World renowned and much-loved fabric designer Amy Butler sat down with Homemaker to talk quilting, and what it is she loves so much about the haberdash’ art form.
What is it that you love about quilting? I adore playing with fabric and love textiles of every kind, but there’s something special about stitching pieces of beautiful fabric together to make another creation. I’m attracted to the soul of quilting, the slow process and meditative exercise that it provides. I’m fascinated by the history and how it’s been a huge part of humanity for a long time − many of my favourite historical quilts were created out of necessity and always with love.
Which are your favourite techniques and methods to quilt with? My favourite style of quilting is improvisation. Working intuitively feels natural and I get lost in the process. To me, stitching this way feels spontaneous and fresh. You’d think that being a sewing pattern author would have me gravitate to more organised projects, but I find I crave the opposite − maybe it’s the yin and yang piece that balances me out.
Who first inspired you and ignited your love?
My grandmother introduced me to patchwork when I was a little girl. I was fascinated by her scrap bags and she’d let me play pretend with the bits of fabric saved for other projects − she didn’t waste anything! From then on, quilts have been a soulful inspiration for me.
Which fabrics do you enjoy using the most? I’ve quilted with several different kinds of fabrics over the years and really enjoy working with a finer cotton or lawn. However, I’ve recently discovered the joys of quilting with silk. I purchase vintage Indian silk saris and repurpose them. It feels luxurious and has a completely different vibe when you stitch with it − the results are stunning.
What tools and materials do you recommend using for the best quilt cuts? I’m pretty classic but a rotary cutter and straight edge work well. I also like to cut loosely, in a more raw fashion when I’m doing improvised work. Heather Jones taught me this last summer. Simply fold a piece of fabric a few times and cut loosely with scissors at a few different spots. This creates interesting pieces to stitch with, inspiring unusual shapes and forms. It’s very freeing.
Amy’s top tips
• Build up a vocabulary of styles, designs, and techniques that you love the most and immerse yourself in the millions of beautiful inspiring possibilities found in craft books or on Pinterest.
• Take a beginners’ quilting class and play on your own time at home with the new skills you’re learning so you can create a unique relationship with quilting and define how you want to approach it.
• Have fun! Take what you’re learning and practise, play and experiment. There are no rules to how you approach quilting. This is an art form and a means of expressing yourself − there’s great joy in patchwork waiting for you!
Has Amy left you feeling inspired? Of course she has! Turn to page 30 of the newest issue of Homemaker to find out how to get started with patchwork & quilting − out today! Pick up a copy of Amy Butler's Piece Keeping (£19.99, Chronicle Books) to read more!