Quiltmaker and author Linda Seward says she always seem to have a needle of one kind or another in her hands
When did you start quilting? Although I feel as if I have been quilting all my life, I started about 20 years ago when I lived in New York City. I was the Needlework and Crafts Editor for Dover Publications, editing books on quilting, meeting authors and testing techniques.
Are you self-taught? I was taught to embroider and knit by my mother, and to crochet by my grandmother. I’ve been sewing since I was 10, so quilting was a natural progression, although 1⁄4in seams were a bit different from 5⁄8in seams! In a way, I had the authors that I was working with as teachers. By the time I finished editing a book on a particular technique, I knew how to do it.
Favourite colour? My son just asked me that the other day and I had to reply peacock-greeny-blue which made sense to him. I also love orange and yellow, colours which I use in many of my quilts. I like working with bright colours, but often challenge myself to use subtle tones and shades as well.
Size of stash – and where do you keep it? My workroom is my old kitchen and I use all the cupboards that once held dishes and tins for my fabrics and equipment. I’ve got everything set up there so I can sew whenever I want, even if only for a short time. I haven’t got a clue how much fabric I have, but believe me, I’ll never run out in my lifetime! And that's if I stop buying now, which is an impossibility.
What about dyeing? I love buying and working with hand-dyed fabrics, but haven’t taken that plunge yet myself. I know it will be just as addictive as quiltmaking, judging by those friends who dye their own fabrics.
How does quilting fit in with other commitments? I don’t feel happy unless I have sewed at least one hour a day. If a week goes by and I haven’t held a needle, I get very twitchy. I try to sew for two or three hours a day or more if I can. My main commitments are my children and I fit the quilting in around them.
Most admired living quilter? Lynne Edwards – we’ve had a mutual admiration society since the day we met and I think she is a fabulous quilter, teacher, friend and humorist.
Do you enjoy working with children? Definitely. Last year I helped make a quilt with my son’s school. It involved about 60 boys, aged between five and eight, who made batik flower blocks during the school’s art week. I was asked to put the blocks together and I took the quilt to school for the boys to tie. They really loved doing it and have sent me the most wonderful thank you notes.
Are you interested in other textile crafts? I have been embroidering, knitting and crocheting since the age of five, and still enjoy those techniques as well as needlepoint and tapestry.
Favourite quilt technique? If I said sewing on the binding I wouldn’t be lying – not just because it means the quilt is finished but because It gives me one last chance to handle and look over the piece. It’s easy, rhythmic stitching and I love the way it transforms the look of the quilt. However, as I’m making a quilt, I love each part of it, from choosing the fabrics and patterns to piecing and quilting.
After graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in Home Economics, Linda studied fashion in New York City. Before moving to England she worked as an editor for McCall’s Needlework and Crafts magazine and Dover Publications. Having edited dozens of books on all types of crafts, she always felt that she would rather be quilting. Her book The Complete Book of Patchwork, Quilting and Appliqué (published by Mitchell Beazley) is quoted by many as being the definitive ‘bible’ on quiltmaking.
Photographs by Lynne Edwards and Linda Seward.
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