Today we are introducing you to the WAQA outgoing President and incoming Country Liaison Carla Smales.
You can find Carla at many WAQA sewing day and nights, she is instrumental in adding her artistic flair to many of the meetings, whether it be with wonderful table decorations and food creations, dressing up and encouraging others to do so, or sharing her friendship with old and new members, and the holding up of many quilt creations at our “Show and tell” sessions. Carla has also been a wonderful help and inspiration to me, as I navigate my way through social media, especially Instagram, for which I am eternally grateful!
Carla is youngish (31), Wife and Mum of 2 children, Ashton and Ariana aged 5 and 6years old., She currently lives in Willetton, Perth Western Australia, but with both her and husband John hailing from the country there is farm banter that frequents conversation.
During the daylight hours of the working week you will find Carla at Perth Prosthodontics which unbeknownst to some lends itself very well to the creative soul with an eye for colour and detail. https://www.perthprosthodontics.com.au/team-members/carla-smales/
- Have you always been creative?
I don’t particularly recall a time where there was a creative switch turned on, but I do have very fond memories of creativity being a large part of my childhood. My mum having had a career before children as a home economics teacher meant that a lot of meal’s started with the phrase ‘This is a bit of an experiment’ and our school projects were almost all backed with metallic cardboard or a splash of glitter… come to think of it where was the Scan and Cut then!!!
- Your first foray into the quilting world was?
Was when I was in upper primary school, Mum would car pool with the neighbouring farmer’s wife, to a quilting group based out of the Meckering town hall. I recall her making a beautiful cutting mat and ruler bag holder in a lovely floral and green combination. I was always eager to see what progress was made on the project at the time – sometimes almost more than the afternoon tea that was on offer.
Following on from that I was lucky enough to have some wonderful Sewing teachers in high school. I just loved being able to step into those classes, take a deep breath and know that I could use my hands for 2 straight continuous periods of the day, 120 creative minutes, 3 glorious times per week.
- Your first quilt or first piece of craft was?
My first real patchwork piece of sewing besides the simple 9 patch pot holder that we had to make to gain our Machine Licence was a European pillow cover. I had grand plans for it that far exceeded the time that was allocated in class and also the functions of the machines we had provided to us. My teacher Mrs Jones let me take it home to get it to completion stage in a timely manner and also so that I could use the button hole stitch on mums’ machine for the applique portion of the project.
I still have the cushion cover to this day and it lives in the sewing room on the back of my sewing chair.
- In your spare time you enjoy.
I feel like this is a trick question… In the moments of spare time I enjoy drinking a cup of tea while it’s still hot and also staring into space and daydreaming about my next project or the deadline I should be meeting with a WIP.
- Perth born and raised?? Or born and raised somewhere else and came to Perth when?
I was born and raised on my family’s wheat and sheep property in Cunderdin, 160km north east of Perth. I came to Perth when I was 12 to attend Penrhos College as a boarding student and have predominantly based here since then.
- A bit about your family? Are they supportive about what do you do?
I have an incredibly supportive husband who is catching on to the quilting lingo quickly and is also a very creative metal and woodworker in his own right.
- Do you have any pets?
Residing with us here in the city we have a little 9 year old Chug (Chihuahua x Pug) dog and three laying hens who supply our breakfast eggs.
We also consider the alpacas, donkeys, goats and sheep that live on the farm as our pets too – and I am so lucky to have the facility to expose Ashton and Ariana to all different animals in an up close and person manner.
- Favourite place to holiday?
We are still trialling different holiday destinations as a family and are currently loving getting out and about camping at various destinations around the state. The next little break away is planned for the January school holidays to Denmark.
- Favourite quilting/sewing tool you can’t live without?
My fav tool is going to have to be a tie between the Milliners needles in a size 15 and the quilters tweezers… do they have a more technical name than that???
- Your favourite part of the whole quilting process? (Designing, choosing fabric, sewing the binding down?)
The past I find most enjoyable is selecting fabrics, having a creative idea or design in mind and then being able to choose fabrics and curate them specifically for the project, I feel makes it very special.
- What are you working on now?
I am incredibly lucky enough to have a designated space in my home, to be able to switch off and fondle fabrics and notions. It is a space that is still quite close to the main kitchen/living/ dining area but this still does not motivate me to keep it in an orderly fashion all the time.
At this very moment I have a few projects on the go as you can see by the state of my sewing space in the image… can you spot the following projects?
I’m attempting to put together the Toyota Logo using 2.5 inch squares as a couch quilt for my husband to enjoy.
Getting the binding on my 100 days 100 blocks quilt ready to take camping for one of the kids beds.
Giving the Scan N Cut a workout making vinyl labels for the new school lunchboxes and water bottles.
- Your number one tip you can pass on to another young quilter is?
Don’t wait for your kids to grow up to find your love of crafting and sewing, let them sit on your lap, and dabble in the creative process with them. Make a scrap bucket that is theirs to create with, and lay out scraps on a design wall or just drape over toys like a fashion parade is about to start.
- Do you have a “fabric/ribbon/buttons/thread stash”?
The shock and horror on the face of a sewing pals when they find out that I don’t have a stash is just priceless. I shop for the project I’m about to work on and that’s it!
- Do your prefer working on bigger quilts or pieces or smaller items?
I thoroughly enjoy working on larger items but for now, I’m content on getting quick finishes done and marked off.
Work you are proud of?
I may not have a lot of finished work – but the thing that makes me the proudest is walking past and seeing an empty quilt ladder and my most important people draped in quilts that have been finished which were made with 100% love.
I use sewing and other creative outlets when I’m happy, sad, frustrated, lost, and anxious amongst other emotions that arrive in my life invited or not. It is incredibly healing and calming to see that the highs and lows of life can still bring something positive.
Currently you are working on?
Instead of trying to remember what my most recent finish was apart from a Wonder Woman Library bag for Miss Ariana, I have popped a pic here of my design wall which is a realistic view into my WIP collection.
I hope to have a temperature quilt on here in the first few weeks of January…. please ask me how it is going when you see me as it might provide motivation as I’ve only been wanting to make one for 3 years .
Carla is also very active on Instagram and has had a lot of fun over Christmas surprising her children with the antics of their Christmas elf. You can visit Carla on Instagram: @carlaelisesmales and see what else she gets up to.
Thank you Carla, for sharing with us, a little bit about YOU