Rachel makes the most stunning quilts and quilted items. Her fabric selections are always spot on, her finishing is impeccable and she's incredibly creative. I was lucky enough to meet Rachel late last year - we happened to be holidaying in the same place at Christmas and caught up for lunch (with Deb) which lasted for about 4 hours. She's a lovely person and I think it totally comes through in her online interactions. Anyway, that's enough from me - here's Rachel. As always, my questions are in bold and her answers are in normal text.
|For me, this Scrappy Spring Sprouts pillow is such an iconic Rachel piece!|
Does your family have a quilting or sewing history, or are you a first generation quilter?
There is loads of crafty talent on mum's side of the family. Grandma and great-grandma were both sewists. As a child, I remember afternoons spent helping grandma with her hexagon quilts. My job was to cut the templates from Grandma's carefully recycled envelopes, I remember her reminding me to cut them carefully. I'm not sure if my cutting skills were up to it, I have no idea if she ever actually used any of the templates that I made for her!! Mum has many crafty talents, one of which is quilting. And I've just started teaching my 7 year old daughter how to quilt. She's not that enthusiastic but I'm hoping that will change!
How did you start quilting, and how long have you been quilting for?
Despite all the talent in my family, I was never particularly interested in sewing while growing up. Sewing classes at school were just another chore (brown canvas duffle bag anyone?). It wasn't until I was in my 30s and I discovered modern fabrics that I really became interested. Mum had a new quilting book (Material Obsession), I loved it so much that I bought a copy for myself. Then Mum took me fabric shopping in a modern quilt store, we bought 14 FQs so that I could make my first quilt. That seemed like so much fabric back then! I did some online research and discovered a brick quilt by Amy Butler. I changed the measurements a little so that I could use as much of the fabric as possible, I didn't want any leftovers, I hadn't discovered the joy of scraps back then! I have to say that a brick quilt is the perfect beginners quilt, there are no points to line up at all! I was really happy with how it turned out and I started making another one as soon as I'd finished it. That was 6 years ago and that first quilt is still in constant use, and miraculously it hasn't started falling to pieces either!
|This Cocktail Party cushion Rachel made for the X Factor Pillow Swap has so many of my fave fabrics in it.|
How would you describe your quilting style?
I mostly work with very simple blocks and shapes, there are just so many possibilities with squares, triangles and curves and my favourite quilts are madly scrappy. So I guess I would say my style is simple shapes, scrappy fabrics and somewhere heading towards modern in design.
Where do you find inspiration for your quilts?
My main source of inspiration is the online quilting community, I tend to spend a bit of time (ok, maybe a lot!?) each day keeping up with IG, blogs and Flickr. I can't help spotting inspiration in all sorts of other places, like the pattern the railing makes when I'm driving over the bridge, the pretty colours on a blanket in a store, the retro curves pattern on a mug at the cafe... I'm not very organised at collating these ideas yet though, there are pieces of paper all over the place with ideas scribbled on them, and random photos throughout my phone's photo library! I need to start keeping them all in one place for those times when I'm completely lacking in inspiration!
|Whoever received this stunning Aeroplane Bag from Rachel is sooo lucky!|
Do you like to follow patterns or create your own designs (or a bit of both)?
Definitely a bit of both. I love playing around with ideas and coming up with my own thing but I also love the speed and ease of following a pattern.
Are you a member of a local guild?
I'm not a member of the local quilt guild but I am lucky enough to be part of two regular crafty get-togethers.
Have you ever met any of your online sewing friends in real life?
I feel really lucky to have met quite a few of my online friends now, including you Adrianne! And last week I was thrilled to meet and host Amanda from everydayfray and her husband. I'm heading to Quiltcon in February (thanks to encouragement from you and Deb!) where I'm really looking forward to meeting more of my online friends.
|Rachel really combined colours cleverly in this Courthouse Steps cushion|
Have you ever thought about starting a blog?
I'm scheming to start my own blog sometime soon. It's a little scary but another opportunity to take part in this awesome community.
You are a prolific swapper. What is it about swaps that keeps you coming back for more?
Swapping is a fun way to meet other quilters, it has also pushed me to try projects that I may not otherwise have tackled. And I definitely work well to deadlines, as my pile of personal WIPs can attest. And then to top it all off, there's the fun of receiving a handmade gift in the mail. It's easy to forget that part when you're madly trying to finish up your items!
|This Shoot for the Stars cushion shows Rachel's masterful use of low volume|
What is your favourite thing about the online quilting community? And what is one thing that you would change, if you could?
My favourite thing is the warmth, generosity, inspiration and support that the online community provides. There is so much good going on all the time!
Confession time - how many quilts do you have in your house right now?
A quick tally up suggests about 12 quilts that are throw size or bigger, not all of them made by me. I do also have several quilt tops and a few piles of blocks that haven't made it to quilt top status yet. Thank goodness you didn't ask me to count them!
|I LOVE the Good Folks collection from Anna Maria Horner and the way Rachel used it in this Spinning Stars quilt top.|
Do you do any crafts other than quilting?
Quilting is pretty much all consuming for me. I used to dabble in making books but I haven't done any of that since I started this quilting adventure!
Where do you see your quilting going - is it a career or a hobby for you and would you like to change that?
Quilting is definitely a hobby for me, I don't see that changing just yet.
Do you have any tips or tricks or things that have changed your quilting life that you'd like to share?
The biggest influence so far has been joining the online community (signing up to Flickr and IG). Sharing my photos, taking part in swaps and admiring what everyone else is making has had a huge influence on what I make. I would say if you're not already part of the online community then take the plunge! I've even managed to get my mum on Instagram!
What is your favourite part of the quilting process (and what's your least favourite part)?
There's only one part I really don't like and that is basting! It doesn't help that I don't have a good surface to baste on, loop pile carpet really doesn't cut it (my pins like to loop through the pile :) Everything else is the best bit, from scheming and dreaming to the last stitch on the binding.
|What a sweet pillow, and I love Rachel's use of Lizzy House's Constellations line in it.|
If you could do a quilting class with anyone at all, who would you choose?
Thanks to Quiltcon, I will be taking classes with some of my quilting heroes. Yay! Beyond that I think my ultimate would be to join Denyse Schmidt on one of her weekend workshops, like this one. A girl can dream!
Are there any quilting techniques you haven't tried yet but that you'd like to?
So many!! One technique I came across recently that I'd love to try, is the Dale Fleming 6 minute circle. Latifah The Quilt Engineer uses it in this quilt and Lizzy House uses it in The Meadow quilt.
|I love Rachel's low volume plus quilt so much - the quilting (by Donna Ward) is just beautiful too|
What's something about you that people might be surprised to know?
Hmmmmm. I can't think of a single thing!
Thank you so much to Rachel for taking part in my interview series. I've loved finding out a bit more about her and I hope you have too. Be sure to follow Rachel's sewing adventures on flickr and instagram (and I'll update you when she has started her blog).