A few years back, my best friend (also a quilter) and I decided we needed to get away for a weekend. We took the chance to go to the quilter’s retreat a few hours away, in a small town called Berry. We signed up months in advance, and as it turned out, it was a crazy hectic time as I was right smack bang in the middle of Sewvivor. To be honest, I thought about pulling out because I was so busy, but I’m so glad we went!
Kathy was our teacher for the two days and in her class I developed a concept which would eventually become a quilt – the 60 degrees of separation quilt. I can’t remember what exactly the class was for, but I do remember bringing a massive 60 degree ruler with me, and being the rebel that I am, made something different under Kathy’s guide.
Not only did I absolutely love Kathy and her class, I met some amazing women who have become friends and strengthened friendships with those I already knew. I’m looking at you, Camille, Kate, Sue, Jessica and Skye!
Tell us about how you started quilting and how you found modern quilting.
I started quilting as a young mother living in a new country without the defining outline of my family, friends or job. Migrating to Australia to start a family meant I had many lonely hours alone in our house with young children. I met a group of creative women at playgroup and all things changed the moment my friend Bronwyn Gosling gave me a quilt for the birth of my second friend. From that day on for 8 years I quilted for sanity. I scrounged fabric, cut up clothes and cobbled together patterns of quilts I saw in books. I learned all my basics from books gathered at the Maroubra Library. I took out 5-10 books every month and practiced a variety of styles. No one told me how to use color, get a perfect point or even to follow directions as I learned mostly from looking at the photos. As a young person, sewing was not on my agenda. My mother was a sewer and made all my clothes but I could never even thread the machine properly and after a few low crotch pants I gave up! My love of color and design came from her being an avid decorator/artist and also from my career working with creative talents in New York City. I had many different kinds of jobs ranging from advertising, the garment industry and finally landed at SWATCH Watch USA as a start up company. There we learned how to look at tradition with a modern lifestyle attitude and that attitude stuck with me when I learned to quilt. Add color and make it easy was my motto so right from the start I had a modern approach.
Social Media from the early days has spread my style, as well as that of others, throughout the world. As a start up blogger 8 years ago I was encouraged by the comments and messages I was receiving on the blog about how I put fabrics together. The response from other quilters who saw design as I did helped me to consolidate a style that was individual to my taste. I have not embraced learning on the internet but appreciate that it is a fantastic opportunity for women, particularly those unable to gather in shops to take classes. Being able to access quick answers to questions is sometimes a life saver. I was slow to pick up on Instagram but have fully embraced this fast paced idea stream as a fun way to communicate both with my close friends and new ones as well. The sharing is incredible and you can find me here: @matobsgirl.
i will admit that sometimes social media is a bit of a downer. While scrolling through the seemingly unending stream of fantastic images sometimes personal efforts diminish. I step away often to get my feet back on the ground. In addition, people sometimes say the most unbelievably negative things and being a positive person by nature reading comments that strangers make on social media can sometimes tear your heart out.
What does it mean to you to be a modern quilter and a modern woman?
Hmm…I am a lot older than most modern quilters so being “modern” is a tricky title and I think I am a bit more comfortable with Contemporary…that is if I have to have a title classification. Since I was young I have always sat outside the curve of popular drift. So, I guess, that means I have a modern streak based on the fact that I react to what is happening now, this minute…in the present. Being in the present is a modern, “now” moment so that is what it means to me. As a quilter, I react to what I see and change my forward path as a result. I am fluid in my process both in creating quilts or communicating with my friends and associates. I work hard to be honest in my choices and tell MY story. What I have learned working with quilters in a variety of modern groups is that the most common thread is that we are quilters that want to do what we want to do and not to follow rules. That is part of my core motivation so …read what you will!
Which quilt that you have made represents you and why?
AMAZINGLY, the quilt I am loving at the moment is a hexagon quilt that I started the day I learned I had breast cancer [not shown]. It was such a shock that I rebounded into something slow burning and meditative. I found that piecing my stars while sitting in the hospital recovering from surgery made me happy at a time when most people crumble. It took me two long years to make the quilt and many times I suspected that I would never finish but steadfast determination won out over impatience and it was finished. I could cry every time I look at it. I It was hard to find myself at times over those years but when I made the last stitch I saw my strength before me. t is a very personal quilt that I will treasure always because I made it for me.
How do you connect with other modern quilters? What does it mean to you to have this sisterhood of modern women?
I am a quilter for the sharing of the process. Quilting saved me from loneliness, taught me how to be part of a group, gave me instant friendships and filled a huge gap in my life. The social aspect of sitting and sewing with other quilters is one I value more than the stitches themselves. I work in a patchwork shop and feel a kinship with every customer that enters the door. I belong to a group that I can’t get to as much as I’d like due to work commitments but I love it and the members. I belong to the NSW Quilters Guild and am on the judging committee learning to become a judge.
I don’t have any daughters but have persistently encouraged my son’s girlfriends to pick up a needle. Surprisingly I have never been able to convert my mom! However, aside from my mom I share quilting with everyone I meet from those in the shops and groups to the person sitting next to me on a plane. To me, a perfect world would be one where everyone gets excited about color and design instead of guns and religion.
Want to connect with Kathy?
Did you know you can take online classes with Kathy? The Wagga quilt class combines wool and recycled fabric to recreate a quintessential Australian quilt. Or try the Dresden Plate quilt class. Kathy walks through a range of different fabric combinations to show the different effects. She also shows how to work with a wedge ruler, as well as offering a download to create your own template – and finally, Kathy teaches you how to applique the Dresden Plate onto background fabric and build it into a quilt.
Have you found friends in unexpected places lately?
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