Crystal grew up in northern Missouri where she discovered a passion for art. After working as a graphic designer for 10 years, she began using her art and design skills to create surface and textile patterns and in 2015, she ordered her first sewing machine and began teaching herself how to sew. Despite stepping on pins and befriending the seam ripper, sewing and fabric design quickly became a new passion for her.
Since 2017, Crystal has been designing fabric for Moda Fabrics. Encouraging sewists to make their own clothing; her fourth collection releases this spring with prints in rayon and cotton. Crystal also designs quilt patterns to compliment her collections, establishing her voice in the quilting industry
Crystal currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri where she continues to create new designs for licensing. Nature is her favourite source of inspiration, as she loves flowers, birds and cheerful colours with a vintage vibe. Some of Crystal’s fabric can be found in our shop here: Eclectic Maker
Who/what inspired you to take up sewing and how old were you?
I started sewing in 2015 when I started designing fabric through Spoonflower. I really wanted to make garments out of my own designs. For the most part I taught myself how to sew with online videos and tutorials.
Who can you remember doing your first sewing with?
When I first got my sewing machine, I took it to my sister’s house so she could show me the ropes with a few simple projects. I remember we tried to make an infinity scarf and it touched the floor when she put it on. Oh my, we laughed until we cried.
What is the first thing you made?
Another early project was pajama pants for my husband. I think I got the crotch and waist mixed up when I was sewing the legs together. Again, I laughed until I cried. Reading patterns can be so hard! I really got acquainted with my seam ripper starting out.
What is your favourite type of stitch?
I use the straight stitch the most. Occasionally, when I quilt I like to use the wave stitch because it’s not as noticeable if you are slightly off.
What type of sewing projects do you prefer?
I like to make garments in the summer that I can get done in a few hours and then wear out on the weekend! I have some vintage patterns that actually say on the front, “Make tonight, wear tomorrow!” That’s my thing.
What is your inspiration for your designs
Before designing fabric I used to plein air paint in my free time. I was always attracted to colour. I wanted to paint the redbuds in the spring, flowers in the summer and maples in the fall. Winter couldn’t get over fast enough!
My fabric designs come from nature as well and I like them to be colourful. I’m also inspired by studying the history of textiles in different regions of the world. I can see myself becoming a collector.
What do you consider your best piece of work
This is a hard question, I always want what I’m currently working on to better than the last. Right now my favourite piece of work is my Botanica collection that will be releasing this fall.
What is your very favourite thing that you have made
My favourite garment that I’ve recently made is the Charlie Caftan by Closet Case Patterns using the Botanica Rayon. I actually have three of these caftans because they are so comfortable to wear.
What is your favourite tool or gadget?
My favourite tool is the timer on my phone. I use it to divide up my day so I don’t devote too much time in one area. I can get in the habit of not allowing myself enough time to design.
Do you have a favourite colour to work in
My favourite colour to work with is teal. I sometimes think of it as my neutral because it looks great with other colours and it has a nice vintage feel to it.
What type of fabric would you choose to work with?
Anything Moda of course, it’s the best!
Do you prefer hand work or machine work?
I prefer to work with my machine, however, hand stitching is a technique on my bucket list because I love the texture and design it adds to a quilt.
What’s your dream sewing machine
I’m really happy with the one I have, it’s a Janome Memory Craft 8200. It’s quite an improvement from my first sewing machine; I just wish it could clean my house too.
My advice to a newbie would be …………………..?
Despite the opinion of others, always stay true to yourself.
Who (famous person alive or historical) would you love to create something for?
If my grandmother were still living I would love to make a quilt for her using colourful floral prints. She also loved vibrant colors in her house and clothing.
What’s your best sewing background music?
I enjoy all genres as long as it is upbeat. I must have happy beats.
Are you an early riser or a night bird – when is the best time for you to sew?
I’ve always been a night owl. I actually prefer to start my day with a little sewing or computer work and design in the evening.
What other hobbies or interests do you enjoy?
When the weather is nice my husband and I like to play tennis and golf. I also enjoy going to art galleries, trying new restaurants, painting and reading murder mysteries.
Do you make things for other people?
Yes, it’s usually for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary. I’ve given paintings and quilts to my family. This painting was a birthday gift to my sister who lives in Kansas where the sunflower is the state flower
Who in the sewing or crafting world do you most admire?
I admire Kaffe Fasset’s use of colour. He speaks my language.
Crystal Manning’s new fabric range is Botanical – Moda Fabrics which will arrive in the UK after its US launch in Oct 2019