How did you start your sewing career? I came to sewing in my ’30s, I had dabbled a little, sewing some clothes earlier, but didn’t get into quilting until the purchase of a little shop in the Hills District of Sydney in the ’90s. My mum and I bought the local haberdashery store and changed it into a patchwork shop. My patchwork career started in the shop; I did classes with a couple of teachers and was so hooked that I ate, slept and dreamt patchwork. I was so obsessed, every I thought of was colour and design. I started to design my own quilts and taught them in our shop and ventured out to teach in other stores, as well.
What would you do without your stitching? If I didn’t sew … hang on, that’s impossible. I couldn’t not sew. I did get disillusioned for a while, and everything got too much and became a chore. But I’m back, with needle and thread firmly in my hand. I love my craft. I’m back to being a little obsessed with finishing off a beautiful antique quilt I have been planning to re-produce for years.
What are the stitching tools you couldn’t live without? The obvious would be mat, ruler and cutter. But I also couldn’t live without bias makers, glue sticks, paper pieces, poly fuse (my latest, got-to-have) and, of course, my trusty unpicker.
Do you cherish the time in your workroom/studio? As a machine quilter by profession and someone who also manages a patchwork store, it’s hard to allocate time to myself. I feel guilty if I don’t have a customer’s quilt stitching away on my day off. Sometimes, I just have to try to ignore that pile of quilts and take time for myself; otherwise, my husband complains about his cranky wife.
What is it you love about it most? The peace and serenity. It’s just me and my radio, playing daggy music. We live on acreage, so I sit by the window at my sewing table, looking out at our orchard and while away the hours.
What would you like to change about your workspace, if anything? We are about to finish a bit of renovating, and my sewing space will become a little more organised. At the moment, it’s a bit like another room in the house, with lovely shabby chic antique furniture, which I love, but I’d like to get it a bit more impersonalised so my customers don’t feel like they are entering my living room.
How many different crafts do you do? Nowadays, I stick to patchwork only - time doesn’t allow much more. I’d love another few days in the week to fit in what I feel I need to accomplish. I have so many quilts in my head, wanting to escape, but I have to keep them bottled up, otherwise I have the attention span of a two year old and would have dozens of projects on the go.
What is your favourite, and why? Patchwork has been my obsession for many years. I love the thought of leaving something behind for future generations to hopefully use and appreciate.
Do you take your stitching with you on holidays? Holidays! What are they? My husband and I try to grab a weekend away two or three times a year. I haven’t been on holiday since we went down the coast for three days in 1997. Not that I’m complaining; if I were to take time off, I’d choose to spend the days at home.
Have you got lots of projects waiting to be done? These days, I try not to start too many projects at once. I’m trying to complete a quilt I’ve drawn up from an antique quilt by Ann Robinson. I’m also sitting on the other side of the table and am doing a class with Anne Somerlad to make her Elizabeth Jefferson quilt. Throw in a few class quilts waiting to be completed and a few more in my sewing cupboard … so the answer to that question is obviously ‘yes’.
If you had one sewing wish, what would it be? To write a book. I have a lot of medallion style quilts I have designed over the years and my dream has always been to put them into a book for everyone to enjoy.