Designer Interview: Q & A With Sarah Frederking

Sarah Frederking

Today we’re excited to continue the new series on the Studioe blog! Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing exclusive interviews with the designers for Studioe. The designer being interviewed today is the wonderful Sarah Frederking. Learn more about who she is and the wonderful designs she creates. 

Q. Where are you from?  Where did you grow up?  Where do you live?

A.  I grew up in West Hartford, CT and lived out east until I left for college, and landed my first job in Advertising in Chicago right after college. I now live in Berwyn, Il which is about 10 minutes west of Chicago.

Q. Family?  Pets?

A. I have two grown children. My daughter lives in Copenhagen with her husband and my first grandchild, and my son lives in Chicago. I had a wonderful dog Casey for about 15 years, and a cat for 21 years. I absolutely love dogs, but do not have one now.

Q. Background as far as education and jobs?

A. I studied Graphic Design and Advertising in college at Miami University of Ohio. Upon graduating I started as an Art Director at Leo Burnett, and stayed there a few years before leaving to pursue my own business of custom Hand-lettering, I had a wonderful business of creating custom lettering and logotypes for advertising agencies and design studios nationwide for about 20 years until computers took over much of that work.  At that point I turned to surface pattern design, exhibiting at Surtex for many years in a row and gaining licenses in a variety of areas from greeting cards and gift wrap, to kitchen and bath textiles, photo albums and more.

Q. What other products do you license for? 

A. My designs have been licensed for a variety of applications including greeting cards, gift wraps,paper products, photo albums, kitchen and bath textiles, office products, puzzles, rugs, tabletop  and other home accent products.

Q. Do you have any other jobs outside of licensing?

A. I took a position in Product Development for a major food gift manufacturer, and learned a lot about the manufacturing side of bringing products to market but missed doing my own work. Our privately owned company was bought out and with the change came lay-offs so I returned to what I really wanted to do again, which is what made me return to Surtex. So I have been exhibiting at Surtex again for the last two years, and I will be returning again in May.

Q. What inspires your lines?

A. Almost anything inspires my lines. Sometimes it is a simple challenge to myself to try something I hadn’t done before, which is how my farm friends started.  With that I have been doing Novelty items for you, and those have lead to other categories I wouldn’t have seen myself doing in the past,.Sometime it s a texture or a color combination  of something that inspires me to try something in that color story. Because I work in a variety of styles it is hard to say what inspires me overall. It can come from almost anywhere.

Q. Do you have a special place where you get your best work done?

A. I work primarily from my office but go mobile whenever necessary.  I can pack up my laptop, a small Wacom tablet and a couple of hard drives to stay productive on the move. 

Q. Do you have a memorable licensing or designing moments?

A. I have to say, I have had a lot of memorable moments with Megan, because I was absolutely new to quilting and designing for quilting when we met. We’ve had a a few laughs over some of my misconceptions of how it all comes together for quilting, but I am slowly but surely learning as we go along. I also remember when she first suggested that I would need to write a storybook for my first line. That was a new challenge I hadn’t thought of and had not expected. I have enjoyed pulling the books together as we start a series.I can think of a number of times in my licensing history when a customer has asked for something and I’ve had to go do the research on the request before tackling the assignment. Although I have an education in commercial art, I’ve had two major business that were basically built on just diving in and exploring various avenues until you figure it out. I guess that is much of what drives me.


I’ve also had some memorable results that come up in the manufacturing process where you learn how literally certain things might be interpreted. It makes you think as you design to avoid such outcomes depending what you are designing for and how it will be manufactured.

Q. Lessons learned over the years?

A. Wow, many lessons learned over the years.( However, I am talking basically licensing in general vs. quilting.) This is a tough business to break into, and it takes a while to get established, so you need to pay your dues, and it is not the business it once used to be. My former market is entirely different than my new market because my styles and my approach have changed. Research a lot to see what is trending in the market, and try to do your own take on what is out there, bringing something different to your work. Be yourself, as that is where the best work comes from in my mind. I love to explore new looks, and I try not to base if too much off of what is already out there. There are times I come up with things that might be way off base, or other times I hit on something that resonates with people. Someone once said that for every person who passes up your work for their products there is another customer looking for what you do. I like to remind myself of that all the time.

Q. What do you like about fabric?

A. I love the ability to explore different textures and finishes in fabrics and coming up with different color combinations. I love the warmth they bring to a room. I could get really lost in a home textiles show room trying to decide which way I want to go with all the choices. I would also like to explore making three dimensional objects or characters with fabrics. I enjoyed making a christmas stocking for my granddaughter recently, I had not sewn anything or crafted anything in a long time, and that was a lot of fun.

Q. How has your experience been working with our team while creating your lines?  How has your experience been with Studioe in general?

A. I have absolutely loved working with Megan on these lines. She has taught me a lot and has done so with a lot of patience!  We seen to work well collaboratively , and she will challenge me to do things I was not sure I was capable of, so that has been very fun. I also appreciate that Studio e promotes me and my brand along with the lines. 

Q. Do you have expectations when you put out a line?  i.e. what will work and what won’t work?  Are you ever surprised at what is successful and what isn’t?

A. I’m probably still a bit too new to this to comment on what my expectations are, but I try to trust you as the manufacturer when you make certain decisions on the line. I will speak up when I really feel strongly about something, and I appreciate that Megan is always open to listening and allowing me to come up with my thoughts on the lines.We bounce ideas off of one another.

Q. Do you quilt?  If not, what do you do with all the free fabric you get?

A. No, I do not quilt! I have given some of the fabric to friends who do quilt, and have offered it to those who might want to make a quilt or a project of their own. At this point I just love having the bolts of fabric stacked in my office. However as the next few lines come in, I will have to make more room. Fortunately I am at the age where my friends and I are becoming grandparents, so I have a grandchild who benefitted from the first farm friends quilt that my sister made. and we have given several of the storybooks as gifts.


Rebecca’s most recent line with Studioe is the adorable feline collection titled, A Cat Tale. View a few of the pieces below and click here to view the entire collection.


A Cat's Tale


Author: Scott Fortunoff

Author of Tales of 4th Generation Textile Executive Blog. President of Studioe Fabrics, The Blank Quilting Corp. and A.E. Nathan Co., Inc. Co-President of FreeSpirit Fabrics. V-P of Henry Glass Fabrics. President of Scott’s Free Sewing Machines. Creator of the #sewrevolution.