Today I have the honor of featuring another fabulous quilter/sewer in yet another part of the world. Hopefully, I’ll hit the whole globe in the end. 😉 Viv is the dear creator of my second doll quilt…she figured out that I’m a big Alice fan. I’ve been following her work for quite a while now and laugh when I go through her photostream because I think I’ve commented or liked every one of her projects. If not, I certainly intended to! So enjoy the talented work of this sweet lady.
I’m Viv, aka Sew Vivid. I work from home part-time making quilts and baby clothes which I sell in my online Felt shop (which is like Etsy, only local). I am the mother of 3 boys, 21, 15, and 5, and one daughter who is 13. We live on 3 acres and grow lots of our own meat and vegetables, trying to exist on 1 income in a 2 income world.
Where in the World are You?
I live in a small rural town called Carterton, on the North Island of New Zealand (you know, the little country next to Australia). Population approx. 5000. However, we are only 14km from the nearest large town and only 80km to New Zealand’s capital city Wellington. We are classed as rural but are only 3km from the center of Carterton, so getting to the shops is only a 5-minute drive, but we have all the peace and quiet of the country, with farmland surrounding ours and no close neighbors.
How long have you been sewing/quilting? How did you become interested in quilting?
I started sewing at school when I was about 10. I was lucky that my Mother was a sewer, and my Great-Grandmother had been a tailoress, so some great skills were passed down to me by my Mother. I occasionally sewed during my teens, making clothing for myself, but really started sewing more clothes when my first child arrived when I was 18.
I started quilting when we moved from the city to our small rural town 8 years ago. I had been keen on making a quilt and saw a beginner’s quilting class advertised so I jumped at the chance. It took me 4 months to complete my first quilt. The hand-stitching for the binding was really what held me back. I loved the process and went on the make a couple more quilts on my own. Now I think I’ve made somewhere between 75 and 100 quilts.
Is quilting common in your area or are you a lone crafter?
Quilting is VERY common where I am, however more popular with the aging population. We have a big guild nearby, I went along to one meeting but it wasn’t really my thing. It was mostly very traditional quilters. Nice ladies but a different generation.
I do belong to a group, which started out as a quilting class, but over the years has morphed into a weekly craft group get-together. There are 8 or 9 of us who meet once a week. We usually just work on any project we like, share craft books, help each other with skills and techniques. Not always quilting, some bring knitting or embroidery instead, but we are all quilters. Our ages range from 30ish up to 70ish, but we are all young at heart. Earlier this year we worked on a group project making quilts for quake-struck Christchurch.
Do you find it difficult to get quilting supplies and fabric in your area?
It is very hard to get affordable quilting supplies and fabric here. Fabric ranges from $22 to $36 a meter (which is approx. $20 to $30 USD). I have seen the breakdown of why we pay this much, basically because of the middleman, and I do understand the shops need to make a profit, but when you use as much fabric as I do it’s easier and cheaper to buy direct from the US. I buy approx. 80% of my fabric is from US quilting shops via the internet. Although we have some very good quilting shops locally they also take a very long time to get in new lines, often up to a year later than the US, so if I want the new ranges I need to buy from overseas. We do have “Spotlight” which I guess is similar to “Joann’s” but for me, that is 80km away, so I don’t get there often enough to get many bargains.
What designer/designs are you exposed to the most as a result of living where you do?
Just what I see on the internet really. Nothing special. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t tell you if we had any well-known NZ fabric designers.
What is your favorite part about the international nature of the online quilting community?
My favorite part of the internet quilting community is the almost universal generosity and friendliness. I love to participate in quilting bees, mini quilt swaps, and fabric swaps. I’ve never had a bad package come my way and I try to do my best each time for my partner. I’ve” met” some truly wonderful quilters and would so love to meet them in real life.
How good are you at filling out customs forms for the postal service?
I try to fill out the customs form very accurately with regards to the contents, even if it spoils the surprise for the receiver. I’ve learned from experience that the labels that don’t list all the goods are the ones that get held up for a long time at customs. I do only put a $5 value on each parcel though as otherwise, some countries will charge the recipient duty.
If you could own any fabric at all in the world, what would it be?
I really love hand screen printed fabric, so for me, I’d love fabric from Ink & Spindle, Kirsten Doran, Aunt Cookie, Sprout design, Pippijoe, and Lara Cameron.
What sewing machine do you own? Do you love it or hate it?!
I own 3 sewing machines.
A little Elna Lotus, which is tiny and compact, a modernish version of the Singer Featherweight, perfect for taking to sewing group.
My main sewing machine is a Bernina 1230, which came out in 1989 (the year I was actually working for Bernina New Zealand). I bought this 2nd hand about 5 years ago, upgrading from a Bernina 930. My machine is almost perfect! I love it. Solid, reliable, near-perfect zigzag and automatic buttonhole, has the alphabet (great for naming school uniforms), great for quilting on. The only thing I’d like more is a Bernina 820 (one of the new ones) because I covert its 16-inch arm and jumbo bobbins. That would make it easier to quilt queen-size quilts.
My 3rd machine is a Bernina 117, made in 1957. My husband spied this on TradeMe (like Ebay) for $25. It’s a big heavy machine, set into its own desk. Truly gorgeous and sews beautifully. I use this occasionally, but it takes a bit of practice to work it. Luckily my husband used to be a Bernina technician many years ago, so he was able to recondition the motor for my 117 and I have onsite service for all my other machines
I also have a Bernette overlocker, which I bought for my mother when I was working at Bernina, but over the years it made its way to my place and somehow never went back. No chance now, I use it weekly.
What does a typical sewing session look like for you?
I sew most days. Usually from 9 to 12, working on custom quilt orders or items for my shop, if I sew in the afternoons I am usually working on a swap, bee blocks, clothing or a quilt to keep. I try not to sew at night, as I find I’m usually too tired and make lots of mistakes. Weekend sewing is usually personal as well. I feel like I’m missing something if I have more than a day or two away from my machines.
Anything else that you want the world to know about you?
I was very excited to have a block accepted for the new Modern Blocks book that’s coming out in October. That’s the only thing I’ve had published. Most of my work and stories of life on our small farm can be seen on my blog – highwaycottage.wordpress.com
Congrats on being the Modern Blocks book too Viv! It’s fun to finally find out who else is in that book. lol. I’m jealous of those who already have a copy. 😉 Thanks for sharing all of that with us. You have so many wonderful quilts that are complete. I’ve been dying to make the skull quilt myself…I also have that book. And you make me want to go and finish up all of those bee quilts!