It’s time for a new What’s in Your Sewing Bag with special guest Laura Henneberry of Commonwealth Quilts and Pre-Quilt.
I had the lovely pleasure of officially meeting Laura in person at QuiltCon in Atlanta. A group of us were heading out for dinner and Laura was part of the gang. While I knew of the company she co-founded with her husband, Pre-Quilt, I hadn’t really had the chance to connect with her. That all changed as we walked to Max Lager’s (which was delicious!). We ended up sitting next to one another and had the best time chatting away. She’s had a soft spot in my heart ever since 😊 (even with dropping a BBQ-covered knife down my quilted coat pocket – ha!)
Not only is Laura super tech savvy, with strong left-brain characteristics but she’s also got this amazing creativity to her. Case in point, everything Laura wore at QuiltCon she’d handmade herself. You know me-made fashion has been calling to me ever since I made my first quilted coat, and seeing all the pieces she’d created encouraged me to continue that exploration. She’s also super easy to talk to and has a lovely energy to her that instantly put me at ease. I love finding those kinds of connections!
This is why I reached out and invited her to participate in the WIYSB Series so that you could get to meet her too, and, lucky us, she said yes!
Today’s the day you get to meet Laura, hear more about her creative journey, and sneak a peek inside her sewing kit to see what she can’t stitch without!
Introduction – tell us a little about yourself! How did you get started on your quilting journey?
Hi there, I’m Laura, and I’ve been in love with textiles my whole life. My mother taught me how to sew as a child and I also went to school in Germany where there was a home ec type class that taught us all sorts of handcrafts, like lithography and embroidery. And to be honest, I have always found myself buying fabric, so you gotta eventually use it, right?
But my quilting adventures started in 2011 or so with English Paper Piecing and then I eventually graduated to a machine-pieced patchwork baby quilt for a friend of mine. I’ve been hooked ever since. I love handwork and I’ve been really excited about some bojagi inspired and bojagi adjacent projects that I have been dreaming up.
Ok, how is it that you living in Germany didn’t come up over dinner (Or did it, and my 40+ brain isn’t keeping up?)?! How freakin cool is that! And I love that we both started with buying fabric before having any plan to actually sew with them – ha!
What kind of sewing bag do you have? (e.g. did you make it? Buy it?)
To be honest, I have a sewing tin. I’ve had high hopes of making a cute little zipper pouch (even bought some patterns), but I just never get around to making one. And I’m owning up to the fact that I probably never will – anyone want my patterns?
I found this metal tin at Muji and I love it. I think it’s powder covered steel, so I can attach a magnet to it and it then becomes the largest needle minder of all time, which is perfect, I’m always losing my needles! Also, since it’s so solid, I don’t have to worry about accidentally damaging anything inside of it.
Oh, you twin with Cheri of Tinkerellen who also uses a tin! If it helps, when I think of a sewing bag, I think of an old metal tin that my mum used to store all of her sewing essentials in. I think it speaks to what makers do best: make do with what they already have on hand 😉
Sigh, I love Muji! It was one of my favourite stores I shopped at while living in Japan. Your metal tin is adorable and practical! Remind me the next time I see you to tell you the story of losing a needle down the side of my sofa riiiiight before we had a reservation for brunch…oops! Having a built-in needle-minder is genius!
What are your all-star essentials? Your tried-and-true must-haves that you can never run out of?
Definitely Clover applique needles are a must. I also always have a couple of sticky thimble dots for my finger. I try to be a hero and not use a thimble dot, but after about 10 minutes I cave and put one on. When I’m done sewing, I take it off and stick it back on any surface in my sewing kit. 80 weight Aurifil is also an essential; it’s beautiful and practically disappears.
I haven’t tried the appliqué needles; I’ll definitely check those out. I do have those sticky thimbles, but I must be a wuss as my go-to is a leather one – ha! This is why I love chatting about notions because it gives us insight into what it is about a notion that we love. I love the idea of sticking it in place and not losing it (ask me how many times I’ve ‘lost’ mine).
What is your favourite item in your kit? Why?
I think the metal tin itself is my favorite item. Its super simplistic, yet sturdy, design is visually very appealing to me and the smooth finish is comforting. I kind of wish I had bought more so I could stash away all my treasures in them.
Gah, the challenge of the discontinued item, I get it! Also, I love the way you described your tin, design elements that I love in my own home goods as well!
What’s one thing we’d be surprised to find in your bag?
I don’t know if I have anything surprising in my bag. Since I now mostly use 80-weight Aurifil, I find I don’t need thread conditioner as much anymore. So I guess it’s kind of funny that I continue to pack my mini Sew Fine Thread Gloss, but it just makes the entire thing smell so good.
Why am I not surprised that your items are focused on practicality and function 😉 And those Sew Fine Thread Glosses really do smell amazing. I always have them stocked in my kit too!
QUILT KITS WILL TRAVEL
When do you find yourself using your kit the most? (Travelling, on the sofa, attending sew-ins?)
I often bring my handwork and sewing kit with me while running errands or going out and about with my boys. I suffer from the delusion that I can get a couple hand applique blocks completed. But to be honest, it’s usually just a big weight in my bag (downside to a metal tin), because I am often too much on the move to actually get any sewing done. I also haven’t yet figured out that slight social awkwardness of just whipping out some hand sewing. How do you tell someone that you do want to talk to them, but your hands want to sew something? But I’m an optimist and carry it around.
I love that about you, optimism is better than the alternative. Plus, I think you should totally whip your hand sewing out while out and about, I bet most people will be fascinated by the beauty you’re creating. Our crafts don’t necessarily come up in everyday conversations, but I’ve found most people are curious about our creative explorations. You can tell them you blame it on your quilty friend Shannon who said it would be a good idea – ha!
What’s your favourite travel memory with your sewing bag?
My suitcase got searched one year on my way home from QuiltCon. I had lots of boxes of unused business cards (brought WAY too many for our booth) and my sewing tin packed in my suitcase. I guess it looked super fishy going through the x-ray machine, because the security guys pulled me over and I had to open it all up. Apparently, the metal box was throwing them off. But more specifically, all the boxes of business cards looked like explosives (the thickness of all the stacked cards was too dense for the x-ray to look through). Who knew!
OMGEEEE – that’s equal parts hilarious and terrifying as I know airport security can be super intimidating!
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU?
Tell people where we can find you?
The best place to find my maker self is on Instagram at @commonwealthquilts. I can also be found on the PreQuilt website (prequilt.com) where I have some digital coloring pages for my Circus Tent Quilt and Deco Hills Quilt patterns.
Anything else you’d like to share?
PreQuilt is a family business that I run with my husband, Gar Liu. You can use PreQuilt to create and visualize your quilt ideas using features like color randomization and importing your printed fabric swatches. If you’re a pattern designer, you can also create your own digital coloring pages for your customers to use.
If you’d like to preview what your quilts will look like before ever cutting into your fabric, please visit us at prequilt.com and give it a try. There’s even a free demo!
Thank you so much for participating in the What’s in Your Sewing Bag series, Laura. As I suspected, your responses had me laughing and smiling and enjoying every minute of pulling this post together. Always a pleasure, my friend and I wish you the very best with your creative pursuits. Those bojagi inspired projects have me super intrigued 😊
For more What’s in Your Sewing Bag fun, check out these guests:
- Brittany from Lo & Behold Stitchery
- Sharon from Sharon Holland Designs
- Ally from Ally Ryde
- Megan from Megan Collins Design
- Cristina from Ships and Violins
PS don’t forget to sign up for the weekly newsletter so you don’t miss out on any future WIYSB guests!
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