LOVE QUIL­TERS

Meet Aneela Hoey, blog­ger, fab­ric de­signer and quil­ter. She tell us all about her gor­geous new fab­ric line for Cloud9 – Vi­gnette.

Love Patchwork & Quilting - - Love Patchwork & Quilting -

School was where I learned to sew, but it wasn’t un­til around 2008 when my youngest daugh­ter started nurs­ery that I got into mak­ing quilts. I was in­stantly hooked. I have a de­sign back­ground, study­ing printed tex­tiles at Winch­ester School of Art in the 1990s. I've also worked at sev­eral stu­dios de­sign­ing tex­tiles for the Ja­panese and Amer­i­can mar­kets. So when I got heav­ily into sewing and quilt­ing I nat­u­rally started hav­ing ideas for fab­ric col­lec­tions. I started keep­ing sketches of all my ideas and worked on them from time to time, then one day I de­cided to ap­proach a quilt­ing fab­ric com­pany – and to my de­light they took me on!

To­day I work as a fab­ric de­signer, quil­ter, em­broi­derer and pat­tern de­signer – but usu­ally only one of th­ese at a time! Fab­ric de­sign is my favourite though, and I couldn’t live with­out it. When I’m de­sign­ing fab­ric, I’m ab­so­lutely hooked on the

work at hand and don’t want to in­ter­rupt that time with any­thing else. Once the de­signs are done, I start think­ing about ways in which the fab­ric could be used, and this leads very nat­u­rally to my quilt and pat­tern ideas. Even­tu­ally the fab­ric ar­rives and I drop ev­ery­thing to sew all the things I wanted to make. Then the whole cy­cle starts all over again!

My work is in­flu­enced by de­sign­ers I love, such as Lizzy House, Carolyn Frei­d­lan­der, Anna Maria Horner, Melody Miller and Anna Gra­ham. I like them for hav­ing their own in­di­vid­ual aes­thetic and em­body­ing their per­sonal style in ev­ery­thing they do.

I al­ways en­joy the process of hav­ing a num­ber of ideas and work­ing out how to com­bine them. I love see­ing how things de­velop and then reach­ing a ‘con­clu­sion’ in the form of a new de­sign or pat­tern.

For my new­est col­lec­tion Vi­gnette, with Cloud 9 fab­rics, I started with a few sketch­books filled with flo­ral draw­ings and paint­ings. I scanned the art­work and opened it in Il­lus­tra­tor, us­ing it as a ba­sis from which to trace el­e­ments I liked, work­ing with them un­til ideas started to emerge. Once I was happy with a ba­sic idea, I started play­ing around with colour, lay­out and so on. Af­ter I had sev­eral de­sign ideas ready, I started look­ing at them to­gether, which helped me see what was work­ing and what needed chang­ing. When I had a de­sign group I was happy with, I sent them to Michelle, the cre­ative di­rec­tor at Cloud 9. She gave me feed­back on the de­signs and we worked to­gether to tighten up the colours, theme and so on un­til we had a fin­ished group.

I’ve also re­cently started fo­cus­ing on de­sign­ing pat­terns for sewingth­emed ac­ces­sories, which started with my Pro­ject Book Pouch. When my book Lit­tle Stitches first came out, I had an idea to make a pouch where I could keep both the book and the de­tach­able trans­fer pat­terns, as well as the em­broi­dery I was work­ing on. To make sure I could make more than one, I wrote down notes as I went. Peo­ple started ask­ing me if I had a pat­tern

I USU­ALLY HAVE A PAR­TIC­U­LAR COM­BI­NA­TION OF IDEAS I WANT TO TRY TO­GETHER IN A PAT­TERN AND IT’S NOR­MALLY DRIVEN BY SOME­THING I NEED.

for the pouch, so I went back to my notes and wrote one. I re­ally en­joyed the whole process, so I wrote more pat­terns.

I usu­ally have a par­tic­u­lar com­bi­na­tion of ideas I want to try to­gether in a pat­tern and it’s nor­mally driven by some­thing I need, such as some­where to put all the thread spools I seem to ac­cu­mu­late! Work­ing out the best way to make the item from scratch al­lows me to prob­lem-solve, which I find equally in­trigu­ing and frus­trat­ing! There are al­ways sev­eral pro­to­types in­volved be­fore I set­tle on the fi­nal de­sign. Then I draw up all the pat­terns in Il­lus­tra­tor and write the pat­tern. I nor­mally make at least one more to check the in­struc­tions, then I send the pat­tern out to sev­eral testers. I find their feed­back in­valu­able – firstly to flag up any er­rors I might have missed, but equally to smooth out any ar­eas of con­cern or con­fu­sion.

When I’m mak­ing a quilt, usu­ally it be­gins with a stack of fab­rics I want an ex­cuse to use. I then edit them down to those that work well or are in­ter­est­ing to­gether. I think of ideas I want to try and start doo­dling in a note­book, then I se­lect my favourite ideas and make some test blocks. Once I’m happy with the block size and con­struc­tion, I make more blocks and then start lay­ing them out to de­cide on the fi­nal lay­out.

Hav­ing an or­gan­ised sewing space is very im­por­tant for me, as I find my­self able to be more pro­duc­tive. It also helps me think more clearly. I don't work well sur­rounded by clut­ter as I con­stantly get dis­tracted! I have a large work ta­ble where I do all my sewing and work on pat­tern ideas, and a smaller desk for my com­puter. I keep fab­ric and other sup­plies in book­cases, and there’s a pin­board above the com­puter, but other than that I don’t put any­thing on the walls as I like the feel­ing of space.

It’s much eas­ier for me to think cre­atively than to think about busi­ness, so I have to en­sure what I’m do­ing can be in­cor­po­rated into more of a ca­reer, rather than a leisurely pas­time. When it does come to leisure time, I en­joy sketch­ing, paint­ing and gar­den­ing – I just wish there was more time for me to do them!

FAB­RIC DE­SIGN IS MY FAVOURITE AC­TIV­ITY, AND I COULDN’T LIVE WITH­OUT IT.

From fab­ric de­sign to quilts, clever stor­age ideas and more, Aneela is the whole pack­age! The clutch (above) was made to show off her new Vi­gnette col­lec­tion from Cloud 9, while the foldover sewing pouch (left) and nest­ing boxes (top right) use Sew Stitchy from Moda.

The All-in-One Box Pouch is Aneela's take on a por­ta­ble sewing room – the work in progress tucks into the spa­cious in­te­rior, while the threads and tools fit into the zipped pock­ets! Just one of the in­spir­ing pat­terns on her blog at com­fort­stitch­ing.type­pad.co.uk

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