Inspired by nature and everyday life, Jennie Jo Lamb designs fool-proof quilt designs perfect for confident beginners. She writes her patterns with what she calls “square-up room” so if your stitching is a little off, your quilt will be perfect!
Did you have a “gateway craft” as a kid? Which creative projects led you to the work you do today?
I started doing embroidery and crewel when I was 5 years old. My mom, grandma, and aunt were all seamstresses and I wanted to do what they did! I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t sewing or stitching something. I sure made a lot of Barbie clothes back in the day.
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How did you get into designing quilt patterns?
I started quilting in 1997 and have been quilting since then. It just seemed like the natural evolution in my quilting journey. I love the thinking and the math parts of quilt pattern design.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
I write my patterns with square-up room. I really like the option of cutting a little bigger and square the units up. Not so much for perfection. It is more to reduce frustration. In the long-run, I find it quicker and easier to have pieces that end up the correct size.
I also include all the pressing directions in my patterns. When I work on someone else’s pattern, I find it frustrating to have to figure out the pressing.
I think what makes my work stand out as my own is my patterns end up looking as close to appliqué as they can and it is all piecing.
Where do you find your inspiration for your patterns?
I find my inspiration everywhere! Fabric really calls to me. I usually have patterns and ideas floating around in my head and then I see the perfect fabric and it seems to work out! Nature and my everyday life inspire me, also.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? How does that help your work develop?
I do not use a sketchbook or journal. I do keep a few ideas in my phone. Mostly they are in my head until I start designing in EQ8. Depending on the pattern, I still use graph paper much of the time until I get the bugs worked out.
How do you make the leap from an idea in your head to designing a new pattern?
I either sketch it out in EQ8 or on graph paper. Once I have the block(s) design down then it is easy to play with it in EQ8. Add pieced borders. Add sashing and cornerstones. Put it on-point. EQ8 really helps solidify a design.
When it comes to creating, are you more of a planner or an improviser?
Not sure, a little bit of both! I have to marinate on an idea for a while. Work it around in my mind. Sometimes for a long time before it really becomes something more than an idea.
How often do you start a new project? Do you work actively on more than one project at a time?
I start a new project as often as I can. My time is limited as I work a full-time job, besides my quilt pattern design business. In the next year, I am thinking I will design 8 – 12 new projects. There are normally a few quilts going at the same time. I really like to quilt and wish I had the time to design more.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
I do have a dedicated space for creating. A couple years ago my husband and I downsized our house (for more property). Our house is a 100 year old farmhouse and it is small. When we moved here we had the newest structure on the property. A small garage/wood shed was added on to the garage, remodeled and turned into my sewing room. It is crammed!
My space includes a long arm that I own with friends, my office for both my design company and my regular job, my sewing space and a large commercial copier. I am constantly changing things around and adding more organization. I am afraid it will never be big enough!
What is your favorite storage tip for your fabric and creative supplies?
Anything cute! And labeled. I like to know what I have so labeling really helps. Right now my choice of storage is light green boxes from Ikea. They have a little scalloped edge and are adorable.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
To pursue your bliss.
How do you balance your personal life, work and creative endeavors?
That is a constant struggle for me. Balance has always been hard. Time gets away from me so I set a timer on my phone. I also take off the month of December (from my design business) so I can focus on family and Christmas. I also find time to get a few projects done that other people design!
What is your typical day like?
I work my regular job 8 hours a day. I sew, or design, or return emails on my breaks and lunch. Then I get at least a couple of hours of Lamb Farm Designs time each afternoon. Then it is in the house to spend time with my husband. The weekends are mostly spent on Lamb Farm Designs.
When you have time to create for yourself, what kinds of projects do you make?
When I have time to create for myself, I quilt. I used to sew clothes and do many crafts, but when I started quilting in 1997, that was it for me. Sewing clothes and crafting isn’t as enjoyable to me. I do some small craft projects through the year, but not many. I also enjoy hand stitching so will do wool appliqué in the evenings.
What do you wish you knew about designing quilt patterns before you got started?
I wish I knew how to use Illustrator, as I think it would help me write patterns quicker. Hiring a graphic designer has been a life-saver, I wish I would have hired her from the get go. I don’t have time to learn all the other things that go along with quilt design. She does that for me. Logo, pattern covers, website, Etsy listing, and so much more. Thank you Alexandra Imrie!
Tell us about your blog and/or website. What do you hope people will gain by visiting?
I hope people will visit my website Lamb Farm Designs and get inspired! Try a new method. Use my patterns as a jumping off point and add their own spin on the pattern. My patterns are written step-by-step. A confident beginner can sew most all my patterns.
Do you lecture or teach workshops? How can students/organizers get in touch with you to schedule an event?
I do! Send me an email if you are interested in a lecture or workshop. I love sharing my love and passion for quilting. Quilting is so social for me. I love being surrounded by folks that love the same things I do. And the energy and inspiration I get from others!
Interview posted February 2023
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