Some of the many joys of working in the interior industry are the new fabric designs that are launched each year and exciting new Interior Fabric Designers that I discover. One of the Designers is Jacqueline Milton, a British fabric designer, based here in Somerset, offering her own elegant and quintessentially English collection of linen fabrics for the home, all based on Jacqueline’s original paintings and floral studies.
Jacqueline lives a short drive away from me, and we decided to meet up for lunch. Alongside the usual laughter, good food and catching up, we also discussed all things ‘interiors’ and ‘fabrics’ and much more!
Jacqueline’s career is fascinating and very artistic, so here is a little bit of insight in to the world of a designer, Jacqueline’s career, art and her fabric designs.
Jacqueline’s Career so far…
From an early age, I’ve enjoyed drawing. At college I wanted to be a cartographer or an illustrator, but I was lucky enough to become a designer for Axminster Carpets, in Devon. I can only describe my early days there as the equivalent of an apprenticeship. Learning the basics was the best thing that ever happened. I loved it, and it gave me a good understanding of pattern, pattern repeat and the restraints of design in relation to manufacturing. And now, with 30 years’ experience in the interiors industry working as a designer, it seemed a natural progression to produce my own collection and the digital era has made that happen.
How do you start designing a new collection and what inspires you?
The design process starts with sketches and once an idea starts to germinate, I will draw it into a repeat pattern. This is quite a mathematical process. The pattern must match top to bottom to produce a continuous roll. And it must also match side to side. Once I’m happy with the placement, I will mix the paints for the final piece of work; this is the fun bit! I use a variety of mediums – water-based paints, inks and pencil are my favourites.
The finished painting will be converted to a digital file in my studio.In all, the design process takes about 3 weeks, but that is just the beginning. It takes time to decide on the final colours and to ensure that the new patterns link to the existing fabrics. Each new fabric must work on its own and also with the other fabrics, like one big family.
I will spend several months testing different colours on linen. The process of launching a new collection from start to finish will take 6 months to a year. There’re always a few challenges along the way, but it’s exciting seeing the finished fabrics emerge all that time after the initial sketches!
My work is hugely influenced by my surroundings. I know that sounds cliché but it’s true for a lot of creative people. Miles of hedgerows bursting with life, orchards, crops and rolling hills. I’m constantly inspired by the effortless combinations in nature and my collections are based on just a few of my studies.
Tell me a little bit about your collections
I offer a collection of printed linens based on my original paintings and floral studies. I use cloth which has been carefully sourced in Scotland. There was so much choice but I finally settled on a linen cotton blend which is beautifully soft and perfect for things like curtains, cushions and blinds.
Once woven, the cloth is sent to Lancashire for printing using the latest technology.
My collections have been designed to mix and match using a palette of gentle, chalky colours. The patterns range from florals to simple pinstripes and bees.
There is a common theme with my work and that is my love of flora and fauna. I like to add an insect or two into a floral design so there’s an element of surprise.
What is your vision for Jacqueline Milton fabrics?
We are not mass market, we never will be, but we appeal to people keen to create a relaxed country feel. As long as I can design fabrics that continue to appeal, I am happy with that!
My next job will be to prepare for upcoming shows and possibly an open studio event later in the year. There’s always plenty going on in the studio and I’ve already started planning out new designs, but it will be a little while before we see the final fabrics.