In the quilting world Sydney blogger Sarah Fielke needs no introduction. As co-author of the two marvellous and bestselling Material Obsession books and more recently her first solo book From Little Things, she has long inspired crafty types with her beautiful and intricate quilt patterns. Her work also often features in craft magazines and she further shares her skills by teaching both locally and internationally.
More recently Sarah has moved into fabric design with the release of her first collection also named From Little Things, and a second collection which launches later this year.
Despite her large following, Sarah Fielke's blog The Last Piece always reads to me as a personal blog, and that's one of the things I really like about it. She talks about her life here in Sydney with her husband and two sons alongside stories from her local and international teaching and frequent overseas trips to quilt shows. Sarah is an enthusiastic and generous member of the online craft community.
For those of us not lucky enough to learn from Sarah in person, the good news is that this year sees the launch of a range of downloadable online classes on her website. Read more about Sarah and her plans and which of those wonderful quilts is her favourite below! Thanks Sarah :-)
1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
I'm a quilter, first and foremost. A designer second and an author third. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy writing my books because I LOVE it, but I have to make the quilts to write the books! My quilts are cheerful and fun, whimisical and playful. I make traditional quilts with modern twists, but I don't like the label of "Modern Quilter". My fabric designs are in clear, bright colours with hand drawn images.
2. Why blog? How did you start?
I started blogging when I decided that my old shop, Material Obsession, needed a blog about seven years ago. I had no idea what I was doing and my business partner thought I was nuts, but my husband had been doing all this research about blogs and he was adamant we needed one! So the MO blog started and I blogged there until I left in 2009, and then started my own blog, The Last Piece. It's a great way to keep in contact with people and let quilters know what you're up to.
3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
My mother taught me to sew when I was very little. She taught me patchwork and embroidery and general sewing. When I got older I read so many books about quilting and taught myself along the way.
4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
I have a beautiful studio that we just fitted out during our recent renovation, with an office off it. It's not very big but it's all mine. A lot of the pictures in my new book, Quilting: from little things, are taken in the studio and in my office.
5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
I liked 'The Last Piece' because it meant a few different things - the last piece of the puzzle, the last piece you cut or sew and then the quilt is finished, that last piece of fabric you just had to have!
6. Favourite media to work in?
Fabric. Always fabric.
7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
I have a load of things in the hopper as always. I've started writing my fourth book, and my second range of fabric for Lecien, Japan will be released at Fall Market in Houston this year. Ambitions? I would love to do more overseas teaching... I would love to teach at AQC in Melbourne! And there's always another quilt I have to try.
8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
A little of both. I make huge messes in my studio but I like to have everything orderly so they usually only last a few days and then I have to clean them up. I'm not obsessively tidy in my house but I don't like it to be a mess so we tend to have big clean ups of everyones "junk" every few days.
9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you.
Wow.... this changes a lot, but my Twitter friend Belle just made me a beautiful pincushion embroidered with motifs from my fabric range to say thank you for some fabric I sent her, and one of my students, Peta, crocheted me an apple jacket last week (so cute!), so at the moment those are my favourites!
10. Favourite food/recipe?
Another hard one!! I LOVE cooking, I have a huge kitchen and I'm always in it.... my favourite overall thing to eat though would be pasta with crab, garlic and chilli.
11. Favourite colour?
12. Star sign?
13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
My favourite place in the whole world is the top end of the Northern Beaches of Sydney (specifically Whale Beach). The sandstone and the colours in the water, in summer or winter. It always amazes me that such a beautiful place exists right next to a big city like Sydney
14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
Don't sweat the small stuff. Life is too short and your family comes first, no matter how exciting the opportunity. Make time for yourself, crafting and creating are forms of looking after yourself and you should treat it that way.
15. Favourite artists, artisans, crafters?
I have a passion for painting and my favourite artists are Brett Whiteley, John Olsen and Ben Quilty. My favourite writers at the moment are John
Irving, Tony Horwitz and Margaret Atwood. I have huge respect for and am inspired by Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran, Nancy Crowe and Ingrid Press. I love looking at the creative whitterings of Rita at Red Pepper Quilts, Katy at I'm a Ginger Monkey and Amy at Mrs Schmenkman Quilts. My favourite crafty readings are Fat Quarterly, Quilter's Newsletter and the new mag, Mollie Makes - and any book about antique quilts I can get my hands on.
16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done.
That's such a difficult thing to answer because often the last thing I made is the current favourite. I think though that The Maple Leaf Rag,
which is in Material Obsession Two, would be my favourite quilt. It is full of fabrics from friends and students and bits and pieces of all my old quilts too. I love it, it hangs on the wall behind my bed. Apart from that I think the thing I am proudest of is my new book, Quilting: from little things. It's my first book on my own, I love every quilt and every word in it and I am so thrilled with the response it's getting from readers.
17. Three words to describe yourself?
Creative, opinionated, passionate
18. What do you like to do besides creating?
I like to cook and read. I like watching my kids play sport, and hanging out with them playing games and cooking. I like teasing my husband and walking my dog. And playing golf very badly, can't forget that!