How are you all going? How has the Covid 19 virus affected you? I was stood down from my job at the end of March and the first thought I had was, ” Wow, some time at home, I can make a dent in my ufo’s and maybe even start some new projects. Alas, I haven’t completed too many projects, perhaps like a lot of people, I have had a few “down” days, when I haven’t wanted to do a single thing, least of all sewing and also overthinking everything way too much!
However, having said that, there have definitely been some silver linings. I have had time to re-connect with friends, by having some very long phone conversations, as opposed to just a quick text, I have had a really big clean out of my sewing space and I have so enjoyed viewing all the eye candy that quilters and crafty people keep posting on Instagram.
There have also been some great sewing projects on social media , one was called, “Our Homespun village sew along, which was organised by Vanessa from Patchwork at Homespun, I know quite a few WAQA members took part in this and hundreds more people from around the world, you can view this sew along on Facebook and look at all the very cute houses that are being created.
Many of our favourite patchwork and quilt shops are now returning to regular trading hours, so remember to follow their websites or social media pages and see what they are all up to.
I follow quite a few sewers and quilters on Instagram and they have also brought a ray of sunshine into my day, so without further ado, I introduce you to Carla, aka as Granny Maud’s girl and I put some questions to her. Enjoy.
Carla, who blogs as Granny Maud’s Girl , lives here in Perth. She thinks of herself as a sewer rather than a quilter because she enjoys many forms of sewing, as well as knitting and crochet. A new grandson has inspired many of her recent creations, including a crocheted donkey.
She works in the city during the week but also has a casual job at Calico and Ivy, where she worked on Sundays until the COVID-19 shutdown. She edited the WAQA newsletter in 2014–16 and is currently a member of the embroidery guild, trying to broaden her embroidery skills beyond the most basic level.
- Have you always been creative?
I think the answer to this is “yes”. I do not remember back to a time before I loved sewing and reading. I borrowed my mum’s sewing machine until I was given my own for my tenth birthday. It was a 1926 hand-cranked Singer, which was suitable for where we lived in the wheatbelt. We only had generator power, and the generator was only switched on now and then. I made a lot of my clothes as a teenager, including my high school ball dress.
- Your first foray into the quilting world was?
The very first foray was when I was about 15 and decided to start an EPP hexagon quilt. It was almost my last quilt. Later, when we lived in Melbourne, some time between 2002 and 2007, I took a class at Primarily Patchwork and made my first sampler quilt.
- Your first quilt or first piece of craft was.
A doll, made when I was about 10, was probably not my first craft or sewing project, but it is the oldest I still own and can trace. I thought I won a prize at the Northam show for it, but I cannot find the certificate anywhere.
- Have you won any quilt awards? Locally, nationally, international
I have not won a quilting award, but I did win a prize for the doll at the Northam show. The only thing I have entered for judging at QuiltWest has been my bird quilt, “The one with the bird”, but it was in the art quilt category, a tough category that is full of amazing creations. The judges’ comments gave me high marks for neat stitches. I made the bird as part of a David Taylor class at Handcrafters House. I love David’s work, but I could not bring myself to buy batik fabrics, which I dislike and knew I would never use again, so I did the class in Liberty.
I have had a couple of patterns printed in Australian Patchwork & Quilting, including this double wedding ring, which was featured in their 2014 calendar.
- Perth born and raised? Or was born and raised somewhere else and came to Perth when?
I was born in Rugby in the UK, but my family moved to Perth just as I was about to start school. Other than Perth, I’ve lived in Tokyo, Sydney and Melbourne.
- A bit about your family? are they supportive about what do you do?
My social media alias, Granny Maud’s Girl, was named after my great-grandmother, Granny Maud. She and Pop Maud died when I was still a young child living in the UK, but I grew up hearing stories of her amazing craft talents. She was a professional tailoress who could knit or sew just about anything in lightning speed.
I realised my husband supported my craft habit when he started asking me to make things for friends and family members. He loves his hand-knitted socks.
- Favourite quilting/sewing tool you can’t live without.
I have both my Granny Maud’s and my Granny Burrows’ silver thimbles. Granny Maud’s came to me so well used that it has holes, but Granny Burrows’ was more lightly used and now I use it all the time. When I first started sewing, I never used a thimble, but now I cannot do without one.
- Follow patterns or like making and designing your own things?
When it comes to dressmaking, I prefer to have a pattern (or patterns) to follow. I don’t mind combining the bodice from one dress with the skirt of another, but I have never had a dressmaking lesson and need a starting point to work with. The same is true of knitting garments.
Quilts and other items that do not have to fit a body, however, are more freeing. With a quilt, you have a flat plane to work with and can add anything you like to it. If you can draw it, you can sew it.
A few years ago, I made up a plane block – a hybrid of blocks I had seen, none of which was quite what I wanted – and people started asking for instructions, so I wrote them up. That has grown into a fledging pattern business , which is a fun way to use my publishing training, but I do not have plans for it to grow beyond a hobby.
- Your favourite part of the whole quilting process?
My least favourite is definitely the quilting. If it were not for long-arm quilters like Donna Lawrence, I would probably have made only one or two quilts. I can machine quilt, but I do not enjoy hauling the weight about for anything much larger than a humidicrib. I have tried it, and I have decided that I will send anything crib-sized or bigger out to a long-armer or quilt it by hand. Unfortunately, it can take me a week or more of solid work just to hand-quilt a simple cushion.
Over the years I have found that I love small and fiddly. My favourite type of quilting is the slow kind, such as appliqué and EPP. I have finished a Dear Jane quilt top and I absolutely adored piecing all those fiddly little blocks. The problem-solving element of trying to work out the best way to make each block was such fun.
Another fun project was the Possum Magic round robin , I took part in in 2014–15. Seven of us across Australia and NZ added borders to each other’s quilts. The quilts were in vastly different styles, and the challenge of figuring out what to add to each was really enjoyable.
- How much has quilting changed for you over the years?
I recently noticed that I started quilting using very traditional fabrics but have moved towards bright fabrics because so much of what I make is for friends’ and family members’ babies. However, I still love traditional fabrics and would like to use them more.
Lately, I have had little time to look at social media, and I think that has helped me to focus on my UFOs.
- Your number one tip you can pass on to another quilter is?
When you start a new project, multiply the time you think it is going to take you by about ten. That is the actual amount of time you will need.
- Do you have a “fabric/ribbon/buttons/thread stash”
I have a patchwork fabric stash so that I can dive into the cupboard and whip up a baby quilt. A big part of the fun is combining colours and patterns. The COVID-19 time at home has pushed me to reorganise it and look at ways to use it up. A few years ago, hubby mentioned the word “downsizing”. If I am to do that in the next few years, I need to tackle some UFOs.
I do not have a dressmaking fabric stash, because dressmaking is not as mix-and-match as patchwork fabric and a scrappy dress would look ghastly, but I do have jars of buttons and lengths of pretty ribbons.
When I fell in love with knitting again after a long break, I vowed not to let my yarn stash grow to the same proportions. So far, I am doing okay and have managed to contain almost all of it within one large basket (and one box for the yarn leftovers and remnants), but I am still not sure how long many years it will take me to knit that much sock yarn.
- Are you lucky enough to have a designated space in your home, to be able to close the door behind you and leave the mess?
Yes, and I like to keep it tidy!
- Do you prefer working on bigger quilts or pieces or smaller items?
My house is overflowing with cushions and pincushions. I cannot help myself. Small items are great ways to play with techniques and colours without the commitment of a large quilt. I made a lot of humidicrib covers for the same reason.
I prefer projects that offer a challenge or a problem to solve, whether small or large. I do not much enjoy sewing simple squares together, even though I see truly beautiful quilts made using really simple techniques. I love the maths and problem-solving elements of quilting.
Thank you Carla, for answering my questions and giving us all an insight into your very creative journey.
You can read more about Carla and pick up lots of tips and tutorials on her blog, “Granny Maud’s girl” which is also Carla’s instagram handle. Carla sells her paper patterns at Handcrafters House & Calico & Ivy and they are also available via her Etsy shop. Carla is also on Ravelry ( knitting & crochet patterns) as Granny Maud’s girl, she has a great pattern for wash cloth/dish cloth , with proceeds going to cancer research.
Images courtesy Carla Morris ( Granny Maud’s girl).