Twenty years is a long time to not only survive but thrive in a business. Textile designer Julie Paterson’s first book, ClothBound, charts how she managed to find her style and stay true to it over the past two decades. She also shares details on her creative process, and how she kept her work evolving in various design spheres: from running a shop to designing fabrics for hotel resorts.

For your chance to win a copy of ClothBound by Julie Paterson (Murdoch Books), like Daily Imprint’s Facebook page and like the Imperfect Manifesto post. The competition, open to Australia only, will close at 8pm on Thursday April 2. The winner, selected at random, will be announced on Wednesday April 8 on Facebook.

Read Julie’s original interview on Daily Imprint from 30 July 2010, when someone said after her speech at a rug launch: “Give this woman a book deal.”

How did you arrive at the concept for the book?
ClothBound is my life's work really - all bound in hand printed Cloth. The book holds the stories I’ve been telling for the last 20 years to my customers and to anyone who will listen! Stories about my process - the highs and the lows of running a small creative business from a maker’s perspective, where the designs come from how they are made and where the designs go.

What was involved in the creation process?
I was asked to write the book by Jane Morrow from Murdoch - and she asked me to do a sample chapter for her to pitch to her colleagues. As soon as I sat down to do that chapter it all fell into place. Immediately, I knew what the feel of the book would be like, I knew the name of the book and the content. It was as if ClothBound was already inside me fully formed.

The writing of the book began on Boxing Day 2013. I can remember sitting in my little vintage caravan Meg with a notebook wondering where to start. I’ve never written a book before. Do I start with a structure and piece it together in an orderly fashion? Do I start at the beginning 20 years back and work chronologically forwards? Nah - I just started with the first words as they came. “Here I am sitting in my caravan on Boxing Day….” and went from there. The first draft was about 40,000 words. That was the easy part. Then came the honing and editing and crafting the arc of the story. Then came the two-week photoshoot with the amazing Armelle Habib. I knew I wanted the book to reflect my life. Nothing too flash. So we shot on location in my studio shed, my little mountains home, inside the caravan and in my other little flat in Coogee. And a friend’s house down the road too. I wanted the book to be as authentic as possible. 

Then came the design part. And now it starts to get really hard. I worked with the lovely Mel Feddersen sitting next to her in her studio which, funnily enough was the exact same spot where I’d started Cloth 20 years before. Weird but true. Each page of the 240-ish pages has been individually designed - the image and the words all working together. This was a long process and involved the editor - patient and kind Jackie Brown, sitting on my left and Mel the designer sitting on my right and me in the middle working with the both of them in unison. Wow, that was an intense two weeks!

And then I organised the printing of the fabric that the book was bound in. My printer did the work, which is a lovely touch that makes all the difference to the book because each book cover is a little bit different as the cover gets cut from a different section in the pattern. All that detail makes all the difference. And I had to hold all of this at once. That’s why I say this is my life’s work. I couldn’t have done this book before now. So when you ask how long did it take - the answer is it took me 20 years to make this book because it’s taken me 20 years to really know my craft.

How long did it take to come together - from concept to first copy?
The time from when I wrote the first words to holding my first copy took 18 months all up.

What was important to you in terms of the book's text, photography and design?
The answer is above, I think - but I also want to say that one of the reasons for writing the book was to break down the creative process into easily understood parts - I believe everyone is creative - see my Imperfect Manifesto; the book hangs on this manifesto - yet I hear so many people saying that they are not. And I know that enabling our creativity makes for a happier life and outlook. So I wanted to say this is how I do it and it isn’t hard. Have a go. Enjoy the process and don’t worry about the outcome.

What was unexpected about the whole process?
How much I enjoyed working as part of a team. Running a business alone for 20 years takes a certain headspace - I’ve had staff and they are fab but I was always the boss making all the decisions. This writing a book experience was quite different. It was a very much a team effort and that felt really great.

images courtesy of julie paterson and murdoch books; photography armelle habib; styling claire delmar

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