I’m really excited to introduce to you our new Member Spotlight series on the blog. Every fortnight we will be posting up an interview with one of our members. Amy came up with this brilliant idea as a great way to find out more about each other. This week I’m delighted to introduce you to Lorena. I first met Lorena about three months ago when a few gals on Flickr decided to have a little coffee catch up locally. Lorena is very down to earth and has great taste – I just love her version of the Jane Market bag made from Denyse Schmidt fabrics. (Read to the bottom to find out how you can be part of this fun series.)
1. How long would you say you’ve been quilting for and what was it that got you interested in quilting?
I had a very creative upbringing, there was always sewing, weaving, pottery and so on to be done. Growing up I hated being different, it was embarrassing having shoes and a school case that my father designed and made and my mother sewed our school uniforms but I can now see how special this was.
The reason I chose quilting is because it ties in nicely with my pragmatic view that art and beauty should also be practical. A nice marriage between form and function. For me there is no greater expression of this than a beautiful and warm quilt or a functional and attractive tote bag.
Like many, I discovered patchwork and quilting when I had my own children and found myself with so many repetitive tasks. Quilting saved me, it gave me a creative outlet, my personal space and instilled the importance of creativity and perseverance in my children too.
2. What was your first quilt and how do you think you’ve evolved as a quilter from that quilt?
I learnt to quilt in an eight week beginner’s class with a girlfriend, we made 40cm quilt blocks. I was hooked and searched the internet for many different patterns, before I knew it I had made 16 blocks, enough for our queen bed. We still use this quilt and I’m surprised it’s survived so well given how terrible I was at needle turn appliqué, perfect seam allowances and even hand quilting.
The fabrics were scraps from dresses I’d sewn for my daughter and bits and pieces I picked up at the fabric shop. I used lots of solids and calico, mixed with pretty florals, I knew nothing about patchwork fabric and the only specific patchwork fabrics I recognised were Jinny Beyer and Liberty.
My blue and yellow palette is still very popular with the first time quilters I teach today. It makes me smile when a student comes in with a blue and yellow stash for their first quilt. I’ve given up on hand quilting my own large quilts as I’d rather be working on my next design! I love the look of hand quilting, I just don’t have the time.
3. What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on two quilts: the Little Apples Hexagons and Stars quilt for my daughter. I started this in a workshop with Catherine Butterworth last August using a layer cake of Little Apples fabric from Aneela Hooey. The range is pretty cute and has lots of stories to tell; I have fussy cut the images and rearranged them to tell another story incorporating many other fabrics to extend the colour palette and design. My daughter and I like to name each block and give it its own story. I’m on the home stretch with this one and hope to have it finished and quilted by November.
Of course I’m already working on my next quilt, another project started in a workshop, this time with Lessa Siegele. Her pattern is called Ring Cycles; it is based on a traditional block often known as Jack’s Chain. Because I like to add my own twist to things I’ve decided to piece the internal hexagon rather than appliqué a flower in each centre. I’m using lots of text prints as the background and tone on tone brights for the small nine patches, Alexander Henry’s Matchsticks fabric is giving me lots of scope to fussy cut the centre stars. I’m really happy with how this quilt is progressing. It’ll be another large quilt, maybe a replacement for our tired looking Blue and Yellow quilt!
4. Tell us about your sewing machine(s)?
I have a Husqvarna Sapphire 870 Quilter’s edition, it was new on the market when I bought it after a particularly sad and difficult year. I love the extra throat space and the auto features especially for patchworking and quilting- needle down, lock stick and thread cutting. I also have 4 basic Janomes that I use to teach beginners. The Janome is great first machine and the feet are interchangeable with my Husky. Definitely a bonus when other people are sharing your work space.
5. Do you prefer hand quilting, machine quilting or sending it out?
I’d love to have more time to hand quilt as I do love the look of either larger stitches with Perle thread or the traditional quilter’s stitch. Unfortunately it’s not high on my list of priorities and I end up sending most of my quilts out to be machine quilted. Michelle Turner has done a beautiful job on a few of my quilts, she did a fantastic job custom quilting A Symbol Recomposed earlier this year, it takes time to build trust with a long arm quilter, it’s important have an honest and open discussion on what you are looking for and what is achievable. I enjoy the process of designing and piecing a quilt top more than the quilting process and I’m happy to let a quilting professional work their magic to finish the job!
6. Do you sew on the dining table or do you have a dedicated space?
I have a dedicated sewing studio at home. I know how fortunate I am and this is definitely my happy place. It is the first thing you see in our new home and there’s quite a bit of pressure to keep it tidy. I love having a calm and ordered workspace but with two quilters in the family (Sofia, my 11 yo daughter also quilts) it often looks like a fabric bomb has gone off!
7. Name three of your favourite fabric designers.
Hmm, I tend to gravitate to the colours used by certain designers rather than loving everything they put out. I love the palette used by Denyse Schmidt in most of her ranges, I also find her geometric designs very useful. Anna Maria Horner has grown on me as her ranges work so well together but I’m not drawn to the plummy or pink colours and prefer her blue and green prints. Alexander Henry is always fun and colourful I particularly love his Mexican themed collections, Viva Frida is one of my favourite large scale prints.
8. Is there a fabric range out of the new season ranges that you’re drooling over?
I’m patiently waiting for my FQ stacks of Chicopee (Denyse Schmidt) and Field Study (Anna Maria Horner). I can’t wait to see how they work with my existing stash and then buy more yardage of the prints I love. I recently saw the preview of Stamped by Ellen Luckett Baker for Kokka. I’m attracted to the pared back blocky yet interesting design and the two tone colour prints of this collection. I think I’ll be able to make some great textiles for our new home and some groovy bags too.