Talented fabric designer Beth Studley came to see us to talk about her new book Mini Patchwork Projects, and give us an insight into her world of fabric design — especially her fourth fabric range, Radiance, which is just stunning.
What made you start taking quilting classes?
I have been sewing since I was very young and quilting was one of many things I tried. It happened to be the one that stuck and I progressed the most with. A lot of the crafts I had done up until that point had been decorative and making quilts was large scale, faster moving and functional. The second quilt I ever made was a really big jewel box quilt in really bright colours and busy fabrics. I kept this quilt with me through many house moves during university days. I used and washed this quilt until it fell apart!
How do you get the inspiration for your beautiful fabric ranges?
I couldn’t really tell you where inspiration comes from. It comes from all over the place I think. Each one of my collections has evolved a long way from their starting points so you could say inspiration always grows into something else. I think, now I am on collection 4, it safe to say they will always be brightly coloured! I have actually tried to do a toned down collection and just couldn’t help throwing in some pink and orange because it just looked nicer that way!
One thing I particularly love about your projects is how strong and sturdy they are, from the decorative bowls to the storage pods. How did you go about achieving this level of structure in a sewing pattern?
Thank you! I am glad this is something that you like about them! I like it too! I like things I design to be functional and I want to know that they can be used properly. The course I studied at university, although it was textile based, was essentially a product design course and this taught me to look at design in a very functional and practical way. As well as this I am a quilter at heart so using wadding in patterns just seems to keep happening!
Did you have all the projects already made for Mini Patchwork Projects or did you decide to do the book and the projects came later?
Honestly, I always have at least 50 project ideas in my head that I could work on! So when the offer came for a book it was a case of selecting and adapting some existing ideas. The picture garland was already designed and made and I was really pleased to include it in the book as it is one of those projects just about anyone can make. The trinket bowls is a shrunk down version of my project baskets pattern that I had been meaning to do for ages. I did enjoy doing the book as it gave me an opportunity to follow these project ideas through to completion
What is your favourite project in the book?
Definitely the reversible trinket bowls. It was one of those projects that turned out better than I hoped. I sampled it a few times with some other shapes and with binding at the top but it didn’t look neat and was fiddly to make. In the end it worked better when I simplified it and its resulted in a very quick little project with only 2 parts. I was also quite pleased with the hexi needle case because of its simplicity. A lot of needle cases have poppers and fastenings and you have to open them to get to the needles. This one is just a flap and so easy to use.
Lastly, can you give us a top tip for any sewer out there?
Keep trying new skills. The more you learn the more confident you get and when you are confident you can start putting your own stamp on the things you make. Aim to be at a point where you are not put off a pattern or idea because it involves a technique you don’t know how to do. That way you can always make what you love.