Why this particular craft? I have a strong affinity with fabric, having grown up with a mum who sewed so much of our clothing. I was lucky enough to be given one of her old sewing machines when I left home. Calling it old doesn’t do it justice; my machine would have originally been top of the line, and is as solid as they come. Having such a lovely piece of equipment to experiment on, and having sewing advice on call, gave me lots of confidence to try new things. I didn’t start quilting until I had my own children, but from the time I left home I knew that I could give anything a go on the sewing machine. Discovering patchwork and quilting shops opened up the world of colour and pattern choice that you didn’t always find in garment fabrics.
Have you tried plenty of others? I’ve tried lots of crafts, from oil painting and knitting through to the welding and model making that was part of my design degree. I’ve used polystyrene foam, resin, fabric, chalk pastel, fabric, clay, thread, felt, Perspex and wood. The crafts I always return to are the ones that let me work with the most colours, because working with colour is my real passion. My newest craft is one that doesn’t really have a name - I’ve started working on combining laser-cut wood with embroidery thread.
Who taught you your crafting skills? My mother taught me to sew and to make considered design decisions by consulting me about fabric and dressmaking pattern combinations. As a kid, I always had very specific visions of the finished product in my head, and was often frustrated that we couldn’t get precisely the right fabric I wanted or that my skills weren’t up to the task to create what I could see in my imagination.
Formal study of design taught me more about how to consider the design limitations of different materials or production methods. The skill I most particularly like to practice is needleturn appliqué, but the slow nature of this craft means that I often mix in some fusible appliqué in order to get a mix of fast and slow craft.
Do you ever see yourself stopping or diversifying? Some of my patterns are for stitcheries. I still like to pick up a paintbrush occasionally, and in the colder months I tend to do some basic knitting, but I drew the line at crochet, or any other new-to-me crafts. I know that with time I could pick up the skills to widen my repertoire, but I’d prefer to keep learning and perfecting in the fields that I already practise. (I’m pretty tempted by crochet though!)
How would you describe your style? My style is very graphic. I always start with two things – a pile of curated fabrics (I love coming up with new colour combinations) and some pencil sketches in a sketchbook. From there, I move to the computer, scanning in my sketches, and playing with scale, layout and proportion. I design every element of a quilt before I make a single cut into my fabric. My patterns are longer than average, but they’re very clear and easy to follow.