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Meet the quilter: Jenni Smith

This week we welcome special guest Jenni Smith, a dressmaker and quilter based in Ilkley in Yorkshire. You may have bumped into Jenni on the Aurifil booth at Festival of Quilts as she always exhibits and works with them each year.

How long have you been quilting?


I have been sewing for a good 30 years and quilting for the past 15 since learning on a year abroad in Toronto.


Do you still have your first quilt?


I gifted my first quilt to a friend’s daughter but still have the Kaffe Fasset snowball quilt I made soon afterwards and snuggle beneath it most days.


Jenni is a Janome Skill Share mentor: you can read all about it at the end of the post!


Do you have a favourite fabric style or colour?


I am a lover of printed fabric and Liberty is definitely a favourite for me. I love all the colours, the more the better! I have just written my debut book Quilting with Liberty Fabrics which has been a dream come true.

What's your essential notion or tool?


Now that I am approaching my mid-40s my favourite tool is my Daylight Lamp - it makes a huge difference even during the day and makes my late-night sewing sessions (once my kids are in bed) so much easier. I’m not quite sure how I managed without it.


And your favourite snack (or tipple)?


There is always cake at my studio when I teach, Battenberg is a firm favourite washed down with a strongish cup of Yorkshire Tea. A glass of wine is sometimes handy to relax when freemotion quilting too - but not during the day!!


Do you listen to anything while you quilt?


I have a tape player in my studio and listen to old cassettes when I sew. I have mix tapes from my husband, my university friends and all bring back happy memories as I stitch. I also love a good Podcast like Dress Fancy, How to Fail and Articles of Interest.


Can you share a top tip/online resource?


I believe that people should love the fabric they use in their quilts and not compromise or save something for best. The time you invest in these projects is huge and the pleasure is greater when you are inspired by your materials and enjoy the finished project. For lots of practical tips you can watch my videos on my YouTube Channel Jenni Smith Sews.


Can you recommend a book?


I have quite a large collection of quilt books and enjoy those which include social history too such as Pioneer Quilts and Florence Knapp’s Flossie Teacakes Guide to English Paper Piecing. The only magazine I subscribe to is the brilliant Quiltfolk which again tells the stories of real people and celebrates the rich heritage of quilting.



Have you had any quilting disasters?


I don’t recall any major quilting disasters but I have a pretty shameful pile of UFOs. Quilts that don’t make the finish line for me are those I started on a whim or without a definite purpose and I may not love the fabric which takes me back to my previous tip. I also once completed a quilt for Liberty that needed to be shipped to Australia on a very tight deadline and I dropped it in the mud trying to photograph it before heading to the Post Office!


Do you have a favourite quilt block?


I love a Manx Log Cabin. I was taught this technique by a very dear friend who sadly passed away, and she was taught it by an elderly lady whilst sitting on a wall watching the TT races on the Isle of Man many years ago. They are portable and involve using your hand span to measure, ripping your fabric and essentially quilting as you go but with folds of fabric instead of wadding. I have taught it to a few friends during lockdown and they all love the process so I am working on an online course soon.



Where can we find you online?


Instagram: @jennismithsews and @quiltingwithliberty

YouTube: Jenni Smith Sews

Website: Jenni Smith


Jenni is also leading The Big Janome Skillshare to create more quilters in the world and to celebrate the pride and joy that comes when you share a skill with another person. This collaboration is a development of Jenni’s Just One Quilt campaign.


To celebrate Janome’s 100th Birthday in 2021 the aim is to have at least 100 pairs of mentors and students share their journey and many more are welcome! 100 pairs will be given FREE access to Jenni’s Ultimate Quilt Course to give both the mentors and students a great back-up and helping hand. 100 FREE Jenni Smith Ultimate Quilting Courses will be drawn from entries registered before midnight on 30th November 2020


Thank you Jenni, it's been lovely to get to know you!


And we'd really LOVE to get to know our talented membership too: if you'd like to share your quilting story please send an email to info@shropshirequilters.org for the Q&A sheet.


Visit again next Friday to meet another quilter...


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