This week we take a little look at the life and work of renowned quilter and patchwork designer Mandy Munroe, who is heading our way in August to give us the lowdown on kick starting our very own patchwork pieces in her one day workshop. Here she talks about her passion for fabric, how her grandmother’s craft drawer got her into sewing and why she loves nothing more than browsing the charity shops for unusual finds.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Mandy Munroe; I’m a quilter, textile artist, patchwork teacher and blogger. I design quilts regularly for Popular Patchwork magazine and was commissioned to create the hand dyed patchwork wall pieces for The Environment Centre at Singleton.
How did you get into crafting?
My grandmother always encouraged my brother and I to make things. She had a craft drawer and we were allowed to use anything in it. She taught me to knit, crochet and embroider. I learnt to quilt when I lived in US for a few years. My children were small and it was a hobby that allowed me to get out, learn something new and meet like-minded people.
Who and what inspires you to create?
Fabric! I love finding new colours and prints to make something snuggly and useful.
Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Anyone who creates for exhibition or sale is putting their heart and skills out there: it can be scary. I love to buy from local artists, designer makers and crafters, and have just been visiting open studios in the area, there are lots. We are very lucky to have such a vibrant creative community in Ashford!
When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
When I moved back from the US in 1996, friends asked me to teach them. At the same time a US patchwork magazine wanted my quilt for their front cover, and it’s been a slow build from there.
What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Being organised, having a planned, professional approach; knowing the value of your skill/product, it’s important to value your time; having the ability to adapt to your market/audience; being part of a local network has been invaluable for sharing the organisation and promotion of events; having an online presence – website/blog/facebook page.
Name three of your most popular designs.
My Slouchy Bag gets lots of compliments. Beginners Sew and Slash throw workshops are always full and my intermediate classes for modern Crazy Log Cabin quilts made from scraps, is in high demand right now.
If you weren’t a quilter, what would you be doing with your time?Thrifting! I love charity shops and collect vintage tablecloths, doilies and threads. Plates, jugs, cups and saucers all make me happy.
Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
Yes – I’ll be running a Beginners Patchwork class at Emporia in August, and I love to Knit and Natter on Fridays at Emporia too. I’m also a member of Jo Blox, Oast Quilters and NYCMetroMod quilters.
What’s new with your craft? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you this year.
I’ll be teaching workshops and taster classes at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in August. The Modern Quilt Guild are planning a conference in Texas in February 2015 and I’ll be going to keep up to date with the modern quilt movement, plus I’m designing more new quilts for Popular Patchwork magazine so watch out for those too!
So if you’ve been inspired by Mandy’s amazing designs and fancy having a go at patchwork yourself, pop into the shop or give us a ring and book yourself on her one day Beginners Patchwork class on Saturday 2nd August 2014.