Meet the Maker: A Canadian Abroad

By Judith on June 1, 2017
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Welcome June! My favourite month of the year!


It’s going to be a very significant month for me, the start of a new chapter.  But more on that when the time comes!


My ‘Meet the Maker’ interview this month is a lady who is special to me from when we both joined Brit Bee in 2011.


Susan is not only an incredibly talented quilter and designer (you will see her amazing work in leading quilting magazines such as Love Patchwork and Quilting and Quilt Now), she also has a wicked sense of humour and is an incredible cook and baker!  I’ll let her do the talking!



1. Introduction: 

I’m Susan Standen, a Canadian living in the middle of England. I used to blog at but as I haven’t posted in a year it is uncertain whether I will resurrect the blog or not. Time constraints and demands of life meant something had to give and my blog was that something. But I am very active on IG as canadianabroad. I can also be found on Pinterest as Susan Standen – though you are as likely to find recipes pinned there as quilting inspiration!



2. What is your craft/s? When did you start? Who/what inspired you to get started?

I am a quilter. I have two teenage daughters and I was a stay at home mum. When they were younger I searched for a hobby that would be something just for me. I tried beading – seriously no patience for that, card making – bored me (sorry to all those card makers out there, no offence meant) and then I bought a cheap sewing machine. I made a Halloween costume, and then a friend fell pregnant with her second child and I decided I would make a quilt. I had no family history of sewing, let alone quilting. I had never made a quilt. I did not know anyone who quilted. But I made a quilt. I was hooked!



3. What do you most enjoy about your craft? Where do you find your inspiration? Who inspires you?


I love coming up with a new idea. Even when I started quilting I never used patterns. I would look for inspiration on the internet and when I found something I liked I would work out the quilt maths for myself, changing up the design to suit my needs. Now I sketch all the time on my tablet, twisting ideas around until they suddenly take a form that makes my heart sing. I don’t get pattern inspiration so much as colour combinations that inspire me from the amazing and prolific quilters that are online. Just a few people that I follow who have an amazing eye for colour are (these are all ig names) fionapoppymakes, sewgoclimbing, littleislandquilting, fabricmutt, slostudio, lizfromshush



4. What are your thoughts on the online quilting community, locally and internationally?


I wouldn’t be quilting the way I do if it was not for the online community. I quilted in a wilderness of my own until I found the incredible online community that is out there. I have never found it any less than inspirational, supportive, educational and fun. Happily I have never experienced any controversy personally, though I know it does exist at times. The very best thing that came out of connecting with people online is the bees I have joined and the closer friendships that I have made via these bees. The best bee, Brit Bee, has resulted in life long friendships that I treasure and have made my life a better place to be.



5. In your opinion, is there still a place for bricks and mortar quilting shops, or is shopping for fabric online the future? Which do you prefer?


While I shop mostly online, and am also in the enviable position that I get a great deal of the fabric I use given to me by manufacturers, I don’t think anything can beat a good bricks and mortar shop. Many fabrics that have not appealed to me online I have instantly fallen in love with when seeing them in person. Buying fabric in a shop is a tactile, and often out of control, experience that I would not want to live without.



6. What are your creative goals for 2017? Are there new things you would like to try; projects you would like to get finished; competitions to enter etc.?


2017 is turning out to be my busiest quilting year ever and the flow of commission work has been so constant that I haven’t been able to turn my mind to goals or WIPs. That being said, as I get to make my own designs, usually in the fabrics of my choosing, I’m pretty much living the dream here. I have found the past couple of years I have not participated in online swaps due to a combination of time constraints and past disappointments (as shallow as that sounds, sorry) and I have never really entered competitions.



7. If a fairy godmother could grant you one creative wish, what would it be?


If a fairy godmother could be so kind as to provide me a quilting space of my own that would be awesome. Seeing as this is the stuff of dreams the new space would be very spacious, allow for copious fabric storage, another machine for quilting with a throat space that makes quilting far easier, and room for friends to join me in there when the opportunity allowed. I’m not asking much but I may have to move to achieve this dream space!



Thank you Susie for sharing your amazing work!


I always look forward to seeing Susan’s next quilt design. I hope you have enjoyed reading a little about my lovely friend.



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Meet The Maker: Charm About You

By Judith on May 2, 2017
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May here has got off to a fabulous sunny start!  I’ve even ventured out with no socks on!!!


A new month means we get to meet another wonderful ‘Maker’.



This month’s Meet the Maker interview is with Lucy Brennan (Charm About You) one of the demonstrators on the new sewing channel ‘Sewing Quarter’ (Freeview 78) and fellow Finish-A-Long host.


  1. Introduction:

Hello! I am Lucy Brennan from Manchester, UK. I blog at and you can find me on social media as @charmaboutyou.



2. What is your craft/s? When did you start? Who/what inspired you to get started?

I am a quilter and maker of sewn projects. Whenever I can I like to do hand sewing, whether that be piecing, quilting or embroidery. I made my first quilt while I was at university, which was a bit of a disaster! I began sewing obsessively in 2011. With two small children at home I was looking for a hobby that would allow me to be creative and making sewn projects fulfilled that desire. I enjoyed making tangible things that are used and loved around our home. I began making quilts for friends and family, then started an Etsy shop and sold at craft fairs. I found I enjoyed the process of making and designing more than selling finished projects, so gradually that became my focus.



My cousin Jackie and my Auntie Barbara were both a big influence on me. Jackie runs a long arm quilt business in California and my Auntie is an avid crafter and creates beautiful English Paper Pieced quilts. I learnt a lot from them both and they always inspire me.



I was also influenced by the online quilting community. There are so many wonderful blogs full of great tutorials and advice. Writing my blog and engaging with other bloggers is a fun way to document progress and share finished projects. I learn a lot from reading about creative processes, following the journeys of crafters and quilters through their blogs.




3. What do you most enjoy about your craft? Where do you find your inspiration? 


Quilting really is my therapy. Having that time to make something, work with my hands, using colour and beautiful fabrics, creating interesting combinations and patterns; every aspect is both exciting and soothing to me.



I am often inspired by fabric and enjoy playing with texture and prints. Sometimes it can be shapes or techniques that spark an idea. I like to challenge myself by learning different skills and there are so many methods in patchwork and quilting, there is always something more to try!



Other quilters and crafters are always inspiring me and I really like seeing the range of styles and approaches that different people have. Social media, particularly instagram, is a great way of seeing lots of projects and discovering new makers. Seeing who I follow on instagram will give you a glimpse of the people that inspire me!


4. Tell me about your experience on The Sewing Quarter?  


I was asked mid 2016 to become part of the design team at The Sewing Quarter, at the time it was all very secretive and it was really hard not to tell anyone. There were rehearsals, thank goodness, but it was still terrifying to go on live television! I was nervous, mostly about making mistakes or saying something silly but it didn’t take long for me to get more comfortable and it helps to realise we are all only human – it would be stranger if everything was perfect!



I used to lecture in Sociology, then later began teaching quilting classes, so I have been a teacher since 2002. Speaking in front of people doesn’t scare me but the strange thing about television is that there are only a couple of people in the studio and the people watching are ‘out there’! It always relaxes me when people message in and I enjoy that responsiveness. For me, as a designer and demonstrator, the fun is in the engagement with the sewing community. Getting messages from people who have been inspired to start quilting or return to sewing is so wonderful!


5. What are your creative goals for 2017? Are there new things you would like to try; projects you would like to get finished?


I feel like I have been brave over the past year and I would really like to continue to push myself creatively. I have some exciting projects in the works and I hope to be able to do some collaborations with other quilters, which is really inspiring and fab!



Finishing some wips would be wonderful, I am plodding away on a few projects but work keeps me busy so I am trying not to put extra pressure on myself and just enjoy some quiet sewing time for myself.



6. If a fairy godmother could grant you one creative wish, what would it be?


More space! It would be so lovely to have a sewing room rather than the corner of our dining room. I would enjoy being able to spread out and not have to tidy things away (or add to the big messy pile of stuff on my desk!). If anyone has good tips for streamlining stash and notions etc. or storage ideas for small craft areas I would love to hear them!



Wow!  What a talented lady!  I hope you have enjoyed reading more about Lucy, and don’t forget to look out for her on The Sewing Quarter!



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Meet The Maker: Quilting Prolifically

By Judith on April 4, 2017
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Welcome everyone!  And happy April to you all!


We have had a sunny start to the new month – doesn’t the sunshine make everything seem much better!



Well a new month means a new ‘Meet the Maker’ interview, and it is my delight to introduce you to a very special lady!



This is Trudi, aka Quilting Prolifically.  Trudi is a fellow Brit Bee member and an astoundingly talented long arm quilter.  She is known for her ‘feather’ work, which are all ‘free hand’ quilted.  Enjoy!


  1. Introduction: Who are you? Where do you live? Where do you blog?


Hi, I’m Trudi, I live in Lincolnshire and quilt in a very posh shed at the bottom of my garden.  I can be found at my very neglected blog Quilting Prolifically and more visibly on Intagram as @trudi­­_wood



2. What is your craft/s? When did you start? Who/what inspired you to get started?


I am a professional Longarm quilter, designer and patchwork and quilting teacher.   I learned to sew when I was about six from my mum, piecing scraps from her basket into clothes for my dolls.  My mum taught me to make my own clothes, and so for many years I was a dress maker, making my own clothes and bridesmaids dresses and ball gowns for others.  I was introduced to quilting by a colleague when I was working in Belgium.  They gave me a catalogue for an American quilting shop, and my eyes were opened to so many more possibilities.   This was back in the day when machine quilting was regarded as a dirty word and cheating, so I hand quilted all my quilts because that’s what everyone did.  There came a point when there were more tops than I could ever dream of hand quilting in a traditional way, so I taught myself to free motion quilt on my very old domestic machine that didn’t even drop the feed dogs.  In 2007 I bought a table top frame and soon learnt my Bernina was not up to the job so added a Juki 98P and learned how to quilt on a frame.  In 2014 My Innova Long arm arrived and I love it!  Last year I took the leap and left my day job and now quilt full time.  I’ve also been teaching Patchwork and quilting, free motion quilting, and designing quilt patterns for magazine commissions.



3. What do you most enjoy about your craft? Where do you find your inspiration? Who inspires you?


I love the creativity, I have always created, loved colour, and sewing,  so to be able to inspire others, help people see more than they thought about for quilting and to work on so many different quilts is a real joy.    Inspiration can strike from almost anywhere,  from the fabric itself, the design of the quilt or even the purpose of the quilt.  I love my customers to be involved in the process as much as possible, as they will usually have a good strong idea and starting point .    I have my feet firmly set in the traditional field from the word go, inspired by UK quilters like Barbara Chainey  and Amy Emms, US quilters like Daine Gaudinski and Karen McTavish.   I do love to mix in the traditional with a more modern feel to the quilting.



4. Why did you start a blog? What do enjoy most about blogging? Do you see a future in blogging with the rise of other social mediums?


I started reading blogs back in 2008/09,  and just figured, you know what, I could do that!  I set up a blog and posted wondering who would read it, and people did.  I was quite shocked.  My blog has been neglected over the last year or two, as the time required to dedicate to it became more than I could muster, and Instagram seemed so much easier with the demise of Flickr also.  Its quick, its a snapshot of time.  Its a really great community.  Yes I’d love to get back into some regular blogging, because I still think there is a place for it.  Sometimes there is so much more to that snap in time than a few words can express, quilts have stories, and its always worth recording those stories and sharing with other.  You never know who you might inspire.



5. What are your creative goals for 2017? Are there new things you would like to try; projects you would like to get finished; competitions to enter etc.?


I strive to grow creatively each year, and this year is no different, my words for this year are to Shine and Adventure, so to use those as inspiration for the work I do makes a great focus.  I really want to get back to the traditional patterns and see what I could bring to them with a modern slant using today’s quilting techniques.   I have so many ideas in my head, I need to get them into my notebook and pick just one for the Festival of Quilts.



6. If a fairy godmother could grant you one creative wish, what would it be?


Oh that would be easy, more time!  Time to create, time to play, time to just see where ideas take me.  To be able to do all that and still work a full week with time for a weekend would be just grand.


Isn’t Trudi’s quilting amazing!  Hard not to be inspired under her tutelage.


I hope you have enjoyed reading about this month’s Maker!



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Meet The Maker: She Can Quilt

By Judith on February 2, 2017
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Happy February everyone!


Isn’t it great to leave January behind?


Another month means another ‘Meet the Maker’ interview, this time with an amazingly talented quilter called Leanne Chahley.


I have had the privilege of meeting Leanne in person, at Fat Quarterly Retreat in London 2012.  But we had already become firm blogging friends before then.


I am in awe of Leanne’s work, and I know you will be too!





“My name is Leanne Chahley and I live in Alberta, Canada. I am a quilter, a knitter, and I also sew garments, weave, spin, crochet, and do needlework, cross stitch and petit point. I blog at she can quilt. I also write quilting patterns, love teaching, and quilt freehand without computers or pantographs on a long arm quilting machine. I have been knitting and sewing since I was 5 years old, and cannot imagine not having several creative projects on the go. For the last several years, I have focused on quilting, while always having a bit of knitting in my bag too.

Why I quilt, where I find inspiration

“I quilt for fun. I love playing with colours, patterns and designs. My favourite work is improv, and I love designing my own quilts so that they are one of a kind. Having said that, I also like to revisit an idea and work in a series, so that I can explore variations on each inspiration. I also love to explore traditional quilting patterns and working to perfect techniques. 

I find inspiration everywhere. From historic quilters, quilting teachers and quilting friends. From nature, architecture, flooring, and tiles. From emotions and feelings. From the colours and textures I see at the beach, in forests, in the city or indoors. I try to look at things from all angles, from near and far, and from all perspectives. And then I follow where the inspiration leads me.”

My blog

“I started my blog, she can quilt, on March 12, 2011. Judith was one of my very first followers and we started being friends when she commented on my third ever blog post. I started the blog to share my quilting journey with quilting friends. It has brought me many friends, a great number of whom I have met in person at quilting events. In fact I have met Judith in person and spent time with her at quilting retreats in London, England.

I use my blog to share my work, tutorials, patterns and ideas. I work to create community for quilters all over the world with sharing events like Scraptastic Tuesday and the Finish A Long. My blog also helps to remind me of where I have been and where I might want to go next with my quilting. And occasionally some knitting is featured too.

In addition to my blog, I am active on Instagram as @shecanquilt. I do have a Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook presence too, but I barely use them.”

Creative Goals for 2017

“I am hoping to use the coming year to make more quilts. I especially want to explore improv and my own designs. I hope to publish a lot of new pdf patterns and explore the feasibility of paper printed patterns too. I am looking forward to continuing being part of the blogging community as well. Finally I hope to enter a few quilt shows – as although I do not make quilts especially for shows, I enjoy the opportunity to share my work in person with people and it is fun to win the odd ribbon too.”

A special creative wish

“I would wish for a time turner so that I could fit more creative time into my days.”


I hope you have enjoyed this month’s Meet the Maker and Leanne’s beautiful work.



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An Interview with Svetlana

By Judith on January 2, 2017
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A friend and quilter whom I greatly admire is Svetlana (SOTAK Handmade).



I adore her clean and simple contemporary style of quilting and she also designs and prints her own fabric!



I had the pleasure of interviewing Svetlana to kick start our new year.


Introduce yourself! 


“My name is Svetlana Sotak. I am a pattern designer, sewist, quilter, and an occasional screen printer and I blog over at Sotak Handmade. I love using simple fabric designs and creating uncomplicated, useful, everyday projects.”



Creatively speaking, what was your proudest achievement in 2016 and why?


“My proudest achievement would have to be learning to screen print on fabric and designing my very own sewing kits. It was definitely a challenging task of constant trial and error learning, but so worth all the effort. I’m hoping to build on the skills I learned and produce more kits in the coming year.



I also did quite a bit of hand quilting this past year. I must admit, I didn’t really expect to like it very much when I first started, but I found it incredibly relaxing and meditative and I’m definitely going to incorporate more hand quilting in my projects.”



What are your creative goals for 2017? 


“I’m excited to keep creating and publishing more pdf patterns and kits. I’m also hoping to work more with leather, wool, and waxed canvas as I think they add an extra touch of polish and finesse to finished bags and pouches.”



If your fairy godmother could grant you a wish for 2017, what would it be?


“More time, definitely more time to create. And to read. And maybe learn some weaving. I even started pinning some of my favorite weavings to my Pinterest board so in case fairy godmother does show up, she’ll have some reference to go by :).”

What philosophy/inspiring quote will you live by in 2017?


“Lately I’ve been really intrigued with the idea of rational minimalism (you can find more about it here). I love the idea of having just enough, not too little, not too much. And I’m hoping that conscious reduction of clutter all around me will free me to enjoy my life and explore new opportunities more.”



Isn’t Svetlana’s work inspirational? Please hop on over to her blog and check out her many creations!


I hope you have enjoyed my first interview of 2017.


And here’s a question for you:


What new skill do you want to learn in 2017?


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