Dana Michelle Woodard has been surrounded by fabric her entire life, so it was only a matter of time before she started making her own quilted creations.
Born in Kenai, Woodard said she was truly raised in the family fabric store — Kenai Fabric Center.
“She’s homegrown,” said Dana’s mother, Gwen Woodard, co-owner of Kenai Fabric Center. “She is a major part of our sales, with her patterns, and she grew up in this store.”
“I was there pretty much everyday they were open,” Dana said. “… When I was 20, I started working part-time while at Kenai Peninsula College and at the time, they needed samples for kits and displays.”
To fill this need, Dana started creating quilt patterns and designs using a new technique at the time called Raw Edge Appliqué. Today, after honing her skills, Dana designs and creates about eight quilt patterns a year in addition to multiple fabric designs.
“My first design was Caribou on the Kenai Flats. … I did it to fill a gap, there were no caribou at the store’s display … so I thought maybe I’ll try to make one and people liked it,” Dana said. “Then I had another idea with salmon and another … and now I have my first line of my own fabrics.”
Dana said Alaska plays a prominent role in her work.
“Alaska has really been my primary inspiration,” she said. “I really am inspired by nature more than anything.”
When creating her most recent collection of patterns and fabrics, Dana found that her focus was leaning more toward the ocean.
“It’s all marine themed, but one of them I had put a fish netting in the background but it didn’t feel right,” Dana said. “And it’s because I prefer to leave manmade items out of my designs. I prefer to keep it all natural, to keep human hands out of it.”
Throughout the year, Dana says she can design up to a dozen quilt patterns using a raw edge appliqué technique.
“There are so many great subjects in Alaska, between the flora, fauna and scenery,” she said. “It keeps me pretty busy keeping up with all the Alaskan subject matter.”
This allows quilters to add customizations by placing shapes with an adhesive back onto the quilt before sewing the design onto the larger piece.
“It allows you to make much more detailed designs and they’re much faster to make,” Dana said. “When I have concepts in mind, I’ll start drawing, edit and redraw. The way raw edge works is you trace everything in reverse… So you make a pattern the way you want it then you have to draw all the pieces in reverse, making sure they all fit in the pattern and are layering correctly.”
Over time, Dana’s work morphed to include profit with her passion. She now runs her own company, Wildfire Designs Alaska, and has just recently released her first fabric collection through Hoffman California Fabrics.
Her ‘Into the Wild’ collection feature her drawings of different Alaska wildflowers and plants, including fireweed and lupine. She has also released ten new patterns that include her fabrics.
For more information on Dana’s work and where to find her quilt patterns, visit wildfiredesignalaska.com or the Kenai Fabric Store, where nearly all of her patterns are on display.