and creativity in a myriad of ways. 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.

This time around, Anna Maria came to us with a concept for a 20 Small Spool set featuring the hues of Brave — her May 2023 release with Free Spirit Fabrics.

I have long relied on my photos, sketches, doodles, and plans to begin any new collection of fabric and find the hunt and gather process to be comforting. However, when I approach other creative endeavors, such as a wall mural, all I do is gather the paints and brushes and simply begin. It is that other approach – that brave approach – that inspires this collection.

My Brave collection celebrates letting yourself completely give in to color, form, beauty and to chance. Hand-drawn pathways and imaginary florals in stimulating palettes dance through small & simple as well as large & complex designs.

Anna Maria Horner

The collection itself is everything you love about Anna Maria Horner fabrics– rich color, bold florals, hand-drawn elements– but it’s the sentiment behind the collection, Anna Maria’s encouragement to take that unexpected step, to summon up your courage and try something new.

Brave partners delightfully well with Love Always, AM, featuring AMH classics, reimagined with new colorations. Her coordinating 20 Spool Aurifil collection is sectioned into two individual sets nestled into a matchbox style box, with a full pattern adorned sleeve. One set features Aurifil 50wt, Anna Maria’s go to for piecing & quilting and the other features Aurifil 12wt, a natural for hand quilting and embellishment.

We’re excessively grateful to Anna Maria for agreeing to share some of her thoughts about the creative process, her overall life aesthetic, her new collections and more — here today on Auribuzz. Our only wish is that this interview could have been in person on her porch amidst her gardens rather than through the screen. Next time!!

Hi Anna Maria! We are always so honored to have these conversations and absolutely love sharing your work. Thank you for always humoring us! While we’re fairly certain that most of our readers will be superfans like we are, we’d still love to share a proper introduction… Can you tell us a bit about how your creative journey has led you to where you are today? 
I am always honored to be asked for a chat with my Aurifil fam, thank you!

I suppose I arrived at my current place in fiber craft from two paths.  One was growing up in a house where sewing clothing, knitting, stitching, painting and even building was the norm.  I also earned a Fine Arts degree where I was able to develop my relationship with color and my interest in pattern.

There are undoubtedly many, but can you share one moment along the way that felt truly pivotal?
There are so many!  I think Donna Wilder asking me to design for FreeSpirit fabrics back in 2004 was that moment.  I was doing freelance for multiple giftware companies at the time, but I was not in pursuit of designing fabrics, and perhaps never would have had I not been asked.

This past year has been full of some pretty remarkable changes for you – from closing your physical space for Craft South, to moving, to getting married. How have you managed to balance it all while continuing to design fabric and construct your epic BOMs?
I am not sure I HAVE balanced it all!  I can only say that all of the changes have been filled with challenges, but each are ultimately good things happening at the right time in my life and career.  It does not hurt that I have fallen in love with my best friend, and that support has been unwavering during the bumpier moments. And more practically speaking most of the big changes have been planned for, hoped for and considered over time, nothing is won overnight.  That plus trying to keep to all my normal daily things, like, time with my family, my garden, and my swims and walks. 

We were completely mesmerized by your sneak peeks and tours as you turned your new house into a home – do you find that your art inspires your interior aesthetic, vice versa, or both? 
I think I truly love the perpetual nature of beautifying our living space.  It is alive and changing and comforting  and always a work in progress.  That movement of a project over time is really inspiring to me and what I do with it tends to match whatever is interesting  to me in my artwork and fabric crafts at the time. 

For instance I was obsessed with cool tones of aqua and green during the time that I was designing Made My Day, and I ended up with aqua dining room walls and my hutch got a fresh coat of Caribbean green.  

Is there a space in your new home that is your go-to – one that you gravitate toward again and again?
We love the porches.  In true Southern fashion we have a nice deep front porch that is truly another living space, with the bonus of getting to enjoy my gardening pursuits at the same time.  Fortunately we have rebuilt a lovely sitting and chilling space at the back of the house too, that is wonderful when you are feeling a bit more quiet and reclusive. 

If you’re given a free day, to spend as you choose – where does your passion take you? Are you sketching in the garden, working on a home project, slow stitching, or something entirely different? 
I actually feel like my perfect day involves just about ALL of those things. But whatever the combination of projects is, I love wrapping it up and hanging out with the family at the end of the evening. I have become obsessed with saving seeds from various flowers and so my new nerdy pastime is having a drink on the porch with my husband and seed hunting!  I squeal when I find one and he pretends he is just as excited. I love the whole family for humoring me when I share what I just learned about flower chromosomes!

You’ve shared that you’re tremendously inspired by your gardens and the natural world around you, incorporating many of those elements into your textile design. What does that process look like and how does a new collection go from sketch to print? 
I borrow so many different aspects of the natural world, primarily flowers for use in my work.  From the color palettes, to the shapes, to the often very architectural elements in a flower’s design. I love representing them somewhat realistically and I love abstracting them too. It usually begins with photographs around the garden (and sometimes the world).  I begin by looking through my library in order to develop drawings, colors and ideas for print. I find it really important to work from my own photos, and not books or the internet.  I like for the personal POV to be mine from start to finish.

We love seeing the incredible variety in the projects that you create – from piecing/quilting, to stitching and needlework, to apparel. You’ve been showcasing your Simple Start patterns featuring fabrics from Brave. Can you tell us more about the Simple Start range? 
Yes!  The Simple Start collection of patterns was designed for the sewer who wants a simple sew, or for the new sewer.  The silhouettes and therefore the patterns are very basic to construct but classic in their style.  They are also very easy to customize with your favorite fabrics.  And because there are not loads of details your fabrics are really the star of the show.  We have 7 Simple Start patterns now, and I love watching what people sew with them!

Speaking of apparel, many of us experienced a collective WOW moment when reading about your wedding dress and the process of making it your own… Can you tell us a bit more about that experience? 
Remaking the dress did not seem particularly scary to me, as I tend to really only embark on a design mission that feels accomplishable. The dress truly captured the simple but elegant silhouette I was looking for, and I felt it was already 85% there. 

I also have a long history with managing tricky, slippy fabrics from my garment design and sewing days and I sort of love a challenge. There were definitely some white knuckle moments in the process. But that was followed by the very relaxing and special task of hand sewing lace for hours, which lowered my blood pressure. (Learn more here.)

Let’s talk about Brave. What was the inspiration for this collection? What does it mean to you to be Brave – in life and in art? 
I have long relied on my photos, sketches, doodles, and plans to begin any new collection of fabric and find the hunt and gather process to be comforting. However, when I approach other creative endeavors, such as a wall mural, all I do is gather the paints and brushes and simply begin.  I wanted to explore that lack of planning for this collection and I just trust my hand and my eye.  The beauty in this freeing style, is that the art feels like it has drawn itself.  

In life I have needed bravery in big and small things.  Trying something new, beginning a hard conversation, or standing up for myself has seemed insignificant and small, but they all require risk. Taking risks that will be answered with growth opportunities is brave to me.

You curated a breathtaking Aurifil set to coordinate with both your Brave and Love, Always fabrics, both released this year. The collection is a beautiful range of 50wt and 12wt threads, which are your go-to weights for Aurifil. Tell us about the colors you selected and how makers might use these threads in partner with the fabrics. 
Honestly the 50wt and the 12wt are my go to, which is likely why all of our collections are those!  I use the 50wt for machine sewing quilts, accessories and garments and hand sewing applique and binding. I primarily use the 12wt for handquilting.  

The palette that I chose for the 50wt are more earthy “between” colors that will blend beautifully when sewing with the brave warm tones and the cool tones.  But of course the colors are also PRETTY for those places where your machine topstitching or decorative stitching is in plain sight.  

For the 12wt, I always indulge a little more to include bolder, and more clear colors for handquilting. There are soft and bright pinks as well as very citrusy fresh greens and oranges, with a foundational cream and warm denim/lavender shade.  Having these all collected and ready for use with my BRAVE (and lots of other fabrics) feels like such a treat to me!

Do you have an absolute must-have Aurifil hue or do you find that you’re reaching for a range of colors on a regular basis? 
I definitely spread the love but I keep large spools of colors 2155 (rust/caramel), 5015 (sunny citrus) and 2530 (perfect coral/pink) at the ready!

Just for kicks – have you ever found yourself in a creative rut, and if so, what did you do to break out of it. Do you have any suggestions to break through those creative blocks? 
I am more prone to getting overwhelmed with the number of projects than I get into ruts.  And when that happens, I try to walk away from the work for a while and do something cathartic like taking a walk, or picking at my garden. With more intention, getting out to a gallery or a garden center is equally calming for me.

We always want more Anna Maria!! Where can we find you this year and is there anything coming up that you’re particularly looking forward to? 
I am teaching at a few more guilds this fall, as well as attending Quilt Market in the Fall.  And it is never too early to start talking about Quilt Con!  I will be back with my Craft South fam in February in Raleigh and we are so excited!  It is one of the only events where I get to really mix and mingle the whole time with quilters from all over and I absolutely love it.  It can be tiring to prepare and run the booth along with the travel but I always leave with a full cup!  I keep a log of upcoming events at my website for inquiring minds:  <3

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