To celebrate London Craft Week Jennifer's opening the virtual doors of her quilt studio for an exclusive look behind the scenes.
How do you start your design process?
Well, first I search through historical quilt records for inspiration which can take hours. I then choose quilts and patterns that resonate with me and then spend more time finding out the names and stories behind them. I studied Museums at University so I have always had a passion for history, people and narrative.
So what is the next stage?
My next stage is to begin sketching a few ideas. My main reason for doing this is to work
out the dimensions for the different quilt sizes.
Once finished I spend some time thinking about the purpose of the quilt, how it will be used and what fabric to choose: cotton, linen, wool, silk or perhaps bamboo. I also spend time selecting the right shade of quilting thread.
What thread do you use?
I use Aurifil. I am really lucky that I am sponsored by them. I actually approached Aurifil because I was so amazed by their quality, they are an Italian company based near Milano and specialise in producing cotton threads for quilters. They really are the best. Aurifil threads are made from superior long staple Egyptian Mako Cotton, which is grown in a similar way to wine grapes and apparently it is the actual climate that creates the quality of the thread! Also their cotton is double mercerised, a process which makes the cotton stronger, smoother and shiner. I refuse to use anything else. I think it is great for a British brand to collaborate with a European partner.
What other quilting tools and equipment do you use?
I am really fussy about the quilting tools I use. As a perfectionist, I spend a lot of time searching for quilting tools of a really high standard
I use a self-healing mat and rotary cutter to ensure accuracy and I always replace the blade and change the needle on my sewing machine when I start a new project. I find it puts me in a creative state of mind and I know the end result will be perfect.
Tells us about your process of actually making the quilt
Once I sketch my quilt design, I measure and cut all my fabric in one go and then piece them together. My handmade quilts are stitched by both machine and hand so can take many hours to complete.
How do you feel about your quilts when they are finished, do you struggle to give them to your clients?
I invest so much of myself into my quilts. I give my time, love and creativity that I feel such a connection to my quilts during the making process. All my quilts are handmade to order as I like to hold each client in mind as I stitch each quilt. Quilts are so personal as they are beautiful objects that we usually place on a bed. The bedroom is an intimate space and so I see the art of quilt-making as being intimate. For me quilts hold their own stories; past, present and future. It is an honour to be a part of this quilt story with my clients.