Lyn Crump started quilting when she bought a King size bed and couldn’t find anything she liked as a cover. She is now an award winning quilter who creates unique quilt designs and then uses her longarm to bring the quilts to life.
How long have you been quilting and designing? How did you get started?
I started quilting in 2001, after I had bought a King size bed and couldn’t find a Doona Cover I liked.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.
My first quilt was a King Size Drunkard’s Path cut with scissors using an ice cream container lid as a template to draw curves. This quilt was set in a unique way and I have seen very few examples of my setting! So from the very beginning I was designing my own interpretations of other designers patterns.
When was the first time that you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
I didn’t enjoy sewing in my primary years but do remember using a treadle machine at school before I was ten. I still have some of my hand sewing from that era as well. Mum made sure we all had new home made clothing each season, so sewing was always around us.
I took up knitting while at Uni to pass the daily 3 hour commute and continued knitting until my son was born. I then used tapestry and counted cross stitch, as a quiet activity while the rest of the house slept! I still have one unfinished cross stitch I may incorporate into a quilt for my first great grandchild, (still many years away).
Your machine quilting is amazing, and award winning! How did you get to where you are today? How has your work changed over time?
I sent my quilt tops out to be quilted for the first three years of my quilt journey. I was using a 35 year old Elna machine to piece.
A class with Gloria Loughman in October 2004 was my eye opener. She insisted I quilt my own art work. I had to cover the feed dogs with a plate. After 4 days in class I was hooked. Immediately bought a machine that I could drop the feed dogs on and away I went.
I quilted for 4 years on my domestic machine – researching longarm machines and dreaming of one. My sewing room was the dining table and the linen press my “studio” until we moved interstate and built again.
After a trip to Europe in 2005 I wanted to portray a memory of our trip in a quilt. It took until July 2008 for Blue Moon to come to fruition, with an interstate move, house rental and house building. I decided that the skyline of a Castle that we had stayed at would be a great scenario and quilted this on a small table runner using my domestic machine.
If I had known when drawing up house plans that the dream of a longarm would become a reality – my present Sewing Studio would have become larger than it is. My husband offered me the use of a payout from his work to purchase an APQS longarm in 2008. That is when I knew I had found a “partner for my muse”.
Tell us more about your first ribbon. How did it feel? How did it change what you do?
I entered a few local Shows in 2008-2009 winning numerous ribbons, however it was my Son’s Wedding Quilt that did not ribbon in the EKKA 2008 “Quilts Across Queensland” competition that heightened my awareness of my innate quilting skill. The organisers had told me they decided to hang it prominently where it would be seen by everyone that entered the Quilt Show. It was a King Size Quilt with ladybugs in some form on every fabric. Quilted to highlight the fabrics, I even quilted chocolate coloured Calla Lilies from the Daughter in Laws bridal bouquet along with Rosebuds and orchids. This was only the 14th quilt I had quilted on my longarm.
My First Best of Show in my Local State Guild, was in 2015, I worked feverishly over the space of two months to finish piecing it and then as I was quilting it I emailed pics to a friend who assured me it was best of show material. I didn’t believe her.
My husband was interstate for work, I had spilt tea on it when quilting at 3am, I accidentally drew on it with a whiteboard marker when checking quilting ideas. I helped hang the show as a volunteer, thought it an odd place to hang my quilt and left after lunch (it wasn’t hanging there the next morning). I had caught a bus into the Show with my local city group of Quilters. I asked a friend to come to presentations with me, I had been told I had won an award but not which one. When my name was called out for Best Machine Quilting – I was nervous. The tears flowed and I could barely speak when I was then called up for Best of Show and the curtain dropped revealing “Featheration 2Blu”.
Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?
While I was busy making quilts for my immediate and extended family members I searched for new techniques that I wanted to teach myself and found interesting ways to relate them to the family member through fabric choices or quilting designs.
Now that I no longer consider who I am making a quilt for I design quilts with “Real Estate” so that I can add a Story layer to the quilt top via my quilting. Some of these ideas come to me while washing my hair in the shower (this is my problem solving time) and often my most rewarding solutions result from it. Pen and paper is always handy in the ensuite!
When you quilt for other quilters, tell us more about how you decide on a quilt design for a piece?
I like to let the fabric talk to what design it needs. If I am quilting an overall design, I often make up my own freehand design that uses a background motif from one of the fabrics. If it is a custom piece I ask for details of the recipient etc. to feel if something will sit right with the quilt top. Then I let the quilt lay on my frame for a day or two with my scrappy sketches to see if they feel right.
I am fortunate that the few customers I have, are willing to work around my timeframe of touring travels and working on my own quilts.
When you work on your own quilts, do you plan your work out ahead of time, or do you just dive in with your materials and start playing?
As I now only make 2 or 3 quilts a year – each quilt is almost considered a quilt show entry.
My design process can take six to 12 months before the piecing begins, as quilting thoughts emerge I sketch them on one of the printouts of the quilt design that are hanging in my studio, waiting for the inspiration to strike. There is often many iterations before I finalise a design.
Once pieced, if a previous thought for a quilting design sits well with the finished top, I will start quilting that part first. Many times this requires me marking the Quilt top prior to loading it on the frame, I use Leonis water erasable pens for this. I load the quilt and quilt that one element first, completely stabilising the top as I go – I use hundreds of Clover Flower Head or Magic Flat Head pins for this process. Then I “Wash my hair” and further inspiration comes!
Are you a “finisher”? How many UFOs do you think you have?
I cleansed my storage of many unfinished items after a water ingress a few years ago. So the only unfinished tops are some to send to a nursing home, baby quilts waiting for a recipient, a reproduction quilt, my future Great Grand Daughter’s Counted Cross Stitch and a “Show Quilt” that has been in the box for quite a few years that is about to be opened – unless one of my recent “modern idea quilts” takes precedence again!
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? How does that help your work develop?
I have a stack of Post It notes, used frequently as I can pin them to a quilt top with ideas.
Sketchbooks are for quilt ideas, piecing instructions, pattern writing. Recently I have taken to documenting how many hours cutting, then piecing a quilt takes, yet to document the number of hours in the design process. My phone has a stylus I use frequently.
Journal are only for documenting any quilt I have machine quilted so I can tell how many hours, threads and designs I used. Large sheet of perspex and whiteboard markers to audition quilting ideas on a quilt top. Edges are covered with tape to hopefully remind me not to go off the edge again!
How often do you start a new project? Do you work actively on more than one project at a time?
Our State Guild has a Theme each year, I like to enter one quilt into it. Lately this is a hand pieced work so I have something to do while travelling in the car touring around Australia, or for night times in front of the TV.
I also then usually have one more complex machine pieced or quilting in progress on the go. From August to October I am again involved with the organisation of our State Quilt Show so the studio is quiet – but messy – working out floor plans, sorting description labels, hanging ribbon pre organisation and the other incidentals to assist the Quilt Show convenor.
Can you tell us about the inspiration and process of one of your works? How does a new work come about?
I have been giving my major quilts some form of numerical title since I first made an almost traditional feathered or radiant star quilt in 2010 called Featheration. Then came Featheration 2Blu (2015), three and four were smaller works different techniques. Feathered 5iever (2018) was my first foray into using only solid fabrics, Limeberry Tart (2016) a six pointed star made from ½” hexagons, was a little out of sequence.
Circling Sevenstar (2021) was designed in 2019, machine pieced in 2020 then family took precedence when my Father in Law succumbed to his cancer.
It hung on my newly constructed design wall until 2021, when we convinced my Mother in Law to fly interstate and come and visit us. As she was the first quilter I knew, I decided to appliqué the circles to the quilt while she was visiting.
It still didn’t jump until I had the idea to embroider circles (these all have a diameter based on a multiple of 7) over the quilt top as well. I then hand dyed seven embroidery threads to come close to the colours of the star points. I always knew it was going to have the large outer quilted double circle. Smaller circles were randomly placed on the quilt top by “throwing” cardboard cut out 7” circles onto the top while it was lying on the media room floor.
Larger quilted circles were drawn with a large protractor made from a plastic venetian blind slat, I have drilled holes in it at half inch spacing. I drilled more so the required ones are at quarter inch spacing. The smaller 7 pointed stars were marked randomly in the background and I was able to work out a continuous path to quilt them.
To place another point of difference to the top, I hand embroidered the same twisted chain from the quilt top circles between the quilt top and the facing. You can just see a sliver of colour at times.
The quilt started its overseas journey with 49 Swarovski crystals to highlight the smaller seven pointed stars inside the larger outer quilted double circle. This quilt that bought me much joy and even more so with her recent successes in the US and the fact more quilters are also able to enjoy her.
BEV10-08 (2023) is not quite a Feathered Star quilt but they are in the quilting! And Nightney (2024) has been in the thought process since March 2023 – I need to get pencil and large paper to progress it further – my computer design skills will not cut it!
Which part of the design process is your favorite? Which part is a challenge for you?
The quilting design is the easiest for me, I need to let the quilt brew in the grey matter for the best to come out. Quite a few months may pass, as I only wash my hair 8 times a month – in the caravan there is not the water supply or space for soaking hair washes! Once I have started the quilting process my own quilts can be on the frame for a month or two. If I have it stabilised enough I can take it off and on easily.
The design process can be a challenge for me. I have progressed in my quilt designs so that they would be hard to be replicated and even more difficult to write a pattern for. Currently they are a whole quilt designs rather than individual blocks joined to make a quilt. I use EQ8, but due to the complexity of the designs I want to draw I often put way more lines into a block than the computer likes. I do not have the “headspace” to learn a new computer program so resort to pencil, paper and erasers. I always did like mathematics at school.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
I quilted a wholecloth house plan last year for a Theme at our State Guild Show. My studio gained quite a few extra feet in length and storage so that could be considered my ideal studio.
My studio is 5.2m x 4.2m with built in cupboards on one 4.2m wall, double doors to our family room on the opposite wall. One long wall has windows and a sliding door to our terrace so great light.
My computer table sits in a corner surrounded by two large wall racks of threads – so a very colourful display. My design wall 3.6m x 2.4m however, is now in the spare bedroom, where I can walk up the hallway and see what ever is on it, from a distance and also up close. By the time I put my 12 foot frame longarm, multiple draw units with my ruler, stencil, thread and template supplies. Then my domestic machine set into an old kitchen table, cutting table and my bookcase ironing station. Only room left is walking space around the longarm.
I am yet to work out a way to show case my Featherweight Machines. PS: my show ribbons hide above the door and window height, most visitors do not realise they are there, which is how I prefer it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Go For It.
My Mum always said “If you are Stressed – just spell it backwards – Desserts – and enjoy”! Her handwritten note with this is still close to my machine for daily reference.
A quote from Cindy Needham also resonates well with me. “Take the time to quilt something beautiful. Your work will speak to generations to come about your passion for quilting and give your quilt a voice to speak to those who choose to listen.”
What was the biggest challenge that you encountered on your creative journey? What did you learn from it?
The year after my daughter’s wedding I was able to get back into creating quilts, her wedding dress had taken precedence. I was the Convenor for the 2014 Show and also had four entries in it. Three of them ribboned. Two of them took our major Special Awards. During the show it got back to me that detractors thought I had won the ribbons as I was influencing the judges. I then stepped down from all management responsibilities within the state guild and show in the first half of 2015.
Hence I was a very angry quilter when I continued work on “Featheration 2Blu” in July. I only shared it’s existence with my closest friends. Now I no longer share any of my major quilt show entries before their first Show so that judges are completely unaware of my work.
What traits, if any, do you think that creative people have as compared to people who are not creative?
I feel creative people look for the best within the world around them and allow its energy to direct a calm persona to the outside world.
My creativity is messy, I embrace the chaos, enjoy the process, get cranky with myself while I work out solutions, doubt my abilities and delight in the end result.
How have other people supported or inspired you?
I devoured my Mother in Law’s extensive personal library of quilting books for many years. Admired that she could appliqué a Baltimore project while travelling 6+ hours in a car when she came to visit. I am sure she cheered when I made my first quilt. Since the passing of my mum she has become my biggest fan.
My husband has been there from the beginning, grudgingly at first as I took him into quilt shops (he quickly worked out what I was looking for and would ask an assistant and get me to the fabric, purchased goodies and out the door), then he aided in the purchase of my first longarm. Now he is always the one to promote to people we meet my skills, as I prefer not to shout my success.
Where can people see your work?
When we moved interstate away, from our children, my daughter would phone and ask what I was doing. My standard answer was “busy quilting”. It soon became my business name. It is the identity I use on Facebook and Instagram where I share my work in progress and my quilt journey. I do have a website, although I am very slack in keeping it up to date now that I no longer have an active business associated with it. www.busyquilting.com.au
I am including a picture of Sottacetti Dimenare 2022 ( if you say it in your best Italian accent – it means pickle wiggle the names of two of the fabrics used in it). When I first saw Audrey Esarey’s quilt Mobius Radial I knew that I wanted to make it and was sketching my own quilting designs on screen shots of her quilt. The idea of placing three of them into an infinite background came very soon after as I waited for the pattern to be released. As soon as I had purchased the pattern I sought Audrey’s permission to make it my own. Within two months this quilt was heading to The Australian Quilt Show Challenge, where it placed First in the Modern Category. That was the only show I put it into as it wasn’t solely my design.
Interview posted September 2023
Browse through more quilt inspiration and projects on Create Whimsy.