Mandy Shaw, aka Dandelion Designs, leads an enviable creative life, designing and selling her own quilt patterns and quits, as well as teaching others about her favourite craft. In fact, never a day goes by when she doesn’t sew.
We’re very excited to have Mandy designing a sewing machine cushion for our first issue (pictured above), so we sat down for a chat about her inspiring life and how she made quilting her full time job.
What was the first project you ever sewed?
I’ve been sewing since a little girl – I used to make everything for my dolls. I still have all those toys and the clothes I made for them.
How did you discover quilting, and what is it about the craft you love?
I made myself a log cabin quilt from a book when I was a teenager and loved it, even tough it was a little lumpy. After I married and had my four children I worked in a local craft shop, where I discovered the rotary cutter and the rest is history. I was hooked, and have been teaching, making quilts and writing about them ever since.
I love home décor, and putting my children to bed under a cosy quilt that I have made and that has a story behind it gives me goose pimples. My eldest is now 30-years-old, and when she comes home I still make up the beds with the best quilts.
What’s the best part of your job?
Definitely making up my sketches into real quilts, and then sharing them with my students and customers. They in turn often add or change parts to make my designs personal to them, and I just love it that they get pleasure from something I’ve made.
What tools and materials could you not live without?
Sewing machines – I love them. Every year I teach sewing at Glastonbury Festival using 100-year-old hand-cranked machines.
What are your favourite fabrics to work with?
Definitely 100% cottons, with a dash of spray starch – bliss. I love traditional colours and styles, and although I’m enjoying modern quilts I still always revert to my traditional stash. I’m in love with dots and checks.
Which quilt designers are you really excited about right now?
What upcoming projects are you currently working on?
Right now I’m machine and hand quilting my English quilt, which was inspired by an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum. Each block represent a woman of distinction. It’s taken a while – many of my students finished well before me, and I fear I may have rushed the ending. That’s why I’m machine quilting some of it – it covers a lot of sins!