This week we have been speaking to the fantastic UK textile designer and quilting tutor, Mandy Shaw on how she fell head over heels in love with quilting, her plans for Christmas and she spills the beans on her crafting plans for 2017.
Mandy, you are a well know personality in the world of crafting and are the owner of an internet based company Dandelion Designs. Tell us how you discovered quilting and how you first became passionate about it.
I have always made things since a little girl. My dolls and teddy bears were very important to me and I would make their clothes and bedding. I made my first patchwork quilt in the early eighties, while my friends were out dancing I was sewing! And then as soon as I started my family I adorned my home and children with homemade crafts of all varieties.
Was there a single moment when you fell in love with quilting, or did it happen gradually?
Once the children were at school I took a part time job in a craft shop which specialised in patchwork, that was it, the big moment, I did a short patchwork course learning all the basics and the rest is history I have been addicted since.
Do you still have the first quilt you ever-made?
The first quilt I made at that patchwork course I gave to my daughter on her tenth birthday. She still has it twenty-two years later.
Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
The inspiration for my quilts come from a wide variety of sources, I love old vintage children’s books, vintage china designs, and old fabrics. For quilting designs, I look at details on old buildings, parquetry, tiles, drain covers, anything that has been embellished.
What kind of quilts are you most drawn to?
I am most drawn to old vintage quilts, I love to think of the story and journeys they have been on, I love their faded colours and traditional designs.
What tools and materials could you not live without?
A needle and thread and my beloved sewing machine. I love the smell of the machine and its sound, a purr. I am lost without access to either of these.
Which quilt designers are you really excited about right now?
I adore Sue Spargo’s work, an American appliquer, who works mainly in wool and also Jan Patek, both have a naïve primitive style to their work.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am working on a county style sewing themed quilt, a simple mix of applique and blocks for a film of its techniques for Fw Media. It will be used on the American Fons and Porter website.
As one of Stitchtopia’s leading experts, it is great that you can combine your love of quilting with travel. What has been your most memorable destination and why?
I adored my trip to Sitges quilt festival in Spain but my upcoming trip to New England and Canada will be a dream comes true. For years, I have been teaching a quilt about a slave girl Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and returned 19 times to save all her family and friends. This trip we will follow some of her journey, visits to quilt shops, museum’s, crossing Niagara Falls into Canada and of course see New England in all its beauty in the fall.
This March you are leading Stitchtopia’s Textile Impressions of India Tour. Can you give travellers a sneak peak of the type of thing they can expect on this once in a lifetime trip?
India, this will just be amazing, I am so excited to be sharing this journey with like mined people, just imagine the colour, the imagery, the inspiration, Taj Mahal, elephant rides. I can’t wait for our workshops; they will be a riot of colour and thread combining our shopping treasures into a piece of textile. This trip will be special an experience only our small group will share and treasure forever.
What destination would you love to visit and why?
I have been fortunate to visit lots of amazing places with my family but I’d love to take you guys to Pennsylvania and visit the Amish and a huge Quilt show and lots of late night visits to JoAnne’s and plenty of shoo fly pies.
In a career as exhausting as quilting, it must be easy to burn yourself out. How do you avoid this?
Burn myself out? I have enough in built energy to last my lifetime. I haven’t much time for sleep; I have too much sewing to do.
Christmas, is almost upon us. What are your plans?
My Christmas is all about my family, eating, silly games, decorating and long walks. I put a huge effort into Christmas so it’s special for everyone.