Featured Designer - Louise Papas January 01 2018

Louise Papas

I first remember hearing about this month's Featured Designer at Quilt Market and being intrigued by her quilt The Avenue hanging in Jen Kingwell's booth.  Louise Papas is one of several new designers for the Jen Kingwell Designs Collective.

She peaked my interest again with Girl Next Door.  I knew immediately that we had to create a shop sample for this sweet quilt, and soon thereafter, we started on plans to host a Quilt-Along!

Now let's get to know Louise!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Louise: I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia where I still reside to this day other than a brief two year stint in London, UK in the early 90’s.

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

Louise:  I watched my Mother sewing on her little Elna sewing machine all of my childhood and can remember visiting fabric shops with my siblings, hiding amongst the long bolts of fabric and flicking through the pattern books.  We had overflowing fabric cupboards and pins everywhere but lots of fabulous clothes, and my Mum was always very fashionable.  Around the age of 15, I decided I wanted to make my own clothes and after success with a simple elastic waisted skirt, I moved on to more complex sewing patterns.  I remember I made a fabulous electric blue moire taffeta jumpsuit when I was about 17 – I wish I still had it!

During the 90’s, my Mum and a few of her friends took up quilting and started to meet weekly to stitch together.  One of the first big quilts Mum attempted was a beautiful 1930’s style quilt for me, and it was during the process of buying fabric together that I discovered the world of patchwork.  It wasn’t, however, until 2006 after my third daughter was born that I made my first quilt – a simple squares quilt in pretty lemons and pinks.

Jen:  What led you to design your own quilt patterns?

Louise:  Not long after making that first quilt, I also discovered a lovely online sewing community, and in 2007, I started my blog “lululollylegs”. It was so exciting finding a whole lot of likeminded people, and I soon began participating in sewing swaps.  My favourite one was the doll quilt swap because I had a huge amount of fun trying to design something based on my partners likes but reflecting my style. These were always a great creative challenge and a size that I could finish quickly.

Lucky for me, my local quilt store was Amitié Textiles , the home of Jen Kingwell, which had the most fabulous range of fabrics.  It was always great to have a lovely chat with Jen about my latest project.  Eventually, I was offered a job and spent nearly ten happy years there until they relocated to the seaside earlier this year.  In 2008, I started up the pattern label Audrey and Maude with a friend and eventually went out on my own with Three Dolls sewing patterns.  I currently design for the Jen Kingwell Collective and have just released another three patterns at the recent Houston Quilt Market. 

Louise Papas Fall 2017 JKD Collective pattern release

From Left to Right:  Turtle Tower, Vintage Vegas, Pincushion Party

Over the years, I have also had several projects published in various magazines and books both in Australia, the US and the UK.

So, I would have to say much of my motivation to design my own patterns came from the mini quilts I made, including The Avenue, and from great encouragement from Jen, my Amitié Textiles colleagues and customers and the online sewing community.  

 The Avenue by Louise Papas

Jen:  What was your inspiration for Girl Next Door?

Louise:  Girl Next Door took several years to come to life. I was inspired by a friend’s collection of paper dolls and wanted to create a quilt where they all went around in a circle holding hands.  I drew it up several times before finally just making up lots of the doll blocks to see where it would head.  Then one day at a Melbourne quilt show, I spied a beautiful school house quilt and commented to a friend that I would love to make a quilt using that block.  It suddenly occurred to me that it would be the perfect centre for Girl Next Door, and the rest of the design came together very quickly.  The quilt took about a year to make as it is all constructed by hand.

Girl Next Door by Louise Papas

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

Louise:  Enjoying my family. I am married and have three busy daughters who are 17, 15 and nearly 12. I also love to read, knit, crochet and keep fit.

Jen: What sewing machine do you use?

Louise:  I have a Janome DC3018 which is a very basic and easy to use machine.  I mostly sew bindings on with it and make the odd adjustment to my girls’ clothing.  I want to make more time to make clothing again.  I find sewing quilt blocks on my machine a little tedious as I enjoy the portability of hand sewing, and I am way more accurate!

Jen: What is your worst sewing habit?

Louise:  My girls would probably say dropping pins on the floor, but I think it is starting too many quilts at once and not getting any of them finished.  So many designs and so little time!

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

Louise:  Good fine needles and thread plus a decent pair of scissors.  That’s pretty much all I carry in my sewing pouch these days.  I love to piece with Sue Daley milliners needles and Aurifil 50wt thread.  I hand quilt with perle thread – either DMC Perle 8 or Aurifil 12wt.  I also love my Sewline ceramic lead mechanical pencil for using with templates or marking in sewing lines – the leads are super tough.

Jen:  Are you slow sewing or instant gratification?

Louise:   I much prefer hand piecing and hand quilting so definitely slow sewing.  I do hurry to start making something if a new design has popped into my head, but I get no joy out of churning through piecing on the sewing machine.

Jen:  Any big plans for 2018?

Louise:   More patterns with the Jen Kingwell Collective.  I have three I’m currently making and designing but many more I want to get started on.  I will continue to teach every two months at Amitié Textiles focusing on hand piecing, applique and hand quilting.

I owe my patient, nearly 12 year old, a new quilt so that should be up the top of the list!  We are also planning on building me a dedicated sewing space/studio in our garden so I can store all my fabrics and set up a design wall instead of the floor – I think we’re all excited about that!

I look forward to seeing what Louise has in store for us with her new patterns.  In the meantime, I hope you can join us in the Girl Next Door QAL