Friday, September 25, 2009

Downunder designs and global gift swap brought together by Fiona Marie Clark

We've had some discussion about using commercial patterns. Fiona Marie Clark gives several excellent reasons for investing in patterns and receiving more than you ever expected from them.
She also gives us a peek at what some patchwork designers are doing. Such delight and whimsey, you can't help but smile and feel your creative urges slide into a more light hearted frame of mind.

I hope you'll warmly welcome Fiona Marie to Subversive Stitchers and check out her web site. Fiona Marie has her own story, so read to the end. -- Dawn

Fiona Clark in her own words:

On my side of the world, commonly referred to as ‘Downunder’, we are fortunate to be home to a growing number of patchwork quilting designers.

The predominant trend in their work is the merging of simple stitchery designs within a traditional patchwork setting. The stitchery designs are generally set in a randomised layout, and often overlap onto the pieced block giving the quilt an unstructured, organic look. (Photo 1: Journey of a Quilter Block – Leanne’s House)

Bronwyn Hayes, an Australian designer, is one of my most popular designers whose work follows these principles. She is slowly becoming better known throughout the world especially in Europe. Her latest design and one I am working on myself is a quilt featuring the Gingham Girls called ‘My Favourite Things’

Like the Red Hat Ladies before them, the Gingham Girls are enormously popular with quilters, embodying the spirit and philosophy this demographic strongly identifies with.
(Photo 2: Gingham Girls Quilt Block by Bronwyn Hayes.)

For me personally working on this quilt is a holistic patchwork experience and its stitches will be the threads weaving together my memories of 2009.

When you start the quilt you are given the opportunity to join a cyber group in flickr called ‘The Gingham Girls’ where questions can be asked and photos are posted of blocks throughout the quilt makers journey. Purchasing this pattern set has now become an interactive quilt making experience you can share with others along the way.

Photo 3: Butterfly Garden Block – Leanne’s House

Australian designer Leanne Beasley who produces patterns under the Leanne’s House label has three beautiful heirloom proportioned quilts in this style, ‘May your Heart make you Grateful, ‘Journey of a Quilter’, and her latest release ‘Butterfly Garden’. All these quilts can be viewed in their entirety at this link.

Leanne’s quilts again follow the theme of incorporating beautifully worked stitchery panels into a pieced patchwork layout.
Many other Australian designers including Cinderberry Stitches, Rosalie Quinlan Designs, Hugs n’ Kisses, The Birdhouse and Lynette Anderson Designs, are also producing patterns in this style or a close variation to it.

Photo 4: Little Patchwork Village – Rosalie Quinlan Designs

Another popular pattern trend is the increase in smaller projects being designed with a practical everyday use. This trend I am sure is influenced by the high proportion of designers who are working mothers and understand there are many women who simply lack the time, means, and energy to justify embarking on large projects without a practical use.

Photo 5: Birdhouse Bag – Lynette Anderson Designs

I am fortunate to own a business in the patchwork quilting industry, which means I can justify spending an hour of my quiet work time each day stitching!

I stitched my first little quilt in the Spring of 1995 while awaiting the birth of my first child, now fourteen. Encouraged by my Mother I used fabric from her stash and purchased a pattern from a local quilt shop by American designers ‘Little Quilts’.

At this time the naïve design, soft country colours, simple buttonhole appliqué, and small project size that characterise ‘Little Quilts’ designs appealed to me and were perfectly matched to my skill level. It was when stitching this first wall hanging my love affair with patchwork quilting began and since then I have gradually immersed myself in the craft both in my leisure time and in a commercial venture through my online pattern store

In 2007 my youngest daughter at age six was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia. She is now in remission and thriving. I mention this not to solicit sympathy but to identify the catalyst that played a large part in moulding my outlook on life in recent years and how this experience has influenced my patchwork quilting.

Today, I take a more holistic approach to the craft, I have become more traditional in my tastes, I prefer to work by hand rather than machine, and I’m no longer scared off by large projects.

I am spoilt for choice running a pattern store and it is often overwhelming deciding what to make next, but every time I pick up a pattern and begin a project I see myself as having started a new journey.

I am never quite sure where it will take me, who I will connect with along the way, what emotions I will experience, but when I have a needle between my fingers I am confident I’m headed in the right direction.

Have your own holistic patchwork quilting experience by joining the 2009 Great Global Christmas Swap and make the acquaintance of a stitcher from another country, in the spirit of friendship, who shares your passion for this craft.


Lis Harwood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lis Harwood said...

Great to learn more about Fiona Marie, she's an awesome lady. May I urge you to join her Christmas swap? Fiona needs more northern hemisphere participants. I'm paired with a lovely girl in Oz and having a great time getting to know her,

Dawn said...

Thanks Lis for the testimonials. And I must agree that Fiona Marie is an awesome lady! Her Christmas Swap idea seems to perfectly reflect the holiday spirit.

And I admit that I have always been a sucker for international penpal type connections.


Gayle Pritchard said...

Great article. This explains why I see so many great patterns coming out of Australia.

By Hoki Quilts said...

Great article, good on you Fiona Marie, for keeping those of us 'down under' up to date with trends, patterns and ideas.