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How Janet Clare's and April Rosenthal's Kids Inspire Creativity

How Janet Clare's and April Rosenthal's Kids Inspire Creativity

Written by: 
Linzee McCray

Balancing work and parenting is challenging as they don't always mix. Children, both little and large, have their own set of needs that don’t always coincide with phone calls, meetings, and deadlines. But it’s also true that children can inspire creativity and bring opportunity. Here are two Moda fabric designers who have had just such experiences.

Janet Clare:

My boys (19 and 16 now) have had a huge influence on my creative practice. In fact, I only have the business I do now because I wanted to stay home with them and not go back to being a primary school teacher. I started teeny tiny with a handful of patterns in an Etsy shop which I used to print on demand: Fast forward 12 years and here we are!

Janet Clare and son in book photo

My designs have grown and changed alongside the boys. Lots of my early quilts are about farm animals, sheep, dinosaurs, etc. I wrote ‘Hearty Good Wishes’ and asked them to write a book review each—Henry’s was predictably hilarious! The illustrations I made for the book were the exact ones I sent to Cheryl [Moda’s design director]. I sent her a brown paper parcel of original paintings and drawings for her consideration and amazingly she said ‘Yes!’

Back cover reviews Hearty Good Wishes

Some of my happiest childhood memories are of the coast as I grew up not far from Dover. My boys have always loved the coast too and I hope they will have the same fond memories of our time there as I do. Creativity and inspiration come to me as I am going about my life, and as the boys are growing and changing so do the things they are introducing me to—the books we read, the films we watch, and the places we go.

‘A Field Guide’ book and fabric collection was inspired by their curiosity cabinet, where they saved shells, stones, feathers, and anything else they could find. I have revisited this theme in my in-shops-next-week Botanicals fabric collection.

Field Guide Curio Cabinet Janet Clare

Joe drew the flying saucers in my sketchbook whilst I was designing Nocturne and I asked Moda to use them for the colour registration dots on the selvedges. They have made a re-appearance on the selvedges of my new ‘Astra’ fabric collection. Astra was inspired by the boys’ fascination with the recent Space X mission to Mars, which we all watched live as a family.

CT Linzee with Janet & April - Astra

I thought if my two were interested in it than others would be, and got sketching again.

Janet Clare Astra selvedge

I try to design classic, uncluttered fabric which appeals to boys and menfolk and anyone who doesn’t want a traditional floral. I like a limited colour palette, small scale prints, and geometric designs. These also happen to be the only fabrics my boys like, too, which is probably not a coincidence.

Janet Clare's Botanical fabric

I’ve always said the I’m a Mum first and business woman second and I’m pleased to say that I have proved this to myself over and over. My priorities are straight and I’m very grateful to have the ability to drop everything and focus on my boys and home life whenever I need or want to. This past hard year has taught us all a great deal about what matters in life. I shall never take for the granted the privileged position I am in—as long as I have a pen and paper I can be designing and creating. My best ideas often come to me when I am ‘just’ being a Mum- those slow rambling walks with pockets of shells, feathers and leaves have turned themselves into many pieces of fabric.

April Rosenthal:

My kids have been a profound influence on my work since the very beginning, even influencing my decision to work in the quilting industry in the first place.

April Rosenthal head shot

When I decided to start pursuing textile design, my twins were just 18 months old--and I was at home with them. I had always been creative and loved art and textiles, but was dissuaded from pursuing those in my degree--so my education and work had been in unrelated industries (linguistics and then investment banking), and those career paths weren't accommodating to raising my sweet babies. Once during naptime, I came across a blogger who talked about designing fabric for Moda--and it was an obvious perfect fit. I could be artistic and creative, and still love on my babies 24/7. I began researching (my super power) and decided to carry out a five-year plan to make myself knowledgeable and have the skills it would take to design for Moda, too. And that's what I did.

April Rosenthal and family

When my twins were in kindergarten, they both told their class they wanted to be "Quilters for Moda" when they grew up (that has since changed, lol) and they have earned lots of their spending money stuffing pattern bags, bundling orders, and more recently, sewing quilt samples for me. They look forward to helping more as paid employees and helpers at Quilt Market.

Both my older kids can sew, and Lily has recently started sewing many of my pattern samples. She is a skilled artist, and last year when I was working on the brainstorming phase for my next line, she brought me a sheet of paper with 10 to 12 line themes with small thumbnails of her print ideas. I had no idea she was paying such good attention! So, we decided to do the Love, Lily line, which was inspired by some of those thumbnails and her youthful approach to color.

Lily holding Love Lily April Rosenthal fabric line

It was so fun to talk to her about individual prints, get her input on colors, and have her by my side through the process of creating what is now my favorite line. She also designed the quilt pattern Stacked Rainbow to accompany the line—in her words, it's a quilt that she would put on her bed.

April Rosethal Stacked Rainbow quilt pattern


Now, my other children (my son, and my 6-year-old daughter) insist that they get to help with a line next, so I'm excited to work with them too!

Hazel, my youngest (seen below with April's Homestead collection), is an adoring Moda fan, and looks through every Piece catalog and tells me to tell my friends “Good job!” on their collections.

April Rosenthal's Homestead line with daughter Hazel

It won't be long before she is bringing me sketches of her collection ideas and quilt pattern ideas. She has been to market twice as an infant, and can't wait till she gets to go as a teen.

Look for Astra by Janet Clare and Love, Lily by April Rosenthal in stores this coming fall!