We had the good fortune of connecting with Dale Allen-Rowse and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dale, how does your business help the community?
Having been a quilter and designer in a mostly female dominated industry, I came to realize a huge gap of inequity and that there were many groups within the quilting world that needed better representation. My Quilting Cowboy brand is as much about this as it is about my work and designs. It is my hope that I will give other men who are interested in the craft guidance and products that better serve their needs. If you want to be successful in any industry simply find the gap in the marketplace and fill it. Give the people what they want and are asking for. For too long quilt and fabric shops have been wall to wall girly stuff and when historically, fabric designers have tried to serve the men in our community, it was done by women who I guess, think all men hunt of fish. We do not. As a fabric designer I bring a fresh approach to handsome designs that serve both men and women and we (finally) have fabrics that any quilter can use to create high design quilts for husbands and sons. It was truly amazing to me just how under served this market has been since every quilter at some point, makes quilts for guys. Repeatedly I hear from consumers how grateful they are for my fresh take on relatable designs that better serve gents with an eye on high design.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have been making crafts and hand sewing since the age of 10 but it wasn’t until the birth of my niece in 1999 when I began to dedicate a large portion of my life to quilting as my personal expression and chosen art form. I remember trying to think of the most personal heart-felt gift that I could make to welcome the newest member to our family and making her a baby quilt seemed to fit that criteria perfectly. Ever since, I’ve been taking classes, learning and now 20 years later teaching and designing. While quilt making is a fairly under represented in our society (especially for men) it plays to my natural abilities and interests such as math, geometry, design, color theory and imagination. What sets me apart as an artist is my vision and eye for design. The quilts, unique quilt patterns and fabric designs I create are bold, graphic, handsome, fresh and unique while always having one foot in the traditional so that people find my work still relatable. This is important to me and allows me to push the boundaries of traditional work with innovative ideas while still being clear-eyed that it’s a quilt design not just a bunch of fabrics thrown together. It’s well known in the quilt world that men have a different eye for design and it’s my degree in graphic design that I think helps me execute my vision for both patterns and fabrics. Currently there is much in the works for the brand but I think I’m most excited about is the launch of my latest fabric collection and now being viewed as a personality, designer and teacher in the crafting world. My YouTube channel is fun, often hilarious and always slightly irreverent in content. It’s really fun for me to shake things up a bit in an otherwise older and traditional based industry. When I first started the Quilting Cowboy brand I couldn’t find a ‘job’ in my field… so I created one. I started to meet with fabric houses, even though I had nothing to show, so that I could learn the industry and from those working in it. I wrote a book that showcased my work and I began putting my 20 years of knowledge on the internet to help new quilters along. From there my social media began to grow and my ideas and fresh approach to the work started getting noticed. Soon after this I was contacted by wholesalers and shops to carry my patterns plus I started booking teaching opportunities all across North America. With the launch of my first fabric collection my brand name was quickly in shops across the country. I now have more teaching and designing opportunities than I could ever imagine and I still have to pinch myself when one of new lines of fabrics shows up and my name and brand name are written across the selvedge of every yard of fabric. I never thought I’d be so lucky to work in the industry, and while it wasn’t easy to believe that I could essentially make my own brand, I’m so grateful that I kept the faith. I’ve always believed that the road would rises up to meet us while we trudge the road of creation, even though it often feels like you’re was stepping off a cliff. From where I am today I can look back at the progress I’ve made and be grateful for the lessons I’ve learned; the foremost being that to get anywhere you have to begin. As I started this venture, I knew very little about the industry, I had nothing to show as a designer and I was solely functioning on faith. This is what I’ve learned most along the way. Step off. Begin. Have faith in your abilities and know your shit. Studying a craft or art form is always important and with my twenty years of being dedicated, learning and going to classes I knew I possessed the talents. I had done the work so putting it into practice was the next step. I can’t stress this enough. Believe in yourself and your talents. We all possess an innate style and design and if you know that you’ve done the work and studied it more than anyone you know, just begin. Opportunity can only be seen by those who believe it is there. Believe. Go. Do. -Don’t overthink it. Just begin. The most important thing I want people to know about Quilting Cowboy is that it’s far more than quilts and crafts… it is a movement. It is opening the doors, creating opportunity and most importantly, offering representation of men and others who have in the past been marginalized by the industry because they don’t fit the traditional view of who is a quilter. It’s really exciting to be one of the leaders in this. My followers seem to love that I’m younger than most quilters, a guy and am wholly authentic about who I am and what I believe. Historically crafts and quilting has been presented as a perfectly organized, super uptight Martha Stewart type. I’m not that. I’m not any of that. I’m disheveled, heavily tattooed, lucky if I manage a decent outfit in the morning, I love my truck and I’m unapologetic that I’m out of the box in both my thinking and designs. Quilting Cowboy is the future of quilting, arts, crafts and hobby and it is my intention to take this as far as possible to better represent the men & women who have yet to feel welcomed and invited into this world. Quilting Cowboy is not masculine. It is not feminine. It is human.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My husband and I bounce back and forth between L.A. and Palm Springs. When friends come into town we love to take them to the local favorites that tourists might not be aware of. In Palm Springs we enjoy Paul Bar, El Mirasol for Mexican food and Arenas Road for nightlife and unique bars and shops. In Los Angeles we try and get to the theatre (when possible pre-covid) especially when a Broadway Show is playing. We also love Fresh Corn Grill for casual lunches, Los Compadres for margaritas and Mexican, and the restaurants on the first floor of the Beverly Center. They’re all fantastic. For daytime events in Palm Springs the hiking trails are incredible. The desertscape and views as you hike though unique vegetation and flowers are just the beginning. It’s the undiscovered that visitors love. The roadrunners, the tumble weeds, the windmills and bunnies. You’ll even come across a waterfall if you know where to look. In Los Angeles, the fabric mart downtown is a must see. We also really enjoy the beaches and pier of Santa Monica. It’s a great day trip and the shopping and food is superb. From beaches and oceans to the mountains of the desert, there is never enough time to show our guests everything we love about Southern California.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There have been three key people in my designing and quilting journey that have had a hand in helping me become who I am today. The first was a teacher in Salt Lake City at Pipers Quilt Shop in downtown Salt Lake City. Ten years ago when I decided to get serious about learning the craft this little woman Jeanette who swore and smoked like a truck driver was the first person I encountered in this world who just treated me like another student. The fact I was a guy completely unfazed her and I wasn’t treated differently or like a guy in a woman’s space. I greatly appreciated that as I finally found a safe place to hang out and learn. The second person that made an inpact on my textile journey was a gentleman named Ricky Tims. In the quilt world he was kinda famous and I was really encouraged to learn about him and what he was accomplishing. The fact that he existed gave me hope that there might be a place for me as well. I had never heard of a guy who had done so much as a teacher and fellow male quilter. This was such a big deal to me that I was represented that I never have forgotten how important representation is. It’s this idea that has been much of my platform for Quilting Cowboy. The third instrumental person that I have to give credit to is my husband John. God bless him. He is ever patient with my textile and design obsession and gives me all the room I need to pursue my life’s work… because that is what this this art form is to me. It’s not a hobby or a craft but my life’s work and what I bring into this world that’s bigger than me and will be my legacy long after I’m gone.
Other: https://windhamfabrics.net/php/fabricshop/fabricshop.php?a=designer&designer=122 This is my bio page on the fabric house’s website.
Emily Tingley for shot with me laughing and the red and white quilt against a barn hanging on a fence. Windham Fabrics for the POTTERY photo (this is my first fabric line). Ray John Pila for the shot of me sitting on the ground hand sewing. Jon Prime for the bear crest cabin quilt.