Chelsea’s Challenge: Holiday Memories

Pattern Observer Holiday Trend Board2

One of my favorite events in the Textile Design Lab is our monthly Chelsea’s Challenge, which we share with the goal of helping our members grow their pattern portfolios. We provide a theme to focus on and throughout the month the Textile Design Lab team provides feedback on our private forum as designers work through the process of developing a main print and 2-4 coordinates. Our members also benefit from feedback from their peers, bouncing ideas off one another on the forum and in our weekly live art critiques, cheering each other along through the process!

It’s become a bit of a tradition within the Lab to do a holiday-themed Chelsea’s Challenge each December, as it’s often where most of our heads are at anyway 😉 We have covered so many trends for Christmas while working through briefs for Pattern Observer Studio that we decided to step away from trends for this challenge, and focus on unique stories that our TDL members have to tell. Well, guess what… we want to hear your stories, too! So for the first time, we are opening up this challenge to our wider Pattern Observer community, and we can’t wait to see what you all create!

Close your eyes and try to remember the special moments that stand out from Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, or other winter holidays in the past. Can you bring to mind a particular food or drink, article of clothing, decoration, or family tradition that made the holiday especially memorable? For instance, as a child Michelle always went to the coast for Christmas, so she would create a collection inspired by this time, with seashells, palmetto trees, ribbons and bells. For me, this challenge conjures memories from my grandparents’ house, like decorating gingerbread men, watching cardinals in the trees in the backyard, and playing with my grandpa’s intricate model train sets.

Pattern Observer Holiday Trend Board

If you prefer, another option for this challenge would be to imagine what your celebrations in the future might look like. Perhaps if you always travel to see family, you could imagine what a holiday celebration might look like if you were the one to host. Or maybe you can’t have pets where you currently live, but you could imagine a holiday where you just adopted a new furry friend. Or looking ahead to a December in the future as a new parent or grandparent, and how you would want to make the holidays special for the young ones in your life. Or a holiday where you’ve made a move to another state or country…or who knows, Mars?! It can be a real blast to dream up these future scenarios and put them in the context of the holidays, so feel free to get wild with it and have fun.

We hope this challenge will be a fun way to close out the end of the year, and encourage you to use the #patternobserver tags on Instagram throughout the process so that we can share your work!

Thanks for being here and Happy Holidays! -Chelsea and the Pattern Observer Team

Featured Designer: Through The Sea


This is the perfect time of year to share a story of inspiration, passion, and goodwill with you regarding Anne Marie and Roger Jackson, co-founders of Through The Sea. They are a team through and through, from marriage to parenting to creating and their deep care about kids from hard places. When combined together, they have an inspiring story of how their creativity doesn’t only feel good to people who see their beautiful work, but it also does good things for those who need it most—kids in foster system.

For over fifteen years each, Anne Marie and Roger have worked in design and trend forecasting. They also have experience working in-house and as design consultants for high profile brands such as Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Tommy Bahama, Google, and Starbucks. To this day, Anne Marie’s award-winning surface designs are highly regarding and she continues to do surface design work and trend consulting for Anthropologie, Frontgate, and Nordstrom.

Being happy and immersed in your environment and finding joy is an important aspect to this couple’s creativity. Anne Marie says, “My happy place is the sea, preferably one that’s as warm as a bath. Roger’s is also the sea—the blue and green one called the Seahawks.”


There are many sources of inspiration that Anne Marie draws from that come from the world around her and some of the least unexpected places. When we asked her about it, she shared, “My experiences as a foster parent and travels around the world have inspired me endlessly. This, combined with me being plugged into the foster and adoption community and using that experience to help advocate for kids in foster care, is so rewarding.”

“We are positively crazy about print and pattern, so of course, our products celebrate this love affair. Our collections often consist of complementary patterns that play off each other for a modern and fresh aesthetic.”

The new Through The Sea collection includes:

Lush Life
Lush Life was born from the first-ever out of state vacation for one of Jackson’s foster daughters. A restorative family vacation to the Hawaiian Islands became an enduring memory for this child, as well as the inspiration for Under The Sea’s signature print design. The lush tropical botanicals are symbolic of the abundance and diversity this beautiful life has to offer.

The Lush life print was initially hand drawn and then carved—over six days—into Lino, before being stamped on to paper, and made into a repeating pattern.


Terrazzo is a traditional home decor material that the Jackson’s believe is symbolic for what their mission is at Through The Sea. Their long-term vision is to have a significant impact on the lives of kids from hard places, by giving them a path to succeed where there wasn’t one previously. Anne Marie says, “We do this by building and nurturing purposeful community through our vendors, partners, and you. Like the Terrazzo, we believe—together—we can pick up the broken pieces of foster care and make something beautiful from them.”

We hope you will take time to learn more about Through The Sea’s beautiful work and initiatives to make the lives of children in tough situations a bit brighter through their kickstarter project which expires in just a few days.

As we wind down 2018, take some time to think about the good that you can do through doing what you love—working in the design industry.

Much love,

Featured Designer: Claire Mounier


With the support of SURTEX, each month a new post will be highlighted on Pattern Observer, featuring the work of one of our Textile Design Lab members. This month we are thrilled to feature the work of TDL member Claire Mounier. Claire was a recipient of our 2018 Jane Lewis Scholarship and we have had the privilege of watching her flourish in the community. Her work is polished, but unique; simplistic, but interesting. Woven within it is always a wonderful story to tell.

We asked Claire to share a bit about her journey that brought her into the exciting world of textile design:

“I studied history at university, and then worked in Vietnam for several years in the field of cultural heritage preservation. In 2015, I became a freelance copyeditor, which allowed me to telecommute for French publishing houses while travelling throughout Canada for a year.

“While I enjoyed everything going on in my life, during this time I also felt like I needed some creativity in my life, to compensate from my quite intellectual job. I had discovered screen printing in Vietnam, and realized I had always been attracted to beautiful fabrics, stationary, and home decor products. I did my research and discovered the online world of surface pattern design, to which I became addicted! I enrolled in many online classes and haven’t stopped practicing since then.”


Since this time, a lot has been going on in Claire’s life and here’s some insight into what she has shared:

“2018 have been an exciting adventure. I had the great surprise to be selected for the Jane Lewis Scholarship and I am so grateful for this. It has really helped me improving my skills and gain confidence. I have followed a good number of the classes, learned new approaches, techniques, and skills. I have also received the opportunity to present some of my patterns to Surtex, thanks to the Pattern Observer Studio. This has led to some great connections and opportunities.

“When it comes to the support and advice of fellow designers and experts in the Lab, they have been invaluable to me and have helped me push forward my work and override my impostor syndrome (but I still have to work on that, ah ah!). I love having a place to go where I know I can interact with people who share my interest. It helps a lot to stay focus and motivated.”


When it comes to what’s currently going on with Claire’s exciting growth, she told us this:

“In the past few months, I have worked on setting up my online portfolio and I am now planning to reach out to potential clients. One of my main concerns is to ensure I only work for ethical and sustainable brands. I’d love to see my designs on kids’ products, home products, and stationary.”

Since her style is so distinct and inviting, we wanted to hear Claire’s thoughts on that too:

“My style is playful and quirky. I love to draw animals and flowers. My inspiration usually comes from a picture, a book, my travels… I try to follow the trends and to incorporate them in my own style. Most of the patterns I’m sharing and showing here were created within the past months. I always start to draw on paper and then color my motifs and create the repeat either in Illustrator or Photoshop. I have been using Photoshop a lot recently because I love the textural effect that I can get with the different brushes.”

Thanks for sharing, Claire! Please visit Claire’s website to see more of her lovely work.

Featured Designer: Marília Abreu


This week we are thrilled to feature the work of Brazilian textile designer, Marília Abreu. Marília studied graphic design and fashion design both, graduating in 2013. Since that time she has been making her mark with distinct patterns and styles. If you appreciate florals and dramatic patterns, you’ll likely be as drawn to her pattern layouts as I am!


The patterns that Marília chose to share with us today are a part of her latest collection. She used various mediums to create them, including:

  • Hand drawn
  • Watercolor
  • Collages
  • Digital painting
  • Vector art

It’s a joy to look at how she applies all these techniques to her work, giving her a distinct style that is so appealing to me.


When I asked Marília what her current collection, titled Céu Floral (Floral Sky) is based on, this is what was shared with me: “These are the types of patterns that I wish to see out in the marketplace. These particular prints are a sign of my growth, as well as my passion for textile design. I am only designing part time right now, but my goal is to transition this passion into a fulltime career as soon as possible.”

If you want to see more of Marília’s stunning work, visit her portfolio.

Featured Designer: Anne Butera


Today we are delighted to feature the work of Anne Butera. It was easy for me to be drawn into Anne’s delicate illustration and use of rich colors and textures. Her work celebrates the wonder of the natural world and is a delight to explore.

When asked about her creative journey, Anne shared:

“I am a self-taught artist. Flowers and plants are in my heart and soul, and nature has always been my creative inspiration and the outlet for my imagination. In addition to gardening and making art, I write the blog My Giant Strawberry and teach on Skillshare. I also work part-time in the local library. My paintings have been exhibited across the country and my art and writing have been published in magazines and in the book Botanica. I live in a little town in southwest Wisconsin with my husband, two retired racing greyhounds, and two fat cats.”


Anne shared some insight about inspiration in her patterns:

“These patterns are based on my original watercolor paintings and sketches. My art is inspired by the beauty and magic of my garden and the natural world. It reflects the tiny joys and daily graces that can be found in each day.


Eight years ago I quit my full-time job as a librarian to move from the city to the country and pursue my creativity. At that point, my dreams were fuzzy and not clearly defined. I began crafting with fabrics and yarn but I secretly yearned to paint. Although the road has been bumpy and filled with twists and turns, I’ve held tenaciously to my dream of becoming an artist. My accomplishments so far may be fairly small and I have plenty of dreams and goals which I’ve not yet realized, but looking back I am amazed at how far I’ve come. If you have secret dreams and yearnings, hold onto them. Be patient and never give up.”

You can see more of Anne’s enchanting work on her website.

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At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and private design community, The Textile Design Lab.