Our favourite quilters: meet Mandy Shaw

Mandy Shaw

Quilt designer Mandy Shaw makes the loveliest of quilts, and her quilting story is rich with adventure. This weekend she’s back on TV showcasing some classic quilting and sewing projects!

Mandy’s getting ready for a double bill of shows on Sewing Quarter TV tomorrow morning (Saturday 5th May) at 8am and 10am. If you haven’t seen her on TV before, tune in – she’s a total treat to watch and we always learn something! You can see her on Sky 687, Freeview 78 or watch online at www.sewingquarter.com.

Meet Mandy

She named her business after a favourite Rolling Stones song, says she’s too busy sewing to get much sleep, and travels the world in her role as an international quilt pro. When she’s not busy contributing beautiful quilt designs to Today’s Quilter, Mandy runs her own internet business, Dandelion Designs, is a regular guest designer on Sewing Quarter TV and even gets to take her quilting on overseas travels with Stitchtopia holidays (lucky her!). We’re thrilled to chat to Mandy about her love of fabric and stitching…

TQ18 Mandy Shaw Medallion quilt

Find out how to make Mandy’s Red & White Medallion quilt in issue 18 of Today’s Quilter.

Mandy Shaw interview…

TQ: How did you discover quilting?

Mandy: I’ve always made things since a little girl. My dolls and teddy bears were very important to me and I would make their clothes and bedding. I made my first patchwork quilt in the early eighties, while my friends were out dancing I was sewing! And then as soon as I started my family I adorned my home and children with homemade crafts of all varieties.

TQ: Was there a single moment when you fell in love with quilting, or did it happen gradually?

Mandy: Once the children were at school I took a part time job in a craft shop which specialised in patchwork. That was it: the big moment! I did a short patchwork course, learning all the basics, and the rest is history. I’ve been addicted since.

Mandy Shaw stitching

TQ: Do you still have the first quilt you ever-made?

Mandy: I gave the first quilt I made at that patchwork course to my daughter on her tenth birthday. She still has it twenty-two years later.

“I love the smell of my sewing machine and its sound…a purr” 

TQ: Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?

Mandy: The inspiration for my quilts comes from a wide variety of sources, I love old vintage children’s books, vintage china designs, and old fabrics. For quilting designs, I look at details on old buildings… parquetry, tiles, drain covers, anything that has been embellished.

Mandy Shaw embroidered cushion

Mandy’s Vintage Stitch Cushion, inspired by her vintage sewing machine, was one of our first ever projects in issue 1 of Today’s Quilter.

TQ: What kind of quilts are you most drawn to?

Mandy: I am most drawn to old vintage quilts. I love to think of the story and journeys they’ve been on, I love their faded colours and traditional designs.

TQ: What tools and materials could you not live without?

Mandy: A needle and thread and my beloved sewing machine. I love the smell of the machine and its sound, a purr. I am lost without access to either of these.

TQ: Which quilt designers are you really excited about right now?

Mandy: I adore Sue Spargo’s work. She’s an American appliquer, who works mainly in wool and also Jan Patek, both have a naïve primitive style to their work.

TQ: What projects are you currently working on?

Mandy: I’m working on a county style sewing themed quilt: a simple mix of appliqué and blocks for a film of its techniques for F+W Media. It will be used on the American Fons and Porter website.

TQ: As one of Stitchtopia’s leading experts, you get to combine your love of quilting with travel. What’s been your most memorable destination?

Mandy: I adored my trip to Stiges quilt festival in Spain but my upcoming trip to New England and Canada will be a dream comes true. For years, I’ve been teaching a quilt about a slave girl Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and returned 19 times to save all her family and friends. This trip we will follow some of her journey, visits to quilt shops, museum’s, crossing Niagara Falls into Canada and of course see all the beauty of New England Quilts in the Fall.

TQ: This March you’re leading Stitchtopia’s textile Impression of India Tour. What can your fellow travellers expect from the trip?

Mandy: India will just be amazing, I’m so excited to be sharing this journey with like minded people – just imagine the colour, the imagery, the inspiration, Taj Mahal, the elephant rides! I can’t wait for our workshops – they’ll be a riot of colour and thread combining our shopping treasures into a piece of textile. This trip will be a special experience only our small group will share and treasure forever.

TQ: What destination would you love to visit and why?

Mandy: I’ve been fortunate to visit lots of amazing places with my family but I’d love to take you guys to Pennsylvania and visit the Amish and a huge Quilt show and lots of late night visits to JoAnne’s and plenty of shoo fly pies.

” I haven’t much time for sleep; I have too much sewing to do.”

TQ: In a career as exhausting as quilting, it must be easy to burn yourself out. How do you avoid this?

Mandy: Burn myself out? I’ve enough in-built energy to last my lifetime! I haven’t got much time for sleep – I have too much sewing to do.

TQ: Did you set any new year resolutions?

Mandy: Now this year’s resolution is easy, I am to fill in my year planner early and stick to it. I will learn to say ‘No’ very nicely, easy.