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New Designer: Linzee McCray

New Designer: Linzee McCray

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That's right.  Linzee McCray!  The same Linzee who writes a weekly post for The Cutting Table!

That's Linzee, kayaking in Minnesota.  By the water is one of her favorite places to be.

For Linzee Kull McCray, it’s always about the stories. An innate curiosity about people, what they’re passionate about and life in general has taken her on a journey that she never would have imagined.

Journalist. Author. Museum Curator. Quilter. Knitter. Wife. Mom.  Daughter. Friend... and the list goes on.

When I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she quickly replied “a vet.”

Just as quickly, she told me that her Mom knew by the time she was seven that Linzee would be a writer. Despite her mother’s wisdom and insight, it wasn’t until she was an adult that she went back to school to pursue a degree in journalism.

While she learned to sew and make garments at a young age, she didn’t make her first quilt until fifteen years ago. She caught up quickly, making eleven quilts that first year.  What remained a constant was a love for textiles, especially because of the role they played in women's lives.

Linzee at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the opening of an exhibit featuring quilts included in her book, Art Quilts of the Midwest.  This is one of several quilt exhibits based on her book.  She was a Guest Curator for the Iowa Quilt Museum in Winterset, founded by Marianne Fons.  When she made her first quilt using a pattern from Fons & Porter magazine, Linzee never expected to be working with Marianne putting together an exhibit at her museum.

But taking risks and being open to new opportunities is something she's always done - has tried to push herself to do more of.

A decade-long fascination with feed sacks culminated in writing Feed Sacks: A Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric, published by Uppercase in 2016.


When I asked her why she loves feed sacks, Linzee replied, "I love the huge range of fabrics - more than 18,000 documented prints and colorways - that reflect nearly forty years of fabric design, ranging from sweet little floral prints to graphic geometrics.  Just when I think I've seen them all, I find another surprising pattern on the shelf of an antique store or in a quilt block.

These are a few of the feed sacks in Linzee's collection that were used in the Feed Sack book.

"I'm inspired by the talented designers of feed sacks who largely labored in obscurity, but I'm most deeply inspired by the women who stitched clothing, curtains, diapers and dishtowels from them.  I want to pay homage to them.  Often of necessity, they wasted absolutely nothing, but within those parameters, they created quilts, clothing, and domestic textiles of great beauty."

Did she ever think she’d be designing fabric for Moda? No. But she didn't expect to publish two books within a few years either.  She has a busy life - married to her husband, Paul, for forty years; two grown daughters - smart, funny, independent young women; and many friends.  She's in book clubs, a Scrabble club, knits, works at a quilt shop, teaches and probably about fifty other things she forgot to mention.

She loves spending time kayaking, gardening, taking pictures - she was a yearbook photographer in high school - and relaxing at a family cabin in Minnesota.

Would you pass this up to work?

But Linzee's motto is "when someone presents you with an opportunity, grab it!"

So when Cheryl Freydberg, Moda's Director of Design, asked Linzee if she'd be interested in designing a line of Feed Sacks for Moda, Linzee's husband said "You can't not do this!"

After all, Linzee already had an extensive collection of feed sacks from which to draw inspiration.

How lovely is this?

Her debut collection is Feed Sacks: True Blue.  Keeping the collection in a single colorway was inspired by the feed sack collections at the Briscoe Center for American History in Austin, Texas, where Linzee did research for her book.  She wrote, "Librarians brought indistinguishable grey boxes from the stacks and inside each box were page after page of feed sack swatches arranged in color order.  I loved just sitting and admiring the dozens of green or red or orange swatch pages - I'd fan them out on the desk in front of me."

Choosing blue for the first collection was easy.

These are a few of the prints in Linzee's Feed Sacks: True Blue collection for Moda - swatches from the strike-offs.

"I selected blue for my first collection because I grew up in a house of blue - as a child, I ate off blue dishes, walked on a blue carpet, and was frequently dressed in blue clothing sewn by my blue-loving mother.  Blue is comforting, classic and modern all at the same time".

More of Feed Sacks: True Blue - coming at Fall Market, shipping April 2018.

To learn more about Linzee:

We'll be sharing more about True Blue in the coming weeks and months but for now, Feed Sacks: True Blue will debut at Fall Quilt Market in a few weeks, and it will be in shops in April.

Unless I keep it all for myself.

Happy Thursday!

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