Who taught you your crafting skills? I definitely learned to sew from my mother. She didn't have a sewing machine so everything was made by hand. She was a prolific knitter, as well. I can remember an amazing rust-coloured, knitted pant-and-tunic suit she made me in the ‘70s. It had very delicate cables with some lace patterning. It was quite the ensemble.
Is it hard to find time to do your sewing or is it a profession? It can definitely be hard to find time, as it has to be fitted in with work and study as well as my web development and digital pattern illustration freelance work. Everything I make I create the design for, and since nearly all of it is appliqué, it has to be drawn up in Illustrator. The drawing is part of the design fun for me. I love drawing up appliqué in Illustrator - so much so that I’ve drawn up more than I can possible make.
If you weren’t quiltmaking, what would occupy your time? Reading and studying. I love learning new things, reading about history, archaeology and science and discovering information about the research that's going on regarding all the amazing breakthroughs in medical and general science.
Do you think of your craft as passion or a spare-time-filler? Passion, most definitely. I find that, if I don't have my sewing with me, I don't know what to do with my hands. I have always had some sort of handcraft to work with. Embroidery, counted cross-stitch, crochet … and I've even tried knitting.
Do you like to do a wide variety of styles with your quilts? I definitely do a variety of styles in my quilts. But one of the follow through themes of my quiltmaking is the use of many fabrics. Nearly all my quilts could be described as scrappy.
From where do you draw inspiration? Everywhere! About 15 years ago, I bought a little silk frock in a second-hand store in North Carlton [Vic] because of the fabric. It will make a fabulous appliqué design one day. The colours in a new dress I bought last winter are sitting in the back of my mind as the starting point for another quilt - no idea of the style or patterns yet, just the colours. And then there are old quilts, folk-art designs, adult colouring books …inspiration is pretty much anywhere.
What are your favourite materials to work with? When it comes to sewing needles, it depends on my project, whether its hand piecing or appliqué and then, of course, what type of appliqué. My new love is the Fil a Gant threads, particularly when I’m sewing linen and Japanese woven taupes.
Do you ever see yourself stopping or diversifying? Diversifying yes, stopping no! I've started to use modern fabrics as well as my repros, and I'm making a nine-block traditional appliqué quilt using Japanese taupes and wovens with a little bit of repros thrown in.
Jennifer Murray, 5foot1quilts