Monday, 22 January 2018

Let’s Meet: Cassandra Madge, Quilt Designer


Cassandra Madge and Tula Pink holding up Cassandra's Quilt
Cassandra (right) and Tula (left) with Cassandra's Epic Quatro Tula Quilt

This week I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Cassandra Madge and finding out more about where creativity comes from and what the quilting process is like for her.

I know quilting is a bit of a departure from hand stitch but I've always been interested in the process and l
earning about other disciplines can inform our own design practice and help develop our own unique creative voices. There's something so enticing

about being encouraged to use pattern combinations and colours in abundance.

Quilted items are a feast for the eyes and with her love of bright colour and pattern, Cassandra's don't disappoint. Just look at this vividly coloured Fresh Market Pineapple quilt Cassandra designed for her pineapple obsessed son. I adore the appliqué hexies on the yellow boarder and the quilted pineapples create such a funky texture!


Brightly Coloured Pineapple Quilt by Cassandra Madge

  
Cassandra is a self-confessed quiltaholic. She shares her quilting adventures on her blog and on Instagram.

She’s a member of the Modern Quilt Guild, been published in Make Modern and this month she’s starring in Homespun!

I first spotted Cassandra in this month’s Homespun and I’m so pleased I did. Her contemporary take on fabric coiled pots stood out because I’ve wanted to learn how to make one since mum introduced me to them a while back. I love how Cassandra's balanced splashes of colour with the white of the rope in her fab bowls and basket.

Double page spread of Cassandra Madge Rowl Baskets in Homespun

After spending a very enjoyable time reading Cassandra’s blog and website, Uniquely Crafted, I realised our dream for the lives of our handmade items is one and the same. I make functional and well made textile projects because I want to transform the everyday into a beautifully stitched paradise, and Cassandra also ‘make[s] these gorgeous pieces of textile art to live with and use, not to admire’

Cassandra takes extra care to ensure all of her projects are beautifully finished and durable. We’re both of the belief that it’s not enough for textile art to look gorgeous, it must also be easily absorbed into family living and take the rough and tumble of daily life.


Vibrant pink geometric quilt by Cassandra Madge
Vintage Berry Tart by Cassandra Madge

The other aspect of Cassandra’s creativity that I love is how she takes something and makes it better, something she does to great applause in her blog post, ‘How to give your triangle pouch enclosed seams’.

Three Quilted Triangle Pouches, orange, pink and blue, by Cassandra Madge

I didn’t realise until it was pointed out but I'm driven to improve, modify and re-imagine products and styles that are already out there too. My love of doing this is evident in my current design quest, to give plastic canvas a contemporary make over in the hope that it'll inspire and engage a new wave of plastic canvas sewists. It's such an easy material to use with an endless and exciting array of construction possibilities that I feel it deserves a new lease of life!

I think the theme of re-imagining is evident in Cassandra’s Homespun tutorial showing how to make a colourful selection of stylish rope bowls and basket.

Contemporary coiled rope and fabric basket by Cassandra Madge


Whilst giving a nod to the ancient tradition of basket weaving Cassandra also gives us a fresh perspective and a way to use up our fabric scraps, inspiring new basket weavers worldwide to give it a go, me included!

It's time to pour a cuppa, cut a generous slice of cake (mine’s chocolate) and find out more about Cassandra…

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a 40 something mother of two boys, who are now almost all grown up. Thankfully I have our two fur baby dogs to lavish all my hugs and kisses on, and cuddle on the lounge with anytime I want.

It’s great having older kids though, my younger son, who is 18, is my partner in crime, always gives me good opinions on my projects and can be relied upon for company on a shopping trip whether it’s to the hardware store or the fabric shop!
 

As well as being a quilt designer you’re also a talented photographer, do your two passions feed into each other?
As much as I admire art quilting, I don’t see it as a skill that I will develop any time soon. My photography and quilting hobbies only really intersect when it comes to taking photos of finished quilts, and honestly, my quilt styling skills are mediocre at best. Embarrassing, but there it is!
 

Can you describe your creative process?
My next published quilt pattern came about when I was trying to recreate a traditional design. I wasn’t impressed with the instructions on how to make it, and wanted to update it for modern pre-cut sizes. After that it was all maths and lots of graph paper. I take copious notes while I’m cutting out, working out the most effective way to make a block, because I hate wasteful patterns!

Other than that, the creative process may be inspired by a whole fabric line, or I might be trying to use whatever I have stashed. There will always be an amount of rearranging on my design wall as I go; taking photos on your phone is the best way to see a design and what the colour arrangement might be lacking.

If in doubt, always turn a picture to black and white, it’s the ideal way to see if your design has enough light, medium and dark tones to give motion and life to your quilt. Contrast is as much an important element to a quilt as colour is.
 

Where do you look for inspiration?
I love getting inspiration from architectural features or graphic design elements - think strong lines, amazing tile patterns and fresh colour combinations.

I have more inspiration than I will ever have time to make quilt patterns, but every time I come across a good one, I’ve learnt to sketch out the basics and put it in my pattern folder for future use.


Do you ever get crafter’s block and how do you come unstuck? 
I don’t get crafter’s block so much as just get sick of working on one individual project. I try to keep things fresh by having a couple of things on the go at once - so when I can’t face another day at the longarm, I have a quilt being pieced in the sewing studio, or if I’m too tired to move around much there is a choice of English Paper Piecing or sock knitting sitting beside the lounge. I literally can’t sit still, so you will find projects in various stages of completion stashed all over the house.
 

What’s been your all-time favourite quilting project to make?
My answer to that is usually always the next one I finish or the next one I’m working on. I love the constant variety and challenge; if you asked me to make the same quilt over and over I think I would rather give up sewing entirely.

My current favourite would have to be my Epic Tula Quatro Quilt, I was able to show it to Tula at a trunk show in Adelaide last year.
 
Close up of teal and bright coloured Epic Tule Quatro Quilt by Cassandra Madge

Tula and her mum were extremely complementary about the fussy cutting and colour/print combinations and I was even lucky enough to have Tula autograph it for me!

https://www.instagram.com/cassandracrafted/


Is there any part of the quilting process you don’t enjoy?
I hate sewing blocks into rows, and rows into quilts. It’s the most tedious and least creative part of the process. It usually involves hours of painstaking seam pressing, lots of pinning to make sure they all line up right, and aching shoulders from feeding the 70”+ seams through the machine. If I could outsource anything, that would be it.


Who are your favourite fabric designers?
I mostly collect fabric from Kate Spain, Joel Dewberry and Tula Pink. I love bold colours, unique print elements and a lot of variety within each fabric line. They always bring something new to the cutting table with every different release.


Psst...Bobbin and Fred had great fun adding the fabrics they most admired from Cassandra's favourite designers to this board for you to check out...
 

 

If we had a time-turner, what one piece of advice would you go back and give yourself when you were first starting out?
Not really advice…. I really believe that part of building a strong foundation in any craft it is vital to experiment, maybe mess some things up, and learn from mistakes in order to grow and develop your voice. Some rules must be kept. Others can be bent or broken. It is up to you to work out which ones you break!


Thank you so much, Cassandra! It was a pleasure to learn about your creative process and find out more about quilting. The symmetry you've created in the Epic Tula Quatro Quilt is truly stunning and I've really enjoyed drinking in all of the bright pops of colour you use in your designs.

Your tip to turn photos of the design black and white to check the colour balance is genius! I’m going to give that a go next time I design a stitch chart as I think the technique will transfer to embroidery and improve the balance in my designs too.

If you'd like to have a go at Cassandra’s rope bowls and baskets you'll find her beautifully put together and informative tutorial inside this month's issue of Homespun.

As well as designing fun projects for us to have a go at, Cassandra also adds the Juice to your own quilt projects to help them look even more amazing! Her decorative longarm quilting creates a long-lasting and sophisticated finish. Check out Juicy Quilting for more info.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. It's my fourth weekly post in a row...pressing publish will be a very exciting moment for me 😀 It also means I can reward my efforts with a cool new look for Sewing with Bobbin and Fred so keep your eyes peeled for that.


I've joined the Creative Mondays Blog Hop  party and Wine'd Down Wednesday! Head on over to join in and find more creative blog posts.

Until next time keep in mind, the only place housework should come before sewing is in the dictionary 😉


Fred the Goat with speech bubble asking for social media shares

4 comments:

  1. What a beautiful piece of art!

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    1. You're right, they are an art form! I love that they're also really useful, we all need warm and beautiful blankets :)

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  2. I very much enjoyed this interview its interesting to read how other fibre artists work. Her quilts are very colouful and beautifully made.

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm so pleased you enjoyed reading more about Cassandra, I love finding out how other artists create so I'm really pleased you did too :)

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