Janet Goddard took a patchwork class to learn a new hobby. The one term class turned into a one year class, more workshops, joining a guild and now writing books, designing patterns and teaching students patchwork and quilting. She loves trying new techniques and believes we never stop learning.
How did you get started designing quilts? Always an artist, or was there a “moment”?
My first foray into patchwork and quilting came about through an evening class in New Zealand. At the time I was a young primary school teacher who wanted to learn a new skill and find a relaxing hobby so I signed up for a one term class to learn patchwork.
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I had always enjoyed sewing and had made many of my own clothes with varying degrees of success. I would “run something up” to wear out on a Saturday evening with my friends but had never done much more than this.
The evening class focussed on a sampler quilt and each week the tutor would teach us another block. We covered so many different techniques from English paper piecing, to hand and machine piecing and applique. I loved it! The one term turned into one year.
After this, I travelled for many years working abroad and patchwork was put on hold as I was busy experiencing the wonders that travel brings. I finally ended up settling in the UK permanently which led me to joining a quilt group, attending lots of workshops and completing a City and Guilds in Patchwork and Quilting. I then moved to teaching patchwork and this was the catalyst for designing quilts. I wanted to teach students using patterns that I had designed and written. I guess that this was my moment!
Many quilters select one or two techniques and stick with them. You have become proficient and written about a broad variety of quilting techniques. What encouraged you to explore more? Do you have a favorite?
I love trying new techniques and always believe that you never stop learning and that there is always something new to learn. There are some techniques that I enjoy more than others but I do love the challenge of putting a new slant on a traditional technique or finding a way to achieve a finish with a quick and easy method.
I have now written six books on a variety of topics including Simply Modern Bags, Simply Modern Quilts, Weekend Makes Patchwork, Weekend Makes Applique, Weekend Makes EPP and my latest book which is Denim Upcycled. For every book that I have written I have had to develop some new skills and I think that is what I enjoy the most.
My favourite technique will always be machine piecing and machine appliqué as I enjoy seeing a project grow quickly.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your book(s), especially your new title, Denim Upcycled: Breathe New Life Into Old Jeans?
With Denim Upcycled: Breathe New Life Into Old Jeans I really want the reader to think about the importance of sustainability and that by upcycling jeans or denim items they are saving garments going to landfill while at the same time creating purposeful items.
It is amazing how many items can be made from just one pair of jeans. I have always loved being able to give a hand made gift and if it is made from recycled fabric even better. I believe that we all need to do better with recycling, reusing and repurposing.
When it comes to creating, are you more of a planner or an improviser?
I am little bit of both. I like to plan a very sketchy design and then often will improvise along the way to achieve the finish or the result that I want.
How do you manage your creative time? Do you schedule start and stop times? Or work only when inspired?
I do have to manage my creative time very carefully. I teach a lot of patchwork and quilting workshops each month and also work on designing projects for magazines and fabric companies. Interspersed with this is the book writing. I do have to be mindful of creating a balance of all these activities so that I have time to just be creative with not always being driven by the end result.
When I am working on a book I do go for it though and become engrossed with what I am working on and will work on it day and night.
Are you a “finisher”? How many UFOs do you think you have?
I am always a finisher eventually!
I do like to work on more than one project at a time and mix it up a bit to keep it interesting. Sometimes I will be working on a large quilt but intersperse working on it with smaller projects.
I do have a scrappy EPP project on the go which I have been working on for about four years now but it is a project which I pick up and put down when I feel like it and will often take it on holiday with me as it is great for portability. At my current rate of progress I think that it will take another ten years to finish it.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
I have a studio in my garden, a short walk away from the house. It is warm and cosy in the winter but very hot in the summer which is not so good. I look out from the studio into the garden and as our garden backs on to open fields we get an amazing variety of wildlife strolling through the garden. I also enjoy gardening so find inspiration in the plants and flowers.
My studio has a work station for my sewing machine and another just for my cutting mat. It has storage and shelving and is always quite messy although I can always find everything!
What are the indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
I would not be without my Bernina sewing machine, rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat. I love my walking foot on the sewing machine and quilt most of my quilts with this. Sadly my quick unpick is indispensable and gets quite a lot of action!
I use Aurifil thread to sew with and love the 50 weight for piecing and the 40 weight for quilting.
What is your favorite lesser-known tool for your trade? Have you taken something designed for another use and repurposed it for your studio?
Because I quilt the majority of my quilts and projects using the walking foot on my sewing machine and quilt using a lot of straight lines I find using a Hera marker indispensable. I use it to mark the lines for quilting and as it creates a little ditch it is easy to quilt on the line. The best thing is that there are no marks to remove at the end.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? How does that help your work develop?
I have a scribble book where I jot down any ideas that I have or quick sketches. I do find it useful and often I will come back to ideas two or three years later to work from them.
Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?
Everywhere. In my garden, on my travels, in books and magazines, Instagram, visits to museums and galleries and from the people around me. I teach a lot of workshops and always find inspiration in student work.
Which part of the quilt design process is your favorite? Which part is a challenge for you?
I love the first part of the quilt design process; coming up with the idea and design for the quilt. I then enjoy the working out of the mathematics to develop the block or the pattern. Choosing the fabrics to support the design is also fun as is the actual stitching and piecing of the quilt.
I think that the most challenging part for me is the actual quilting as I can’t do it quick enough to keep up with the rest of the process. I really enjoying sewing the binding on as it means that the quilt is finished and there is a lot of satisfaction in finishing a quilt!
Do you think that creativity is part of human nature or is it something that must be nurtured and learned?
I believe that we are all creative in various ways – some artistically, intellectually, physically, musically and so on however whatever creative talent we have needs to be nurtured and developed.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. A great piece of advice for life and for stitching. A mismatched seam or a wonky point is not the end of the world.
Tell us about your blog and/or website. What do you hope people will gain by visiting?
My website can be found at www.patchworkpatterns.co.uk and on this I have a list of all the workshops that I teach. Shops and groups who wish to book workshops with me use it to select the classes that they want. I also have some free pdf patterns for people to download and also some patterns for sale.
I love Instagram and can be found at Janetpatch1. I enjoy sharing my creative endeavours and those of my students and engaging with the Instagram community. I really hope that anyone visiting my Instagram page enjoys sharing my creative journey and that in return I can be part of their journey.
Interview posted June 2023
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