Quilt designer Elizabeth Chappell didn’t set out to be a quilter, but when quilting found her, she was all in! She wanted to make quilts, but she wanted more. So you will find Elizabeth also designing quilt patterns and fabric as well as teaching aspiring designers how to translate their ideas into their own commercial patterns. Because there are never enough quilts!
How did you find yourself on a creative path? Always there? Lightbulb moment? Dragged kicking and screaming? Evolving?
This is a GREAT question. I started quilting more because I have an entrepreneurial spirit, and I discovered that quilting is the perfect niche for a business owner. Once I found the niche, I decided I’d better learn how to quilt.
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Why quilting? How does that medium best express what you want to communicate through your art?
As I mentioned, quilting came about more as a business at first. But I quickly found that it was the perfect outlet for my love of beauty, design, and creativity. I love creating quilt patterns, deciding on fabrics that will look good with different quilt patterns, and I am even about to have my first fabric line come out in the winter of this year! So it has evolved from making other’s quilts, to making my own, and now making my own quilts with my own fabrics!
If we asked a good friend of yours to describe your work, what would they say?
I think a friend would describe my work as modern with a nod to tradition. I evoke a feminine, soft, earthy vibe. My colors are gentle and relaxing.
When it comes to creating, are you more of a planner or an improviser?
DEFINITELY an improviser! My whole life is shooting from the hip.
Do you have a mentor?
I actually do! For quilting it was my friend Tracy. She brought me into the quilting world because her mom and sister design fabrics, and she taught me to quilt.
Tell us about Quilter’s Candy. What inspired you to start it?
I wanted to start a business with my friend, Tracy. When her mom came into town to visit (Houston) for Quilt Market, I asked if I could tag along. Once I went to Quilt Market, I was blown away with how COOL quilting is. The fabrics, the designs, there was just so much energy and I wanted to be a part of it. I also realized what a great niche quilting was for a business. So my friend and I started a monthly subscription box for quilters. The rest is history!
What was the biggest challenge that you encountered on your creative journey? What did you learn from it?
Fear and self doubt. I was learning brand new skills (quilting, and then writing quilt patterns, and then designing fabric for quilting). Each step was exciting, yet scary. And the way I overcame my doubts was just to plow ahead. I learned by making mistakes, having successes, as well as from mentors.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
I do! But it is more of an office nowadays. It has big windows to allow for natural light (which makes me happy AND allows for good photos). I have one big desk with my computer, and then a little side table painted blue that holds my sewing machine. I also have a big blank wall I am figuring out how to decorate. It will have a pink couch in front of it soon, and something on the walls. TBD.
What is your favorite storage tip for your fabric and creative supplies?
Ha! My best tip? Less is more! Don’t buy all the things. Just buy what you need. Don’t buy fabric unless you have a project in mind.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? How does that help your work develop?
My sketchbook is an important tool. I use it for drawing for my fabric designs. I sketch different ideas and things I think would look cute on fabrics, and eventually I scan them in Adobe Illustrator to work on them there.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
Audiobooks (usually self help or business), music, or sometimes a show if I am sewing.
How do you stay organized when working with multiple design ideas and processes?
Oh man, organization is NOT my strong point. I usually get excited about one thing and just hash it out until it’s done. Or there’s a deadline and I get it done at the last minute. There’s my dirty little secret.
What do you do to develop your skills? How do you get better at what you do?
Practice! There’s no substitute for practice. I also have taken a few classes along the way and those have been really helpful. I love to learn from someone who has been there before me.
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people, or do you think creativity is a skill that people can learn?
I believe creativity is more enjoyable for some people, but like anything, if you don’t use it, you lose it. And the more you practice, the better it becomes. I don’t think these strokes of genius come out of nowhere. I get my best ideas when I am working, not when I am sitting and waiting for an idea.
Tell us about your website. What do you hope people will gain by visiting?
My website mostly focuses on my Quilters Candy Membership. However, I offer a lot! SO people can also listen to my podcast, learn about my courses, or read my blog. But my main focus with my website is to invite people to learn about and join my Quilters Candy monthly membership. That’s where quilters from around the world join to make new patterns from top designers.
Do you lecture or teach workshops? How can students/organizers get in touch with you to schedule an event?
I do! I’ve taught lectures on how to turn your craft into a career, and how to write and sell quilt patterns. If someone wants to get in touch with me, it’s easiest to send me an email at [email protected]
What do you hope the next year will bring?
This next year is an exciting one! I’ve just released my first quilt pattern book with a publisher, and my first fabric line will come out. So I am excited to work on more fabric designs, spend time with the members in my membership, and keep sharing what I learn in my business courses!
Interview posted May 2022
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