Featured Designer

Featured Designer - Wild Boho May 01 2017 1 Comment

Nichole Vogelsinger - Wild Boho

What do you get when you cross embroidery and textile art?  This month's featured designer, of course!  Please welcome Nichole Vogelsinger of Wild Boho whose self-described style is a free-spirited blend of chaos and control!  

Nichole's style and creations have inspired me to look at fabric in a completely different light.  When I am thinking of bringing a line of fabric into the studio, I now not only consider what fussy cutting potential it may have, but also, how would it lend itself to surface embroidery.

Now, let's get to know Nichole!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Nichole: I was born, raised and live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, not too far from Philadelphia.

Jen:  Tell us about your stitching journey.  How did you learn to embroider?

Nichole:  My very first hand stitching project was a cross stitch bookmark that I started stitching when I was about 10 and finished when I was about 13!  That project took me FOREVER, and today I couldn’t even tell you where it is (although, I wish I could find it!)  It was about then that I decided cross stitch wasn’t really for me!  I loved the idea of stitching something by hand, I loved organizing my little bin of threads, but to actually sit and concentrate on a counted cross stitch pattern, well, it just wasn’t enjoyable to me. From then on, I half-heartedly stitched things from patterns but it wasn’t until about 2012 that I picked it up again. I had a toddler and a baby and the need to create!  I also was drawn to some of the beautiful fabrics that were being designed, and I wanted to do something with them.  Looking for smaller projects that could be portable, I began combining fabrics and then embroidering them, learning stitches as I went along.

Wild Boho Lotus Flower

Jen:  So, how did Wild Boho come to be?

Nichole:   Wild Boho began as a way to share my creative process on social media, connect with other artists and designers and not flood the feeds of my personal friends with the things that I was creating!

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your hoop art.  What are your inspirations?

Nichole:  I never really know where my next inspiration will come could be from a visit to an art museum, a run-through my local craft store, a fabric that has caught my eye, a quick stop at a garden interests and what I stitch really are all over the place.  I’m constantly inspired by what surrounds me, and I try to translate some of those interests into stitchable pieces!

Wild Boho Stitching Girl and Floral

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am...

Nichole: Counting down the time until I can pick up whatever piece i’m currently stitching!  And in the meantime, I’m probably cleaning up from my kid’s art projects and procrastinating on making dinner!

Jen: What is your favorite thread?

Nichole:  Hands down, Eleganza Perle Cotton from Sue Spargo.  The color palette is perfect for the colors that I am drawn to working with, and I love how Perle cotton looks in my work.  I also love her new Ellana Wool Threads as a way to add in different weights and textures.

I’ve also recently been working with other fibers such as mohair, silk, etc.  I’m always looking for a new element to work into my embroidery!

Wild Boho Studio

Jen: What is your worst sewing habit?

Nichole:  Piles!  Piles which stem from taking on too many projects at the same time!  I have a minimum of 3-4 hoops that I work on at a time and usually about 5-6 sitting in piles with my thread choices waiting for me to be stitched up.  When inspiration hits and I actually have the time to work, I can churn out several hoop ideas...but then those hoops get added to the piles of the hoops that I put together previously, and it’s just a vicious cycle!  I’m sure every crafter out there can identify with this cycle, though! Right?!  I can’t be the only one!

Jen:  What is one sewing notion that you can’t live without?

Nichole:  Scissors!

My two favorites are my Tula Pink Micro-Tips and my Fiskars Micro-Tip Spring Scissors.

Wild Boho - Fall Market 2016

Wild Boho - Fall Market 2016

Jen:  With Boho Embroidery now on the shelves, any new big plans for the rest of the year?

Nichole:  I've been working on creating patterns that can be created using the embroidery skills that readers have picked up from Boho Embroidery.  My most recent pattern (available in my Etsy shop), the Fractured Color Wheel, is based on the color wheel from the front cover of my book, which wasn’t an included pattern.  I want to continue creating patterns that each person can tailor to the fabrics and colors that they love and that allow them to add embroidery and create personal works of art that they can proudly display in their space!

Boho Embroidery          Wild Boho Color Wheels

In the meantime, be sure to follow Nichole on Instagram for more inspiration in your hoop!

Featured Designer - Lilabelle Lane Creations March 01 2017 2 Comments

Sharon Burgess

I first got to know our next Featured Designer, Sharon Burgess of Lilabelle Lane Creations through her Instagram feed.  Her creations are stunning and so very inspiring.  After having spent some time (albeit by email) interviewing Sharon, I was even more amazed by her talent and touched by her stories.  I look forward to meeting her in person one day!

But for now, let's get to know Sharon!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Sharon: I am an English Born Aussie Girl.  I was born to English parents in Aldershot in the UK and moved to Australia at a young age with my Mum, Dad and little Brother. Most of my life I lived in the beautiful historic town of Echuca, along the Mighty Murray River, and I now live 1-1/2 hours down the road in stunning Bendigo which is steeped in history from its Gold Rush heritage.  We are surrounded by beautiful architecture and a vibrant café life which combines the history of the town beautifully with our modern lifestyle.

Jen:  Tell us about your stitching journey.  How did you learn to sew? To quilt?  What drew you to English Paper Piecing?

Sharon:  Growing up I was witness to my Mum spending many hours at her sewing machine sewing clothing and even a wedding dress. My Dad used to drag our dinning room table into the lounge room to paint so the creative gene was always there for me, but it was not until after the birth of my 4th child that I borrowed my Mum's sewing machine in a need for another craft.  Whilst I had her machine, I visited one of my local quilt shops, signed up to a beginners quilting class and was hooked.  That was about 7 years ago, and now, not a day passes without my needle or thread meeting in some way.

Early in my quilting journey, I was introduced to another Aussie Designer, Leanne Beasley.  In one of her magazine publications, she had a pattern for a simple EPP Hexagon Quilt.  This technique was new to me at the time so I decided to give it a go.  I fell in love with the portability of English Paper Piecing and having a young family at the time, I found it perfect for the little snippets of sewing time I had available to me.  My true love for English Paper Piecing developed when I first saw the cover quilt on the Willyne Hammerstein book “Millefiori Quilts”.  I was looking at this muted tone quilt on the cover, but in my mind I was seeing brights and the chance to explore fussy cutting.  When I started my La Passacagalia, it was not as known or as popular as it is today; it was relatively unheard of so I was not able to search a hashtag like you can today and be so inspired.  Also, before I started this quilt I was not even aware of who Tula Pink was and there for did not own a single piece of her fabric.  It was an exciting journey to begin upon.

For me now English Paper Piecing is a true love, maybe even bordering on an addiction. I love the chance to take a designer's fabrics, play and fussy cut it in a way that makes that fabric mine.

La Passacaglia by Sharon Burgess of Lilabelle Lane Creations

Jen:  So, how did Lillabelle Lane Creations come to be?

Sharon:   In a previous life, I was a “reborn artist”.  When my youngest child was born, I changed my nursery name to “Lilabelle Lane Reborns".  The Lilabelle is derived from my youngest child's name ‘Lily Isabelle’.  For those not familiar reborn, this art form is where you take a vinyl sculpt of a baby and paint it, layer upon delicate layer and bring it to life. The aim is to make the sculpt as realistic as possible.  Even every tiny hair upon a sculpt's head is inserted one at a time and the babies, when assembled, are weighted to that of a real newborn.  So essentially they are lifelike dolls, and I am very fortunate to have my creations all over the world.  I even had some ‘babies’ working as therapy dolls in nursing home with dementia patients.  It was through this craft that I borrowed my Mum's sewing machine.  As my focus changed away from reborn and into other crafts, I changed my Blog name to “Lilabelle Lane Creations” a name which has grown with me during my journey with fabric and thread.

Reborn Libby

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations?

Sharon:  My inspirations are drawn from my surroundings, and in the case of my “Tenderness Pattern,” from experiences (the story of this Quilt can be found on my blog).  Inspiration is everywhere, we just have to be open to seeing it, and I believe sometimes it will speak to us when it is ready to become more than just an idea.  I never know when inspiration will hit, but when it does, I stop everything and just start sketching and writing down the ideas and see if it eventuates.


Lilabelle Lane Creations

Lilabelle Lane Creations

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am...

Sharon:  Spending quality time with my growing family and our Pug Puppy Elly.

Jen: What sewing machine do you use?

Sharon:  I use a Bernina 570QE and I love it. It is like my 3rd arm.

Jen: What is your worst sewing habit?

Sharon:  Placing small fabric offcuts and thread trimmings into a coffee cup that is not quite empty!

Jen:  What is one sewing notion that you can’t live without?

Sharon:  My thimble (for hand sewing) and my sewing machine, sorry that’s two!

Jen:  Any big plans for the year ahead?

Sharon:  Oh Yes, my first book, “Quilting on the Go:  English Paper Piecing” is set for release in April.  This has been a labour of love for most of 2016 and a dream come true.  I will be forever grateful for the wonderful team at Tuva Publications for this opportunity.  My book has 16 projects within it, ranging from smaller makes like Pincushions, a Pouch, a Dilly Bag through to a baby quilt, a larger quilt and then a “Millefiori” inspired piece.  I am so excited to be able to share this fussy cut creation with everyone.  It is the major piece for my book, and currently there are four very talented ladies playing with this pattern and each is creating an artwork so different to mine yet amazingly perfect and such an amazing credit to each of them.  I feel very blessed.

For those of you that love English Paper Piecing, be on the lookout.  I expect Sharon will have more eye candy to share!

Featured Designer - Natalie Lymer January 01 2017

Natalie Lymer

A customer actually brought my attention to this month's Featured Designer, and I am so glad that she did!  Please welcome Natalie Lymer of Cinderberry Stitches from Australia.  Natalie is not only a textile and fabric designer but also an illustrator.  Fortunately for us, she has translated some of these adorable drawings into embroidery designs.

Now let's get to know Natalie!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Natalie: I was born and live in a town called Geelong, located in Victoria, Australia.  We now raise our children just down the road from where I grew up as a child.

Jen:  Tell us about your stitching journey.  How did you learn to sew/quilt/embroider?

Natalie:  My Nan, Ella was a beautiful dress maker, although she never got the chance to see me designing and sewing, I often watched her sew.  I often wonder what creations she would have made with my fabrics and still remember tip toeing my way through her sewing room dodging stray pins in the carpet.  I learnt sewing basics, both machine and hand stitching at school, but most I of what I have learnt today has been self-taught.

Jen:  So, how did Cinderberry Stitches come to be?

Natalie:  I have always loved drawing even well before I picked up the needle and thread.  I think once I found the art of stitchery and embroidery, I loved that I could combine the two together and so the first Cinderberry designs were born.

Natalie Lymer Studio

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns and embroideries.  What are your inspirations?

Natalie:  The process for designing begins with a theme or story line.  I sketch as many things as I can telling the story through pictures. Once I am happy with the design work I ink the images and begin tracing to fabric to start the embroidery process.

For me inspiration is everywhere, but here is a little look inside my mind when thinking of new designs to sketch.  Watch the kids playing.  Listen to words, write them down.  Be a part of nature, look closely at plants, leaves, seeds, draw them.  What makes you smile? Use your imagination, believe anything is possible and look around. Think of something from your childhood. Sit in a café and watch the people go by, smell the air.  Look up, look down.  Read children’s picture books and imagine illustrating them. Inspiration is everywhere when you stop and look. 

Mermaid Waters    Mermaid Dreamer

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am...

Natalie:  When I am not sewing I am either reading or having fun with our children.

Jen: What sewing machine do you use?

Natalie:  I love using my Bernina Aurora 440 but my favorite type of sewing is off the machine and hand stitching instead.

Jen: What is your worst sewing habit?

Natalie:  Running out of bobbin thread, always!

Jen:  What is one sewing notion that you can’t live without?

Natalie:  I can't live with out a good pair of embroidery scissors, my favorite needle and a good cup of black tea.

I love Natalie's approach to inspiration and how that has translated to her creations.  I don't know about you, but her drawings and designs certainly bring a sense of innocence and the sweetness of a young child.

Be sure to check out the Cinderberry Stitches website to see more of Natalie's work and download her lovely free pattern Butterfly Twist.  

We are also about to launch the Mermaiden Tales Block of the Month.  Click HERE to register while supplies last!  In the meantime, you can shop our Cinderberry Stitches collection at Red Thread Studio.

Butterfly Twist

Featured Designer - Wendy Williams November 01 2016

Wendy Williams 

As we look to bring in wool and more wool appliqué patterns and projects, I was delighted to discover this month's Featured Designer, Wendy Williams of Flying Fish Kits.   Wendy works closely with Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession in Sydney, Australia and has a distinct style of her own with a bright, fresh take on wool appliqué.

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Wendy: I was born and raised in a town called Wollongong which is approximately 1-1/2 hours south of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Jen:  Tell us about your quilting journey.  How did you learn to sew?  To quilt?  Have you always worked with wool felt?

Wendy:  I was taught to sew as a small child, being the youngest of four children.  Everyone in my family stitched, mum, nana, aunts, sisters; it was what we used to do in our spare time.  I have always loved embroidery and hand stitching, and I guess it all came together when I tried wool appliqué.  I have always done appliqué, so I guess it was inevitable that I would try using wool and eventually wool felt as my medium of choice.

Jen:  So, how did Flying Fish Kits come to be?

Wendy:  This came about as I already had a business called Flying Fish.  I used to have it as a children's clothing label so when I turned to patchwork and quilting, I decided to keep the name.  And, I have always thought flying fish were pretty cool. 

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations?

Wendy:  My inspiration comes from my life.  I love nature, trees, animals, flowers etc which are featured often in my designs.  I love colour, and I think this is the motivator for me...working with a new background and playing with colour combinations.  I am never bored with how colours interact and play together.  I enjoy designing with specific topics in mind, it narrows down my realm of possibilities and helps me to focus.  I always use a design wall and spend a crazy amount of time 'looking' at my work in progress.  I drive myself (and my family) mad sometimes rearranging and trying something different on the wall.  Mostly I love the creative process, but sometimes it is hard, and it can make me want to throw the piece away and start on something else.  I have learnt that if I work through this, the outcome is so much more worthwhile.  I always learn something new about colour and design with each new quilt or piece I make.

Round the Garden by Wendy Williams

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am...

Wendy:  When I am not sewing I usually wish that I was.  The down side of making new quilts etc., is that soon I will need to write up the pattern.  This is the hard part where I have to be diligent and sit quietly at my computer for quite a considerable amount of time.  Making them is definitely more fun than writing them.  

I find hand stitching is especially relaxing. I can get lost in my thoughts when my hands are busy.  When I am not hand stitching, I am working on either of my Bernina sewing machines.  I have the 440 Quilter's Edition, and this year, I have added the 215 model with a stunning skin designed for a retreat I was teaching at Uluru (the big rock in the centre of Australia).

Jen: What is your worst sewing habit?

Wendy:  My worst sewing habit would have to be starting a quilt and then not liking it and wanting to start something else new. I have learnt to keep working through my doubts until I am happy with it. Sometimes the quilts come together really quickly and other times I have to work a little harder to perfect it. 

Jen:  What is one sewing notion that you can’t live without?

Wendy:  I can't live without my thimble.  In fact, I feel naked even threading a needle without having it on my finger.  I recently purchased an antique thimble holder that you wear on a chain around your neck.  It works wonderfully with my antique silver thimble.  With this new toy, I don't have to search for my thimble anymore.  Hopefully, this will mean more time actually stitching. 

Jen:  Any new big plans for the rest of the year?  

Wendy:  After I return from Houston, I have a few more teaching gigs in Australia and New Zealand.  After that I am looking forward to my Christmas vacation at my holiday beach house on the south coast of New South Wales and then a whole month off to relax and work on new designs. 

Fruits of a Wendy Williams workshop

Be sure to check out Wendy's Instagram feed for some wonderful eye candy or shop our collection of Flying Fish Kit patterns at Red Thread Studio.

Featured Designer - Sylvia Pippen October 01 2016

 Sylvia Pippen

What do you get when you combine sashiko with hand appliqué ?  For me, it is my zen time.  Living in South Florida, I was immediately attracted to the work of this month's Featured Designer with her tropical designs and use of vibrant colors.  Please welcome Sylvia Pippen of Sylvia Pippen Designs!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised? And where are you now?

Sylvia:  I was born in the San Francisco Bay Area into a family of artists and musicians who influenced me at an early age.  I am a classical flutist, and my other enduring passion is gardening.  I was a landscape designer and perennial grower for many years in a small rural town in New England where we raised our two children.

I have loved cloth and sewn from a very early age alongside my mother, Kitty Pippen, a well known quilter who works with Japanese fabrics and sashiko.  Always involved in needle arts, Kitty started her quilting career at age 70, wrote a bestselling book at 80, and is still going strong quilting up a storm at 96.

When the children left home, we swapped the forty acres for a 40 foot sailboat and had a series of sailing adventures, including sewing on an old Pfaff machine powered by a wind generator.  I learned to make good quilts in cramped quarters, bad light as well as sewing canvas and sails.  Instead of sailing to Hawaii, we flew over to visit a friend and fell in love with the islands.  We sold the sailboat and moved to Kauai where I worked as a gardener in the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

My husband Peter, myself and our two dogs lived seven years on the Big island of Hawaii close to the ocean and lava flows.  We had enough land to grow lots of tropical fruits, veggies and of course loads of flowers.  In 2014, we made the move across the pond to the small town of La Conner in the Skagit Valley of Western Washington, two blocks from the wonderful La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum.

Jen:  Tell us about your stitching journey.  How did you learn to embroider?  To quilt?  Have you always enjoyed sashiko?

Sylvia:  I am a hand quilter, and my niche is appliqué combined with sashiko.  I was drawn to sashiko because my mother uses it in her Japanese quilts.  I decided to try using it to outline non-traditional designs, especially foliage that is hard to capture in appliqué and was captivated by the effect.  My latest venture is cyanotype and surface design to create unique fabric.  Cyanotype, an old photographic process produces blue and white images on cloth when exposed to the sun, combining beautifully with sashiko and appliqué.  Silk paints that act like dyes can also be sun printed, creating complementary fabric.

Jen:  So, how did Sylvia Pippen Designs come to be?

Sylvia:  I started my quilting career on Kauai, inspired by the flamboyant colors of the tropics and all the terrific Hawaiian quilters who encouraged me to design, along with my mother Kitty.  My mother and I co-authored a book, Asian Elegance and did a lot of co-teaching.  I distinctly remember the moment when I decided to retire my tools and quit my job as a gardener in the Botanical Garden and put all of my energy into building a quilt business.  It felt like jumping off a cliff, either to sink or swim.  I had to learn computer skills, design a website, learn about marketing, printing, in addition to designing quilts and kits, teaching and lecturing. I am a left handed right brain person so organization and business skills are not my forte. I have had lots of help along the way from my CPA daughter and graphic artist son as well as encouragement and support from my husband Peter.  I also have extraordinary employees who package kits, run the office, and mange the website.

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations?

Sylvia:  My design process is very mysterious, it is called trial and error. 1% inspiration and 99% struggle to get it down on paper.  I study photos of the images I want to work with and do many drawings on real paper, not on the computer. I often start with the appliqué elements, flowers, fish, etc. and then design the complementary sashiko design around them. Everywhere I go I find inspiration, especially when traveling, experiencing new flora, fauna and indigenous art. I just taught on a cruise to Alaska and was so inspired by the Tlingit and Haida art. I am very affected by the natural environment around me and my future quilts will reflect images from the Pacific Northwest.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am...

Sylvia:  ...tending our 1 acre garden of veggies, flowers and fruit, or hiking with our doggies. We have a new granddaughter in Hawaii, so trek often across the pond to visit and catch up with all my quilting friends there too. I also help take care of my 96 year old parents who live 1/2 mile away in assisted living. We try to escape on our little 20 foot sailboat and sail the San Juan islands.

Jen: What is your worst sewing habit?

Sylvia:  I never was good at math so I have to measure once, twice, three times or more. It is probably why I like appliqué instead of piecing!

Jen:  What is one sewing notion that you can’t live without?

Sylvia:  Sewline's starch based fabric glue pen. I use it for 2 of my appliqué methods, and it is indispensable for glue basting.

Jen:  Any new big plans for the rest of the year?  

Sylvia:  I travel and teach but my favorite teaching venue is my own studio. Nothing is better than staying local in our beautiful historic town and meeting quilters from far flung places. We have fabulous light, views, and room for 14 quilters at a time. All the supplies and resources are on hand, no need to bring anything besides basic supplies. We have big gardens where students can forage for flowers and foliage that can be used for printing or translated into sashiko and appliqué designs. The rest of 2016 will be spent traveling to teach and holding two workshops in my studio, Cyanotype and Sashiko and Sashiko and Appliqué. Both workshops are very popular with waiting lists, so I will be scheduling more for 2017.  Check my website for dates. I am also working on a book about my appliqué methods.

I am excited to announce the release of our fourth Block of the Month, Coral Reef (31-1/2 inches by 50-1/2 inches) in October 2016.  For the first time, I am using different sashiko thread colors for the coral, shells, and waves, combined with appliquéd fish. It will be an 8 month BOM program, and participants have the option of receiving the Coral Reef BOM monthly or saving on postage with a one-time purchase. The co-coordinating fabrics are two beautiful digital prints from Hoffman Fabrics. I have sourced just the right fabrics for the tropical fish, especially from Marjorie Lee Bevis custom Marbled Cotton for the fins and tails. We will include detailed instructions on my favorite methods to pre-form appliquéd fish: heat resistant press-over Mylar, Apliquick, and using a postage label and Sewline Glue.

Coral Reef Block of the Month by Sylvia Pippen 

I am super excited for Sylvia's new Block of the Month.  In particular, I love the jellyfish and her use of fabric to illuminate the body of the jellyfish.  I just returned from a trip to Central California where I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and was mezmerized by the jellyfish exhibit.

Initially, Coral Reef will only be available directly from Sylvia but we plan to stock it at Red Thread Studio as soon as we can!  In the meantime, check out the Sylvia Pippen Designs collection at Red Thread Studio.

National Sewing Month - Let's Celebrate! September 01 2016 11 Comments

National Sewing Month

It's time to celebrate!

Did you know that National Sewing Month was first observed in 1992 when Ronald Reagan declared September as National Sewing Month "in recognition of the importance of home sewing to our Nation"?

September is a great time to start new projects, finish old pieces, learn new techniques, and share your love of sewing with family and friends.  But we all know that we can enjoy sewing's creative, therapeutic and calming effects all throughout the year!

At Red Thread Studio, we are also celebrating our Featured Designers.  To kick things off, we've rounded up posts from the blog's archives that highlight these talented ladies.  Click through the links below to learn about each Designer and to locate the special coupon code for 25% off their respective collections at Red Thread Studio (through September 30th or while supplies last; excludes Block of the Month programs).

We're also giving away an adorable embroidery kit by Sara Milligan of iHeartStitchArt - scroll down to the bottom for more details!

Jessica VanDenburgh Sew Many Creations Logo   Julie Herman Jaybird Quilts Logo


Sara Milligan I Heart Stitch Art Logo                 Deb Fisher Bo Twal Logo


Heather Gray Modern Needleworks Logo                Alison Glass Alison Glass Logo


Janeene Scott Passionately Sewn Logo              Katja Marek Katja Marek Logo


Jen Kingwell Jen Kingwell Logo                 Sue Spargo Sue Spargo Logo


Liz Stiglets CozyBlue Logo                    Fionna Jannsen  Happinesst Logo


Lynn Krawczyk Smudged Textile Studios             Kathy Doughty Material Obsession Logo


Pauline McArthur Funky Friends Logo         Shannon BrinkleyShannon Brinkley Logo


Rosalie Dekker Rosalie Dekker Logo             Helen Stubbings Hugs N Kisses Logo


Lee Chappell Monroe May Chappell Logo


GIVEAWAY:  Sewing Machine Embroidery Kit by I Heart Stitch Art

Sewing Machine Embroidery Kit

You can enter the giveaway by simply:

  • Leaving a comment below telling us who is your favorite quilt, embroidery or needlecraft designer and why (and it doesn't have to be a Red Thread Studio Featured Designer but would love to hear if it is!)
CONGRATULATIONS THERESA, you've won the Sewing Machine Embroidery Kit! Check your email.

The Giveaway is open worldwide and ends September 30th at midnight EST, and the winner will be chosen using and announced on this very post.

Good Luck and Happy Sewing!

Featured Designer - Helen Stubbings of Hugs'n Kisses August 01 2016 2 Comments

Helen Stubbings of Hugs'n Kisses 

This month's Featured Designer aims to bring simple techniques to every stitcher and believes that every project is achievable by anyone.  Her motto in life is just one stitch at a time. 

This belief has led Helen Stubbings of Hugs'n Kisses to create lovely, yet achievable embroidery, appliqué and English paper piecing designs using her easy methods.

Please welcome Helen, another wonder from down under, who lives in Hobart, Tasmania!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised? 

Helen:  I was born in the tiny country town (population ~1800) of Penola, South Australia – at the centre bottom of Australia.  I grew up on a small sheep farm about 20 miles from town.  We caught a bus to school for about an hour each way every day and went to town for shopping and sport on weekends.

Jen:  How did you learn to embroider?  To quilt?  Did you stitch as a young girl?

Helen:  My grandmother taught me to embroider – she had a fancywork box full of printed panels and a mix of threads.  We started on gingham and progressed to her precious doily panels.  She also taught us (my sister and brother also) to crochet, knit and sew – she was a dressmaker and did alterations for most of her life.  Growing up, I learnt and tried all manner of crafts from macramé, Hobbytex, painted pots, tissue box covers and more.  I was a Hobbytex ‘master artist’ at age 11 and won the country show aggregate craft award that year also. 

Quilting came much later in life.  As a full-time musician in the Australian Army, I took two years maternity leave with my first child and began a certificate course in textile skills.  Our last major elective was patchwork and quilting – so I got a great 6 month basics course in everything quilting.  My grandmother (in her 70's) actually started to quilt while my sister and I were also learning.

Jen:  Complete this sentence.  When I am not stitching I am...

Helen:  ...thinking about stitching! – well designing in my head always… I do also like to spend time with my girls, enjoy an occasional wine and love good food – who doesn’t! 

Razz A Dazzle Close Up

Jen:  So, how did Hugs'n Kisses come to be?

Helen:  As mentioned before I was in the regular army as was my husband, and we moved around a lot.  With two small children and no family support, I chose to discharge and needed something to fill my day and provide a little more income, so a home based business doing something I loved was the next step.  It has since supported a third unexpected child and is now a full time multi-faceted business taking up most of my every day.

Jen:  Can you describe your style?  How has it evolved? 

Helen:  I started as a true embroiderer (did I mention that when we had to vote for that last major elective – I voted for Elizabethan blackwork!), but when I made the decision to turn my hobby into a business, I knew that I had to evolve into styles and techniques that were suitable to a larger audience.  I began with just simple backstitch stitchery designs – which are still very popular now.  Not being satisfied or challenged, soon after I began to develop techniques that I both liked and could share beginning with colourque© - coloring with pencils on fabric to get an appliqué effect.  Then I moved onto perfecting a new needle turn appliqué method, a technique I loved doing but people were terrified of.  That then evolved into my latest passion – using the same product and principles – to develop the easiest and most addictive method of English paper piecing.  Now I like to combine everything into one project!

Temora Traveller Close Up

So, that wasn’t really about style though was it?   I'm not good at defining my style – I might leave that up to you...But anything I make has to be enjoyable, pleasing to the eye, and easy to get a great finish – it’s all about the therapy.  People need to enjoy doing it and enjoy getting great results that people heap praise on them for – that’s what’s makes you feel good – take the praise- you made it, you deserve it!

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your stitcheries and quilt patterns.  What are your inspirations?

Helen:  I am never short on ideas and inspiration – just the time to make them all or so many ideas I can’t settle on just one and make a start.  I get a lot of design ideas from architecture, design in the environment and other cultures.  When I travel, I always take photos of buildings, doors, entrances, carpets, old wallpapers, anything with design ideas and elements within them that I can pick apart and use or be inspired by.  I collect books and ideas from old or traditional cultures such as Hungarian or Scandinavian embroidery and modernize them to suit my style.  Then there’s flowers – I love my garden and anything floral… color palettes are perfect from nature..  

Hugs N Kisses Collage

Jen:  With a new fabric line already out (Basically Hugs/Low) and a new Block of the Month (Razz A Dazzle), any new big plans for the rest of the year?  

Helen:  Well, lots actually, too many… a café to open, a learning centre to complete building and to start classes, a new book to release at Houston along with a new fabric range – just to keep me busy… and in there somewhere, I have another quilt along to design and get organized.. and somewhere in there, I need to get in a couple of those occasional wines and smell the roses.

Jen and Helen Stubbings with Razz A Dazzle

I look forward to catching up again with Helen in October in Houston.  In the meantime, I am pleased to announce that Red Thread Studio is offering Razz A Dazzle as a Block of the Month program!

You can also learn even more about Helen including her worst sewing habit in a video interview with Helen and seven other Featured Designers at Spring Quilt Market in Salt Lake City this past May or check out the Hugs'n Kisses collection at Red Thread Studio.

Featured Designer - Shannon Brinkley July 01 2016

 Featured Designer - Shannon Brinkley

Our featured designer for July is Quilter, Designer, Author and Teacher - Shannon Brinkley.  Shannon is known for turning scraps of fabric into gorgeous, modern art quilts by collaging a variety of fabrics, vintage and new, with different colors, tones, and patterns to create really interesting and unique textures.

Now let's get to know Shannon!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Shannon:  I was born in Houston, TX and raised mostly in Katy, which is just outside of Houston.  Though when I was 6 years old, my father was transferred to Amsterdam where we lived for several years. 

Jen:  Tell us about your quilting journey.  How did you learn to sew and quilt? Have you always worked with collage fiber art?

Shannon:  I have always been a maker: cross stitching, weaving, collaging (paper), to name a small few of my childhood hobbies.  In 5th grade, I made probably 50+ dream catchers (the evidence of this is still scattered between various family members' homes).  My grandmother taught me to sew when I was around 12, but I didn't begin quilting until college.  I studied education, and in my Children's Literature class, we were assigned to create a timeline of children's literature.  For some reason, lost to time, I decided to create a quilted timeline.  It was a simple patchwork grid quilt with images of the sequential influential book covers, and was way above and beyond what I needed to do for the assignment-- but I received a 100% and was hooked.  Shortly after that, I visited the International Quilt Festival in Houston where I fell in love with the craft, and with raw edge appliqué in particular.  It was then that I began playing with fabric.

Jen:  How did your book Scrappy Bits Appliqué come to be?

Shannon:  I approached the craft of quilting in an unusual way.  Unlike most sane people (who, to learn a new skill, buy books, take classes, etc), I jumped right in and just began to play and experiment.  I knew raw-edge appliqué had something to do with fusible web, and I went from there.  I later did seek out books and classes to improve my skills, but that was after I developed my own style and technique.  After years of perfecting this process and after more exposure to the quilting arena, I noticed that I did not see anyone creating quilts in a similar manner.  It was here that the notion of writing a book to teach the process was born.  I did a little research on quilt publishers, discovered and swooned over Stash Books' style, called and chatted with the acquisitions editor, submitted a book proposal, and boom.  I think it was that playful, exploratory approach to quilting that made my style so unique, and ultimately secured the book deal. 

Mosaic Tree from Scrappy Bits Applique by Shannon Brinkley

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations?

Shannon:  That's a great question.  Initially, my inspiration was simply, "What kind of images would be interesting on a quilt?  What images would kids want to cuddle with?  What images would I like to hang on my wall?" I still ask these questions but have a lot of other sources for inspiration as well. 

I think it is important as a designer not to seek inspiration solely in your field. This is not a new idea, but it is a crucial one if you want to be unique.  So I don't pay too close attention to what other quilters are making (just enough so I can stay aware of what's going on in the industry), rather, I find shape and color inspiration in nature, literature, sculptures and other fine art, old books, maps, architecture, fashion-- really everywhere. My eyes are always open to interesting color palettes, shapes, and concepts. I always carry a notebook around where I scribble all my random ideas and inspiration, and the camera roll on my phone is full of pictures and screen shots of inspiring images, most of which are completely unrelated to textiles. 

Quilts by Shannon Brinkley

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am…

Shannon:  Listening to audiobooks (though I do that when sewing too), writing, cooking, practicing yoga, and spending as much time outside as possible.  Not doing anything tremendously active, mind you, I just love a good walk, and my soul required a daily allotment of trees. My husband and I also love craft beer and travel.

Jen:  What sewing machine do you use?

Shannon:  I have a Janome Horizon 8900. It's stellar. 

Jen:  What is your worst sewing habit?

Shannon:  Hmmm.. I don't know that I believe in a worst sewing habit. I am an unrepentant rule breaker.  Hence, the diving into quilting without first reading a book. I take craftsmanship very seriously and strive to constantly improve, but I am also completely okay with breaking any rule I feel so inclined as to break.  I sometimes don't hide my threads between the quilt layers, and just lockstitch and snip.  I measure as seldom as humanly possible. I haven't serviced my machine in forever (that might be one I should fix). Otherwise, I make the quilts I want to make in the way I want to make them and worry not of rules.  

Jen:  What is one sewing notion that you can't live without?

Shannon:  Probably my "grip gloves."  They are almost always on my hands when I'm sewing.  It makes me feel like I'm dealing with important artifacts or performing surgery! That aside, I like having more control over the fabric, so I will wear them not only when free-motion quilting, but satin stitching, binding, often even piecing. 

Jen:  Any big plans for the rest of the year?

Shannon:  Always. I have several new quilt patterns that I am dancing-around-the-room-excited about.  A few are very different from those in my current collection.  I will be traveling to teach and speak a ton, which I love doing. I'm designing another fabric collection, and I have another super secret project that I have been dreaming about for years, and am now working on everyday! Stay tuned. 

I am curious to know more about this secret project!  Maybe I can squeeze more out of Shannon when I see her at Fall Market in Houston later this year.

In the meantime, you can learn more about Shannon's technique in her book Scrappy Bits Appliqué or take a her Scrappy Appliqué  Workshop online.

Also, we will be adding a selection of Shannon's PDF patterns to the Red Thread Studio website.  Which skylines are you interested in making?

Featured Designer - Red Thread Studio Squares June 01 2016

Red Thread Studio Squares

Since we are on the heels of Spring Market, I decided to share recent interviews with some of our past and future Featured Designers - a mash up, of sorts, instead of introducing a new Featured Designer for the month of June.

These lovely ladies were good sports and agreed to be videoed while answering a short series of questions:

  • What sewing machine do they use?
  • What is their worst sewing habit?
  • How many quilts/softies have they made?
  • What is their all time favorite quilt block/EPP Shape/Softie?
  • What is a notion that they can't live without?
  • And, are they slow sewing or instant gratification?

You can see their candid responses here in the following Vimeo video:

Red Thread Studio Squares from Jennifer Lee on Vimeo.

I hope you enjoy watching the video as much as I enjoyed making it!  

A heartfelt thanks to the following Red Thread Studio Featured Designers:

 So tell me, how would you answer these questions????

Featured Designer - Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession May 01 2016 2 Comments

Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession

Our featured designer for May is known for her eclectic style and innovative techniques.  She is also the founder of Material Obsession - Sydney, Australia's most popular quilt shop, author of five books, and currently a fabric designer for Free Spirit Fabrics.

Please welcome Kathy Doughty!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?  What took you to Australia?

Kathy:  I was born in Illinois, but grew up in lots of different places in Ohio, Rochester, New York and New York City.  I worked for Swatch Watch in the 1980’s and met my husband at one of our World Cup Snowboarding events.  We got married and moved to Sydney to raise our family.

Jen:  How did Material Obsession come to be?

Kathy:  As a self taught quilter I was looking for styles of fabrics for my quilts and not finding them in the local shops.  Stripes, spots, and at that time, retro prints were my main focus.  Remember that in 2003, the internet was a newish entity.  We could see what was available in the USA but couldn’t find it here so opening a shop seemed like the right thing to do!  The goal was to buy fabrics for the shop that were what we wanted for ourselves.  From the day we opened the shop, things moved very quickly.  For the first few years I had a business partner, but since 2008, I have run the shop with my husband and a team of talented quilters which has been fun.

Jen:  You have a beautiful, distinct sense of style and color.   Did it just come to you naturally or has it evolved over time?  

Kathy:  Thank you!  My sense of color is just a personal interest in the way fabrics work together.  I like one fabric to appeal to another but not necessarily to match…a word that isn’t really in my vocabulary.   Over time I am sure it has changed and evolved to what it is now and will continue to evolve as time goes by.

Jen:  If you could offer one piece of advice to new and seasoned quilters alike for finding their own sense of style, what would it be?

Kathy:  To the new quilter as well as to the experienced quilter looking to grow, I would say consider the environment around you with an open eye.  The way to interesting work is to be the individual that you are…be true to your own instincts.  You can break any rule you want to break if you are aware of the consequences.  Take the time to look and see what you are doing.  Assess as you go, be open to change and enjoy the process.

Jen:  Can you tell us about your creative design process and how that works through the quilts and the books as well as the fabric lines that you have done?  What inspires you?  

Kathy:  I am inspired by so many things.  I like to visit art galleries for color combinations or design directions.  I love antique quilt books for layout and structure ideas.  In truth though, most of my designs actually happen on the design wall in my studio.  I start a quilt with a stack of inspiring fabrics and a shape, and then I lay out the pieces on the way until I like how they work together.

For my fabric ranges, I like to find a fun motif that I can turn into a story in my mind.  The first range, A Wandering Mind, was inspired by my collection of Kantha quilts from India and the second, Trail Blazing, was inspired by the environment I grew up in.  Since joining  Free Spirit Fabrics I have done Flock Together, again with a theme inspired by the chatting parrots outside my studio window, and my next range explores a playful look at Folk Art called Folk Art Revolution.  I think of my customers and the quilts they make when deciding how to structure the designs.  I want the fabrics to be usable by quilters so I think about medallions, borders and shapes within quilt blocks with large or small designs.

I write my books based on my experiences in the shop.  I like to consider where my customers have issues with tools or with different styles and fabrics and create a path to exploring shapes and designs.  The books chronicle my own experiences as I am sure that it reflects the experiences of others!

Jen:  Which is your favorite quilt that you have made and why?

Kathy:  I think I like Gypsy Kisses from Material Obsession 2 the best.  It looks old and authentic which is something that I love.  Although I generally work with bright colors, I love reproduction fabrics and old style color combinations.  I believe if the quilting sisters of the past had our fabrics they would have loved using them in what are now the antique quilts we love!

Gypsy Kisses

Gypsy Kisses by Kathy Doughty

Jen: Complete this sentence. When I am not stitching, I am…

Kathy:  ...thinking about stitching, doing yoga or sleeping.

Jen:  With a new fabric line already out (Flock Together) and a new book (Mixing Quilt Elements) and fabric line (Folk Art Revolution) to be released, any new big plans for the rest of the year?  

Kathy:  I am doing a lot of teaching and working in my shop which I love!  I really enjoy working with customers and helping them work, but no matter what, it will involve quitting, designing and well, yoga!  

Recent workshop in Asilomar, CA

Asilomar Workshop - Kathy Doughty

A block combining Kathy's fabrics with other fabric lines.

Kathy Doughty Fabric Block

Kathy's latest book - Mixing Quilt Elements

Mixing Quilt Elements by Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession

Up until now, I've enjoyed following Kathy on Instagram and drooling over her books.  Now, I look forward to meeting Kathy in person later this month at Spring Market in Salt Lake City, UT and to getting a more intimate view of her new fabric line -  Folk Art Revolution!  So stay tuned!


You can also watch Kathy's video interview!

Featured Designer - Happinesst April 01 2016

Fiona Janssen

In my quest for new and modern cross stitch designs, I stumbled upon Happinesst, a delightful Etsy shop with a very talented owner and designer, Fiona Janssen.  Fiona was open to the idea of selling PDF versions of her designs on our website, and the rest is history!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Fiona:  I was born and raised in the south of the Netherlands.  I lived my whole childhood in a town with my parents and younger sister.  I studied civil engineering and traffic engineering.  Now I live with my husband, 10 year old son and 2 bunnies in a small town in the state Noord-Brabant.  I’m not a city girl; I love the tranquility of nature and especially the mountains...unfortunately,  we don't have mountains in the Netherlands!

Jen:  How did you learn to cross stitch? Did you stitch as a girl? Any photos of your first cross stitch projects?

Fiona:  When I was a little girl I wanted to cross stitch just like my mother.  I remember I started a very cute sampler with little gnomes, but I never finished it.  I was constantly making counting mistakes, and I had to start over and over again.  I got frustrated and never touched a needle and thread again until some years ago.

Jen:  So then, how and when did you passion for cross stitching begin?

Fiona:  Since I was a little girl, I was surrounded by fabrics, needle and thread.  My mother and her two sisters were all fervent embroiders, and the oldest sister of my mom was a professional sewer.

I was never very interested in needlework or stitching, but four years ago I got knitting wool for my birthday.  Slowly I started knitting…. crocheting… sewing and stitching!

I discovered I like it very much, and it makes me forget the daily concerns.  Unfortunately my mother and her oldest sister can’t teach me anymore since they have both passed away.  It makes me more than happy that the only sister left, my godmother, teaches me everything she knows about embroidery and needlework.  And believe me, that’s a lot!  She is a great needle artist and a real professional.  My first projects were a little needle book and a pincushion.

First Cross Stitch Project - Happinesst

Jen:  So, how did Happinesst come to be? Why did you decide to start creating cross stitch designs?

Fiona:  I started Happinesst after a pretty tough period in my life.  My mother died after a long illness, and in my personal life, a few things happened whereby I got to thinking about what really matters in life.  I decided to quit my job as a traffic engineer at the government and took some time to heal and feel...feel what really makes me happy.  I discovered that I’m at my best when I create things.  The feeling of making and creating brings me a lot of satisfaction and inner peace.

During this time, I was visiting my godmother a lot, and she told me stories about my mother's childhood.  Meanwhile, she taught me how to cross stitch. When she suggested that I should design cross stitch patterns, I thought it was a crazy idea.  But, after some thinking, I decided to give it a try.  I bought software, started making designs and opened my Etsy shop.  I get great response on my patterns, and my business is still growing.  And the best of all, designing patterns doesn’t feel like work as it gives me joy every day.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I’m not stitching, I am….

Fiona:  Taking care of my 10 year old son or redecorating our house.  Interior design is my other passion.  I especially love Scandinavian style and like to match it with vintage and industrial items or, of course, self-made items...I’m always creating things.  Further, I like (and have :) to work out at the gym and like to try to learn to play the guitar with my son.  As much as possible, we take a break and travel around the world to discover new beautiful places.

Jen: How would you describe your cross stitch style?

Fiona:  My cross stitch style is mostly the same as my interior style and fashion style.  People always tell me that I have a special, clearly identifiable style, but it's hard for me to describe because it’s not is who I am.  I would describe it as modern, robust, beautiful matching colors and not too many frills.

Jen: Tell us about the process for designing you patterns. What are your inspirations?

Fiona:  My inspiration is everywhere. It can be not only a beautiful flower or a leaf in nature, but also a pattern in a fabric or the trends that come and go.  At the moment, for example, you see cactuses and succulents everywhere, so I decided to make some cross stitch patterns with cactuses.  Traveling also gives me a lot of inspiration.  I made a geometric bear pattern and a mountain pattern when we were traveling through the Canadian Rockies as well as a beautiful geometric ornament inspired by the tile which was in our bathroom when we were in Portugal.  I’m already looking forward to our trips to Italy and Greece later this year, which should give a lot inspiration for beautiful new patterns.  Typically, I take a picture of something that inspires me and use that as a basis to work out a pattern on my computer.  I prefer this approach instead of designing something out of the blue.

Custom orders from my customers also inspire me to develop new patterns as this keeps me in touch with what people like and want to stitch.  I have a complete set of birth samplers in my Etsy shop now only because someone asked me to design one for her.  I realized that people want to stitch for that special occasion, so I started making birth sampler patterns.

Jen:  Which of you designs is your favorite and why?

Fiona:  The geometric heart pattern in different shades of teal is my favorite. It’s designed in my favorite colors and reflects the best of what I want to be: powerful, well-balanced and a little bit romantic.

 Fiona's favorite pattern - Geometric Heart in Teal

Jen:  What is under your hoop now? Do you have any photos that you can share?

Fiona:  I’m experimenting with stitching on wood...making some small ornaments as a gift or to decorate the house.

 Stitching on Wood

Jen:  Any big plans for the rest of the year?

Fiona:  First of all, enjoying life as much as possible...spending quality time with my husband and son...taking some great trips.  For Happinesst, it means making a lot of new patterns; I have so many great ideas in my mind and not enough time to let them come out!  And there are plans to expand Happinesst with another Etsy shop.  What it is, well, that’s still secret...but it’s in needlecraft as well.

I can't wait to see what Fiona has planned!  In the meantime, you can also check out our collection of Happinesst PDF patterns at Red Thread Studio.

Featured Designer - Sue Spargo March 01 2016 9 Comments

Sue Spargo

While I am personally new to stitching with wool, I have admired the work of this month's Featured Designer for years.  Sue Spargo is a self taught textile folk artist and designer whose lush and rich work with wool, a needle and thread inspires so many.

Her work has been shown in art museums and exhibitions around the world.  Sue also teaches her techniques and creative process at workshops and retreats and has authored several books including Creative Stitching and Creative Texturing.

Now, let's get to know Sue and learn about her stitching journey!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?  How has this influenced your designs and use of color?

Sue:  I was born in Zambia, and at five, I moved to South Africa where I grew up and received my education.  In my early twenties, I moved to England, returned to South Africa three years later and finally moved to the US in my early thirties.  Southern Africa has had a considerate influence on my life and creativity.  I am influenced especially by the energy and color of traditional African designs.  All of these experiences combined to stir my love of primitive arts and crafts and drew into my focus on contemporary folk-art. 

Bird Dance

Jen:  How did you learn to quilt and embroider? Did you stitch as a girl? 

Sue:  Growing up my mom sewed, and I loved to sew with her from a very young age.  I was fortunate enough to be exposed to home economics throughout my elementary and high school education.  Making barbie doll clothes in the early years and then sewing clothing for myself and making my first hand pieced hexagon quilt in high school.  I was never exposed to embroidery growing up, and it didn't become part of my designing until about six years ago. 

Jen:  How and when did your passion for stitching begin?

Sue:  I spend a lot of time on the road teaching and am always looking for new techniques to teach my students.  My stitching began as two stitches on a pincushion and has evolved from there.  I was so taken by the response I received from the students in the class; they were so excited to learn the embroidery.  I also found a love for the dimension and texture that stitching added to my pieces that I became fascinated with the transformation of wool work. 

Jen:  How have you evolved over time?

Sue:  Gradually over time, I taught myself more stitches and played with more threads and fibers.  I became fascinated with trying different fibers such as silk, rayon, cotton, linen, chenille and wool threads and how each thread gave a different texture on hand dyed wool.  I also discovered that doing the same stitch in all these different fibers changed the appearance of the stitch.  By familiarizing myself with the different stitches, I began to realize which stitches to use to give my appliquéd images character.

Jen:  Tell us about your creative process for your patterns/designs.

Sue:  I have always started a project with an open mind allowing it to evolve as I work layer by layer.  I start out by doing an ink drawing of the basic layout and appliqué design.  I then enlarge my design to the appropriate size.  I take each block one at a time, starting by layering my background.  I then cut out the first layer of appliqué and appliqué it in place.  Once appliquéd I revisit the block to begin my layering.  I continue in this manor until the color and placement of images is pleasing to my eye.  I use a combination of hand dyed wool, cotton, linen, silk and velvet in my appliqué.  The very last part of my hand process is bringing my images alive by adding stitching using a multitude of textural fibers in different weights.   

Imperial Blooms Flower Play

Jen:  I've had the pleasure of meeting and working with Kelly and Jason.  Do the rest of your children also work with you on your business?

Sue:  I have four wonderful children - three who work in my business and a son who lives in New York City.  I am very lucky to have creative children who each have an interest in different sections of the business.  Kelly maintains the website and works with our wholesale customers, as well as, hand dyes one of our popular threads called ‘Dala’.  Jason hand dyes all our wools and velvets in our in-studio dye room and is in the process of taking over publishing of my books and patterns.  And Aimee keeps us all on track as she is in charge of our finances and social media.

Jen:  Complete this sentence, when I am not stitching, I am...

Sue:  Sleeping… or giving my children lots of jobs.

Jen:  Having taught thousands of students, what is the one piece of advice you would offer to both seasoned and budding stitchers alike?

Sue:  There are no rules in my classes.  My advice is to allow yourself to be creative and to not follow any rules.  The best pieces of art come when you allow yourself to take chances, try new techniques and become confident in your choices.  Planning inhibits your creativity so I encourage all of my students to let their pieces evolve from the beginning. 

Jen:  If you could only pick one stitch to use from now on, what would it be and why?

Sue:  The bullion knot.  It was one of the first stitches I taught myself.  It really enhances wool appliqué as it is more of a dimensional stitch.  I also love the variations I have come up with that totally change the appearance of the stitch.  Over the years I have realized it is not about learning many stitches it is about mastering one and the way you can manipulate that stitch to have many different appearances.  This is achieved by playing around with a stitch and using different types of fibers to make the stitch.

Jen:  I quite like the name Bossy Boots!  What inspired the thread color names for your Eleganza Perle Cotton lines?

Sue:  Kelly named each of the colors in my line of Eleganza.  She’s our word girl! We spent a long time formulating the colors for the line, and we wanted the names of threads to show our excitement for this new venture.

Eleganza Close Up 

Jen:  Late last year, we learned that you were diagnosed with breast cancer.  Like so many other fans, I follow your progress through your stitching journal that you’ve shared since receiving treatment.  I can imagine that this is a great outlet for you as you navigate through a difficult journey.  Did you also keep a stitch journal or a sketch journal prior to being diagnosed?

Sue:  I have always had a sketch journal that I use when designing.  I have never done a stitch journal but started my stitch journal because I felt as though it would give me a positive focus each day.  My stitch journal is done on a two yard piece of hand dyed wool that Jason specially dyed for me.  Each image is stitched from my heart and representing a moment from each day, it is my own therapy through this journey.  As a designer everything I create, others want to make which makes it hard to have the time to create personal pieces of art.  Some days this journal is enjoyable, and other days, I find it hard to stitch but the most important thing is that I keep a positive focus in my life.

Stitch Journal Collage - Sue Spargo

Jen:  With this new life experience, do you have a message you would like to share with other stitchers and quilters out there?

Sue:  I’ve always felt as though you should live life to the fullest whether that is spending time with family, traveling, being spontaneous, following your passion, be ever evolving or sharing your talents.  It is important to follow your heart and to do what you love.  This diagnosis has made me more aware of what is important to me.  I would remind my fellow stitchers that you have one life to live and it is important to reach for the stars! 

Sue Spargo

I am grateful to Sue for sharing her story with us.  Coincidentally, the fortune in my fortune cookie today said, "Big journeys begin with a single step."  Perhaps it should read, "Big journeys begin with a single stitch"!  I look forward to beginning my wool appliqué journey and to experimenting with new threads and textural fabrics.

You can find more inspiration and resources by Sue Spargo at Red Thread Studio and on Sue's website.

Sue Spargo Collection


Sue is coming to Stuart in January 2017!  Register Now!

Featured Designer - Katja Marek February 01 2016 6 Comments

 Katja Merak

As a busy mom on the go, I was delighted when I first learned about our Featured Designer for this month, Katja Marek, and her book The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece.  She introduced modern techniques and tools along with projects, both big and small, that have helped make EPP popular again.  I am personally enjoying rekindling my love affair with handwork and look forward to the possibilities that Katja continues to bring to the table.

Now, let's get to know Katja!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Katja:  I was born in Moers ( in the Northern Rhine region of Germany.  We lived there until two months before my 8th birthday.  I had just finished grade two.

From Moers we moved to St. Catharines Ontario Canada (  When we moved to Canada, we didn’t speak any English, so back into grade two I went.  They did, however, make some concessions by putting me into a grade one English class and a grade five Math class for a while.  By the end of grade three, I had caught up and went directly into grade five.

At 14, my family moved again to Parry Sound Ontario Canada, where my family bought a camp/resort, complete with housekeeping cottages and campground. This is where I completed high school and for the most part considered ‘home’.

Jen:  How did you learn to quilt? Did you stitch as a girl?  Any photos of your first quilt?

Katja:  I have sewn as long as I can remember.  I do not, however, remember ever being taught or learning to sew.  My Mom was a tailor, and as I was growing up, she took in alterations in order to stay home with my sister and me.  We visited daily in the sewing room, and I think that sewing came to me by osmosis...sewing and other handcrafts that is.  I also crochet, cross-stitch and do some knitting.  I always tell people that I grew up under my mother’s sewing machine.  At 12, a neighbor asked me to sew doll clothing for dolls to be sold at a church rummage sale and, in exchange, I was able to keep one doll.  I’ve also drawn much of my life, winning the Art Award in high school.

When we moved to that camp in Parry Sound, the cabin beds all had homemade coverlets on them.  I fell in love with a traditionally set Grandmother’s Fan.  I immediately set about making templates (read that as, very thick cardboard from the back of a sketchbook).  I rifled through the scrap bins and cut up old clothing and leftovers from sewing my mom had done for others.  The background fabric is a piece, probably poly/cotton that my Grandmother had sent from Germany.

I had sewn a lot but didn’t know much about seam allowances in quilting, and this quilt has everything from 1/8” to 1/2” seam allowance.  I was aware enough to know that I had to trace around my templates and sew on the line.  The quilt is an odd size at 53ish” x 87.5ish”, but fit my European twin very well.

Katja's First Quilt

I call this quilt “My Seven Year Quilt”.  Now this may lead you to believe that I made it in seven years, not so.  I actually worked on it every seven years until I finished it at 35.  I started it at 14 having just moved to the camp, worked on it again at 21 and newly married, again at 28 with young toddlers in the house, and finished at 35 when I was Guild President.  I had a friend take it to the only long-arm quilter in the area at the time, and she was quite embarrassed to tell the woman that the president of the guild made this quilt.

I am very proud of this quilt that started my journey, and it is a true memory quilt. My only sibling, my sister, passed away in 1978, and this quilt is a journey through our childhood with the fabrics it contains.

The original coverlet that inspired me to make this quilt came back to me in the summer of 2014, 40 years later.  My aunt and uncle who had stayed on at the camp after my family left, had kept many treasures from those day.  As they prepared to move during 2014, they called to say they had a quilt from the camp days, and would I like it.  I did not know until they arrived at my shop, that it was THE coverlet that started me on my journey so many years before.


Jen:  How and when did your passion for English Paper Piecing begin?

Katja:  I actually balked at the idea of English Paper Piecing at the beginning.  The year I was guild president (1995-96), we had a workshop in English Paper Piecing, and my thought was, why, when we have sewing machines and rotary cutters.  After I opened my store, I hired Carla in May 2002, and Carla English Paper Pieced daily.  Watching her became infectious, but it wasn’t until newer techniques (glue) made the process so much more doable that I really fell in over my head.  I had a few projects on the go, like a 1” hexagon charm quilt, rose star blocks, Christmas ornaments which were all traditionally thread basted, but glue revolutionized my life.

Then the hexagon obsession hit me somewhere around 2009/2010, and I started dreaming of what I could do with hexagons, by breaking them down and designing inside them.

Jen:  Complete this sentence, when I am not quilting or working in my quilt shop, I am...

Katja:  …in my garden.  I feel the need to have my hands in soil, to watch the flowers and bees, to eat something that I’ve grown.  I currently live on the smallest property than I have my entire life, but it is still mine.

If I were able, I’d live by the water, and then you would find me at or near the waters edge.

 ‘I am at home in the garden, and my soul is soothed by the sea.’ – Katja Marek

Jen:  How did your book, The New Hexagon, come to be?  What inspired you to write it?

Katja:  I started dreaming of the hexagon, specifically fractured hexagons where the possibility lay inside the hexagon, treating it as a block, not a unit in a quilt around 2010.  I drew by hand, but decided I needed a more professional presentation.  I set myself a task to use EQ to draw my blocks, and by 2011, I was ready to plan a program to run through my shop.

I started a Block-a-Week Hex-a-thon in January 2012, which turned out to be extremely popular.  This was a pattern only Block-a-Week program.  Our customers paid a commitment fee to sign up, and if they came in during the week the pattern was available, then they never paid again.  They could not send in a proxy and had to pick up the pattern during the week that it was available or pay a small penalty of 50¢.  Over the course of the year and all those 50¢ penalties, we raised $1,350.00 to donate to our local Hospice House.

A friend gave me the push I needed and encouraged me to write a book, to which I replied. 'No, I couldn’t do that'.  The idea was firmly planted though, and I worked very hard to put a proposal together.  I sent that proposal to Martingale at the end of July because I had a great working relationship with them for years, as their customer.  In September, I had my contract in place.

The New Hexagon

Jen:  You have named each of the 52 blocks in your book. Did you name them after women you know or did they take on personalities of their own?

Katja:  When I first ran the 52 blocks as a Block-a-Week program through my shop in 2012, the blocks had no names.  This program ended up being very successful and travelled far.

My business is largely a female based business, and I feel very blessed to be able to do what I love, day in and day out.  When I received my contract from Martingale in September 2012, I was already 3/4 through the program and thought without the women that had participated and made it so successful, I wouldn’t have this book deal.  I wanted to acknowledge some of those women by naming the blocks after them.  I couldn’t use every name because there were too many, so I chose those women that had been the most faithful to the program.

Jen:  How and when did you conceive the idea for The New Hexagon – Millefiore Quilt Along?

Katja:  In the summer of 2012, I received a line of Kaffe Fassett fabric, which included a piece called 'Millefiore', which I fell in love with.  I looked up the definition and thought perfect!

Millefiore is a glasswork technique, which produces distinctive decorative patterns on glassware.  It is made by fusing multicolored glass canes together, cutting them crosswise, joining them into new groups and creating new, often kaleidoscopic designs.  The term millefiore is a combination of the Italian words "mille" (thousand) and “fiore” (flower), plural "fiori" (flowers).

I loved the kaleidoscopic nature of this fabric, and knew I wanted to translate this into a quilt.  Not just any quilt, but one based on the blocks in my book, to allow quilters another way to use these blocks.  I loved the idea that this was much like the ancient glass caning technique of old, that by cutting and re-piecing the fabrics, I was creating new designs from identical units.  These identical units are the fractured hexagons from my book, radiating outward from the center to form a rosette.

Rosettes are round, stylized flower designs and have been used in architecture and design for centuries.  It derives its name from the natural circular shape formed by leaves radiating out from the stem of a plant, suggesting the petals of a rose and was often carved in stone, wood, or made of metal to create decorative elements.

I wanted a design of overlapping rosettes reminiscent of throwing pebbles into a pond.  So I drafted a basic hexagon grid and overlaid concentric circles that would form the rosettes. It was important to me that each rosette be distinct and different from the others and this would be achieved by using the blocks from The New Hexagon, each already different and distinct, by nature of the shapes contained within.

Jen:  Can you share with us your approach for choosing fabric for the Rosettes, both individually and how they play together within the quilt top?

Katja:  I wanted my Millefiore quilt to be like an English country garden containing a riot of colors, with each of the large rosettes being a different color combination.  I also look for lines within a fabric that will create flow within the blocks, and therefore the rosettes.  Curves within a leaf or a paisley can create a soft rounded edge with my blocks and rosettes drawing the eye in, out or around the rosette as in Rosette 5.  Contrast of color and value can give a sharp edge or division where desired.  This is especially visible in Rosette 6 in the defined star.  Around the edges of the quilt, the small partial rosettes, I tried to balance color within the quilt, by repeating colors I had used elsewhere in the quilt previously.

Rosette 5 \

Jen:  What inspired your latest quilt along, Blocks on the Go, for Quilts on the Grow?

Katja:  With the end of The New Hexagon – Millefiore Quilt-Along approaching and its overwhelming success, I was asked by Martingale about what I had planned next.  I had seen in the past several years how handwork had once again risen within the quilting community and decided to create a quilt-along that was truly 100% about handwork.  A quilt-along where each block is also a finished ‘quilt-let’ and the project is ‘always done’!   Once you have made one block, created its quilt-let and finished the quilting on it, you are finished!  Completely!  If you go on to make another block, turn it into a quilt-let and complete the quilting; you are again done.  Sew it to the first completed block/quilt-let and again you are done.  However far you go, you will always be done when the block is done.  NO UFO’s!  Throughout the program I give ideas for what combinations of different blocks can be if you go no further; however this is unlikely to happen, because these little quilt-lets are addicting.

Jen:  With an international best seller, two quilt-alongs and a new perpetual calendar on the way, any other big plans for the year ahead?

Katja:  When my book was released, I hoped for success having put my heart and soul into this project.  But did I ever expect to have the number 1 book with Martingale for the entire 2015, absolutely not.  Completing the book and running the first and starting the second quilt-along has not stopped me from coming up with more and more designs.  To date, I have 806 fractured hexagon blocks in my database. I have gone from being unknown to being a recognized name by many in this wonderful industry.  It has been a blessed journey through serendipity.

The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar releases in July 2016 with a year full of new fractured hexagon blocks.  I already have a 2017 quilt-along planned that will use blocks from the calendar.  I will continue to release ideas for using the blocks from the book and calendar on my website.

I have been included as one of the designers for Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson’s The Splendid Sampler starting on February 14th and running as a 1 year long FREE online quilt-along that will culminate in a book through Martingale.

I have a full-time storefront shop in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada and am trying to fit in more and more new teaching commitments so I am grateful for fabulous staff to pick up the slack when I am away.  I have many, many ideas floating around in my head, and I continue to work with Martingale, so you may well see more ideas from me in the future.

In the meantime I am still ‘Discovering the ‘Hex’-abilities’ and invite you to join me. 

I love Katja's story and look forward to seeing her new ideas!  Have you started your EPP journey?  Shop The New Hexagon collection at Red Thread Studio and start yours today.

Featured Designer - Alison Glass January 01 2016

Alison Glass

To kick off the New Year, we are featuring Alison Glass, a surface designer who has made her mark not only in designing her own fabric lines for Andover Fabrics but also designing quilt patterns and embroidery designs.  I first met Alison at a school house session at Quilt Market in the Fall of 2014.  Not only do her patterns, designs and color sense appeal to me, but also her advice during her lecture really resonated with me.  She shared that in order to evolve your business, you must create an experience and give each customer a vision.  From there, one should help their customer achieve that vision or goal and connect with him or her along the way.

I appreciate how Alison has built out her brand in hopes of teaching others new skills to, as I quote from her book, Alison Glass Appliqué, "create lovely, useful things yourself, each packed with meaning and beauty."

Now, let's get to know Alison!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Alison:  I was born in Galveston, TX and lived in Houston for a bit.  My family moved to Austin just before I started elementary school, and I lived there until eight or nine years ago.  (Alison now lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.)

Jen:  How and when did your passion for handmade begin?

Alison:  I have always loved art and drawing; it is simply a huge part of who I am and handmade just flows naturally from that.  My grandmother and mom made lots of handmade things, and I always knew there was a lot of value in what they were making.  I love the individuality of handmade, that a person can create the ideal version of an item for whatever purpose is needed.  It allows mundane typical things to have more meaning and beauty. 

Jen:  How did you learn to quilt and embroider?  Did you stitch as a girl?

Alison:  I guess I am mainly self taught in sewing.  I did take a couple of classes as a kid, but really started sewing when I had a place of my own to make things for.  Most of the things I sewed starting out were ‘for the home’ items, just whatever was needed.  I did make a quilted bumper for my kids crib without really thinking about it being quilting.  A lot of my recent quilting and embroidery stems from my work as a fabric designer. 

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not creating, I am…..

Alison:  Working or being with family probably. :)  The business requires a lot of time that isn’t really creating, but I do love it.  I am really enjoying building something.  I have two kids, both in middle school, and most of the rest of my time is spent connecting with them and my husband.

Jen:  So how did Alison Glass Design come to be?

Alison:  I started out doing interior design for clients with a little bit of organization thrown in.  I started using a lot of fabric from the quilting industry for the space designs and got very interested in the idea of designing it myself.  In the fall of 2011, I started showing designs to manufacturers and ended up working with Andover.  My first line shipped the next year and about a year later, I released the first embroidery patterns.  A lot has happened between then and now.

Jen:  How would you describe your style?

Alison:  This is always such a funny question because it’s so open ended.  With fabric design I tend to like dense and colorful with a lot of detail in the artwork, except for Handcrafted, where I think space is essential and good color combinations are key.  With spaces, I tend to like industrial and a little sparse with colorful artwork and details as accents.  We are moving soon, and I’m excited to get to make a space for us that is consistent with this, which is not something we’ve had the opportunity to do for quite a few years.  With clothing I’m generally super basic, jeans and t-shirts.  So, I guess my style depends a lot on the context.

Jen:  Tell us about your creative process for fabric lines.  For your embroidery patterns?  For your quilt patterns?  What were your inspirations?

Alison:  I get a lot of inspiration by just looking at the world and things in it.  The tiniest shape or color can be a starting point.  I also really enjoy naming the fabric lines, and find that once I find a good name that has some sort of meaning or story attached to it, the designs within the line come together easily.  Color in general is very inspiring to me, and the process of combining the colors is something I love to do and get a lot of energy from.

Jen:  Any big plans for the year ahead?

Alison:  There are always a lot of plans and ideas for things I would love to do, I just need more time to do them all!  The studio is moving as well as our family, so the first things we will do in the new year will be to get set up and operating smoothly in the new spaces.  The new studio will have way more space and opportunity for organizing, and I expect our physical space to have a really positive impact on the creative work.  I am really looking forward to getting into a lot of designing in the next year.

I am excited to see what Alison has in store for us this year.  I know that I plan to do some surface embroidery using a panel from her Ex Libris fabric collection.  Shortly, we will also be launching a new kit featuring her Indigo Handcrafted fabric collection.   In the meantime, you can check out the other Alison Glass patterns, designs and fabrics that we stock at Red Thread Studio.

Alison Glass Indigo Handcrafted

Alison Glass

Abacus by Alison Glass


You can also check out Alison's video interview!

Featured Designer - Bo Twal December 01 2015 2 Comments

Featured Designer - Deborah Fisher of Bo Twal

Our featured designer for December couldn't be more appropriate as we enter into the holiday season and especially today, Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving thanks.  Please welcome Deborah Fisher of Bo Twal patterns whose mission is to provide handmade dolls to children in underdeveloped countries and income to local sewists. 

Let's get to know Deborah!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Deborah:  I have lived on Long Island, NY since I was very small, except for some years in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.

Jen:  How did you learn to sew?  How and when did your passion for dolls begin?

Deborah: My mother taught me to sew.  She had her sewing machine set up on a desk in our family room and there were shelves full of fabric and supplies for making things.  My father built a big round table for us to work on.  I started sewing dolls at about 10 years old when I found a Loretta Daum Byrne pattern in a sewing magazine.  I would make the same doll body over and over and make each one a different costume.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not creating, I am…..

Deborah:  ...thinking about what to make next!  Also, I'm taking care of my family, and running my 2 nonprofits, Bright Hopes Collaborative Quilt Project, and Bo Twal.

Jen:  What does Bo Twal mean and what led you to create this nonprofit?  How many children has Bo Twal touched to date?  Are there any plans to expand your footprint outside of Haiti?

Deborah:  Bo Twal means cloth kiss in Haitian Creole.  Bright Hopes is a very local community project, and I wanted to work more internationally.  I was inspired by a young woman I knew who was very interested in international education for girls.  So far we have provided dolls for about 75 kids, and the sewists in Haiti are currently working on another batch of dolls.  We would love to expand beyond Haiti!  We began with Haiti because we were able to partner with PeaceQuilts for Haiti.  Now we are actively on the lookout for opportunities in other countries as well.

Haitian Girl and Haitian Sewists


Haitian Kids

Jen:  Tell us about your creative process for your dolls.  What were your inspirations for the Sewing Smiles dolls?  Bo The Bunny?  The Underwater Quintet?

Deborah:  The Sewing Smiles Doll pattern began as a way to use some of the scraps left from the quilts I designed for Bright Hopes.  It is a simple pattern and very customizable. This is the pattern that the sewists in Haiti use to make the dolls for the children there.  We love seeing what the sewists come up with to make each doll different.  They are expert embroiderers and stitch each child's name onto their doll.  

Sewing Smiles Dolls

For our second pattern we wanted to introduce an animal, so along came Bo the Bunny, our first pdf pattern.  Bo has quilted ears and my signature 3-dimensional nose.

 Bo the Bunny

The Underwater Quintet, also a pdf pattern, was inspired by underwater creatures that my daughter made.  They have such simple shapes but have loads of charm.  It is fun to add your own touches to any of the five projects in this pattern. They also come with Sew it Simpler instructions if you want to make simpler versions.

Underwater Quintet

Jen: Any big plans for the year ahead?

Deborah:  We are so excited that our next pdf pattern, Scandinavian Animal Friends, is almost ready for sale.  I first designed these animals for the Sew Mama Sew Oakshott Scandinavia Challenge.  There was such a positive response that we decided to have them be our next Bo Twal pattern.  There are eight projects in this pattern!

Scandinavian Animal Friends

For our next Bo Twal project, we have been discussing a handprinted cut and sew kit.  And, coming up in February will be the release of my new book, Quilt Giving: 19 Simple Quilt Patterns to Make and Give!

We look forward to Deborah's new pattern and book and to continuing our partnership!  Please join us in celebrating generosity this month.  Click here to Sew It Forward.

Featured Designer - Jaybird Quilts November 01 2015 1 Comment

What's not to love?  She is sweet as candy!  Meet our featured designer of the month Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts.

As a quilter, I find that her patterns have so many possibilities.  As an online retailer, I appreciate the thought that has gone into each one of her patterns to ensure that each design is easy to understand and to follow as well as the tutorials that she provides so I can direct customers her way once they purchase a pattern.

And her rulers are so easy to use that they actually make cutting fun!  You can read more about the Jaybird Quilts Hex N More ruler on an earlier blog post.

Now let's get to know Julie!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Julie:  Huntington Valley, PA in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Jen:  How did you learn to sew/quilt? Did you make quilts as a young girl?

Julie:  I borrowed my mom's new Husqvarna in college and never gave it back to her.  My mom is a seamstress and always wanted me to learn how to sew.  I didn't start making quilts until my early twenties (you can read more about Julie's early days on her blogpost The Beginning).

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am…..

Julie:  Scrapbooking. I love Project Life!!

Jen:  How did Jaybird Quilts come to be?

Julie:  I had been thinking about starting a quilting blog around 2007-2008.  I started my Jaybird Quilts blog shortly after my Grandfather Nate passed away.  If there was anything in life that we wanted to do, he always encouraged us to go for it.

Jen:  How would you describe your design style?

Julie:  Modern, traditional, geometric.

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns. What are your inspirations?

Julie:  I've always noticed patterns out in the world.  On buildings, walking paths, floors.  Lately I've just been cutting shapes from my Jaybird Quilts rulers and putting them together like puzzle pieces to see what I can come up with.  Sometimes I'll design on the computer...other times just working with fabric, my cutting mat and rotary cutter does the trick for me.

Jen:  How did you arrive at the color palette for Kona Solids designer series with blues and greens?

Julie:  Orange was my favorite color growing up.  Now, I'm into blues and the green blues that go with them.  Maybe it's because orange and blue are opposites on the color wheel, I'm not really sure.  I just find blue to be calming, and I find a lot of inspiration in that.

Jen:  With a designer palette for Kona Solids and five new patterns this year, any big plans for the balance of the year? For the year ahead?

Julie:  I just announced my latest Block of the Month design, Sweet Tooth.  I'll spend the rest of the year getting the Sweet Tooth book ready to go to print.  It will ship to shops in early January.  I've already got a pattern or two in mind to debut next year.

In the meantime, you can check out the Jaybird Quilts collection at Red Thread Studio including her newest patterns Boomerang, Arcade Game, Mini Splash, Mini Stereo and Mini Giggles.


Featured Designer - May Chappell October 01 2015

Our Featured Designer for October is Lee Monroe Chappell of May Chappell.  Lee is a designer, blogger and teacher that not only has deep roots in quilting but also the most infectious smile around!  

You can check out her blog here, but in the meantime, let's learn more about Lee!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Lee:  I was actually born in Winston Salem where I live now, but we moved when I was two.  I grew up in Dallas Texas and didn’t leave until college.  Since we rarely moved when I was a kid, I decided to make up for it by living in Austin Texas, New Orleans Louisiana, Reading Pennsylvania, Greenville South Carolina, Atlanta Georgia, Washington DC and Wilmington North Carolina before moving back to Winston Salem.  I am here to stay!

Jen:  I understand you came from a long line of quilters.  Can you tell us about your quilting heritage and how May Chappell came to be?

Lee:  There are a lot of sewists in my family.  My mother can make anything! She’s made wedding dresses and suits.  My business is named May Chappell for her Grandmother (my Great Grandmother) as a nod to how sewing and quilting skills were passed through the generations.  My Hattie’s Dresden pattern is named for May’s sister, Hattie.

Hattie's Dresden

My Dad’s family is also full of quilters.  Their quilts are works of art; I have a stunning dresden quilt made by my Great Grandmother.  I named Georgia’s Dresden in her honor.

It’s interesting to have quits from the same era in South Carolina, but from two different sides of the family (and parts of the state).  May Chappell’s quilts are utilitarian, feed sack, scrappy quilts, while my Great Grandmother Monroe made Lonestars and Dresdens.  I think my quilting is a blend of both worlds.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am…..

Lee:  Reading or traveling!  Or ideally both!  I’ve never met a trip that I didn’t want to go on!  I love off the beaten path trips where you get to actually meet the people and see the culture!  I’m not an all inclusive resort kind of gal.  I rarely go to the same place twice, but favorite past destinations include New Zealand, Ecuador and Alaska.  As far as books, I love Ken Follett and Doris Kearns Goodwin. 

Jen:  How would you describe your style?  

Lee:  It’s a blend of modern and traditional.  I like clean graphic lines, bold shapes and contrast. 

Jen:  How has it evolved?

Lee:  It’s interesting because I have an undergraduate degree in art and then I went to school for graphic design.  I think even my older work reflects a clean graphic aesthetic.  Obviously, it’s changed through the years, but precision and bold graphic shapes are a constant.  I know that I drove my art professors a little crazy with how neurotic I can be about things lining up and being precise.  Quilting is great venue for that!

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations? 

Lee:  I do a lot of doodling and never leave home without a sketchbook.  I definitely draw on old quilt designs for inspiration.  I find it interesting to take a super traditional design and make it modern with a twist.  I also think that looking to old patterns and finding a new easier way to make a traditional technique is interesting.  I was inspired to make Hattie’s dresden by a stain glass window in a church.  Most people probably saw rays of light, but I saw dresden wedges.  I love to create interesting secondary patterns in the negative space. 

Jen:  Any big plans for the near future?

Lee:  I’ve got a really cool new pattern coming out in Houston called Charleston Carriage.  It draws on appliqué, patchwork and foundation piecing.  It puts the piecer in the driver’s seat to create their own layout using the many options in the pattern.

I am beyond excited to see her new pattern later this month at Fall Market in Houston.  Maybe I can convince her to give us a sneak peek!  Wink, wink!

In the meantime, you can check out the May Chappell collection at Red Thread Studio.


You can also check out Lee's video interview!

Featured Designer - Rosalie Dekker Designs September 01 2015

Clearly, I have a thing for Aussie's!  Our next featured designer is also from Down Under.  Please welcome Rosalie Dekker from Rosalie Dekker Designs (formally Rosalie Quinlan Designs).  Rosalie has a strong passion for embroidery and incorporates it into many of her quilt designs.  She also designs fabric for Ella Blue Fabrics.

Now, let's get to know Rosalie!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Rosalie:  I was born in Sydney, Australia and lived there until I was 12.  We then moved to Melbourne, and I have lived there most of the time since.  I currently live in a one bedroom cottage in the forest and am loving it!

Jen:  How did you learn to embroider?  To quilt?  Did you stitch as a young girl? 

Rosalie:  I am largely self taught though it is amazing how much you absorb from watching your mother and grandmother in their creative pursuits.  They both sewed clothes, and my grandmother also crocheted which is another passion of mine. 

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not stitching, I am…

Rosalie:  Thinking about stitching!

Jen:  So, how did Rosalie Dekker Designs (formally know as Rosalie Quinlan Designs) come to be?

Rosalie:  When I was a young mother, I really wanted to stay home with my children.  In order to do this, I tried my hand at selling things I had made at various markets and fairs.  I loved doing this as it was a creative outlet as well as earning a little extra to help out.  I started getting asked, "What pattern did you use?"  And I would reply that I just made it up in my head.  People seemed disappointed as they wanted to make one themselves.  At that time, I was mostly making cloth dolls and smaller items rather than quilts. 

It didn't take me long to realize that sharing my designs would be more fun and also more lucrative.  Now twenty years later, I still get to teach, design and create fabrics and books.  I am very blessed! 

The decision to change to Rosalie Dekker Designs is to return to my maiden name to reflect changes in my life.  It was a difficult decision as I have worked hard to build up Rosalie Quinlan Designs for so many years.  I feel that the change of name reflects the beginning of a new stage in my life, both personal and professional.  I am so excited that my sister Melly (from Melly and me) was able to build me a beautiful new website to commemorate this change.

Jen:  How would you describe your style?  How has it evolved?

Rosalie:  At the moment, I am quite influenced by vintage folk art, particularly Scandinavian.  My colors used to be quite muted back in the early days but have become a lot brighter over the years.  Stay tuned for the upcoming fabric range Cotton Forest due to be released at Quilt Market this October, as there is a softening of my colors that I am very excited about!



Jen:  Tells us about the process for designing your stitcheries and quilt patterns.  What are your inspirations? 

Rosalie:  I wish I could say there was a process.  Mostly a lot of trial and error if I have a deadline or spur of the moment inspiration if my time is more free.  I am not one of those super organized designers but rather a creative mess type of person.  I am inspired by vintage and retro handwork, books and wallpapers.  I am also inspired by nature as a starting point but usually make it a little whimsical as well. 

Jen:  With a new fabric line on its way (Cotton Forest) and a new Block of the Month just out (Flowerville), any new big plans for the rest of the year? 

Redwork version of Flowerville

Rosalie:  I am very keen to see the strike-offs for Cotton Forest.  It is definitely my favorite line so far.  I will be like a crazy woman trying to get samples ready for the trip to Houston and Market.  I have some other designs lurking in the back of my mind, but they will have to wait till I'm finished with Market. 

I am looking forward to seeing Rosalie again in Houston and to seeing Flowerville and her new fabric line Cotton Forest in person!  Her booth is always such a happy place!  In the meantime, you can check out the Rosalie Dekker Designs collection here at Red Thread Studio.

Featured Designer - Funky Friends Factory August 01 2015


I had the pleasure of meeting this month's featured designer Pauline McArthur of Funky Friends Factory at Spring Market this past May in Minneapolis.  I am so glad that she traveled all the way from Australia to share her adorable softies with us!  Meeting Pauline in person, one could sense she was a fun and energetic person and this is reflected in her colorful critters that are fun and easy to make.

Jen:  How and when did your passion for softies begin?

Pauline:  Believe it or not, I was more interested in climbing trees and having mud fights with my brothers when I was a kid!  As a result I didn't have lots of dolls and toys, but I loved making things.  I must have had lots of patience though as I knitted my own dolls and designed their clothes from felt.

Jen:  How did you learn to sew?  Did you stitch as a girl?

Pauline:  I was lucky to have a mother and a granny who were both very crafty.  I am incredibly industrious and cannot bear to be doing nothing.  My mother remembers me wrapping yarn around her knitting needles and asking her to show me how to knit when I was about 4 years old, though Im sure it was a while before I learned to knit and sew!

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not creating, I am.....

Pauline:  ...thinking about creating!!!  Even when I get insomnia, I'm usually mulling over a toy pattern in my head!  Thats where the idea of my Izzy Insomniac Teddy Bear came from.  She has her own flannelette blankie and Sleepy Sheepie.

Jen:  So, how did Funky Friends Factory come to be?

Pauline:  I began sewing my baby-safe bunnies when my friends started having babies.  I sold the bunnies at markets, and they were really popular and so I started making more.  I joked that I had an assembly line of fleecy bunny parts, mass-producing my toys - that’s where the ‘factory’ bit in Funky Friends Factory comes from!


Jen:  Tell us about your creative process for your animals.  What were your inspirations?

Pauline:  I am inspired by all sorts of things, fabric, real animals, greeting cards and ornaments, like this wooden carving from Africa.

Jen:  Your softies have big personalities.  Did you model them from people you know or did the softies take a life of their own?

Pauline:  I have named some of my critters after friends... but not necessarily due to any resemblance.  I had to point this out to my friend Heather when Id named my hippo after her!  So I started naming my toys with names starting with a matching first letter for example Bill the Bald Eagle, Hannah Hedgehog. That way no one could take offense if I give an iguana or orangutan their name!

Jen:  Any big plans for the year ahead?

Pauline:  I had so much fun at Quilt Market in Minneapolis earlier this year, and I am planning to return to America for the Houston Quilt Market in October.  I thought Id treat myself to a dose of Quilt Festival too..... ooh I cant wait.... Can you tell I LOVE fabric?

I am looking forward to seeing Pauline again soon and checking out her family of critters.  Don't forget to visit Pauline's website for great tutorials and videos on how to make soft toys.  In the meantime, you can check out the Funky Friends Factory collection of patterns available at Red Thread Studio!


You can also watch Pauline's video interview!

Featured Designer - Smudged Textiles Studio July 01 2015

This month’s featured designer is Lynn Krawczyk of Smudged Textiles Studio.  Lynn is a self-taught surface designer and textile artist, published author and teacher.  Her first fabric line is Inked for Red Rooster Fabrics.

I met Lynn a self-described paint flinger, maker of parts, coffee drinker and all time creative at Fall Market in Houston in 2014 where I was mesmerized by her sense of color and design.

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Lynn:  I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.  I live in a suburb of Southeast Michigan now, but I'm a lifetime Mitten girl.

Jen:  How and when did your passion for textiles begin?

Lynn: I discovered crazy quilting in my early twenties.  I was recovering from back surgery and bored out of my mind (I don't sit still well) so I was checking out heaps of books from the library to entertain myself.  I got a few craft books, one of which was crazy quilting, and something clicked. I fell madly in love with the idea of fabric as art and the beauty of stitching and patterns really struck a chord with me. I followed with art quilts and then surface design, which is where I spend a lot of my time now.

Jen:  How did you learn to quilt and embroider? Did you stitch as a girl?

Lynn:  I actually didn't stitch as a girl.  I flirted with cross stitching off and on over the years but for the most part, I didn't do much art when I was a kid.  I learned when I got into crazy quilting through books and videos.  Then I joined a couple of guilds, took a few classes and went from there.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not creating, I am…..

Lynn:  I'm drinking coffee and *thinking* about creating!  Hahaha!  Projects are never far from my mind and although I have a day job, my Art Brain is always fully engaged.  I keep a sketchbook with me so when I need to jot something down, I have a place to put it.

Jen:  So, how did Smudged Textiles come to be?

Lynn:  I had a brick and mortar store many years ago, and I really enjoyed running a business.  The shop closed when the economy slipped, but I knew that I always wanted to come back to having a creative business again.  Since I do have a day job, having an online shop is far easier.  No need to pay rent or make sure the place is staffed at all times.  I just really enjoy sharing my art and my process with other people, and I'm really fortunate that artists are willing to hang out with me during their creative time.  It's a synergy thing - we're all better at what we do when we come together as a group, even if it's just through online connection.

Jen:  How would you describe your style?

Lynn:  I describe myself as a pattern and color junkie.  The majority of what I do falls into abstract artwork.  I love the freedom that comes from that style of feels so fluid to me, and it makes the process of creating work more enjoyable.  I usually have an end goal in mind when I start working on something but most of the time I just go with the flow and let my Art Brain guide me.

Jen:  Tells us about your creative process for Inked.  What were your inspirations?

Lynn:  I'm so excited for Inked!!  The line came about from me really wanting to share my hand printed fabric.  I'm asked frequently by quilters if it's for sale and while I'm happy to adopt the fabric out, the brutal truth is that since I work primarily with paint, it's not well suited for quilts or anything that you want the hand of the fabric to be soft.  No matter how good the paint is, it will introduce some stiffness.  So I decided to try to find a commercial partner, and I was fortunate to hook up with Red Rooster Fabrics.

All of the designs of the line were originally screen printed by hand by me.  I created Thermofax Screens from a pattern and then hand dyed and hand printed the samples.  The element that ties all the colors and patterns together is the process by which they were originally printed.  So Inked refers to the screen printing ink that I used to create them.  Kind of a roundabout way of honoring the screen printing process.

My inspiration for it really comes from my love of really saturated colors.  And since I'm a collagist, I adore riots of pattern.  I think the line represents both of those loves really well.

Jen: Any big plans for the year ahead?

Lynn:  This year started off really busy.  I filmed a new DVD workshop with F&W media called "Thermofax Screen Printing Essentials," and I also taped three new segments for Quilting Arts TV.  I decided after that to take a little bit of a breather.  I don't have any big projects on the books right now, but I just finished a huge clean up and organize and sort in the studio so I'm really ready to get back to work!  Sometimes you have to slow down to recharge and then it's full speed ahead! :)

Next time I need to get the scoop from Lynn on her process to clean up and organize her studio...mine is in desperate need!  In the meantime, if you are looking for some eye candy, be sure to check out Lynn's blog.

You can also view the Lynn Krawczyk collection at Red Thread Studio.

Featured Designer - CozyBlue June 01 2015

This month's featured designer is Liz Stiglets from CozyBlue.  

I am so happy to have connected with Liz.  She is a creative soul and I have enjoyed following her work on Instagram.  Not only does Liz have delightful embroidery designs, she creates art prints, home goods and wearables.

Now, let's get to know Liz!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Liz:  I wish that I had a simple answer for this, but it's actually kind of complicated. I was born in Texas and lived there until we moved to West Virginia when I was 12. Once I finished high school, I spent 3 years in Mississippi, which is where I met my husband. Together we moved to Asheville, North Carolina 16 years ago and have been here ever since! We absolutely love it and will probably stay here forever.

Jen:  How did you learn to hand embroider? Did you stitch as a girl?

Liz:  Like most of the arts and crafts that I do, I am a self-taught embroiderer. I’m pretty sure that I got most of my early practice in high school when my friends and I would stitch designs onto our jeans and backpacks. Growing up, my mom had embroidery supplies on hand, but I don't remember her being a serious embroiderer. She liked to sew and craft in her spare time, but I don't think there was much spare time for her as a working mother of two young girls. I’ve always been such a DIY-er, and I think embroidery was just one of those things that I picked up and figured out on my own. It's been mostly within the past few years that I have gotten more dedicated to designing patterns and really finding my artistic voice through my embroidery.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not stitching, I am…

Liz:  Oh geez... there's so much, isn't there? Mothering. Running. Reading. Instagramming. Driving someone somewhere. Eating food, making food, buying food, cleaning up food. Watching TV shows, listening to podcasts, sketching, screen printing, brainstorming, hiking, hanging out with friends, going to bed early, enjoying nature. Generally just trying to do the best I can, lovingly and patiently.

Jen:  So, how did CozyBlue come to be?

Liz:  I started selling some of my handmade items in 2007. Back then, it was mostly knit hats, Waldorf-style felt crowns, and softies. After a few years, my creative interests changed, and I started experimenting with screen printing. Eventually I began to incorporate embroidery into my screen printed pillows, and my business really took off. Since then, it's been a full time gig for me, and the CozyBlue shop has evolved pretty organically into what it is now... a reflection of my own interests and really, a huge part of how I express myself. I just make what I like, and I'm really happy to find that other folks feel connections to it too.

Jen:  How would you describe your embroidery style?

Liz:  That’s a hard question to answer! I think my design style is illustrative, fun, sentimental, nostalgic, simple, imaginative, unique. As far as the stitching itself, most of my work involves very basic stitches. But I like to add lots of line work and details to my designs, so for many of my patterns, patience, sharp eyes, and a steady hand are helpful.

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns. What are your inspirations?

Liz:  Inspiration comes from everywhere, really. And all of my patterns begin as a rough sketch. I draw the designs in pencil and ink, sometimes re-drawing several times to get them just right. Once I am happy with the image, I scan and re-draw it digitally, and then start stitching a prototype. That's the fun part! Once that's done, I take photos and work on formatting the files, adding all of my pattern info and branding, etc.

Jen:  Any plans for the year ahead?

Liz:  Well, my general plan is just to keep creating things and moving forward in life and business. I have been focusing on the wholesale side of my business a lot more this year. It's been a really good direction for my little creative biz, and I really want to work on continuing the partnerships that I have made, as well as finding some new shops to carry my CozyBlue goods. The upcoming summer months can be a bit of a challenge, with the school year coming to an end for my kids (ages 7 and 11). Summertime means we spend a lot of time hiking, playing, swimming and just enjoying the free time together, but I have to fit in my work time too. So over the next few months, I plan to work mostly on sketching out new designs. That means expanding my embroidery pattern line, new t-shirt designs, and some holiday stuff too. I'm excited!

And now, you can have instant gratification.  Check out the CozyBlue PDF collection and transfers at Red Thread Studio!


Featured Designer - Jen Kingwell May 01 2015

It's hard to believe it is May already!  This month's featured designer is Jen Kingwell of Jen Kingwell Designs.

I was honored to first meet Jen last year at Spring Market in Pittsburgh (photo above is Fall 2014 Market in Houston).  What struck me was not only her sense of color and her designs but also her philosophy of remaining true to herself and what she loves.  It is with this very same passion that I hope to curate fabrics, kits and patterns in my shop.

Now, let’s get to know Jen!

Jen Lee:  Where were you born and raised?

Jen Kingwell:  I was born in a rural community in Victoria, Australia about 3 hours from Melbourne where I now live.  My father and mother were farmers and stayed on the farm until the end.  My girls who are now grown spent many wonderful times there.  I consider myself very lucky to have had the life I've had.  As I get older, I'm seriously considering a "tree change" with a move back to the country.

Jen Lee:  How did you learn to sew/quilt? Did you make quilts as a young girl? Have you always enjoyed handwork (hand piecing, needle turn appliqué)?

Jen Kingwell:  I have always loved color, print and textiles.  As a child I would sew clothes for my dolls.  My mother was not a sewer, and we did not have a sewing machine in our home.  I think this is where the love of hand stitching came from.  My best friend Sally's mother was a seamstress, and she would give me scraps, which I just loved.  I made my first quilt when I started my nursing training.  Everyone in the nurses home was stitching hexagons.  That first quilt (a grandmother’s flower garden) has all the fabrics from my childhood in it…from corduroy to stretch!  I had no idea what I was doing, but it lead me onto a fantastic path.  I love it, and it is like a trip down memory lane each time I look at it.  It's not finished as the papers were cut from medical notes, and I can't bring myself to remove them as there is a tiny bit of history in there (e.g. Mr. Green, home today)!

Jen Lee:  Complete this sentence.  When I am not sewing, I am…

Jen Kingwell:  Eating or sleeping!  And probably in that order.

Jen Lee:  So, how did Jen Kingwell Designs come to be?

Jen Kingwell:  I made quilts for my store Amitie Textiles in Melbourne, Australia.  I had been doing it for years.  I didn't think anyone would really be interested in my patterns, but Sue Spargo and Wendy Morris came to visit and suggested I take my patterns to market!  So this little piggy went!  I am forever grateful for their encouragement.

Jen Lee:  How would you describe your style?

Jen Kingwell:  I am a basic hand piecer, appliquér and quilter!  For me the "serenity" of hand work is what it's all about.  Color and print just make me happy, and the more fabrics I can squeeze into each project, the better it is to me.  I love to mix genres and don't follow too many rules.

Jen Lee:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations?  How did your time in the Middle East influence your designs, if at all?

Jen Kingwell:  I love vintage quilts, and a lot if my quilts are made from basic blocks.  It's all about the fabrics for me.  I don't think the Middle East influenced me at all regarding design, but what it did allow me was the time to write the book and design the fabric range.  You might see some desert oranges pop up in some projects soon.

Jen Lee:  With a new fabric line and a book already out, any new big plans for the rest of the year?

Jen Kingwell:  I do have something in the pipeline, but it is still hush, hush!  I’m quite excited by it if it all works out.  I am currently working on my second range for Moda.

I am curious to know more about this secret project!  Maybe I can squeeze more out of Jen when I see her at Spring Market in Minneapolis in a few weeks.

I, too, hope to share some exciting news this month!  In the meantime, check out our collection of patterns by Jen Kingwell Designs and Gardenvale kits.  You can also follow us on Instagram as I capture photos during Spring Market later this month.


You can also read about Jen's trunk show here in Stuart, Florida as well as the blast we had at her 2 day workshop - The Circle Game!


And watch Jen's video interview!

Featured Designer - Passionately Sewn April 01 2015

This month's featured designer is Janeene Scott from Passionately Sewn in Australia.

I discovered Janeene and her striking quilts at Fall Quilt Market in Houston, Texas this past year.  Her designs include a unique range of modern quilts, bags and home sewn projects.  Passionately Sewn patterns feature fast and fusible appliqué, machine finished edges and simple piecing and are suitable for the beginner or the experienced sewer.

Now, let’s get to know Janeene!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Janeene:  I was born on the south coast of New South Wales (about an hour south of Sydney) in Australia.  I was lucky enough to grow up on a small dairy farm.... And I loved it.

Jen:  How did you learn to sew/quilt? Did you make quilts as a young girl?

Janeene:  My nan taught me how to sew on an old Singer treadle sewing machine.  I had to practice straight-line sewing.  And, it took me a long time to sew straight.  My nan then taught me lots of different types of seams.  I never made quilts as a girl, but I learned to make my own clothes by cutting out patterns from clothes I already owned. 

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not sewing, I am…..

Janeene:  My daughter and I are riding my horses or out in the garden talking to my plants! 

Jen:  So, how did Passionately Sewn come to be?

Janeene:  I spent 23 years as a Police Officer (I know!), and I could not continue working as I was suffering from post-traumatic stress.  So long story short, one of my good friends who owned a patchwork shop (and who actually taught me to sew) convinced me that I could design quilts and things... And people liked my designs. Yay! And here I am.... 

Jen:  How would you describe your design style?

Janeene:  My designs are the bold, non-conventional patterns that will allow the sewer to easily achieve that at home look without looking homemade.  My patterns focus on fusible machine appliqué showcasing beautiful fabrics. 

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations?

Janeene:  Anything can be my inspiration, from my garden, art, fabric…I love vintage things or making something old in a modern way.  I have an enormous collection of images on my computer for inspiration.  All of my designs are drawn full size as it allows me to get proportions right.  I often will have an idea, start drawing the appliqué part of it, and then I will let the design "sit" until I decide the perfect background or next step to continue with the pattern.  I have a number of projects part way through the design process. It works for me and allows me to be happy with completed designs. 

Jen:  Any big plans for the year ahead? 

Janeene:  Look out for my clothes was where my sewing started!  Simple clothes using beautiful fabric!

Well, I am definitely passionate about Janeene’s designs! I’ve already kitted four of them and have plans for more in the near. You can find Passionately Sewn kits and patterns here.

Updated JUNE 2016

You can learn more about Janeene in her video interview!

Featured Designer - Modern Needleworks March 01 2015


This month's featured designer is Heather Gray from Modern Needleworks.

I found Modern Needleworks on Etsy and immediately reached out to Heather to see if she’d be willing to partner with me. Needlepoint has always intrigued me, but it was her style that sold me.

Now, let's get to know Heather!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Heather:  I was born and raised Dry Fork, Virginia.  It's an idyllic, rural community near the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Jen:  How did you learn to do needlepoint? Did you stitch as a girl?

Heather:  I stitched my first needlepoint piece in my early twenties (I'm now 42). I have done needlework all of my life but only cross stitch and embroidery up to that point.  I had a boss (a wonderful and generous lady) that was an avid needlepointer, and she introduced me.  I was immediately hooked!  But the real credit goes to my grandmother.  She has always inspired me. She could do/make anything… sewing, quilting, crochet, appliqué… you name it. I spent a lot of time with her when I was young, and I learned so much from her.  She never used a pattern or if she did use a pattern, it was one she developed or made.  She was an artist long before what she was doing was considered art.  

Jen:  Can you talk to us about the difference between Needlepoint and Cross Stitch? 

Heather:  Needlepoint is a diagonal stitch worked (usually with wool or wool blend yarn and a tapestry needle) through a stiff, open-weave canvas. Needlepoint is more labor intensive (than cross stitch) because individual stitches completely cover the canvas.  The designs are created by stitching over the design that has been printed or painted on the canvas with thread matching each color.  Needlepoint can also be created by following color-charted designs, with each square in the chart representing one stitch (just like with counted cross stitch).  Cross stitch is done on aida or linen fabric and is executed by using a chart and counting stitches.  In most cases cross stitch designs are completed with one stitch which looks like an “X” although some designs may call for half stitches or backstitching (outlining).  Most cross stitch designs do not cover the entire piece of fabric, leaving open and negative spaces in the design.   

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not stitching, I am...

Heather:  Spending time with my family or working on my other business, r.e. stowe collars and leads.

Jen:  So, how did Modern Needleworks come to be?

Heather:  Most of the cross stitch and needlepoint designs available did not fit with my personal style so I designed and stitched a few needlepoint pieces for my personal use.  After I completed several projects, friends and family raved.  Modern Needleworks was born.  My professional experience in textiles and product development, my formal education in design, and the guiding hand of a very creative grandmother made the process of starting Modern Needleworks an easy one.  It evolved so naturally, like it was meant to be.  

Jen:  So, How would you describe your design style?

Heather:  My design style is a mix of vintage, modern, industrial, primitive, collected… nothing formal or fussy.  I've tried to take a very fresh approach to traditional needlecraft by using bold graphics and clean lines to create uniquely modern designs. 

Jen:  Tell us about the process for designing your patterns.  What are your inspirations?

Heather:  Designing my patterns is a complex process and much more time consuming than you might think.  It usually starts with a sketch, and then I play around with it in Photoshop until I have a 'rough draft'.  Then I stitch it, making modifications along the way.  Once it is stitched and I am happy with the finished piece, I can convert it to its final form using pattern design software.

I find inspiration everywhere.  Vintage books, my grandmother's linen closet, estate sales, home décor magazines…some things just strike me (a eureka moment), and an idea or concept for a design will pop up in my head.  

Jen:  Any big plans for the year ahead?

Heather:  I always have big plans!  I have so many ideas for Modern Needleworks, but the process is a slow one. Since I stitch a least one sample of every design I offer, it's hard to add new designs and projects as often as I would like.  Right now I am working on some new, fun projects that can be stitch on some unconventional materials.   I'm also working on some smaller designs for beginners or for people who don't have much time to devote to stitching but still want the satisfaction of 'diy'.

I will be stocking Modern Needleworks kits shortly (they will debut in my booth at the Broward Quilt Expo in Fort Lauderdale on March 12th-14th).  In the meantime, check out the collection of Modern Needleworks PDF patterns and kits.