Designing Our Original Textiles: Mia Whittemore

Designing Our Original Textiles: Mia Whittemore

If you know Mata Traders, you’re aware that we’re known for our original prints. About a year before a collection launches, we start developing textile designs that will be tweaked to perfection over the following couple months. The process isn’t always easy, but it’s fascinating to see a print’s journey from start to finish. We know fall isn’t here yet, but it’s coming soon, so why not show you a print to get excited about?

Fall Florals: A Print is Designed

For our upcoming fall collection, we were so excited to collaborate with Mia Whittemore, and artist best known for her whimsical hand painted florals. The instant we saw a page in her sketchbook, we knew she’d bring some amazing skills to the table – Mia sells prints on Etsy and at craft markets in Boston, designed fabric for Windham Fabrics, and she even did a collaboration with Anthropologie (!).

This week, we asked her to walk us through her process of collaborating on a print for the Mata Traders Fall 2018 Collection:

From Painting to Digital

I almost always begin my pattern designs from my watercolor paintings. Sometimes I will sketch out a few ideas in pencil on scrap paper, but generally I prefer to dive right in by painting a variety of flowers and other pattern elements that I’ll narrow down later in the process. I find that painting tends to focus my mind and also keeps things a little bit looser.

When I’m painting, sometimes I look at different images I’ve saved throughout the years for a dose of inspiration. I keep a bunch of image collections related to topics such as folk art, flowers/botanicals, and my favorite artists, like Matisse and Van Gogh.

the original watercolor print

When I’m happy with what I’ve painted, I scan my artwork and bring the file into either Photoshop or Illustrator. I tend to use Photoshop to keep the painterly look of my designs and I am also better versed in Photoshop since it’s what I use to edit other painting work. For my Mata patterns, I also used Illustrator – it allows for easy color changes, which are quite useful for pattern designing!

some color changes are made

Arranging the Print

Once I have selected and edited the elements to use for my pattern, I begin the most satisfying part: arranging! I move things around until I decide on a layout that works for me. This part of pattern making can take hours but the satisfaction from a completed pattern makes it all worth it! I do have certain considerations that I keep in mind when I’m creating patterns intended for wear, but I mainly focus on scale and color, so the pattern will be fun yet practical for everyday wear.

the pattern is brought into Illustrator and the print is simplified

Here’s what we ended up with, and its use on two pieces in the fall collection:

the final print


the Bella dress

the Mandarin shirtdress

Working with designers each season brings a fresh outlook to our collections, and it’s even better when we can share their process with our customers!