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Meet the quilter: Karen Lewis

This week we welcome special guest Karen Lewis, of Karen Lewis Textiles, to the Shropshire Quilters blog. Karen is a screen printer, fabric designer and quilter living in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

During lockdown Karen had the whole family at home, but with two of her children now back at University the house feels rather quiet! Adding to the fun of life is their Cockerpoo Scout.

Karen is the author of two books: Screen Printing at Home and Wabi Sabi Sewing. She is one third of The Thread House, with Jo Avery and Lynne Goldsworthy, where they run retreats. Since lockdown it has all changed a bit and they have enjoyed running Virtual Retreats and have launched first Annual Club. All very exciting!

How long have you been quilting and do you still have your first quilt?

I have been quilting for about 10 years now and yes I do still have my first quilt! It is rather faded now but is still much loved. It includes everything I love about textiles…hand printed fabrics, linens, Liberty and hand quilting. I am very much a get stuck in kind of quilter and threw myself into this without a rotary cutter or a cutting mat. It was definitely a steep learning curve!

Do you have a favourite fabric style or colour?

I absolutely do. I am particularly drawn to fabric that has that extra element, whether it is hand printed, a linen or a woven fabric with extra texture. I also love natural dyed fabric, so anything really that has a ‘by hand’ feel.

Karen's hand quilted wall hanging made with snippets of her screen-printed textiles and cotton and linen hand-dyed with avocado stones

What's your essential notion or tool?

Hmmm…well like most of us sadly I can’t do without my seam ripper! I recently bought a beautiful wooden one from Beyond Measure. If a job has to be done, it may as well be done in style and luxury!

Can you share a top tip?

My top tip would be to go with the flow. We can all be caught up with things having to be perfect and we can lose the fun of the joy of sewing by focussing too much on this. I would definitely encourage learning to let go.

Can you recommend a book?

Which brings me onto my favourite book…my Wabi Sabi Sewing! I was very grateful for the opportunity to write this book as it allowed me to encourage the reader to do just that…not to worry if your stitches aren’t straight, or you have run out of the matchy matchy fabric and to embrace the imperfect and see the beauty in it.

Have you had any quilting disasters?

I can’t tell you how many times I have cut the backing of quilts that bit close for comfort and ended up with it not covering the back of a quilt fully. The wabi sabi in me found a solution by adding a strip after the event. I absolutely loved the result and will often add a strip onto the backing to make a feature.

Do you have a favourite quilt block?

Ooh I’m not sure I can limit it to just one…I’m quite fickle! If I really had to choose just one it would be a simple nine patch. It is so versatile and can be used on it’s own or made more complex by being the centre of a more intricate block.

Where can we find you online?

Instagram: @karenlewistextiles

Website: Karen Lewis Textiles

Thank you Karen, 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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