Who taught you your crafting skills? Everything I do is self-taught. When I was growing up my mother had a treadle machine, and I thought there was no way I could coordinate my feet on the treadle with my hands near the needle. I wouldn’t even try it. I was bored with my studies in college and bought myself a machine and learned to sew from books.
Any good stories from those lessons? The first project I made was a tablecloth - the worst tablecloth in the history of the world. I didn’t prewash the fabric or cut off the selvedges, so it shrank really weirdly along the seams when I washed it - and one of those seams ran smack down the middle of the table for a lovely look. I didn’t know there were different kinds of thread, so I just grabbed a spool in a matching colour. It was super-thick buttonhole twist - a thread I couldn’t find now if I tried. The whole thing was a disaster.
Have you tried plenty of different crafts? I’ve tried so many! Sewing, quilting, embroidery, painting, jewellery-making, decoupage, crochet, knitting and more. You name it - I’ve tried it. I’ve settled on the ones that let me park my bottom on the sofa and watch TV while I work!
If you weren’t doing this, what else would occupy your time? My previous career was selling children’s books, and I’d probably still be doing that. I love children’s book illustrations and connecting the right book with the right person. My studio is decorated with art from some of my favourite children’s-book artists!
What are your favourite materials to work with? Wool felt and embroidery floss. I love the feel of the felt in my hands, and I love the sound it makes when I pull the thread through. There’s a tiny ‘pop’ when the eye of the needle goes through the fabric - it makes me ridiculously happy.
Do you teach your skills to others? I do! I never release a pattern unless I have video tutorials on my website teaching every skill you’ll need to make it. I like to think of my patterns as workshops disguised as patterns. Online videos are great, because everyone has a front row seat and a great view of what I’m doing.
How would you describe your style? What makes it unique? My style is definitely simple and whimsical. I do my best to break down every design to make it as simple as possible for beginners to make. And I think the whimsical look makes things still look cute even if you’ve made a few mistakes.
Where do you live and work? I live in the mountains in western North Carolina, in the US. My work space is right smack in the middle of our house - you have to walk through it to get anywhere. I like being right in the middle of things.
Wendi Gratz, Shiny Happy World –