Featured Designer - Wendy Williams November 01 2016 6 Comments

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.