• March 2014

Fabric Designer Amy Barickman Loves to Design Modern Products With a Vintage Look

Artist Amy Barickman is the founder and owner of Indygo Junction, a company that publishes and markets sewing patterns and books to showcase the work of leading fabric and needle-arts designers.

“I have a passion for all things vintage and wanted to create a collection of fabric and hand-arts collected through years of antiquing,” Barickman says. This collection is the inspiration for much of her work, including the 15 fabric lines she has designed for Red Rooster Fabrics.”

With a knack for anticipating popular trends and new talent, Barickman has discovered more than 40 innovative artists and designers—a list that is ever-expanding.

Through her company, Amy Barickman, LLC, she has released 1,000 pattern titles and published 80 books, including these recent releases: “Amy Barickman’s Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion and Fun,” “Indygo Junction’s Fabric Flowers,” and “Indygo Junction’s Stitched Style.” Coming soon is, “Indygo Junction’s Dimensional Denim.”

Through her blogs, websites, and e-newsletters, Barickman inspires countless crafters to explore their own creative spirit and experiment with the newest sewing, fabric, and crafting techniques.

Scroll down for our Q&A.

Be Inkandescent: Tell us about how you got into the fashion business. Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

Amy Barickman: I began collecting vintage clothes at a very early age. It started when I would shop antique stores and estate sales with my mother. Once I started collecting, I couldn’t stop! I have a passion for vintage fabrics, quilts, sewing books, old patterns, buttons, and anything hand-crafted with needle and thread. I love to imagine the story behind each piece I collect. I am a firm believer in recycling and repurposing, so I enjoy taking vintage fabrics, handkerchiefs, or stitchery and repurposing them into something creative but in a modern way, such as purses, jackets, pillows, etc. What’s old is new again! My mantra is “Vintage Wisdom, Modern Voice” so I pay close attention what is going on with the new generation of DIYers, who seem to have such a fresh perspective and enthusiasm for creativity and hand-crafted ideas.

One of my favorite discoveries is the historical information that I uncovered several years ago about Mary Brooks Picken. Through much perseverance, I now have one of the largest collections of her work and have become an authority on Mary, who founded The Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences in the early 1900s.

With Mary as my muse, I wrote a book, Amy Barickman’s Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion, and Fun to reintroduce the wisdom, history, and charming fashion illustrations of Mary’s Women’s Institute’s newsletters, essays, and inspiring anecdotes that celebrate the domestic arts.

As the international authority of fashion and dressmaking of her era, Mary has many accolades including being a founding member of The Fashion Group, the international organization for those engaged in all phases of fashion work, as well as being one of the founding directors of the Costume Institute, now part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. See my blog at amybarickman.com to learn more about Mary’s life and work, my creative journey, and stories of our sewing sisters from past generations.

Be Inkandescent: Tell us about Indygo Junction. When did you open the doors, what is your niche, and how are things going?

Amy Barickman: I grew up immersed in the sewing and crafting business, spending hours in my mother’s creative arts retail store watching the business evolve with the trends. What started as a craft store ultimately grew into a multifaceted business that included women’s fashion, needlework, fabric, knitting and quilting, gifts, and classes. The seeds of entrepreneurism took root and I started my own business designing and marketing collectible teddy bears while I was still high school.

After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in Art and Design, I founded Indygo Junction in 1990 to publish and market sewing books and patterns and to showcase the work of leading sewing and craft designers. Through Indygo Junction, I have sold 2 million pattern titles, licensed craft kits, and fabric lines with top fabric, fashion, and novelty companies and published 80 books that have sold at stores throughout the United States and internationally.

Be Inkandescent: Your style is unique. How would you describe it? Who were your early influences?

Amy Barickman: Most of my work is vintage-inspired, but with a modern twist. Whether it be designing a fabric line—like my recent SoHo Bandana line, which was based on patterns in my vintage bandana collection—or an apron design for Indygo Junction, I love to look back to look forward when it comes to product development.

Be Inkandescent: How has your style evolved over the years?

Amy Barickman: Over the almost 25 years we have been in business, we have evolved to a more contemporary, modern style. We recently launched a new brand, Crossroads by Amy Barickman, a line of softened denim fabric, along with sewing patterns for fashion and home that reflect that style.

Be Inkandescent: What do you think is the most important lesson you learned about being a professional artist?

Amy Barickman: I like to think of myself as a curator and creative architect. I think the most important lesson I have learned is that ideas are only ideas until you have a team to make those a reality. Surrounding yourself with talented and passionate people is the key to making dreams for creative products become reality.

Be Inkandescent: What do you hope your legacy will be?

Amy Barickman: I hope my books and patterns continue to provide the content for the story of sewing and the meaning and enjoyment it can bring to peoples lives. The benefits are numerous—friendships forged, a connecting thread through generations in one family, an entrepreneurial skill that businesses can be built on. … Or just the joy found in the simple mantra, “I made it myself!”

Be Inkandescent: What was the most fantastic moment of your career?

Amy Barickman: Probably the most exciting moment was getting the phone call from a Country Living Magazine editor that I was chosen as one of its “Creative Women Entrepreneurs,” and was invited to sit on a panel with fellow entrepreneurs honored that year at their event in Chicago.

Be Inkandescent: Which award have you won that you cherish most?

Amy Barickman: I have won several book awards for my book, “Vintage Notions,” including the Independent Publishers Associations Book of the Year. I spent several years researching and writing the book, and then came the challenges of self-publishing, marketing, and promoting the book. Jokingly, I sometimes refer to “Vintage Notions” as my third child. To be honored for that journey was especially meaningful.

Be Inkandescent: What is on the horizon for you?

Amy Barickman: I have recently licensed products in the gift industry with Demdaco. The line is American Backroads featuring my Soho Bandana fabric line on products for fashion and home. I hope to build on that collection and continue to explore more licensing opportunities. We are continuing to expand the digital content we provide on our IndygoJunction.com site, hoping to expand our ePattern and eBook collection.

Be Inkandescent: What haven’t you yet done that you still want to do?

Amy Barickman: I am excited about continuing the journey I started with my “Vintage Notions” book. I love to explore vintage content and introduce it to a modern audience. In addition to Mary Brooks Picken (my “Vintage Notions” muse), I have several other vintage publishing “celebrities” I aspire to introduce in the years to come. I am also planning to re-launch TheVintageWorkshop.com.

Learn more at www.amybarickman.com.