Friday, April 30, 2010

Why I should never be allowed to go to the AQC...

Well here was my thinking:

I'm not doing classes this year, I'll be good and save money, I've done many of the ones I'm interested in before anyway and I could probably do the other textile art techniques now... And then I can spend a little more at the stalls and still save a heap.

Um no.

I only got a couple of things....  well, sorta, kinda... here's them laid out on my table so I could fondle them all (and take a pic to remind me what I got now it's all squished into my stash)!
Lots and lots of fun new toys including the new Aussie texile magazine 'Textiles Down Under' I'm only up to page 20 but I'm already wrapped!! It's been even better then Quilting Arts (my usual fave) so far. Also got some i-spy FQ's I'll use on a recent baby quilt commission (it's going to look like the 'Hide and Seek' one on this page but with different characters - click the pattern for a bigger pic), and new sewing tools and Mylar from Punch With Judy. I'm curious on how Mylar makes normal threads look like metallic ones (i've read this but not tried it), and how it doesn't all perforate with lots of stitching - it just looks like Textiva film or cellophane in a bigger sheet.

The spending wasn't all my fault though... I mean fair is fair and bringing 13 new colours of Angelina Fibre out to coincide with the AQC is really not fair. After all it's one of my favorite things!!! Then I noticed Cecile from Unique stitching also had very large pieces of Lutrador rolled up for about $3.50 (don't quote me on that, my minds swimming with all the prices cause it's the morning after the night before for a textile-o-phile), so of course I had to get some of them. I know I have Lutrador, but the pieces I have are small and were expensive enough to not want to experiment on them... these are exactly the same but larger and cheap... so I'll feel better about subjecting it to myriad possibly bin-worthy experiments :)

Also got some 50/50 bamboo / rayon felt (that's the coloured stack at the back of the picture below), not the cheapest at $24 a metre but soooooo unbelievably soft. Figured it will be really lovely to use on the embellisher and it's soft enough and high enough quality to use on the front of my art quilts, even ones that are intended to snuggled up next to skin.

My new Angelina, including the 13 new colours, that's the Lutrador rolled up to the left.

I also got some gorgeous woven silk blends (70% silk and 30% poly) from a place i'd never heard of - and they had half metres for $10 and FQ's for $7... that's the same price (or cheaper) as cotton from lots of patchwork shops.... so of course I had to get a few of them, and then some 100% silk organza's as well. It's a little thicker then i've seen before and the intensity of colour is gorgeous.
These are the FQ's of 70/30 Silk Poly from Yazzii international in Box Hill. I'm sure I'll be going out there to visit one day. I've never noticed so many silks at the AQC before - this year there were a few and a couple like the above had such great prices. I also got some great overdyed silk hankies (not the kind you blow your nose on) and graduated dyed silk from Beautiful Silks who's located in Fitzroy... and they do textile art workshops. Yet another thing to follow up. Just what I needed... more places to buy fabric :)

Silk organza's from Yazzii International

One of Lisa Walton's stunning hand painted (with dye) cotton and some more silk from Yazzi that matches so well I'm tempted to use them together. The cotton goes from this colour to fuschia at the bottom and is 1m wide... so i'm thinking a huge sunset art quilt whenever I see it.

Last but not least this stunning hand dyed silk velvet from unique stitching, It's a FQ and I'm thinking a starry night landscape quilt.

Sooooooooo after all that, I need to go back tomorrow and look at the quilts on display and steer well clear of the stores!! But needless to say I had a very good day! :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Que Sera - Art Quilt in Cotton and Organza Painted with Shiva Sticks

 This is my latest quilt 'Que Sera', it's a whole cloth quilt that's been painted using Shiva Sticks and then had some iridescent organza squares fused on. The quilting over the figure has been done with King Tut egyptian cotton and all the background with Madeira variegated metallics.
 Que Sera - 1m x 1m approx. (3' 28" sq) $675
Cotton, organza, fusible web, organza, Shiva paintsticks, cotton batting.

I finished it a couple of months ago but hadn't been able to show anyone. I created it to enter into the Manly 'The New Quilt' exhibition. One of the rules is that work must never have been published in any medium. That was my first entry in a juried competition and sadly, it didn't make the cut. The bright side is that I get to show it off now and get some opinions on it.

I've never been entirely sold on the background, it was too dark when I first drew it so I've softened it off with lots of citrus turps (which i've used to blend the paint throughout). I'm thinking of using a roller with white or pale silver fabric paint and rolling that over the entire background surface, so it hits the highs and leaves the lows showing.

What do you think? Does the background need changing? How would you do it? (please click on 'comment' below to leave your opinion, don't worry about my feelings!! I'm a graphic designer so i'm used to getting artwork changes).

Here's how it was created:

I wet some PFD white cotton fabric down and pressed to the piece of Colorbond steel I use to do all my fabric painting. Having the fabric damp makes it stay in place on the colour bond. I then put some magnets on the edges to keep it there in case it wants to come off later on. This is my fabric painting set up:

For fabric painting I use this piece of Colorbond Steel, i've stopped it wobbling by gluing two aluminum L shaped metal poles to the back in an upturned V shape. A rolled up piece of calico underneath stops the metal cutting through the drop sheet plastic and catches all the drips. I keep my fabric paints in the Ikea CD shelving next to it.

 I sketched the original figure in my sketchbook and then redrew it onto the fabric using a yellow water colour pencil - light enough to see and not get in the way too much, and a colour that if any remained it would help with the glow. I then drew over this with the Shiva's using them like oil pastels.

The yellow water colour pencil and the initial outlining of Shiva paintstick.

I then went and added more shading and layered in the different colours, softening and blending as I went with Citrus Turps.

When the figure was completed I added in the background. This is the first whole cloth quilt top i've done and I think for my next one I will try keeping the background plain and just see what effect quilting has by itself. I'm still getting used to how much you can change an image by adding sewing. After I put in the background I used about a half bottle of Citrus Turps to soften it up with a stiff paintbrush. My apartment smelled like alcoholic oranges for a good week!!!

I let the Shiva sticks cure for a few days and then heat set them with a hot iron and rinsed out the fabric to get rid of any remaining turps. I wanted to try adding some iridescence to the background so cut a few small squares of shot organza out and started pinning them down. 

I liked how this looked so I fused lightweight fusible web to the back of  some bigger pieces and left the baking paper on them that i'd used to protect the iron. I then set up the soldering iron and cut a freehand grid through each of these sheets of fabric and web. This meant I could just peel each square off from the backing fabric like a sticker and then position it over the quilt top and give it a quick tap with the iron to hold it down. I did this while the quilt top was still on the design wall, the flannelette protected the wall itself from the heat. At this point I found out that when you iron vertically irons get heavy!!

 The solder cut squares of fusible web backed organza. This is what was left over so I have tons left for another project! Cutting with the soldering iron meant they heat sealed around the edges - so no fraying.

Next I pillowcased the quilt using the escape hatch as I didn't want any binding (for how a how to please see the tutorial pages on this blog here) and added the quilting.

This is the basic idea behind any of my hand painted fabrics for sale – that anyone can just add batting, backing fabric, quilting and any embellishment they like and have a quick easy unique quilt that's fun to produce.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Titanium Top Stitch Needles – Product Review

Just tried the new Titanium Topstitch needles... and my consensus? Awesome!!!

I love Topstitch needles, they've been around for years and have made my sewing so much more easy and fun. I just recently discovered that if you blog and are the type of person who raves about a product to all and sundry when you love it, that people occasionally send you free stuff to test out :) How cool is that??!

I use Topstitch needles for about 90% of my decorative work. They were recommended to me a few years ago when I'd just started sewing and was having a horrible time with threads breaking and shredding.
One of my works using metallic and specialty threads with a Topstitch needle.

It probably didn't help that I love specialty threads like metallics and holographic foils. I use rayons a lot too because of their sheen, and they're not the strongest of threads. Using the Topstitch needles really helped and I seldom get a breakage anymore.

A couple of weeks ago I was making fabric postcards for the very first time. I used Fast2Fuse for my middle as it made a nice firm base and being fusible both sides I could just iron my fabrics straight on. I fused shapes with Heat & Bond Ultra over the backing fabric as I didn't want to have to sew around everything. This version of fusible web isn't recommended for stitching, but it is strong enough to use for applique that you can throw in the washing machine even without it.

My needle gummed up (lots), my bobbin thread (Bottom Line which I love!) broke every couple of inches, my top thread shredded and snapped. All I was trying to do was a plain straight stitch!! On top of this there was a nasty scratchy sound every time the needle went through the card. Admittedly what I was sewing through was asking a bit much of even the best sewing machine.

I mentioned my troubles on a web based sewing group and next thing I new had a little package on my doorstep of Titanium coated Topstitch needles to try thanks to Judy Hall from Punch with Judy.

I just tried them out on the same swear-inducing postcards of the other week and everything sewed perfectly!!!

It wasn't even a fair test as I used freemotion sewing (so even more pull on the thread, especially with how I change direction a lot).

I picked the most troublesome card first (below) - it has layers of curtain block out lining, Fast2Fuse (super thick stabiliser used for bowl construction etc), cotton fabrics fused with the very thick Heat & Bond Ultra, metal leaf flakes and then the whole thing is laminated behind another layer of Heat & Bond Ultra.
The new Titanium Topstitch needles sewed the circle part of this with gold thread without a single break!! So impressed as this card is thick and coated with dense fusible web. The straight stitching had kept breaking and breaking with traditional Topstitch needles.

I used King Tut in the bobbin and Madeira metallic in the top and it sewed perfectly! My needle did still gum up a little - but about a quarter of what it did using the normal needles. I was stoked so thought I'd up the ante.

I put in the Bottom Line bobbin i'd had so much trouble with the other day and tried again. Remember I said it was breaking with a straight stitch every couple of inches? Well with the Titanium Topstitch needle is was perfect. I was still using gold in the top and sewed a small heart going over my lines of stitching 5 times in a row to really test it out.

 The tech specs:  

All Topstich needles have:

A much larger eye. This cuts down on friction on the thread as it's got more room to move, and that means less breaking or shredding.

 A longer / deeper groove that runs down the length of the needle to guide the thread, again less wear and tear on the thread.

 A sharp point.

Titanium Topstitch needles:

 Last longer - 5 to 8 times longer according to what i've read on the web. That's 40 to 60 hours compared to 8 for a normal needle.

 I haven't read anything to back this up, but my own experience shows they gum up less when using fusible web.

 Are better for very thick or multi layered stitching like my pieces above.

 Cost about $4 more a pack, but given the extra hours they last you should still save 80% on the cost of needles. (I stole that stat from the Titanium topstich needle page on Judy's website).

So after my experiment it seems I picked a good time to run out of the normal Topstitch needles and will stock up at Judy's stand at the AQC in Melbourne next week. Hmmmm maybe that was the plan all along....


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Interview series: Mixed Media Artist, Jane Davila

This weeks interview is with US based mixed media artist, writer, tutor and general all round star – Jane Davila!

Jane writes a regular business and marketing column for Quilting Arts Magazine (my favorite textile mag), has produced 3 really informative books (her 3rd 'Jane Davila's Surface Design Essentials' is just out) and teaches workshops internationally. On top of all of this she somehow manages to fit in making and selling her own art, designing websites, taking her patchwork store on tour to expos around the states and has guest starred on Quilting Arts TV. Not to mention taking the time to fill in interviews for little known Australian blogs :)

'Woodcut Fish' fibre art postcard 4"x6"
Click to enlarge pic
Cotton fabrics, block print, acrylic ink and pearlescent ink, metallic acrylic paint

 1. How long have you been quilting and what first drew you to it?  
I started out as a printmaker and came to quilting when my mom and I opened a quilt shop, The Country Quilter, in 1990 where I got a really good grounding in all of the basic quiltmaking techniques. I love the tactile quality of quilts, it's the same thing that drew me to printmaking – the texture and colors and hands-on processes.

'Strings' 6"x6"
Small fiber piece mounted on stretched canvas, cotton & silk fabrics, stamp, acrylic ink, linen floss

  2. How would you describe your style now? 
I'm definitely an art quilter although I still make pieced quilts occasionally for fun.

 3. How has your style evolved? 
I began with traditional quilts and quickly progressed to more contemporary quilts. Then in 2002 I began making art quilts when I realized that I could bring my art training and quilt training together. My studio space has been set up with my style of work in mind, so that all my favorite materials are close to hand.

Jane's gorgeous studio features lots of natural light, bookcases packed with stunning natural fabrics, paper displayed over rods and a dozen other things I could really get used to having around! Jane made most of her studio furniture herself including the floating workspace in the centre of the room. See her blog for a how she did it here.

 4. Apart from creating art what else to you do within the industry? 
I write books about art quilting for C&T Publishing (book #3, Surface Design Essentials, just came out!), I teach internationally, I write a column for Quilting Arts magazine called Minding Your Business about the business side of being an artist, I teach online courses as well as workshops in my studio, I have a blog, I tweet and I've got several products in development for the art quilting market. I have a sorely-neglected etsy store and I design websites for artists and others. What I don't have enough of is hours in the day for all the ideas in my head!

Last year in March my Mom and I closed our retail store after nearly 19 years. She has retired with my dad (and is finally getting the hang of it!) and I have taken our shop online and out on the road, vending at quilts shows around the country. Flourish, the name of my art quilting supply company, can be found at

'El Diablito' 5.5" square
Cotton fabrics, hand-dyed wool, Loteria playing card, distress inks, hand and machine stitched

 5. What's the best advice you could give someone who wants to try quilting or textile art for the first time? 
Start with a manageable-sized project. Don't start with a king-sized quilt! I think that if you have a positive first experience and you finish what you start in a reasonable amount of time, you'll be more likely to continue than if you bite off too much and get discouraged.

 6. Do you exhibit your work? 
I do. I no longer apply to quilt shows and have much more luck with all media or mixed-media shows. As my work diversifies and moves farther away from traditional quilts, I find that gallery venues are better choices for me. I also work small and my work gets lost at regular quilt shows hanging next to bed quilts whereas galleries and art centers are better equipped to deal with making small work look great.

'La Sirena' 5.5" square
Cotton fabrics, hand-dyed wool, Loteria playing card, stamped text, hand and machine stitched

 7. How do you go about finding and selecting exhibitions? 
I subscribe to a couple of art magazines that list calls for entry and I haunt the internet – it's a tremendous resource for finding shows.

 8. Do you belong to any quilt associations? If so why did you join these ones? 
I belong to Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) and Surface Design Association (SDA) as well as the Nature Printing Society. I had let my membership to some local fine art guilds lapse due to lack of time and funds but plan to re-join this year. I try to find groups of like-minded people, although I don't tend to be a big joiner. I do also belong to some interesting online groups for assemblage and collage artists.

 9. What would you recommend people do who want to seriously get into textile art? 
Study a wide variety of techniques to start to narrow down where your specific interest lies. Take classes from a number of teachers in different venues if you can. Remember that once you've learned and mastered various aspects of your craft it is necessary to produce a lot of work on a consistent basis to develop your "voice", your unique viewpoint. Take in lots of information from lots of sources, internalize and process it and let it out as your original expression. Keep the parts of what you learn that work for you and discard what doesn't.

 10. What inspires you?  
So much! Color combinations in magazines and art, music, lyrics, poetry, nature, words. I carry a little Moleskine sketchbook with me and constantly doodle in it.

 11. What sewing machine / threads etc do you use? 
I have an old Bernina that I adore. It does just enough and doesn't do anything unnecessary for me. I love cotton threads for machine sewing, especially hand-dyed and adore linen thread for hand stitching.

 12. Do you have any formal art training? Do you think it's necessary? 
I am almost entirely self-taught and I continue that education every day. I am endlessly curious about art and life and science and spend a lot of time studying and researching. I do think that having a solid grounding in the basics of art are absolutely necessary to create successful artwork. 

'Anodyne III' 9"x12"
Mixed media fiber collage, cotton fabrics, paper and paper mesh, image printed on linen fabric and hand-colored, stamped text, distress inks, mah-jong tile, over-printed with found objects, hand and machine stitching, chunky zipper edging

 14. What's the most rewarding thing about your career? 
I love teaching and getting a chance to encourage people to try new things and challenge themselves. I love creating art and pushing myself to explore.

 15. How did you learn the techniques you use? 
I learned my basic quilting skills from my mom and from books. Art quilting techniques I learned by experimentation, from books and the internet.

 16. What are your favorite / least favorite parts of the quilting process?
I like the composing part the best, where I audition fabrics, cut and lay out pieces and start thinking about the quilting lines. I like edge-finishing the least so I don't often use traditional bindings on my quilts.

 17. What is your favorite technique? 
I love to paint on fabric. I don't have the patience for dyeing fabric and I try to avoid toxic chemicals and processes in my work, so painting with acrylic paints and inks suits me. I can get a lot of the same effects that dyers get with my paints and inks and there's little to no prep, no setting and no hazardous materials or dust masks involved. To get a beautiful background wash on fabric I add a small amount of acrylic paint or acrylic ink to a container of water and simply brush it onto prewashed white fabric. I can use more than one color, I can throw sea salt on the wet paint for star burst effects and I can scrunch, fold or lay the wet fabric over a surface for even more textural interest in the finished fabric. The paint or ink changes the hand of the fabric only minimally and is as permanent as dyed fabric. And I can whip up as small or as large a piece as I need in exactly the color(s) I need.

'Gyotaku' 7.5"x9.5"
Mixed media collage on bristol board, printed mulberry paper, gyotaku print on cotton fabric, stamped text, transfered text, embossed and printed papers, cotton fabrics

 For more on Jane: 

Books (all available through C&T Publishing):
• Art Quilt Workbook (co-authored with Elin Waterston)
• Art Quilts at Play (co-authored with Elin Waterston)
• Jane Davila's Surface Design Essentials

• One-Page Book (Quilting Arts workshop dvd)
• Jane & Elin Teach You Art Quilting Basics (C&T Publishing)

You can purchase autographed copies of all Jane's books, or sign up (if you're quick, it's just started!) for her online 'Jump Start Your Art Career' course by emailing Jane.

View more of Jane's work on her website or check out her etsy store.

I love feedback! Please comment below if you have any thoughts on this article or what you'd like to see more or less of in future interviews. –Neroli Henderson


Monday, April 5, 2010

Interview series: Textile Artist, Neroli Henderson (that's me!)

This week I'm pleased to introduce... well, me! With Easter all the brilliant artists that I have begged, pleaded, bribed, cajoled and blackmailed into filling out questions have been a little busy. I'm happy to say I have next weeks US based artist Jane Davila ready and waiting to be edited now, but for this week you're going to have to settle for moi!

I have some questions from readers and I'll answer those and a few from the list i've posed to others.

'If a lava lamp and a bean bag had a love child' 2009 (POA) 
Click to enlarge pic
Designed during a Gloria Loughman class at last years AQC and assembled with mostly her techniques. Fused, pieced and raw edged applique, cotton fabrics, bobbin work with perle thread, satin stitched, intensively quilted and double batted.

 1. How long have you been quilting and what first drew you to it? 
I thought I hated sewing. As a child I'd attempt a pair of shorts and somehow manage to sew the hem of the leg to the waist band and then be horrible frustrated by all the unpicking. Sadly I wasn't a quick learner and often finished up doing the same mistake again. (I can honestly say I did indeed sew the hem of shorts to the waist band twice in a row! More recently I removed and replaced the wrong piece of organza from a reverse applique piece 3 times... I have a skill!)

My Mum has been into sewing and quilting for as long as I can remember. She lives interstate and came over once a year to do classes at the AQC (Australasian Quilting Convention) and offered one year to pay for me to do classes with her thinking I'd enjoy it. I said yes only to get some mother daughter time, and perhaps accrue some good daughter 'bonus points'. I figured I'd be bored silly but signed up for all artiest classes I could find. I did textile collage and free-motion sewing with Susan Mathews... and blocked up the machine with bobbin thread about 13 times over the course of the day, fused applique with Robbi Joy Ecklow (the less said of that the better) and painting fabric for landscapes (where I painted nothing but did fuse a basic landscape) with Beth & Trevor Reid. The one class that went without horror was free-motion embroidery with Morgan James - and that was due to me having already found out what not to do in Susan's class the day before.

Somehow, even with everything that went wrong I absolutely loved it. I had no idea you could effectively do collage with fabric or that things like fusible web and free-motion sewing even existed. I was already an artist and graphic designer and now had a whole new range of mediums to explore. That was 4 years ago.

Click all pics to enlarge
Hand dyed and commercial cotton fabrics, fusible web, metallic foil, Shiva oil paint sticks, decorative and metallic quilting. This piece started life in my 3rd ever day of sewing... and was only finished last year. :)

 2. How would you describe your style now? 
As I use so many techniques I used to think I didn't have a set style that unified my work beyond much of it using deep colours and possessing a sense of whimsy. On seeing a lot of it together I realised the main thing that seems to flow across all my work is the theme - the feeling of space and the emotions explored - loneliness, entrapment, confusion, lack of control and or being controlled.

 3. What inspires your quilts? - asked by Fran Cox 
Generally I either have in my head a picture that won't get out - that I get an urge to draw, more often I want to convey a feeling or situation. Often the paper seems to beckon for a particular emotion or image, and many of my quilts start out as sketches.

I had a pretty bad back fracture in 98 and spent a lot of years learning how to walk, spending way too much time horizontal and basically adapting to not being able to sit, stand or do much of what I could do easily before. This lead to a series of paintings where abstracted nudes were trapped within the boundaries of the canvas, and from there on to the themes mentioned above, though many of those are present even in my earlier works. I still have an affinity with the human figure, I guess I value even more now just how wonderful it is.

Soul Fishing (currently on loan) 2008
Ink on fabric, fused cotton, silk velvet, synthetic and metal, quilted, satin stitched and backed onto fabric coated fast to fuse.

 4. Apart from creating art what else to you do within the industry? 
I run this blog, have a line of patterns with (hopefully!) a few more coming out soon, create one off hand painted pictorial fabrics for use as whole cloth quilt tops, teach, write tutorials and participate in lots of online forums and yahoo groups. The later are a great way to both learn and pass on knowledge – and you get to meet some really fantastic people and seeing others work inspires me to create more myself.

Haven't sold any of the hand painted fabrics yet - they've been out for just a couple of weeks... so if you'd like to be the first (hint, hint) check out the link under the Pages heading on the RHS. :D (hey can't blame me for trying!)
'Fused Flower - Poppy' 2007
One of two flowers in my easy Fused Flower pattern - $6 as a PDF
Fused cotton fabrics, machine stitched with rayon threads.

 5. What's the best advice you could give someone who wants to try quilting or textile art for the first time? 
Don't listen to the 'quilt police'! Who cares if you can't sew a 1/4" seam or sew a straight line to save yourself? Or even if you want to work with textiles without sewing at all - that's why fusibles were invented :) It's art, you can do it however you want. My one rule is that it has to be made to last - you can't have someone buying your work and then having it fall apart in a few years. But if you're just making it for yourself or expect it to have a short lifespan then that doesn't count either!

Of course if you want to do pieced work or traditional patchwork that 1/4" seam will come in handy....

 6. Do you exhibit your work? 
Yes. I've only entered 3 things so far - A challenge run by Unique Stitching where I won first prize at the AQC in 2008 for 'The end of beauty', a self portrait exhibition the following year and a traveling journal quilt exhibition with Australian / New Zealander Art Quilters internet based yahoo group.

I've just started to enter juried shows and have fingers crossed until I hear back from the first one. 
'The end of beauty' 2008 
Unique Stitching challenge winner (beginner section) AQC 2008
Synthetic fabrics, Angelina fibre, Textiva, Tyvek, Lumiere paint, heat gunned and solder iron cut and bonded to a vinyl backing. This piece pays homage to my Dad who died of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2001 after 11 years battling the disease. It shows how even with fragility and decay there can still be beauty, and how everything has an end, no matter how much we want it to last forever.

 7. Can you explain why cotton is recommended over synthetics? Do you need to prewash?- asked by Judy Bancks 
For traditional quilting cotton has been used for many years. It's a natural fibre and as such breathes well. Most patchwork shops specialise in cotton too which helps if you want to use many fabrics from the one range. The main benefit for most quilters is knowing that it should all shrink at the same rate. If you do piecing and use synthetics or blends it's possible that some will shrink more then others - causing bubbles to appear in your quilting.

I've also found the least colour fast of my fabrics to be blends.

That said for my own work I use whatever suits - I often mix silk and cotton with a little synthetic for shine or sparkle, and often use synthetics alone for my wall quilts as they enable me to melt and burn, cut and fuse with a soldering iron and distort with a heat gun.

I always prewash, but it's a personal choice. I would hate to do a quilt with a white area that has colours bleed into it when washed, and removing any coatings or sizing means it will both fuse better and accept dye or paint. I prewash every fabric I buy using the hottest water I'll be likely to wash my finished project in. That way I don't need to worry about shrinkage or keep track of which pieces are washed if I do want to paint them.

'Dogwood' 2008  21 x 30cm (8.25 x 12") $220  Email to buy
Layered and solder cut and scored reverse appliqued synthetic fabrics, free-motion stitching and satin stitched edge. Metallic threads.

 8. There's so many choices in textile art these days, how do you decide what to try? - asked by Meg Lancaster
I generally find a material or technique appeals because I like the effect i've seen it give. Some products like Angelina or Textiva I just love the look of so much in the packet I immediately want to give them a go. Other times I will see an effect in a book and love it so much I get an urge to try it as soon as possible. Many other things like water soluble stabiliser, wash out spray baste and glues or reposition-able fusible web beckon because they can make my work so much quicker and easier; allowing me to try things that without them would have been far too time consuming or tricky.

'Seascape' 2009  30 x 30cm (12 x 12") $260  Email to buy
Collaged cotton and synthetic fabrics, overheated Textiva Film, metallic free-motion stitching, satin stitched edge, machine embroidered birds.

 9. Where do your ideas come from? -asked by Judy Bancks 
While occasionally I work from a sketch created with no formal thought at it's conception, I can't say how important I believe it is to have a range of experiences that will give you fuel for creative work. Even if you just go for a walk in the park make sure you really look around - notice any flowers, even if they are just weeds, the pattern and textures of bark on the trees, the way the smog creates haze etc. And if you can: travel, dive, visit new parts of your own town or city, immerse yourself in another culture even if it's just via the internet. The more experiences you absorb the more your own aesthetic will be refined and the more you'll have to draw ideas from.

For me I like to study people, how they interact, how they manage emotion. Often they are the sort of things I prefer to portray in my art.

'The Yearning' (8.25 x 12") $220 Email to buy
Fused synthetic fabrics and organza overlay on felt. Machine needle felted from the reverse and free-motion stitched with metallic thread. Edges have been melted into with a soldering iron and metal hinges etc were used as templates for scoring the surface. This is one of the pieces that explores the confinement and inability to move beyond current circumstance.

 10. Which comes first – the fabric or the creative idea? - asked by Susie Riley 

I often buy fabric with an idea in mind - it sometimes screams 'cushion!' or 'quilt that looks like "this!"'. However when I went to answer this question I realised that I can't think of a single thing were i've purchased the fabric that way and it's been made! I have often ended up using the fabric for other, completely unrelated ideas.

So for some reason I guess that the things that get made are the ones that I feel such an affinity with at the current time that they just press against my head until I start to create them – and those things tend to either be from sketches or an image in my head that while hasn't been ever drawn up is usually firm enough that I can easily visualise the entire thing.

The only exception I can think of is when a material seems to lend itself so much to a particular application it will be used for that - but often not in the way I first imagined. A good example of this is Textiva film as wings. When I first got it I was thinking of making a quilt featuring a fairy with iridescent wings. Instead it got used for this butterfly - a commission for a birthday present. The design is in my upcoming butterfly pattern that will hopefully be available for sale soon.
Fused Textiva film on 3 layers of black glass organza. Entirely cut and fused with a soldering iron. 

 11. What sewing machine / threads etc do you use? 
I do most of my work on my
Pfaff Performance 2056 which is a brilliant machine. I also have a combined embroidery / sewing machine - a Brother 4000D which I've had trouble with tension for free-motion sewing from the get go, but it does great computerised embroideries. I have a Pfaff embellisher (needle felting machine) which is a lot of fun and a Babylock overlocker which every single time I use it makes me give thanks for not having any tension settings to deal with and the air-jet threading. It really does help having a Mother who owned a patchwork and machine store :)

For threads I have so many brands but my favorites are King Tut egyptian cotton (have never had it break once!) for quilting, Madeira rayons (love the variegated colours they have in their metallic range) and lastly Superior Bottom Line (an ultra fine poly thread designed for bobbin use but strong enough to use for piecing and quilting - the khaki and grey colours seem to dissolve into the background making your stitching virtually invisible).

 12. Do you have any formal art training? Do you think it's necessary? 
I studied a year of Art and Design at TAFE after high school in order to get a folio together for uni, and then completed a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design.

Since then I try and do workshops and classes regularly, whenever I see anything that appeals. I love to learn new techniques and enjoy working in a group and getting ideas from other participants as well as the teacher.

I think there are certainly people who produce amazing work without any technical training but I do think it's helpful. Techniques with materials are handy, but learning about design principles and how others view them can really help your design garner maximum impact.

I love to get feedback! Please comment below if you have any thoughts on this article or what you'd like to see more or less of in future interviews. –Neroli Henderson