Welcome to the first in my Three Questions series, where I ask makers about their creative practices. I met Sarah over 15 years ago (!) when I was Editor of a now-defunct quilting magazine and we bonded over fabric.
Sarah is a quilter, fabric designer, author and teacher from Sydney, Australia. She has been designing contemporary, whimsical quilts and fabrics for 22 years.
She runs a popular Block of the Month program each year and is also an ambassador for Aurifil Threads.
Sarah has written 12 books, the latest being ‘Stitch Your Story’, in which she explains how to use lettering in your quilts.
How did you get started on your creative path?
“I have always been creative since I was a little girl, although I never thought I would make a career from quilting. In my head when I was growing up, I was going to be a writer or an illustrator for Disney.
“I have always sewed as my mother was a brilliant stitcher and she taught me from a very young age. It wasn’t until I was having my first baby and started stitching things of my own design for the nursery that I realised that anything I sewed was different in any way. I would go to mothers’ group and all the other mums wanted to know where I got Charlie’s blankets or onesies with little things appliquéd on them.
“So I started selling them, and then teaching the other mums to sew, which led to teaching for my local patchwork shop. The shop owner retired and offered the shop to me for purchase…. and that’s how I started Material Obsession. Everything snowballed from there!”
What satisfies you about the creative work you do?
“I gain an enormous amount of inner peace from creating. When I’m in my studio and working on something new, I don’t think of anything else. I’m in the zone and it makes me so happy.
“Although I obviously love that other people enjoy my designs, and I love to see students and customers making my quilts, I would make them regardless of whether or not I had a business, or whether or not anyone else would ever see them.
“The WORK of my business is busy and stressful and time consuming, just like any other job – but the CREATING of my business is what keeps me doing it every day. It’s a part of me and it’s very personal. Every quilt I make has it’s own meaning to me, whether or not it’s obvious to anyone else.”
How do you stay inspired to create?
“I am always inspired to create! I never run out of ideas – in fact that’s part of the problem, there are waaaay too many ideas and not enough time or energy. 😀
“I’m inspired by so many things. Music, colours in nature, a stack of fabrics unintentionally sitting together, floral arrangements, antique quilts or embroidery or fabrics, tiles, architecture…..
“I snap a lot of pictures on my phone and sketch a lot of things in my notebooks. Some never become anything but when I want to spark something, I sift through things I’ve collected and there’s always a place to jump off and swim.”
Sarah’s social media
Thank you, Sarah, for sharing insights of your creative life!