a lesson in history and habitat.

so within the past few weeks, my new line of fabric, HABITAT, unearthed itself from a top secret printing factory in an undisclosed location. for the past few years i have found myself wearing the hat of textile designer. well, with some help of course. firstly from my fabric company freespirit and also from my friends emily goodwin-wong, alexis mcvicker and renee shortell. without their computer knowledge, i would probably be putting out misaligned prints that look like they were made with a potato. getting into the world of textiles has been really great. i must say, everyone is so dang friendly in this world. not that they aren’t friendly in the fashion world. who am i kidding, fashion people are freaking mean! but everyone from the shop owners to the people buying the fabric and everyone in between is just so excited about the fabric that it makes the experience so much more gratifying. sure its nice to see a bolt of fabric with my name on the selvedge edge, but more than that it is really exciting for me to see the amazing things people are making with my fabric.

i never really thought that i would be putting out fabric. i just always thought i would be buying it and by buying, i mean buying tons of it. hoarding it. not even cutting into some of it for decades at a time. i have a certifiable addiction to fabric. i love it. i am ultimately stimulated by it. i love the color, texture, feel and sometimes even the smell. i don’t know why, but certain fabrics i just like to rub on my face and take a whiff. is that weird? perhaps i need to be on tlc’s “my strange addiction”. well maybe not quite yet. my earliest memories include my childhood blanket which i believe i called “my feeling thing”. it was your run of the mill baby blanket with a satin trim edge. powder blue. by the time i was done with it, it was a gross shade of blue grey brown. i would rub that satin trim until it was ragged. i’m sure this is common with children. i don’t have any, so i don’t really know, but i am looking into adopting a few of them in the next week or so. i will let you know how they react to the blankets i have purchased for them. i also remember playing in my parents hall closet which my mother housed all sorts of crafting and textile goodies. yarn, fabric, buttons and trims. she even had some deerskin that my father got from somewhere. he might have even hunted it himself. gross. but i used to draw hieroglyphics in sharpie marker on it and i think make mini teepee’s out of it. i also had 4 sisters so there was plenty of fabric and color surrounding me. some of it not so pretty as it was the 80’s. my sisters were all in the high school band, as was i, and my mother was the uniform lady. she outfitted all of the band members in the uniforms every year and i remember the distinct smell of polyester and hard work ie; sweat. as i got older and unabashedly assumed the role of band geek, i became enamoured with how fabric was such a visual medium. i mean have you ever seen a colorguard performing with a marching band? spandex, velvet, velour, sequins, feathers? it was like a pre-teen gay boys wet dream!

i was a fat kid and my waist/inseam ratio wasn’t well, ratio-ized, so my mother would have to hem my pants. eventually, with my penchant for shopping, the pile of sears husky corduroy trousers began to pile up next to the sewing machine in my parents bedroom. out of desperation, at around 10 years old, i learned to sew. from there, it was as if the flood gates of possibility opened up and i began to collect fabric and sew myself costumes and weird clothes that i would be bullied for in the halls of junior and senior high school. i guess shirts with pineapples and red velvet trousers, sometimes worn together, weren’t socially acceptable in a time where acid washed denim jean jackets with bon jovi decals on the back reigned supreme. while the other boys were doing god knows what, i assume something that required playboy magazine and touch football, i was shopping for crazy print interlock knits, lame and batiks at jo-ann fabrics, the piece goods shop, which was a-maz-ing and my local favorite, missy k. the queerest name for a fabric shop on planet earth.

since i couldn’t track down a college that offered a degree in fabric hoarding, and i sewed my own clothes, i decided to attend philadelphia college of textiles and science and pursue a degree in fashion design. in retrospect, i probably should have studied textile design as i would pass the print and weaving and knitting departments and dream of the things that i could design. hindsight people, hindsight. from there i learned a lot about fabric and garment construction. i studied and lived abroad and won a competitive reality fashion show. now here i am. 36 years old. blogging.

check this great little video for my new fabric line HABITAT i made with my friends at junkdrawer media….

also check out these other links pertaining to this post…






16 thoughts on “a lesson in history and habitat.

  1. I am thrilled that you’re reaching out to us in this medium. I’m sorry if your fans ever made you feel as though they were consuming you as opposed to supporting you.

    Thanks for sharing, Jay. Fo real.

    • it wasn’t ever about my fans. my fans were the only bit of glimmering hope in the sea of sludge that i was swimming around in.

  2. I saw these for sale and did a double take when I saw the name. Textile design! How exciting for all of who love fabric. The line is really exciting and beautiful. I can see it in 1,000 quilts in my mind’s eye.

  3. Pingback: True Up | All Fabric, All the Time » Blog Archive » Interview: Jay McCarroll (Part 1)

  4. Habitat is a great stash builder. Not in the way people usually think of stash building–the traditional idea of stockpiling tonals and blenders and all that. But in a visionary way that adds unexpected interest to a stash. Because color and pattern sometimes need a jolt and that’s exactly what Habitat does. It provides a shot of electricity to fuel new creative ideas. I loved working on the quilt for just that reason. Thanks!

  5. I was fondling your Habitat just the other day (that’s what she said) – and now after seeing your video… I’ve fallen even more mad, crazy in love with it. I love what you said about fabric – as well as what it feels like to have people use your fabric (I could not agree more!). Fabric whore-ders united!

  6. Such beautiful fabrics and colors and textures, and so unique. We hope you don’t mind, but we’ve just put a link on our sidebar with an image of the Habitat quilt project and a link to the fabric site. Also we appreciated what you wrote about self-expression and the difficulties of being a creative person while in school. Success is the best revenge, or so they say, and we hope that you are receiving plenty of joy and validation from seeing your designs so widely appreciated and loved.

    • your bag looks fabulous! im so pleased with all of the great things people are making with “habitat”. dropcloth is such a cool fabric to work with, if i must say so myself! happy sewing!

  7. Pingback: Habitat by Jay McCarroll « A Girl & Her Dot

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