Featured Designer - Jen Kingwell May 01 2015 2 Comments
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.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 2015
UPDATE: JUNE 2016
And watch Jen's video interview!