Featured Crafter

Featured Crafter – Tallgrass Prairie Studio

Today, we are featuring the talented Jacquie from Tallgrass Prairie Studio.

FQ: Tell us a little bit about your creative journey?
Jacquie: ‘I?ve always been a creative person and for many years my home and my children were my creative outlet. Most of the rooms in my house have been painted, decorated and painted again and maybe a few more times after that.

I love art and music and I?ve felt for most of my life that there was an artist in me waiting to emerge. My boys are both talented artists and musicians. They are my primary inspiration and motivators.

At the beginning of 2008 I stepped back from a very demanding job and with a little more time on my hands decided to pull out my sewing machine. At that time I didn?t know that quilting would become my thing, but after a visit to the Gee?s Bend exhibit, I was struck by the ?feeling? of those quilts and I sat down at the sewing machine to see what I could create. After my first couple of quilts I gave improvisation a try and I?ve now embraced improvisational quilt making for all of my quilts.’

FQ: Which part of the quilt making process is your favourite and why?
Jacquie: ‘That?s a tough question, there are times when I get in the groove and it?s the actual sewing that I love, seeing things come together. What excites the artist in me is the design process. I feed off the frustrations of false starts and the exhilaration of when a design comes together. I think that?s why I have trouble repeating a design. I feel a bit like been there, done that. Time to move on and try something new.’

FQ: Do you have a favorite fabric designer?
Jacquie: ‘I guess it?s easiest to say I have many. I?m constantly searching for fabric that inspires me. I?m not much for buying a whole line and using it it in a quilt. I look for individual fabrics that speak to me. I think Yoshiko Jinzenji has some amazing fabric. Heather Ross is the queen of whimsy in her fabric and I love finding indie designers who put out unique fabric like Lauren Hunt of Kansas City.’

FQ: Where do you draw inspiration for your quilts?
Jacquie: ‘Inspiration seems to be everywhere for me. I?m inspired by people, stories, experiences, patterns in walls, fabric, artists, words, and shapes. I see quilts all around me.’

FQ: Do you have a favourite quilt?
Jacquie: ‘My favorite quilt is probably the one I?m currently in the process of making. It?s what?s on my mind and in my head. Of the quilts I?ve made I?m pretty proud of the ?Urban Garden? quilt. It was a personal scrap challenge. I love the ?Not Lost in the Woods? quilt too. The lines and shapes that are created and simplicity and boldness are very appealing to me. The ?Selvage quilt? is pretty special to me as well. It?s like a memory book of all the fabric I?ve used and the quilts I?ve made over the last 2 ? years.

FQ: Are there any new creative skills that you would like to try in the future?
Jacquie: ‘For sure! I want every new quilt to be a new creative adventure for me. I want to push myself to go more modern. My traditional side has a pretty strong influence in my work, and I want to move in a new direction. I?m excited to start teaching quilting classes in my studio this summer. Teaching has been my profession for 30 years, but this is definitely a new direction for my educational career!’

Featured Crafter – Cabbage Quilts

Today, we are sitting down with the exceptional quilter, Cathy from Cabbage Quilts.
FQ: Tell us a little bit about your creative journey? When did it start? Where you inspired by any paticular person?  
Creativity has always been a part of our family. My Father is very musical and dabbles in paints, while my Mother taught me different crafts including knitting, x-stitch, tapestries and sewing. 
It wasn’t until 12 years ago however that I totally fell in love with quilting when I took a beginner patchwork class at our church. My passion for colour and creating was both fuelled and satisfied in this medium, which has only grown stronger over the years. 
I had the pleasure to work part time in a wonderful Quilt shop in Brisbane before we moved to Victoria. All these people and events have influenced my quilting, however I would have to say from the quilting world that Kaffe Fassett has had the biggest influence on me. 
His incredible use of luscious pattern and rich colours. He encourages us to look at the world around us and be inspired by the natural shapes and colours we see in our everyday world and translate them into our quilting. 

FQ: Which part of the quilt making process is your favourite and why?  
Applique is a passion of mine so I would have to say this is my absolute favourite thing to do in the whole quilt process. There is something so incredibly comforting about sitting down at night with a needle and thread in hand (and a good light over the shoulder!) . 
Taking time to take tiny stitches as you work your way around your applique pieces is so soothing and very satisfying. Kim McLean is an Australian designer who includes lots of beautiful applique in her delightful patterns. I have recently finished a quilt top based on her Hearts and Flowers pattern from Kaffes Quilt Romance book (published 2009).

FQ: Do you have a favourite fabric designer?

I would have to say Kaffe and his friends (especially Brandon Mably, Philip Jacobs, Amy Butler) are my all time favourite fabric designers. Their fabrics continue to surprise and delight me, I especially adore the lush, flamboyant forals released by Westminster each year.

Over the years however I do have fabric lines that have stood out for me such as Denyse Schmidt’s Flea Market Fancy, Jennifer Paganelli’s Girlfriend line, and more recently Amy Butler’s Love fabrics. Anna Maria Horner’s fabrics have also drawn my eye, and I’m currently in sewing heaven using her Little Folks voile.

FQ: Where do you draw your inspiration from when making quilts? 
The blogging community is especially wonderful for finding inspiration. Seeing what other people are making, reading the fabulous tutorials they write, as well as observing new fabric lines all help to inspire me when I’m deciding on a new quilt. 
Influenced by Kaffe, I also take more notice of the colours and shapes around me. I have beautiful fern trees outside my kitchen window, and these have influenced the applique I designed for the quilt I am currently working on.  There is no end to the inspiration we can find around us.

FQ: Do you have a favourite quilt or other sewn item that you have made? 

I keep coming back to a quilt of Kaffes I made a couple of years ago called Wheel of Fortune from his Caravan of Quilts book (published 2004). I paper pieced this quilt, then heavily machine quilted it. It’s hanging in my family room and I still love it. 

FQ: Are there any new creative skills that you would like to try in the furture? 

Hoping to learn how to mosaic. I have some beautiful smashed china mugs and plates that are sitting in the back of my cupboard waiting for the day I give it a go. In the meantime, I have some ideas for some mosaic quilts, hopefully to be seen on my blog in the next couple of months.

FQ: Where do you mostly sew?
My creative space is a very tiny room with one small desk, a cupboard and bookshelf squeezed in. I love this room however it is very difficult to photograph!! 
Recently I have made a design wall by pin tacking a rectangle of quilt wadding onto a wall in our house (with husbands permission of course!!). It makes such a huge difference to be able to put blocks and fabrics on the wall, then stand back and critique them. Currently my Fern Leaf Snowball quilt is on my design wall.

Featured Crafter – Pigeon Pair

Today, we are stting down with the lovely Christie from Pigeon Pair.

FQ: Tell us a little bit about your creative journey? When did it start? Where you inspired by any paticular person? 

My mum is a big inspiration, I grew up with her sewing & knitting for my sister & myself. Mum could make anything & I loved being able to do a drawing of what I wanted & having her make it for me. I also have fond memories of visits to our local fabric shop, we went there alot!

I didn’t really get into sewing until I was pregnant with my second child. I wanted to be able to sew her some clothes so I borrowed my mums sewing machine, went to a sewing class & got bitten by the bug!

FQ: What do you like to make when sewing?

Anything & everything! I really enjoy hand sewing & embroidery, I like making softies & toys & sewing clothes, especially for my kids & I like making quilts too.

FQ: Is there any paticular item you have made that is a favourite? Can you tell us why?

There is a tiny rain cloud quilt that I made & I’m quite fond of. I had it framed & it now hangs in my daughter’s bedroom. I think my most favorite things to make are the least practical, the ones that I do just for pure enjoyment & indulgence.

 FQ: Are there any new creative skills that you would like to try in the future?

At the moment I am trying to master the art of hand piecing in an attempt to make a full sized quilt & next on the list to learn is pattern making, I would love to be able to confidently draft my own clothes patterns.

FQ: How long have you been blogging for and why did you start?
I have been blogging for just over 3 years. I started my blog to document our first overseas trip with our kids, but once our holiday was over the blogging continued & I began to focus on sewing & craft.

Featured Crafter – Chawne

Our featured crafter this week is the very talented Chawne, if you are in need of some inspiration – look no further!

FQ: I cannot get over your creative output! You?re like a stitching dynamo! Have you always been this creative? Where did it all start?

Chawne: It all started as a kid. My extended family has always been involved with textiles in some way. Seamstresses are most prevalent, but my father’s side had several quilters. Ever seen those Gee?s Bend quilts?

Yep. Those were the kind of quilts I first encountered in our home. My favorite was a utility quilt made of old dungarees and holey gingham shirts. The “batting” was just residual fluff gathered after the cotton pickin’ was done; the quilts are filled with seeds that poke you sometimes. I managed to make my own version. Anyway, my dad told stories about his childhood job to sit under the quilt frames and catch needles during his aunts’ bees. He loved the job because he got to hear the gossip of the day.

My parents were quite crafty in their own ways after work in the evenings and on weekends; my father was a musician and my mother whipped up crocheted blankets in the blink of an eye. They fostered creativity and indulged our interests whenever it was clear that we were committed. We were all deeply involved in music; in addition, my sister is a great sketch artist and my brother made money on his macrame (it was the late 1970s). We were encouraged to practice, practice, practice and value quality of construction first and foremost.

I found my own love of sewing after taking a home economics class in high school. We each made a shirt and a pair of pants and I loved learning about the architecture of garments. Thereafter I made all my own formal dresses and even tailored a suit for my mother. That all got put on the back burner during college and graduate school, but five years ago while stressing out over my tenure application I rediscovered the relaxing nature of crafting. Late at night, I?d make tons of practice blocks trying, for instance, to find strategies for reliably matching points and managing all sorts of angles in piecing. It was the perfect diversion at the perfect moment.

FQ: You quilt, crochet, knit, embroider .Is there any craft you?ve tried that you didn?t like?

Chawne: There?s no need to discriminate. Every craft has its purpose and you never know when a technique will come in handy. It?s just great to learn new things!

FQ: In your flickr profile you describe yourself as a quirky knitting, spinning, cross-stitching and quilting math chick, do you see any link between the appeal of these creative arts and that of maths, which is after all, also comprised of patterns (only of numbers)?

Chawne: Because I use crafting as a way to reduce stress from work, I don?t tend to pursue mathematical ideas in it…yet. But it is important to note the universal nature of math?it is about much more than numbers and, in fact, is about finding and studying patterns in nature. Textile designers use mathematical principles of reflections, translations, rotations, and glide reflections to create patterns and to generate the manner in which the patterns repeat across the fabric.

I must admit to analyzing fabric geometries using these principles in my decision-making. There is also a vibrant community of mathematicians who are textile artists and use the medium to illustrate abstract mathematical concepts in a tangible way. An example is the crocheted hyperbolic planes of the Institute for Figuring. I?ve made a few of those for my own teaching.

FQ: Tell us a little about your creative workspace, do you have a dedicated space? or do you use this space for other things as well?

Chawne: I am lucky to have a dedicated sewing room. It is the place where I escape and so I don?t use the room for anything else. Hand-quilting and all other crafting happens in a cozy chair in my living room.

FQ: Which sewing machine do you use?

Chawne: I have the cheapest most basic Brother model. It really isn?t durable enough for all the sewing that I do, but I am not afraid to take it apart and service it before each new project. A new machine is definitely in my future. I?d love to get a simple industrial model machine with just the basic stitches that I can continue to manage to fix on my own. Those fancy computerized machines scare me a little and aren?t really what I want or need.

FQ: Do you work from craft books (which ones), online tutorials, bought patterns etc.?

Chawne: I still enjoy stitching up practice blocks from time to time in order to learn new techniques or just to hone skills. For these, I use online tutorials and free block patterns like on http://www.quilterscache.com“>Quilter?s Cache. When it comes to making a quilt, though, I prefer to work improvisationally or to draft my own patterns creating my own designs. And really it?s only through constant practice and acquisition of new skills that I feel I have the ability to execute my designs effectively.

FQ: Who inspires you?

Chawne: I am constantly inspired and invigorated by all the great quilting that is shared online on Flickr and on blogs every day. In terms of well-known quilters, I will fail to name many whose work I have studied, but here are a few.

I find Nancy Crow?s work to be a fabulously intricate geometric romp; I love how Malka Dubrawsky uses her own bright happy hand-dyed colors in fantastically liberated ways; and I admire Anna Williams? stunning use of small-scale scraps to form cohesive designs.

However, I think a more interesting question is ?what inspires you?? especially as my patchworking ideas are now migrating over into the realm of ?art? quilting. I am inspired by the work of graphic designers of the mid-20th century (mainly in advertising) and by all sorts of geometry and color-play found in contemporary photography. I have no idea how this will work out in my quilts-to-be, but it is fun to imagine the transference of imagery to other media.

FQ: What is the most favourite thing you’ve ever made?

Chawne: This is a bit like choosing a favorite child. I have made a few quilts and every single one has meaning to me. But if I had to choose one to share with you it would be this super scrappy improvisational quilt.
It represents to me the payoff of all my practice, the assertion of confidence in my sewing skills and fearlessness in use of color. With all those angles and twists and turns, to make this top be flat required constant vigilance with the steam iron and computations a few steps ahead of the next move. I was quite surprised and pleased to see it turn out okay.

Featured Crafter – Cluck Cluck Sew

Before we sit down and have a chat with the lovely Alison, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all SO much for supporting the first issue of Fat Quarterly. We have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback and are thrilled you like what we put together.

We want Fat Quarterly to be a magazine that you really look forward to each quarter. If you want to see more of one thing or less of something else – don’t be shy, you can leave us feedback here or drop us a note directly.

We caught up with Alison from Cluck Cluck Sew last week and here is what she had to say.

How did you end up becoming a quilter and how did you learn to quilt?
I started quilting June of ’08 when I saw the cover of a magazine featuring a quilt made with Katie Jump Rope fabrics by Denyse Schmidt and HAD to have it.  My mom has always been a quilter and helped me make my first quilt, and after that I was hooked.  I did a lot of research online about techniques and free motion quilting, and later that summer I did free motion quilting for the first time.  I never ever though I would be a quilter, honestly I thought it was only for Grandma’s…but I’m so thankful that I had the desire and help to give it a go.

Tell us a little bit about your creative workspace?  

 I am lucky enough to have a seperate room in my home that I have deemed the “sewing room”.  We just moved a few months ago, so I have finally finished organizing fabric and getting everything put in its place.  I can’t stand sewing when my space is messy or disorganized, so I have a lot of shelves in there where I can hide my mess and pretend its not there.  I used to lay my quilt blocks out on the floor, but after having sore knees all the time I decided to make a design wall.  Nothing fancy…just a piece of white flannel tacked to the wall. 

 Out of all the quilts you have made, which is your favourite?
My favorite quilt by a long shot is the quilt on my son Ben’s bed.  I think i called it Ben’s quilt (naming quilts is not my talent!) and its colorful, happy, and I still can’t believe how all those fabrics I used came together so nicely.  It makes me happier every time I see it, which means its doing its job!
How many quilts have you made?  Who do you make quilts for?  Do you store quilts at home or are they all in use?
Your making me think!  I have made about 55 or so quilts now, some small, some big and one or two art quilts for the walls.  I really don’t ever have a person in mind when making quilts unless I’m wanting a new quilt for my home, so I make them and hope that someone will have a baby or sell them on etsy.  
I store most of my quilts at home in a large buffet with open doors so they can peek through and I can stare at them all day.  I have a few in use around my house, 3 in my living room and four or five in the bedrooms on the guest bed and in the boys room.  I think that quilts should be used and loved, so I rotate quilts quite often so they all have a chance to be loved.  You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve opened up my quilt cupboard and found a quilt I’d forgot about completely!  
Which sewing machine do you use?
I mostly use a Bernina 1008.  Its a manual machine and some serious gusto.  Older Bernina’s are my favorite, my Mom has a Bernina 810 that is 25 years old and it is my very favorite to free motion quilt on.  I will save my quilt tops until my next visit home just so I can use it.  Right now I’m using a PFAFF triptronic also.  It does a fabulous job of patchwork, but a lousy job at free motion quilting. 
Who inspires you? 
Where do I start??!!  I get inspired a lot by other bloggers, as well as my blog readers that motivate me everyday. Above all though, my own Mom inspires me and is my biggest fan.  She raised her children and took the time to nurture us, but also was a great example of the importance of taking time for yourself too. 
Do you work from craft books (which ones), online tutorials, bought patterns etc.?
I only own a few craft books and I have only ever purchased 2 patterns, probably because I can’t follow a pattern to save my life!  I enjoy the process of seeing a quilt or thinking of a design and figuring it out myself.  I’ve always found that the math side of quilt designing comes easily, so I’ve never found it too challenging to figure them out myself.  I do use online tutorials if its something I love, and its always nice when the math is already done for me and I can just cut and sew!  I tear a lot of pictures out of catalogs and magazines for inspiration, and if I see a quilt I love I will snap a picture of it and file it away for future use. 
What other creative pursuits interest you?

 I enjoy gardening, photography, I enjoy scrapbooking (but now I’m so far behind its stressing me out), and some cooking.  This year I would like to try fabric dying and bleaching…but with two little boys running around it sounds like a mess just waiting to happen!  I would also like to get better at sewing clothing, but again…patterns and me are not friends. 

Thanks Alison for taking some time out to chat with us, you can see more of Alison’s wonderful work at www.cluckclucksew.com