T Lo Interviews Wonderland Jay
Jay McCarroll has two new lines of fabrics coming out (“Garden Friends” and “Woodland Wonderland”), so we took him out to lunch at the Thai place down the street from us and when the three of us weren’t admiring our adorable waiter, we asked him about it.
So, why a line of fabrics?
I’ve been on this path of trying to get back where I was before Project Runway and I really had to dig to find why I was in this world, so, it basically came down to a level of fabric and color and texture. My sister is a quilter and I expressed to her my desire to do a fabric line. I was making one-of-a-kind little things like greeting cards using other people’s fabrics and I always thought “Hey, I wish I could do this with my own fabrics.” My sister helped me contact Westminster Fibers and ask if they’d be interested in me doing a line and they were all for it. It was very easy, actually.
Quilting’s a big thing in your family, isn’t it?
My sister’s been quilting my whole life. My mother is more of a sewer. My sister edits quilt books and she’s made quilts my whole life. We spent lots of time going to Lancaster County as a child. I remember going to quilt stores as a ten-year-old boy and being fascinated with all that stuff. My sister definitely got me interested in it and she makes absolutely perfect quilts. She has a line of bags called “Love Tomato” and actually one of my fabrics is called “Love Tomatoes”, which is a little cherry tomato fabric print.
I went to the Quilt Market in Houston. I actually bumped into Vanessa Riley from season one. I went out to dinner with her. It was awesome to go to her store. She’s doing really well. Anyway, Quilt Market is the biggest market of its type in the country and it was great to see what people are doing and creating. Everybody was nice and friendly, so welcoming. It’s an event to show the new fabrics of the season. It happens twice a year and the next one is in May in Pittsburgh.
Is that part of why this appeals to you? To see what people are “doing and creating” with something you designed?
Frankly, I’m not really interested in the timing of fashion, of every six months having to be new and fresh and young and relevant and sexy. This is more like ‘here’s the fabric, do something with it.’ It’s much more interesting to me. I’m kind of a flat thinker, I’m not a draping-around-the-body kind of designer, I don’t see thing in a three-dimensional way, so, two-dimensional fabric really makes sense for how I work. Great colors, fun, unidentifiable graphics in a two-dimensional format, it’s really perfect for me.
I’m interested in the whole Etsy world, which is a place where people who are unknown and young can handcraft one-of-a-kind products and I thought, “These are the fabrics that I want these creative people to be using.” I want people to take my fabric and make little monsters out of them, quilts, clothes for their kids, even pillows for their TV room [TLo: we had said we were thinking of using some of his fabrics for our TV room].
It’s about encouraging creativity. I’m not telling someone “Here’s what I’ve decided this fabric should be used, in the shape it should be worn on your body” and so on. Go make curtains out of it, make a dress; do whatever you want.
What’s the process for creating a fabric? How does that work?
My friend Emily Goodwin-Wong, who I work with, she’s a textile designer and went to Philadelphia University as well, we kind of collaborated on this, she helped me with all the computer aspects of it, she was a huge help. I sketch everything by hand, and then I work with my friend Emily, who formats it into a 26-inch repeat, then we discuss color, and we fill in the blocks and the dots.
How did you come up with your designs?
I kind of gauged the market to see what’s happening. I was always drawn to buying cute, graphic-y fabrics. They’re not fashion fabrics per se, they’re more quilting and home décor. I dug back into what kind of fabrics I liked, these kind of seventies, nostalgic, cute, Japanese-y patterns. I collect these little deers and bunnies at my house and I was looking at them and thought they would be so cute as fabric.
Where and when can people buy them?
The fabrics are being sold in New Zealand, Japan, and other countries; they’re technically not out until February, but some stores got them early. By February you will see them in many places.
Lunch was wrapping up and Jay had the idea to take us to a store here in Philly that already has the fabric line on their shelves. We agreed, but we had one more question while we were waiting for the check.
Before we go, we have to ask the one thing that everybody asks us about you: Are you coming out with any new product for your online store?
Working on some designs for my spring line for my store. More items for men; stuff made out of the fabric line, like skirts and tops. It’s coming.
And with that, we headed off to Spool, which is a fabulously chic local fabric store we’d never been to before. We met owners Laura Singewald and Craig Rosenfeld. We asked Laura for her thoughts on Jay’s line. “Jay and I, I think, are right around the same age, we’re children of the seventies, all these prints are so nostalgic to me, but the color sense is much more modern and fun. They’re great for kids and they’re great for adults. As soon as we saw them – the bugs, the trees, the deers – we just knew that our customers would love them. It goes with what we already have at the store, but it is really different. It offers something new for our customers, so we had to get it. And he’s from Philly!”
Spool is having a launch party for Jay’s line later this month. “On January 30th, from 5 to 8 p.m., we’re kicking off our monthly Stitch Party where our customers can come and show and tell, see new products, just have fun and get to know each other, and Jay has kindly agreed to come and kick off with us. He’s going to be bringing samples and it’ll be a lot of fun.”
We’ll be there! Local PRG minions should drop everything and come! Spool is located at 1912 South Street in Philadelphia, PA.
And just look at these!
Aren’t they the cutest fucking thing you’ve ever seen?