With this post we have another very talented guild member, Danielle. To start, tell us a little bit about yourself! What got you interested in quilting? When did you first find modern quilting?
It’s a little hard to say how long I’ve been quilting, it’s been something that has evolved over quite a few years. I grew up surrounded by craft, my Mum was a dressmaker and made all my sister’s and my clothes when we were little. She did a course at TAFE and was even proficient at making bras and undies although I don’t think she particularly enjoyed that part of the course and nobody in the family ever benefited from that. We did, however, have a wardrobe of beautiful dresses and other pretty things. My Nana (Mum’s mum) was also a prolific sewist, as well as a knitter, spinner and weaver. She taught me to knit when I was about seven, but before (and after) that I remember trying my hand at the spinning wheel, and my grandfather made me a mini version of her loom. Family holidays at their home in Cooma were very crafty, and it was there I learnt to appreciate the cosiness of sitting by the fire with a cuppa and my knitting. I’ve always been a Nana!! I knitted and cross-stitched my way through uni but it wasn’t until I had a proper job that I took a real interest in quilting (my Mum – and Nana – had by that stage made a definite shift from dressmaking to quilting) – I must have known that some income would be required to support this hobby! I started hand-piecing blocks (they were never sewn into a quilt), and made a couple of quilts for friends’ babies, always with help from Mum. It wasn’t until the first wave of more modern fabrics arrived (around 2009) that I became really swept away (this was around the time i discovered quilting blogs too!) and the sewing (and fabric collecting) frenzy began. I spent a lot of time lurking on modern quilting groups on Flickr, and participated in quite a few swaps and bees.
The first quilt Mum made for me is now over twenty years old and still lives on our couch – along with another she made for my 30th birthday – and I love to see my kids snuggled up under them now, one of the reasons I love quilting and making so much.
Do you do any other craft besides quilting?
I still love to knit, although this has been on the back burner in recent years. I used to make a lot of jumpers and cardigans, but now prefer to make things which are quicker to finish (and so I’ve made the same cowl pattern now seven times in a row, why not stick to a good thing?)
How has your style changed over the years?
My early efforts in quilting consisted of a lot of blanket stitch appliqué, my (very small!) fabric stash was quite cottagey, and probably the only fabric designer I knew by name was Debbie Mumm. Nowadays my style is much more eclectic, I like saturated colours but I also love to mix things up a bit – a repro 30s style flowery print can look quite at home next to a bold geometric black and white print. I’m learning a lot about what I do and don’t like, and which fabrics work together, through the online fabric shop that I run with my friend Jeannette Bruce, Polka Dot Tea.
I think I’m still finding my way in selecting fabrics and colours, I would love to have more time to be free to play and experiment – at the moment I just need to sew as fast as I can in the limited time available, there’s no time for standing back and gazing at the design wall, unfortunately! Hopefully there will be in the future. I don’t do any blanket stitch appliqué anymore (except on my son’s scout blanket!)
What are you currently working on?
Well, there is a large number of WIPs, I can’t deny it. But the main projects I’m working on are a few EPP (English paper pieced) quilts – I’m addicted to hexies, and I can see myself making at least one hexy quilt every year into infinity. I love hand sewing and I’m rarely sitting down doing nothing, there are always hexies to be stitched or basted, appliqué to be stitched, or hand quilting to do (and if not, there’s knitting). I am about 70 per cent through making Jen Kingwell’s Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt, which is a mixture of appliqué, hand and machine piecing, and I really must pick it up again. In terms of machine pieced quilts, I have a second Swoon quilt well underway, and a number of others in various states (farmer’s wife, granny squares, butterflies, to name a few) – I’m trying to get through a few in order to allow myself to start on some new projects.
Danielle’s current hexy project – 7/8″ Liberty hexies
What is your favourite part about quilting? What is your least favourite?
My favourite part is probably making the individual components of blocks – I really dislike sewing rows of blocks together, but by that stage I just want to get the thing finished so I don’t stop! And of course I love stitching hexies and appliqué.
Show us your sewing space! What’s the best thing you ever bought into it?
My sewing space is one of my biggest WIPs, but it should be finished soon, I hope. I’m lucky enough to have our converted garage as a studio, but I’m still in the process of getting it organised. My Dad made me a fantastic cutting bench with storage underneath. So currently my sewing space is the dining table – and my husband is very tolerant of my piles of fabric which tend to accumulate there (and yes, other places around the house too). I like to sew at the table though, it means I’m in amongst everyone and can still be with the kids.
Where else can we find you?
Hanging out on Instagram (@petitselefants), or in the shop (polkadottea.com). My blog (mespetitselefants.blogspot.com) is quite neglected these days but is a good record of a lot of my work.
Thanks Danielle for telling us about yourself. Can’t wait until the next post where we’ll learn about her inspirations and what technique she’d like to learn next.