Meet a quilter
Claire Campion from Made Just Sew
Welcome to ‘meet a quilter’: a series of blog posts introducing you to other quilters. Find out how they learned to quilt and why, what they’re making right now and some of their top tips and resources for having fun with fabric!
This time we’re heading to Warwickshire where quilter, mum and creative business owner Claire Campion lives and works. Claire is such an inspiration as a self-taught quilter, with a fascinating background and a real eye for detail. Let’s meet her…
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m Claire, a late 30-something living in beautiful Stratford Upon Avon with my husband, our two beautiful girls who are 6 and 3 years old and our dog Dillon who is definitely my third child!
In my life before kids, I was a biomedical scientist in haematology and blood transfusion - a million miles from what I do now! I decided to take a career break when our eldest daughter was born almost 11 weeks early. It was a difficult time but gave me the courage to stop something I wasn’t enjoying and put my all into motherhood. Once we had made it through that tricky first year, our new ‘normal’ began to feel normal - I needed to do something for myself. I started sewing to release some creative passion. One thing led to another and I started my own business: Made Just Sew.
When, how and why did you learn to quilt?
I’m 100% self-taught! I’ve always admired quilts, appreciated the craftsmanship and luxury of each one. After I had Lucy I made things for her room and, around 5 years ago, I made my first quilt. YouTube played a big part but there was also a great haberdashery shop in Stratford (sadly closed now) which was a great support and introduced me to spray basting! I still spray baste all my quilts now - although the more I learn, the more I want to try new techniques and I’m going to try basting pins on my next quilt.
I was asked to make a quilt as a christening gift for a friend which made me realise that what I was making was resonating with people. Not long afterwards, a friend showed me a picture of a memory quilt and I just fell in love with the idea. I started to make memory quilts and bears, word spread, and the business grew! It’s predominantly what I make now, but I’m itching to make some ‘ready-made’ heirloom quilts and eventually design my own quilt patterns.
What are you making at the moment?
I’m so glad you have asked me this question! A few months ago, I would have said ‘memory quilts but I’ve just started a more traditional quilt from my own fabric stash. I’m using a Suzy Quilt pattern called ‘Fly Away’. I’m so excited about it! I love what I do but it’s good to try something new and keep that creative passion alive. I’m also planning to hand quilt this one, which is something I haven’t done before.
What’s your sewing space like?
My dream is to have my own studio with lots of natural light but for now I have taken over our dining room. Our big oak dining table is the perfect space for quilting because I can be at home with the kids but sneak off, every now and again, knowing they are happy playing nearby.
Where do you shop for fabric and supplies?
I’d love to do more physical shopping as I much prefer seeing fabric in the flesh first but, unfortunately, lots of local shops have closed and shopping is never a relaxing experience with kids in tow! Most of my purchases are made online with my favourite shops: Billow Fabrics, Plush Addict and The Village Haberdashery.
I’m lucky to live near the NEC in Birmingham and love going to sewing and quilting exhibitions. That’s where I stock up on supplies and buy things I didn’t realise I needed in my life!
What do you wish you had known about making patchwork quilts when you first started?
To always use a walking foot for machine quilting – it’s a game changer!! Also, to slow down and take time. Plus, there’s always something new to learn!
Where do you find inspiration for your quilts?
So many places! I love to treat myself to a magazine from time to time. My favourites are ‘Quilt Now’ and ‘Love Patchwork and Quilting’ for their modern style and fresh designs. I still love a good book - the ones that you refer back to time and time again. I got a new one for Christmas called ‘Ultimate Quilting Bible’ which is a great resource for everything quilting related.
Social media plays a huge part, especially Instagram and Pinterest. They’re both visual platforms which is perfect for creative inspiration. I don’t know if I’d be here doing this now without them! I love following fellow quilters - favourites being @blanketstatement, @riane.elise (her new book looks amazing!) @wren.collective and @suzyquilts (she has the best blog to learn ANYTHING to do with quilting - I love her style, how she approaches teaching techniques - she’s awe inspiring. Definitely my quilting crush!).
I just love how Claire has turned her hobby into a business, don’t you? I especially appreciate that she creates “proper”, beautifully finished memory quilts from baby clothes - she definitely stands out from the crowd. Thank you so much, Claire, for introducing yourself to us and for sharing your beautiful photos!