Janet Clare creates inspirational and lively designs for quilts and stitcheries that combine her unique jointed appliqué templates and free-machine drawing technique. She designs fabric collections for Moda and is also an experienced speaker and teacher.
We asked Janet about her love of applique and her recent book, Home Quilt Home…
How did you start quilting?
“My mum is a quilter, so I just followed in her footsteps. My first quilt was paper pieced and very badly machine quilted, and is still the only double bed sized quilt I have made. After that I made smaller projects from kits and then joined a local quilting group who helped and encouraged me to learn new techniques.”
What do you love about appliqué?
“I love appliqué because I love pictures and illustrations. Appliqué quilts can really tell a story. I like to use fusible appliqué with free motion stitching because it is simple and quick – just like drawing and colouring in!”
How do you come up with new ideas for your designs?
“I keep sketchbooks and keep everything that catches my eye – colours and poems and words and drawings. I have more trouble deciding which idea to develop than I do coming up with ideas. I am also very fond of (addicted to?) Pinterest and keep themed boards for each of my books there: www.pinterest.com/janetclare.
I try to visit art galleries regularly and I am an avid reader too. I think the trick to inspiration is to just keep your mind open to ideas and possibilities. And never say ‘no’ to a creative idea, no matter how daft it may seem. You must nurture and encourage your inspiration, your muse, and visit it every day!”
Have you ever felt ‘bored’ with quilting or been stuck for inspiration?
“I’m never bored with quilting, but then I don’t sew every day or even every month of the year. I have periods of intense designing and sewing and quilting, and then I go and cook or knit or draw for a few weeks, having a complete break.
These ‘fallow’ periods used to worry me but now I see them as an essential part of the process. They say your creativity is a well, and there is only so much you can draw out until it is dry and used up. You must take the trouble to fill your well.”
What inspired you to write the book?
“Put simply it’s because I love houses. I love everything about them, from looking around friends’ homes and visiting stately mansions on holiday to browsing the estate agents’ windows in town and walking around villages admiring the pretty cottages. I love them because houses very quietly but eloquently tell the story of who lives there, and I really find that fascinating. Combining my love of houses with my love of quilting was a real treat.”
Which is your favourite project from the book?
“Choosing my favourite project would be like choosing my favourite child! If I didn’t love them they wouldn’t have gone into the book. But, some projects practically made themselves as I could really visualise them before I made them, and some were more of a process, trial and error. So, if I had to choose, it would be a project that caused me no trouble at all, one which turned out exactly as I imagined it would (these are rare) – maybe the Isolated Cottage Picture – I loved choosing the muted fabrics and then sitting quietly to do all the hand quilting was a real pleasure.
I live in town so the Streets Skyline quilt is most like my own home. If I’m daydreaming then it would have to be a project from the Coast chapter, because I would love to live by the sea.”
Do you prefer hand quilting or free motion quilting on a sewing machine?
“I much prefer hand quilting – both the finished look and the doing of it. But, time is often in short supply and machine quilting has a lot of benefits too. I love free motion quilting, but I use it as a drawn line to add detail to my appliqué and not as a quilting method.”
Get your copy of Home Quilt Home, or the PDF ebook, to find out how to make charming quilts, attractive appliqued pictures and quirky stitched accessories. To find out more about Janet, visit her website at: www.janetclare.co.uk.