It’s time for another What’s in Your Sewing Bag?
Today we’re heading down under to visit my very hilarious and super talented quilty friend Xanthe from Wife-Made. If you’re on the hunt for inspiring quilty projects with a side of chuckles, then you should definitely checkout Xanthe’s Instagram feed. I’m quite partial to her butterfly wings pattern which just makes me smile every time a new pair is shared.
I’m excited for you to get to know Xanthe a little better and sneak a peek inside her sewing kit!
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Introduction – tell us a little about yourself! How did you get started on your quilting journey?
I’ve always been creative, and I’ve been sewing in general since I was young. I used to make clothes for myself and friends as a young teen, and my Mum fostered a love of handwork by taking me to smocking lessons and buying subscriptions to embroidery magazines. I didn’t dive into quilting until I was in my early 20s, despite the fact that I distinctly remember my Mum doing things like foundation paper piecing as a child. And when I say dive, I mean that in the truest sense! The first quilt I made was for a friend. It was a beautiful, traditional patchwork quilt pattern out of a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. It had so many different blocks including tiny flying geese and pinwheels. And I cut all the pieces out with scissors and a regular school ruler!!! (I didn’t know what a rotary cutter or quilting ruler was back then! Haha!) I’ve never really been someone to start small, much to my own detriment in many cases! Needless to say, although the quilt was supposed to be a wedding quilt, it ended up being for their second baby because I seriously underestimated the amount of time a quilt can take to make and the reality of study life and working to support myself through university. As I said, I am very good at biting off more than I can chew.
Ha! I can so relate to diving in and figuring it out as you go, Xanthe! While I know it can sometimes lead to delays in finishing our projects due to underestimating just how much time said project would take, but I love diving in! Too often we can think and think and think about a project, only to think our way out of doing it. What’s important is that you still saw the project through, even if it was a little late 😉 Better late than never! Also, I love that your Mum had already been exposing you to nifty techniques like FPP when you were young. I bet you do the same for your kids today!
What kind of sewing bag do you have? (e.g. did you make it? Buy it?)
Can you believe that I don’t even own a real sewing bag??? (I’m having serious imposter syndrome right now, oh my goodness, am I even a real quilter? Hahaha!) Seriously though, life with four young children has meant that I haven’t really had time to quilt on the run. I have only just come through the really tough season of little ones (my youngest is turning 4 this year) and my hands have had to focus on wiping grotty hands and faces and making sure kids don’t abscond! I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of what I’ve used in those rare times where I have been able to take something to work on, and to be honest and although I don’t really want to admit this, I think I actually put everything in one of those terrible, not-environmentally-friendly-at-all clip-seal bags… #soprofesh These days though, I would definitely put everything in a re-usable clip-seal bag because there is such a thing now and I actually own some 😉
I imagine though, if I DID have a sewing bag (future-Xanthe, take note…) it would most likely be something by Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou because I adore and constantly covet her beautiful creations. Or I might even make one for myself using Anna of Noodle-head’s amazing patterns!
I always love your honesty, Xanthe!! And you’re still 100% a professional with your ziplock baggie of goodies 😉 It makes me think of the shoemaker syndrome! It just goes to show you that you don’t need to have a fancy sewing kit to make beautiful things. But I totally agree, when you do have time to make a little pouch for yourself, you can’t go wrong with one of Arounna or Anna’s stellar patterns!
What are your all-star essentials? Your tried-and-true must haves that you can never run out of?
I’m a bit of a minimalist now, when it comes to ‘things’. I learned the hard way that you don’t actually need much to be creative. I’ve wasted a lot of money in the past buying all the latest gadgets, thinking I needed ‘all the things’ to do quilting ‘properly’, but I’ve found that they actually end up impeding my creativity, rather than improving it. So I tend to stick to the necessary basics: a good pair of fabric scissors, a small and a large rotary cutter with spare blades, a washable fabric pen or pencil, a leather thimble, a sharp pair of snips, sashiko needles and usually some perle thread that I’ve found in an op shop.
Yes, to a minimalist kit! I’m so with you on keeping my essentials to a minimum. It means I have to stock and store less stuff and I’ve found the basics are really all that I need. It feels good not lugging a bunch of ‘things’ around.
What is your favourite item in your kit? Why?
I haven’t really had a favourite item in my kit until recently when I purchased a pair of *Fiskars Ultra-Sharp Thread Snips . These bad boys have transformed my quilting life! I used to get so frustrated about those little metal snips you get for a couple of dollars because they would get blunt really quickly. I admit, I was a little scared about spending $28 on a pair of snips, but I can say that they are worth the investment. Not only do they live up to their name (yep, they are ULTRA-SHARP!) but they are super comfortable and easy to use, and the built-in cover for the blade means they can be safely stored in my bag (and not put holes in it, where cheap plastic clip-seal bags are concerned). Have I convinced you to buy them yet? (And no, Fiskars is not paying me to promote their product, although they probably should be 😉
Oh, dang, those do look like bad boys!! I have a pair of *Fiskars that I picked up for pruning plants and they are sharp!! I also like the spring on them, so they put less stress on my hands (hello, tendinitis). I’ve also found the small cheap metal scissors to dull really quickly. Now I just need to find myself a good scissor sharpener!
What’s one thing we’d be surprised to find in your bag?
If you don’t follow me you might be surprised to find that I will most likely forget to pack something really important to whatever it is I’m working on at the time. You know, something like needles, or thread, or the WIP I’m supposed to be working on. But anyone who’s been following me for a while will know that’s par for the course. Haha! Apart from that, having four kids and working with fabric has taught me it is wise to always have wet wipes on hand. Not only are they useful for cleaning up messes and grubby hands, but they are pretty useful for removing unwanted spots on projects, like fresh blood spots from when you prick yourself with a needle!
Really?! I hadn’t tried wet wipes for spot treating blood! Genius! I’ve always relied on my spit (ew, gross) or peroxide if the spot’s being stubborn. I’m going to have to try these out!
QUILT KITS WILL TRAVEL
When do you find yourself using your kit the most? (Travelling, on the sofa, attending sew-ins?)
Holidays! If I’m going away, I will most definitely pack something to do on a couch in an AirBnB by the beach while the kids are watching TV or having device time. In this case it’s usually a project that requires little concentration, travels easily and isn’t work-related, like English paper pieced hexies from scraps of fabric.
EPP is such a great travel project! And super relaxing too. Plus, with little ones running around, it’s easy to put down and pick back up without losing track of where you were! Mine are stored in the all profresh ziplock baggie within my sewing kit 😉
What’s your favourite travel memory with your sewing bag?
I remember spending 90% of a holiday back home at my Mum’s sitting at the kitchen table hand-sewing hexies. It is highly likely that I was heavily pregnant at the time and severely sleep-deprived as I don’t remember what the kids did the entire time or anything else about that time away. I just remember zoning out and other adults being cross with me because I hardly moved from the table the whole time. Haha!
Sometimes you just need to sit and stitch! Plus, I’d say it’s pregnant woman’s prerogative to sit and stitch away 90% of the holiday break.
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU?
Tell people where we can find you?
If you would like to follow my creative journey you can follow me on Instagram @wifemade or sign up to receive my email newsletter at www.wife-made.com. I also like to save things to my Pinterest boards which you can follow at www.pinterest.com.au/Wifemade.
Oh, I didn’t know you had a Pinterest account – totally following you now! And I love your newsletter – always a fun read 😊
Anything else you’d like to share?
It’s so easy to believe that you need all the bells and whistles to be creative (a degree, the right tools, the best tools, the right environment, peace and quiet and the list goes on…). But the more I learn about creativity, from those who have gone before us or people we consider ‘masters’ in our chosen field, the more I’ve realised that you only really need a couple of basic tools. For me, the most valued tool is my drive or desire to do something. If you can harness that and push past the creative inertia that every single creative person feels, then, in my opinion, you are well-equipped!
LOVE that, Xanthe! Couldn’t agree more. I always say showing up is more than half the battle! I have some basic tools that I wouldn’t want to create without, but my curiosity and willingness to dive in and explore is what I credit for most of what I’ve created to date. Thank you so much for participating in the WIYSB series and being so open and honest about your creative journey. I certainly love knowing the reality behind the scenes and that you create such beautiful quilts and sewn goods without having an arsenal of notions and tools stashed in your studio!!