Inspiration for designing kitchen fabric

The creative process for designing is different for every artist and mine has evolved over the years. The kitchen fabric design shown in this post resulted from an art licensing request for a vintage kitchen collection. And for me, this illustrates how the creative process for designing fabric patterns begins.

When I first began creating design collections I filled sketchbooks with drawings and ideas for designs.  I now find that creating a digital design mood board is a great way to start the creative process.


Using my archives for vintage style inspiration,  I chose several of my watercolor paintings of apples, cherries, pie and homemade jelly that are reminiscent of my Grandma’s wonderful kitchen.  I then selected a color palette that was complimentary to the illustrations and added coordinating patterns, such as gingham checks, dots, stripes and timeworn textures that worked together visually..

To balance the colors and illustrations I added vintage black and white line art and early 1900s typography from garden catalogs.  I also scanned a recipe page from my Grandma’s cookbook.  I then began creating a layout in Photoshop, making sure the design would tile as a repeat pattern.

Vintage kitchen fabric pattern ©Vicky Howard

When creating this type of design it’s important to balance the colors and patterns in a way where they won’t appear side by side in a repeat.  For example I didn’t want the red to repeat next to red, or checks next to checks.  It’s similar to putting together a puzzle with lots of pieces or photoshop layers in this case.  And like a puzzle, it can be time consuming to finish!


I created this coordinating pattern of fruit labels using the same images, patterns and colors.  I added a few extra fruit paintings and a vintage fruit die-cut to give it variety.  I love a design fusion of vintage and new!

The next step is to send the designs to the client for their direction and input.  And happily, the designs were selected and produced!


I used the finished product to sew a simple curtain for a vintage or country kitchen.  I turned down the top edge and formed a sleeve to slide onto a curtain rod and used Liquid Stitch for the hem.  Easy!


Another DIY project I made from the fabric is a set of potholders.  An inexpensive gift and especially nice when paired with a homemade pie!

I cut a square of the fabric along with pieces the same size of Warm & Natural needled cotton batting and a coordinating fabric for the back.  I sandwiched the fabrics together with the design on top, batting in the middle and backing fabric on the bottom.

I pinned them together so they wouldn’t slip as I sewed along the outlines of each square-creating a patchwork quilt look.

To finish the raw edges, I used black double fold, extra wide bias tape and top stitched it on the potholder.  It’s ready for a homemade pie straight out of the oven!


In case you’re wondering if I baked this beautiful pie, I didn’t.  My Grandma was the baker in our family and made incredible pies from scratch, using cherries she picked from a tree on their farm.  She never used a recipe (not that I could duplicate it) and I’ve never had pie that tasted as good as hers!

The faux cherry pie in the photos is actually a decorative pie made from salt dough that I purchased over 20 years ago!   I keep it under a glass cloche and the appearance of a homemade cherry pie brings back lovely memories of my Grandma every time I see it.

Another reminder of her is the Fresh Pies design I created and framed as shown above, and it’s available here as a free printable for your kitchen.  I painted the watercolor illustration, and the recipe background is the recipe page I scanned from Grandma’s cookbook.  Wonderful memories of her will always influence my art and fill my kitchen and heart with joy!!


The printable is for personal use only.  Print quality will depend on your printer and laser printers will produce the best results in color and detail.  Laser printers are available at FedEx Office centers, and your local copy centers and office supply stores.




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