We’re proud to welcome Sarah Fielke as one of our newest Craftsy instructors! Her class, Big Techniques with Small Scraps, will open your eyes to a fantastic new way of quilting, incorporating both traditional and modern styles and techniques. But before you learn all that she has to teach you about quilting, find out more about the instructor herself. In this free video, we meet Sarah and hear her tell stories about her mother (who taught her to quilt), her favorite teaching experience, what she loves about teaching, and what the ladies in her quilting group thought of her quilts when she first joined. Watch it below, then register for Big Techniques from Small Scraps today!
The most fun class I ever taught was a class in France, and we did the deconstructed piecing class, which is also one of my Craftsy classes. And I did a class with a French quilting group. They wanted to make a quilt that would be their group quilt. So everybody made a little French lady that they personalized it to themselves. They had their hair or embroidered face or a little dress, or whatever was going to make it their own. And then they all worked together on piecing together a huge, wonky, sort-of-leaning-over Eiffel Tower and an Arc de Triomphe. And then we put all the pieces together, and then we wonky pieced the name of their group down the bottom. It was just such fun, and they were such great ladies, and they were just willing to try absolutely anything I threw at them. We had a really fantastic weekend. So that really stands out in my memory as being one of the best classes ever, I think. But I love every time I teach; I really do.
I started sewing with my mom. My mom was a beautiful quilter and sewer. She used to make all my clothes, and she made some beautiful quilts, some of which I still have. She taught me to sew and embroider and all sorts of stuff on a little pink sewing machine that I used to stitch on. And I used to make pieces of patchwork for my dolls and my bears, and that sort of stuff. But I never made a proper quilt with three layers until I was twelve, and I made a quilt for my mom’s birthday. I made it very badly, and it fell apart not long afterwards. But I’ve always sewn, and it wasn’t until I had my babies, and then I was doing my nursery. My oldest is 15. So back in those days everything was just mute and mellow, and I wanted funky things. So I went Lincraft—which is like a Jo-Ann’s in the US—and I bought whole lot of really brightly colored gingham, and I made things for his bedroom. And when I took those to my mom’s group when he was born, everyone wanted to buy them, know where I bought them from, wanted to learn how to make them. So I started a little business selling baby quilts and stuff like that. And then I started teaching some of the moms in my mother’s group, most of whom couldn’t sew on a button. So, I’m very proud that some of them still quilt, and it’s just sort of gone from there, really.
I joined a quilt group when I was maybe in my late 20s. And I never quilted in a group before, ever. My mom taught me at home. And then my mom was very ill after that. So I never really knew anybody who quilted except my mother and I, but my mother passed away. That was it. It was just me sort of quilting in my own little vaccuum. But then I joined this quilt group, and there were about 60 women in the group. It’s a really big group. And when I took my quilts along, they were all exclaiming over my colors, and all the different patterns that I put into the one quilt, and how I used checks and stripes and spots and big florals, and they were all in the same quilt, and how did I do that, and why did I do that. And some of them didn’t approve. But some of them did and they really loved it. And I think after the first few times I went to that group, I walked away and thought, “I really do something different. I don’t know what it is. But I really do something different, and I like what it is. I like the fact that I’m different,” and I think for me, that really was quite something. I realized that this is something I’m good at it.
I quilt the same way I’ve been quilting for close to 20 years now. And if that’s modern? Well, it was modern 20 years ago, and it’s modern right now. I think what I am is a contemporary traditionalist. I really enjoy making traditional quilts, but I like making them in a different way, whether that’s using fabrics that are bright and funky and different, or whether that’s taking a traditional block and chopping it up, or making it bigger, or making it wonky, or just trying something new or doing something else. I know sometimes when I teach classes they can make a lot of very traditional quilters a little bit uncomfortable. But, you know, I think that’s a good thing. I think sometimes if you’ve been quilting for a really long time, and you’re a very traditional quilter, you need a bit of a BOMB put under you, and I really enjoy doing that.
I think you need some surprise in your quilting. You need something to be a little bit different, a little bit unexpected, and to use fabrics together that maybe you might never have thought of using together before, and that can completely change your quilt.
I have a lot of people who read my books from all over the place because they are in seven languages, and that’s a lot. And just for people to be able to go online and actually take a class with me when I’m not where they are is an absolutely fantastic thing. I’ve already told little sneaky bits online telling I’m going to do a class for Craftsy, and I’ve had friends in other countries saying, “How exciting! I’ll finally be able to take a class from you!” And that’s really exciting to me that I’ll be able to get to people that I may have never otherwise been able to get to.
Now that you know more about Sarah, check out her online quilting class, Big Techniques from Small Scraps. And then be sure to catch Sarah sharing how to create perfect appliqué circles on the Craftsy blog on Wednesday.
Subscribe to our blog, as our Maker Monday series continues next week with sugarcraft artist and instructor, Nicholas Lodge.