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It’s always interesting to talk to people that share the same interests; to hear about their take on things and how they got started in this wonderful world of fabric. In the past few days I’ve been learning all about quilt designer Claudia Atchison, pestering her with questions and requests for pictures. Here is some of what she had to say . . . .
My great-grandmother was a quilter and did all kinds of hand work. She taught me mostly embroidery and crochet. She will always be my greatest influence. She had stopped quilting by the time I was old enough to learn from her, so quilting came later. I continued to sew and by the time I was twelve I was sewing my own clothes and by high school I was getting paid to sew for friends.
In the mid 1980′s I took a quilting class at the community center in North Richland Hills, TX. When the class ended I was hooked. There weren’t any quilt shops in my area, but I bought a few books about the basics and learned more as I made a few quilts. In the mid 1990′s I worked for an applique designer, Robyn Pandolph, and helped make samples. This is when I fell in love with applique and all things folk art. A love that, like quilting, continues today.
I first met Judy Reynolds in 2005, working at a quilt shop with her. I had an idea for a baby quilt and told Judy I wanted to give it to her. She said to make a sample and write instructions and she and her partner, Amy Cotham, would decide if they could market my pattern under the Black Cat Creations name. I’m happy to say that “Snuggle Up” was published and I have been designing ever since. Judy and Amy are great and very supportive of their guest designers.
As mentioned earlier, I love applique, all kinds. Needle turn, fused or dimensional. I have several wool applique quilt patterns that I really enjoyed designing. Pictured here are A Yard of Roses, A Yard of Hydrangeas, and A Yard of Sunflowers.
But, most of my patterns are pieced, and some have a little applique on them. My favorite is “A Bouquet for My Love”. I designed this for my husband in blues and browns. For the last 44 years he’s brought me flowers for no reason, I thought it was time I gave him some in return.
I don’t have a typical work day schedule. I might sew all day for several days in a row and then not sew at all for a week. My husband is semi-retired, if that explains anything! If I have an idea in my head, I might spend all day and half the night to get it down on paper before I forget what the idea was.
Instead of a studio, I use a small bedroom at the back of the house. My husband put shelves in the closet for my fabric. I have a wrap around sewing table that holds two machines and has a small space for a cutting board between them. I have a cutting table that the sides can be folded down when not in use. All my rulers and cutting boards are on a rack on the wall. One wall is a design wall. (I have ruler envy… I can’t imagine that there are any that Claudia doesn’t have!)
I have a room above the garage for my Tin Lizzie and my reference books and extra fabric, of course.
As for inspiration, I get it from lots of places. Sometimes the fabric just speaks to me and I know right away what it will be when finished. I got several of my wool designs by working in my flower beds. Sometimes just doodling on a piece of paper will give me an idea. “Chocolate Fondue” was inspired by the fabric. When I saw that beautiful pink and brown fabric, I could almost taste chocolate dipped strawberries and chocolate covered cherries. And I always keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas. You never know when these ideas will turn into a quilt pattern!