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Meet Moda Fabrics Designer Jackie MacDonald of Sweetfire Road

Have you ever wondered what fuels the creative spark in some designers and leads them down a career path that might never have crossed their mind previously? Is it intuitive or is it pure happenstance? We're going to find out how Jackie MacDonald of Sweetfire Road became a Moda Fabrics fabric designer.

Hi, it's Carolyn Beam here again; I'm the editor of Quilter's World magazine and the person who writes this update. Thanks for joining me as I share my thoughts about quilting with you. As always, I'd love to hear ideas and suggestions from you as well.

Before I introduce you to Jackie, I have selected a pattern book that I think will be of interest to you. I'm recommending Springtime Quilts. So much of our country was blanketed in snow and cold temperatures recently that I thought some colorful spring quilts would be a nice reminder of warmer days to come.

In the Quilter's World spring 2021 issue, we featured a pattern called Flowers for Larry and mentioned a bonus pillow pattern that uses leftover triangles cut when using the stitch-and-flip method to make units for the quilt. You can find the instructions for that pillow at the end of this update!

Flowers for Larry quilt -- click here for larger image Bonus pillow from Flowers for Larry -- click here for larger image
Flowers for Larry quilt. Bonus pillow from Flowers for Larry.

And now, let's hear from Jackie in her own words!

Jackie MacDonald
Jackie MacDonald.

Hello! I'm Jackie MacDonald of Sweetfire Road. I'm so pleased to be one of the newest designers on board with Moda Fabrics.

A little about me: I am from rural Virginia and grew up near the Blue Ridge mountains. As a child, the countryside road that led the way home was dotted with apple orchards and Queen Anne's lace. It will always influence my art, I think, with memories of its beauty. Today, I live with my husband, Neil, and our son, Sammy, in a lovely quintessential New England town in Maine. We are surrounded by such gorgeous natural beauty with both the forest and the sea nearby. I have been blessed to live in some lovely and inspirational locations.

What sparks my creativity? I was creative as a child and loved all sorts of projects. I especially loved making my own doll clothes and creating shoebox dollhouses from cut-up catalogs. I think I've always been drawn to all things creative and colorful that help make my home comfortable and an extension of my personality. I love evoking beautiful, nostalgic memories and connecting with people through my art. I believe we all crave connection, so I try to create color palettes and motifs that bring to mind shared experiences that we've all loved, such as tending a garden, strolling in the woods, berry picking, etc.

My degree is in family and consumer sciences (more popularly known as home economics!). At school I learned the basics of color theory, design and clothing/soft goods construction, and I loved every minute of my coursework. I made my first Log Cabin block in home-ec class and I was so proud of it! After school, I did product development for the toy industry primarily (Swimways, Magic Cabin, Lillian Vernon), but I also worked in the fragrance industry and created a line of homekeeping goods (laundry soap, soaps, lotions, fragrance sprays, candles). To this day, I still love creating my own blends of fragrant solid perfumes, hand balms and candles. I actually started Sweetfire Road selling solid perfumes to local gift shops in the area. I've always loved the way people connect to happy memories via scent. Now, it is a great passion of mine to continue to make that connection with people through my art. It's such a gift to see my art come to life on fabric, and seeing my fabric as a part of a cherished quilt is absolutely the most rewarding gift of all.

I came into fabric design through my product development background. I worked in the consumer goods industry, and I admired how the design artists on my team intuitively knew how to create art that appealed to our customers' tastes. I loved the thought of immersing myself in design as a career, and I'm forever glad I made the switch to this industry. Fabric was a natural pick for me because I enjoy creating soft goods such as curtains, pillows, table runners for my own home. I also vividly remember visiting my granny at the local fabric store where she worked and being in awe of the colors and pretty prints. She brought me home a vendor's book of pattern swatches to play with and it became a treasured toy for me. I still have it! I submitted three collections showcasing my artwork personality to Moda Fabrics and they accepted two out of those three collections. I was absolutely elated!

My brand's name, Sweetfire Road, was born of the notion to always lead with kindness (be sweet) and have a passion (fire) for design work. And I strive to create artwork that "leads you home" -- just like an old, familiar country road. I would describe my style as nostalgic, romantic and illustrative, with a touch of wonder. Colors that I use in my art are often inspired by Mother Nature. Earthy, autumnal tones such as steely gray, garnet red, inky blue, moss, rust, honey, blush and plum are my personal favorites. I love to create my artwork from flowers and plants in my own garden or from my imagination. I sketch mostly with paper and pencil, and then I enjoy bringing my patterns to life using Adobe Illustrator.

My first two collections for Moda are Break of Day and Through the Woods. Break of Day ships to shops in late March/April, 2021. It has a sunny disposition and tells the story of life on a farm. The colors are bright, warm and welcoming.

Break of Day by Sweetfire Road -- click here for larger image Break of Day Jelly Roll -- click here for larger image
Break of Day by Sweetfire Road. Break of Day Jelly Roll.
Chicken Coop designed by Jackie MacDonald and Natalie Crabtree -- click here for larger image Break of Day -- click here for larger image
Chicken Coop designed by Jackie MacDonald and Natalie Crabtree. Break of Day.
Here Chick, Chick designed by Jackie MacDonald and Jennifer Long -- click here for larger image Break of Day -- click here for larger image
Here Chick, Chick designed by Jackie MacDonald and Jennifer Long. Break of Day.

Through the Woods is more mysterious and takes you on a nighttime stroll through the forest under the watchful gaze of an owl. It features a more sophisticated palette of honeyed golds and smoky birch grays. Through the Woods ships to your local quilt shop in July of 2021. I look forward to seeing what gorgeous projects and keepsakes are created with them!

Through the Woods -- click here for larger image Through the Woods detail -- click here for larger image
Through the Woods. Through the Woods detail.
Birch Branches designed by Jackie MacDonald and Jennifer Long -- click here for larger image Birch Branches designed by Jackie MacDonald and Jennifer Long -- click here for larger image
Birch Branches designed by Jackie MacDonald and Jennifer Long.
Owl See You designed by Wendy Sheppard -- click here for larger image Owl See You Kit designed by Wendy Sheppard @ivory_spring -- click here for larger image
Owl See You designed by Wendy Sheppard. Owl See You Kit designed by Wendy Sheppard @ivory_spring.

My creative goals for this year include continuing to create new art and to work on learning how to quilt so that I can really connect with quilters and understand their wants and needs. I warmly welcome you to follow along with my journey on Instagram @sweetfireroad or via my website at www.sweetfireroad.com. And please be sure to tag me in your projects! I'm really looking forward to meeting you all and knowing you better.


Bonus Pillow Pattern for Flowers for Larry

This pattern uses half-square triangle units left over from making units for the Flowers for Larry quilt. Keep same-color HST units in sets of four. Though there are enough units to make 32 Pinwheel blocks, the pillow shown only requires 25 blocks (that is, 25 sets of four same-color units). If you prefer, you can make all 32 blocks and use them to make a wall hanging, doll quilt or other design. Instructions given are for 25 blocks.

Notes: Read all instructions before beginning. Sew pieces together with right sides facing using a 1/4" seam allowance. Press HST unit seams toward the tonal fabric. Carefully trim each HST unit to 1 1/2" square after pressing, keeping the seam centered.

1. Pair four matching units. Arrange units in two rows of two units each as shown. Sew together in pairs by nesting the opposing seams. Press all seams in the same direction.

Pinwheel rows -- Click here for larger image
Pinwheel rows -- Click here for larger image
Pinwheel rows.

2. Join pairs into a completed Pinwheel block as shown. Press final seam open. Repeat steps to make 25 Pinwheel blocks.

Pinwheel block; make 25 -- Click here for larger image
Pinwheel block; make 25.

3. Lay out the Pinwheel blocks in five rows of five blocks each in a design that pleases you and sew them together into rows. Sew the rows together to complete the pillow center.
4. Cut side border strips in desired width x 10 1/2" long; the length of the top/bottom border strips depends on the chosen width of the side borders. For example, if the chosen cut border width is 2 1/2", top/bottom borders will need to be 2 1/2" x 14 1/2" long [10" + (2 x 2 1/4")]. This will yield a 14 1/2"-square unfinished pillow top. Sew border strips to sides and then to the top and bottom of the pillow center to complete the pillow top.
5. If you are concerned about the edges of the Pinwheel blocks fraying when you launder the pillow cover, cut a square piece of muslin or light fabric to the same size square as your finished top and sew it to the wrong side of the pillow top along raw edges. If you want a quilted top, place a same-size square of thin batting between the pillow top and muslin, and then quilt as desired before proceeding.
6. Using the pillow top unfinished size from step 4 as your desired dimensions, cut two matching pillow back pieces using this formula: width of unfinished pillow top x 1/2 height of unfinished pillow top + 3". For example, for a 14 1/2"-square unfinished pillow, the two pieces would be 14 1/2" x 10 1/4".
7. Fold a long edge of each back piece over 1/4" and again 1/2". Press and sew along the fold to create a finished edge. Note: If you are using directional fabric, be sure to lay the pieces out correctly first.
8. Place the pillow top on a flat surface, right side up. Place one pillow back piece right side down on the pillow top, aligning the raw edges and the bottom corners. Place remaining pillow back piece on top, right side down, aligning the raw edges and the top corners. Note: The hemmed edges of the back pieces should overlap at the center. Pin the layers all the way around the outer edges.
9. Straight-stitch around all four sides. Sew around all four sides again with a zigzag or over-edge stitch to keep the fabric from fraying.
10. Turn the cover right side out and place a pillow insert inside. Now you're finished!

Bonus Pinwheel Pillow -- Click here for larger image
Bonus Pinwheel Pillow.

I hope you'll stop by again to see what we have up our sleeves! Please feel free to email me at Editor@QuiltersWorld.com with your ideas and suggestions.

Please stay safe and healthy!

Take care,


Carolyn Beam

Carolyn Beam
Editor, Quilter's World magazine

Carolyn has been quilting for over 40 years. She took her first class when her oldest son was a baby and hasn't stopped since. She has traveled the country teaching and lecturing and has had many designs published in books and magazines. Besides making quilts for family and friends, she also makes quilts to donate to the fire department her youngest son works for. Carolyn is married with three grown sons and one adorable grandson.

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