I’m so happy to be sharing with you all another fabulous Canberra quilter (seriously, I think there’s something in the water!), Gemma of Pretty Bobbins.
Gemma hasn’t been in the Capital long, but it feels like she’s been here forever (in a good way, not in the way that being in a boring meeting feels like forever!). I met Gemma at a Canberra Quilters meeting and then popped around for her house for a lovely afternoon of talking quilting and awesomeness. Then, to really cement things we spent a whole day together when we traveled to Sydney recently – it’s after spending 5 hours in traffic to get home after a long day walking around looking at quilts that you really come to appreciate how awesome someone is or isn’t. (She’s awesome!)
Gemma was one of the first people I met who thought about quilting like I did. Her passion for her craft permeates every bit of her being and I find it so intoxicating and inspiring to be around. (If I could bottle this I would have a bottle with me in my sewing room to use every time I get to that part of the project where I think I suck, it’s all crap and I should never touch fabric again – I’d just have a little swig and I’d be set to power through. She’s like a quilting energy drink!)
I really enjoyed reading and learning a little more about Gemma and I really hope you do as well.
1. How did you come to be a quilter?
I have always been around sewing and textiles. I’ve always had the confidence to pick up some cloth and turn it into a project that I’ve thought up. We always had bags of fabric in the house and my Mum made most of my clothes when I was young. I used to sit on her sewing machine case and watch her sew. I inherited my Nanny’s 1970s Husqvarna in my mid-20s and when I had my first baby a few years later I decided to make some baby quilts for my friends’ new babies. I followed some instructions in a 1970s Better Homes and Gardens quilting book that I’d bought at a garage sale and got busy. The instructions were rather vague so I filled in the gaps with my dressmaking skills. Three years later I took a beginners patchwork class determined to learn the proper techniques. It wasn’t until I was recovering from pneumonia in mid-2012 that I discovered modern quilting blogs and fell in love.
2. What is it that you love about being a quilter?
Coincidentally this is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot this week. One of the key joys for me in quilting is losing myself in creativity. I get a kick out of the detail, of focusing on perfection and I love letting go and seeing where the quilting takes me without worrying about imperfection (contrary, I know!). I love talking about quilting with my clients and seeing their happiness when they collect their quilt. I love having a career that is essentially about making people happy! I love making quilts for my kids, there’s nothing better than tucking them up in a Mumma-made quilt <3
I LOVE the vibrant, intelligent, artistic, supportive and meaningful quilting community that I have found both online and in real life. I enjoy giving back to that community (my weekly linky party is all about giving back; sharing tips, encouraging people and creating networks) and I find it very energising and fulfilling to be a part of.
I also love pretty fabric 😉 Playing with colour makes my heart sing. Be it quilting, piecing or designing, I find colour play to be infinitely relaxing and fulfilling.
3. What made you start your business; Pretty Bobbins Quilting?
I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up until I found my passion for quilting. It is so clear to me now what I want to do with the rest of my life that I just could not ignore that passion. I have said many times that I’d rather try and fail than die wondering. I believe that I have the passion, skills and energy to make my business succeed and I have a very supportive family who believe in my dream too.
Whilst I am now in a difficult period of balancing a part-time office job, a young family and trying to grow my business, I can see the end goal where working from home on something that I love will give me more time with my children. I want to be around during their school holidays (no sneaky business while I’m at work as well as quality time together), I want to pick them up from school, I want to work with my husband to run our own business AND I need creative fulfillment and artistic expression. Once found those joys are very hard to shake! ☺
4. What gives you the most joy from being a long arm quilter?
I LOVE quilting. I love standing at the long arm and creating something beautiful. I’m a very intuitive quilter and whilst I generally let my quilting go where it may, I also enjoy the challenge of quilting myself out of a corner or around a particular design element. I also love having quilty peeps in my studio. I can talk quilting all day and my vision for my studio is to make it a relaxing, quilty haven. I have chosen this career to be happy and to be around happy people. It is an absolute pleasure to make people happy by quilting for them and seeing their reaction when they come to collect their quilts ☺
5. What are you most proud of from your quilting experience?
I’m most proud of finding my creative voice and developing confidence. When I’m quilting I know that I’m doing a good job, I know that I have something to give and to share and I know that my family are proud of me.
6. What’s the one piece of advice about quilting that all new quilters should know?
Relax, get your techniques down, don’t worry about perfection, go with your instinct and have fun! (That’s one sentence… That counts right?) 😉
7. Who’s the quilter(s) that inspire you at the moment?
Krista Withers!!! I want to be her!
8. What quilting challenges would you like to conquer in the next 12 months?
My main goal is to build my business to be able to leave my day job and quilt full time. It’s a huge challenge and it means I have to work out where to focus my time and energy as well as make a lot of sacrifices. The biggest challenge is balance family time with building a business in the time between work and the usual life craziness.
9. What’s your 3 favourite quilts that you’ve made that reflect who you are as a quilter?
Hues of the South Pacific. This is an all-time favourite. I love the colours and flow.
South Pacific Dreaming Set of Three (particularly the family portrait silhouette). These quilts were technically rewarding and have a lot of meaning.
My current quilt (it’s always my current quilt LOL). I love the challenge of bringing together different blocks and I’ve had a LOT of fun with improve with this one.
10. If you weren’t a quilter, what other creative endeavor would you like to master?
My non-quilty creative pursuits (if I had time!!!) are to improve the languages that I speak (Indonesia, French and Mandarin), and to try painting and screen printing.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with my readers?
I recently met Angie (Gnome Angel) for the first time in real life. My afternoon with her is what it’s all about for me: meeting and being inspired by amazing, intelligent, passion women who are finding their voice and encouraging each other through a shared creative passion.
A Bit of Fun:
If you could only have one or the other for the rest of eternity what would you choose?
You can just choose a word, or choose to elaborate on your choice, it’s just a little bit of fun.
1. Fabric: Solid or Pattern? Solid.
2. Quilt Styles: Pattern or Improv? Improv (no trouble choosing this one!).
3. Seams: Open or to the Side? Open (but of course!).
4. Stitching: Hand or Machine? Machine (everytime!!).
5. Binding: Hand or Machine? Machine (nothing gets finished if I have to handbind it…).
6. Food: Sweet or Savoury? Sweet (or just chocolate really).
7. Entertainment: Books or Music? Books (ummm, IG is probably a more realistic answer).
8. Entertainment: Television or Movies? Television.
9. Computer: Mac or Windows? Mac.
10. Drink: Coke or Pepsi? Water!!