rolling with the punches & paintings for sale

Marian Parsonsmy business story, Running a Business57 Comments

It was just a couple of weeks ago that I announced my very first fabric line presented by Free Spirit Fabrics.  I’ve been working on getting this collection launched for two years and was in the final stages of polishing up my second collection, but that work was interrupted by some startling news I received last week.  Free Spirit Fabrics is closing.  The second collection won’t be made and, since Bunnies, Birds & Blooms was just released, I don’t know what it means for that collection, yet.

It’s taken me a few days to process it.  I am sad for the people who work for Free Spirit who are losing their jobs and for the designers who rely on that work for the bulk of their income.  On a personal note, I felt a pit in my stomach that two years of work might result in zero income.

I also felt a sense of failure.  While the company closing has nothing to do with me directly, it still feels like a failure that the collections aren’t going to have a chance to be promoted, manufactured, and sold.  They are dropped before they even have a chance to take off.  And this leaves me in a strange place as a novice fabric designer.  I don’t have a name or a record of proven success in the fabric world, like Amy Butler and Tula Pink.  Companies might scramble to pick them up, but I don’t expect that will be the case for me.

Even though all of this is a complete bummer all around, I can see some bright spots in it…

First of all, I learned a lot about digital designs, patterns, repeats, scale, color, etc.  I still plan on writing a post sharing about the design process and how I started, but to say I’ve grown would be an understatement!  It was a crash course and I am so thankful that it pushed me along as far and as quickly as it did.

It also gave me a taste of fabric/textile/paper design and I learned I really love it and want to do more of it.  A closed door with Free Spirit is an open door to explore the rest of the world of pattern design.  I can do anything from putting designs on Spoonflower to working as a freelance designer to trying to get hired as a featured designer for another company.

I believe everything happens for a reason.  There have been many times in my life and business when things haven’t worked out the way I wanted or planned or hoped.  But I have learned that times of disappointment can lead to times of exciting change and growth.

So, I’m not sure how it’s all going to play out, but I’ll keep you posted!

In happier news, I have started to list the original oil paintings from my next series #100oilstills.  I have listed them auction-style, so everyone can have a chance to buy one they really want.

You can find them HERE.

(By the way, I’ll share more about that series soon!  If you’d like more detail, though, you can follow my Instagram Stories, where I share my paintings each day, or see all of them on my art instagram @mariansparsonsart .

rolling with the punches & paintings for sale

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57 Comments on “rolling with the punches & paintings for sale”

  1. Those fabric designs are beautiful. When I first saw them, I thought the would make beautiful drapes, bedding, etc. If they are on spoonfliwer, can’t you get them in different fabrics, like linen, etc? I hope you get to produce them somewhere.

    1. I agree that Spoonflower would be an ideal fit for you Marian. I love that you can pick patterns and order them in different fabric weights so the possibilities are endless. I do know that Country Living magazine has a few designs on their site. It’s funny because when I first saw your fabric line my heart kinda sank because there are more than a few that I would have loved to make slipcovers for some chairs, but the lightweight cotton wouldn’t work for me. But a heavier weight, like a canvas or twill, would be perfect. Also, is similar to Spoonflower except their patterns offer fewer choices of fabric weight. Whatever you decide to do, your fabric designs are so beautiful – like everything you create. Good luck!

    2. Marian, I am sorry to hear this confirmed about Free Spirit, though I did mention them closing in a comment recently. It must be so disappointing for you, but your attitude about it is fantastic and I’m certain there will be more opportunities for you with other fabric companies. You may not be world famous or have a cult following like Tula Pink, but you definitely have a definable brand/style and a lot of dedicated followers which can only grow if you were picked up by a new fabric company, because the type of followers you have are definitely DIY types, and I noticed a lot of sewers and quilters, too! So, you’ve got a built-in audience for your fabric.

      The ladies above mention Spoonflower — there are some definite pluses and minuses with using Spoonflower. In the plus column, as mentioned above, you can have your fabrics printed on a vast array of different fabric types and weights, it really is remarkable. Your customers can print small amounts (even swatch sizes or fat quarter sizes), or very large amounts of yardage. The minus column includes price — Spoonflower does have small sales from time to time, but the price of their yardage is rather high to quite high priced for the average sewist. Also, there are special instructions for how to handle/wash/iron the fabric before using it, which I was not prepared for when I purchased quite a bit of yardage from them in several different prints. You can’t just wash the fabric like you’d wash regular quilting cotton — the type I got, their best-selling cotton twill, must be washed using a special detergent like 7th Generation brand. You’re supposed to use phosphate free detergent in cool water using a gentle or delicate machine cycle, and also iron on the reverse side of the fabric. You also have to use extra care in subsequent washings. It’s fabric printed with environmentally friendly ink which is great for Mother Earth, but I worry about the durability of their fabric over time. Their fabric also has issues with shrinkage. The better quality quilting cottons usually don’t have to be washed before use, and the shrinkage isn’t so much a worry, nor is the durability over time. Lastly, the time between when you order and when you receive your purchase can be a few weeks, so time is a factor. You must plan ahead for projects!

      So, it’s a trade-off with Spoonflower. It’s a really brilliant service, anyone can design and print fabric which is amazing, and the range of fabric types they offer is really impressive. I like that they aim to be gentle on the environment as well.

      I’m interested to see where your fabric designing journey takes you!

      1. I have never considered Spoonflower’s prices out of line with the rest of the market. I have always marvelled that their prices seem so reasonable in light of the fact that every order is custom printed in the amount ordered and on the fabric/substrate requested. The lead time is understandable in that respect because you are not purchasing from an already printed bolt.

        I consider a lot of their washing/care instructions to be pretty standard for any printed fabrics on the market to preserve colour and quality. Avoiding harsher detergents is something many of us do already. Prewashing for shrinkage is often recommended on a variety of fabrics from the more conventional sources.

        Do we all take such careful care of our fabrics? Nope. I have often washed clothing that was labelled “dry clean only” with no problem whatsoever.

  2. So sorry about Free Spirit closing. I had already called my quilt shop to see if they were getting your fabric line. I admire your attitude and believe that a designer as talented as you are will surely find an even better opportunity. I WANT some of that fabric!

  3. Bummer. I’ve got my heart set on one of those fabrics. Will those exact fabric patterns ever be available?

  4. So disappointing that the quilting fabrics won’t be available. My daughter had taken up quilting and this was the first collection , I have seen, that I really liked for a quilt.

  5. I, too, am so sorry for the closing of Free Spirit. I know you will bounce back & there will be other opportunities for your beautiful line of fabric. Someone smart enough should be seeing this as their chance to swoop in!!

  6. Marion, you are so gifted. I was looking forward to ordering your fabrics. I just love your designs. God always has a plan and sometimes it takes a while, to see, but He is always faithful, as you know and have shared. You will find the perfect fit for your talents and gifts and your designs. I am thinking there are many people who are wanting some of this fabric when you announce the next chapter.

  7. Submit your fabric design ideas to Moda fabrics. They manufacture the best quality quilters cotton fabrics on the market.

  8. Marian, contact Fat Quarter Shop online. They represent numerous designers, and your fabric style would fit right with what they do. They do a load of quilting fabric, etc. This fabric is too beautiful to go by the wayside, so please get it out there.

  9. I’m sorry for the disappointment you are experiencing. Your fabric designs are very pretty and I’m sure lots of quilters would love to use those in a nice cotton! I hope that you get some clear direction on what steps to take next and that you are able to continue designing. I personally like bunnies and enjoy that you have some bunnies in your first designs! Will look forward to finding out what God does next!

  10. I totally agree with the other readers – your designs are amazing and I would buy them immediately if they were available. Does Free Spirit own your designs? If not, or if you can buy them back, I would do that and pursue other manufacturers. I think you (or your agent) could make an excellent case for your following and the brand that you’ve established.

    DON’T GIVE UP on all this creative investment. We’re right here, cheering you on!

  11. I’m so sorry for the disappointing news but I really admire your attitude and faith that everything will all work out.

  12. Curious as to who OWNS the designs now. The assets of the company will probably be sold, so your designs might still get on the market. Otherwise, if you own the design, maybe you just need a new marketer!

  13. These are so beautiful! What a shame! I hope one of these other producers will prove to be a perfect match for you so that your lovely designs will be available-I want some!

  14. I so liked your fabric designs and was looking forward to ordering but, do know God does have a plan and we will see.

  15. Don’t worry Marian, you’ll bounce back. From what I can see, you are a money making machine. Love the pics of your painting journey. I was a tad surprised that you settled on oils as your medium; you seem like a watercolor gal to me. Best of luck to you but I doubt you’ll need it!

    1. Oh my gosh, I love oils! I do like watercolor and I need to work on it more, but oil is my thing.

  16. I kept checking to see when they would be available. I’m sad too. I’ve ordered from Spoonflowers and they are lovely to do business with.

  17. I am sorry to hear this, I know it must be a great disappointment. But like you said it was a great learning experience and I know God works all things for our good. Blessings to you.

    Ps. I love all the colors in the fabrics line, I hope you use some of them in your decorating.

  18. Please contact Moda Fabrics and see if they will take you on. Your look would give them a fresh look and it would give you great distrbution.

  19. How sad! I loved your fabric designs. They were so cute! Although, I would have to agree with you, Marian. The employees at Free Spirit are losing jobs. Jobs hard to come by in this tumultuous economy. It won’t be as easy for them to pick up the pieces, financially, as it will be for you.

    1. Yep, my first thought was of myself and then I realized many people would be losing employment and my heart truned to them and their families. I was laid off when the tech bubble burst (can you even imagine me in the corporate world?!) and it was a scary time!

  20. What a shame free spirit fabrics is known for their quality and that’s getting harder and harder to find for a reasonable cost for us everyday folks ! Your designs are so cute. I hope you find a way to produce them. I may dm u a contact that could help.

  21. I am so inspired by you being able to design fabrics! That, in and of itself, is an incredible achievement. You are too talented to let this go unnoticed. A very smart company or investor will be your next open window. I appreciate you sharing your disappointment. Life doesn’t always go as planned but many people paint a rosy picture instead of reality. Life is full of ups and downs and I sense you are going to soar with this. Keep the faith!

  22. Trust in the Lord
    With all your heart
    And lean not on your own understanding
    In all your ways acknowledge Him
    And He will make your paths straight
    Proverbs 3 5-6

    This is one of my favorite bible verses. I just know there is something waiting in the wings for you and it will just blow you away.

  23. Like you said – everything happens for a reason, even though this is disappointing. With your talent, another opportunity will surely come along!! Since the fabric company is going OOB, I hope your designs will not remain “their property” and you can re-sell them to another company or reproduce them. It would not seem fair if they closed their doors and kept your designs without them having a chance to sell. I’m sure you have a legal contract with them, so hopefully we will see these designs in the near future! LoVe all that you do & wish you the best!!

  24. Marian, your creative talent, combined with your loyal following on your blog and social media, surely will be attractive to many fabric companies. Who knows? You might be able to strike an even better deal. It’s a huge advantage that you’ve already done the groundwork. I foresee good things coming from this, though I sympathize with your disappointment about Free Spirit Fabrics.

  25. Please us posted about the future of your fabulous fabric designs. I would love to make my granddaughter a quilt out of your green fabrics! We are all rooting for your success with this venture!

  26. That’s to bad about your fabric line. It is sure a beautiful line. I hope it still will come out through some one else. On another note I know you buy a lot of old furniture, do you have any idea on how to get rid of a terrible musty smell in a book case that is old and it has glass doors on it. Any helpful tips on how to get rid of the stink? Thanks.

  27. Have you heard of Spoonflower? Check it out if you haven’t. Everyone designs their own fabric. I love what I see of yours.

  28. I am so sorry the fabric co is closing down and prayers for all who will be looking for work I also pray another fabric co comes through and picks your line up because they are beautiful Your oil paintings are wonderful

  29. Marion, your lovely textile designs reflect your artistry. Given the personal investment I hope another avenue of production presents itself. After reading your post I also hope you’ll consider reading Kate Bowler’s new book, “Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved.” It’s available on Amazon, etc. Kate’s a Duke Divinity Asst. Professor, mother of a 3 yr. old and a Stage 4 cancer patient.

  30. I know it was a shock and disappointment to get news like this. I am glad you found the positive which is all the fabric design experience you gained and knowing it may lead to greater and bigger things down the road.

    Last month a consignment shop that I sold items at for many years closed abruptly due to financial problems. My first thought was wondering if I will get paid for the items that I sold over the last month. Then I thought about the wonderful lady who owned the shop and what she must be going through after devoting the last 8 years to her business. She had worked so hard making her business successful and now it was gone. When I meet with her to pick up some unsold consigned items the tears and sorrow in her eyes said it all when I hugged her. The small amount she owed me no longer was important because it was peanuts compared to what she was going through.

  31. Ack….I didn’t pay attention as to which fabric company you were with…so sorry your three steps forward have turned into four steps back.

    I have no doubt someone will pick you up….those fabrics have to go into the world…..who can deny those bunnies and birds….oh the birds!:)

  32. Oh, I am terribly sorry about this disappointing news.

    If you are able, remember that often times when one door closes another opens – I sure hope it is the case with your beautiful fabric designs.

  33. I’m so very sorry to hear of ur dilemma. I think I’d have more than a pit in my stomach. Having filed bankruptcy myself years ago, I learned it was a business tool like any other. Albeit a rough one but nonetheless a tool to recover and start again. It’s possible free spirit may call you in the future or pass ur name along to another company that you can work with. You just never know how fate works! Something you think that is gone from you forever returns with more blessings. All the best to you and ur family.

  34. You are such a trooper Marian! I really am inspired by the way you exercise your creative gifts. What a blessing!

  35. I had almost emailed you last weekend to see how you were handling the news about Free Spirit. If any of my contacts in the quilting world can be of help to you, please reach out.

  36. Unfortunate news, but your fabric designs are so good that I feel confident that they will find a new home. This reminds me of years ago when you faced the disappointment of your house not selling and you ended up renting that lovely studio, then eventually finding a great opportunity in Minnesota! Your positive attitude throughout that process was inspirational.

  37. Marian, You’re so talented it’s a shame that these beautiful fabrics won’t have a market. You should write an online course on the entire process. I, for one, would love to know all the details and steps involved in creating a fabric line.

  38. You do such beautiful work. I hope your designs turn up somewhere and I pray all the displaced workers find new jobs.

  39. Beautiful fabric and designer! His plans are always better than ours. Cannot wait to see where He is taking you!

  40. Marian,
    I love your spirit AND your new designs. You will rise as you always do 🙂
    I have a question~ how are you able to accomplish SO much? Do you ever sleep, stop for a spot of tea?
    You are so well supported~ carry on!

  41. I just wanted to say I LOVE them lemon still and I’m pleased to see that as of a few minutes ago its price is the highest (although it doesn’t bode well for me to purchase it) 😉 I’m excited to watch you paint more oranges too!

  42. Let’s hope some other fabric company can manufacture your designs. They are wonderful and I for one was looking forward to buying some fabric printed with them/

  43. So very sorry that this happened to you….but you ARE Miss Mustard Seed and your faith will get you through this bump in the road….one door closes…another door opens when you hear that knock on your door again!!!

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