Whenever I read the ‘about’ pages for other quilt designers I am always impressed with the huge wealth of art and textile qualifications they have. I’m going to hang my head here and admit other than a GCSE gained far too many years ago, I have nothing like that. I’m a scientist with a Masters in Physics from Oxford University.
I’ve designed batteries for NASA, tested fancy optical physics type things like Etalons and led design teams in the aerospace industry. I’ve also written Regency romances (published as Jessica Baker) and worked as a gentlemen’s bespoke tailor but happily was spared my blushes and never asked which side the gentlemen dressed. I did once stitch a bound pocket that was so big I could fit my head in it.
Some things you learn at school and some things you learn at home. For me, my love of textiles and sketching was encouraged in every aspect at home. My parents are incredibly creative and I was brought up in an environment of ‘having a go’. My mum taught me to make my own clothes and she started quilting when I was about 10 and I followed suit not long after.
I have four young children myself, currently aged, 5, 5, 8, and 9. The twins were a bit of a shock despite being a twin myself and when I found I was pregnant with them I actually gave away all my fabric and wool stash saying I would be sensible and accept I wouldn’t have time for the foreseeable future. In their first six months though I still needed my fabric fix and I started buying myself fat quarters each week and used to keep them in a box under my bed. When life got a bit too much (which happens a lot with four children who at the time were four and under) I used to sneak upstairs for five minutes and get the fabrics out and stroke them. If you are on this page then you know just how therapeutic that can be!
Despite a very busy family life, I (perhaps somewhat foolishly thinking about it now) started Raggedy Ruff four years ago, initially making embroidered children’s clothes with a set of characters including Ruff the dog, which is where the name came from. My work gradually evolved into more realistic animals and patchwork rather than dress making, but I think they have still retained that more whimsical nature.
For the last two years I have been selling my designs and it has allowed me a lot more freedom to design more intricate and complex patterns and I really enjoy it. I fit my work around my children so sometimes I am a little slower than I would like on sending out kits, but they always need to come first. The twins start full time school last year so I generally plan each day to fit in about ten hours worth of tasks in the six hours they are away. 😊 I’m not currently taking on commissions for finished embroideries, and instead I am enjoying decorating my somewhat neglected house with them. I may take on commissions again in the future if time permits.
I get asked regularly about classes and talks, and I am afraid because of the children, they aren’t something that I can manage to do at the moment. I do have videos on youtube which may help and I am nearly always reachable in my facebook group. I share pretty much everything I’m up to in the group, whether it is sewing or trip out with the children, so please feel free to ask lots of questions, as I am always happy to see if I can help.