Firstly I would like to say that my thoughts, like many of you, are with all those people battling the blazes and suffering tremedous loses from the fires here in Aus at the moment….Of course I, like many, feel so powerless as I sit watching the horrible scenes unfolding on the TV. Life lost and the heartache of so many who have lost their home and indeed everything barr the clothes on their backs…. Such a long road ahead for many as they try to rebuild their shattered lives……So much sadness and heartache! Words cannot express…..

SO… for the moment at least, let’s focus on something more FUN! Our next Sewist Interview – Sue of Fabric Garden here in Aus!


Over to you Sue:

Sue Miller of Fabric Garden

When did you
start to sew?

I almost can’t remember when I started to sew. Both my
mother and my grandmother were always sewing and I remember sitting under my
mom’s sewing machine picking up pins she had dropped with a magnet from a very
early age (Should I even admit to this!). I think the first thing my mom taught
me to do was latch hook, then tapestry and French knotting. My mom kept all my
early attempts – but they are in South Africa – otherwise I might have
embarrassed myself and taken some photos for this interview. I then moved to
hand sewing and made clothes for my dolls. My nieces still play with my dolls
and the clothes I made.

Soft Toy

My mom bought me my first sewing machine for my 20th
birthday, it was a Singer. By then we were living in Cape Town and I was going
to university there. Cape Town is the textile capital of South Africa and there
are a huge number of fabric stores selling ‘seconds’ and discontinued lines. I
loved trawling through these shops, finding some fabric and making clothes for
uni. I didn’t buy many clothes at that time. I think I made my first pair of
shorts on that machine.

About 18 months ago – I made an impulsive decision to start
an online business selling modern quilting fabrics and patterns online. It
seemed a logical extension of my love of all things sewing and computers.

Who taught you to
sew or are you self-taught?

My mother taught me to sew – although she was very casual
about things. Tacking or pinning was not encouraged. I remember when I was
about 13 years old I had some home economics homework to do and, as usual was
in tears because I had forgotten to do it, she did it for me. It involved sewing
a couple of samples of the perfect seam at exactly 1.5cm. My mom whizzed up
these seams in a second and I was shocked when I failed! Anyway, taught me a
lesson and I am a lot more accurate.

When I was in my early 20’s and working at my first real
job, I bought a new machine a Bernina and a Bernette overlocker (both of which
I still have). It was all the rage to sew tracksuits using stretch material (it
was the 80’s after all). Before then it was almost impossible on a domestic
machine. Well I did numerous courses after work at the local Bernina shop. I
think the whole world did a Stitch Witch course at that time!

I took up quilting about 5 years ago and have done 2 courses
– one with Pam Davies of Picklemouse in Leura which involved making a sampler
and another with Monica Poole where I made Dragonfly Cushion using raw edge
applique. My niece was thrilled with the cushion.

Kayla's Monica Poole Dragonfly Cushion
What sort of
things do you like to sew?

At the moment my passion is quilting (and has been for
the last 5 years). I also love making soft toys. Over the years I have done
dressmaking, tapestry, embroidery, knitting, crochet – basically anything craft
related although I never did get into scrapbooking.

Gina's Quilt

Do you like to
use patterns or do you prefer to make it up as you go along?

I prefer to use patterns – especially as I sell so many
online. It is always great to make up the patterns so that I can test them and
answer honestly whether a pattern is easy or difficult to make. I can also pick
up if there are any errors and let the pattern maker know.

However, I often don’t follow the pattern exactly. I love to
use the pattern as a guide and embellish it to give it my own take on it.

For example, I love modern, bright and vibrant fabrics.
Older patterns can often be used with these fabrics – but the patterns need to
be updated. This is the basis of the Modern Quilting Movement. If you haven’t
started following some of their blogs – now is the time to start!

Have you made
something that is your all-time favourite creation? If so, why?

My all-time favourite is a quilt I made for my niece
Jade. It was based on a pattern called Love Birds from Don’t Look Now by Kellie
. It is 100% hand stitched (including the stippling). My mother was ill
in South Africa after suffering a stroke and I was able to sit at her bedside
and sew. She never got into the ‘fiddly’ stuff I did and I know that she used
to watch me sew and I think it was soothing for her.

Jades Quilt
Do you have a
favourite fabric type you prefer to work with? Favourite Fabric line or fabric

One of my favourite designers is Kate Spain for MODA
. I also love Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butler. The quality of their fabric
is amazing it is wonderful to work with.

Any sewing
secrets you would like to share?

I have a confession to make – I often only read pattern
instructions after I have started cutting / sewing. Hence I make a lot of
cutting errors. What I have learnt is that it doesn’t matter with quilting.
Step back, have a look at the issue and then make up an inventive solution to
solve the problem. Make it a feature of the quilt! Sometimes my mistakes have
forced me out of my comfort zone and the result has been amazing.

What type of
machine/s do you have?

I have a Bernina 1001 bought at least 25 years ago. I
have been frantically finishing a quilt for a show our group is putting on and
have really put her through her paces. She desperately needs a service! My mom
passed away last year and I have her Bernina Activa 130. I had it serviced last
year and when mine is in – I am finally going to pull it out and start
using it. It is a least 10 years younger than mine.

Bernina Sewing Machine
Do you have any
sewing goals?

I would love to use up my stash! I don’t think it will
ever happen in my lifetime though.

Any UFO’s?

When I was younger I had hundreds of UFO’s and the most
fantastic mother. She would sort out my UFO’s and finish them off for me. When
I started quilting, I decided that I would finish every quilt before I started
the next project. I also purpose buy most of my fabrics so relatively speaking
my stash is not huge. I have one UFO, a friendship quilt that I started about 2
years ago. It is actually almost finished (I ran out of fabric and finally
matched it up a couple of months ago).

My quilting group, The Barn Quilters of Mosman, decided on a
project at the start of the year. The project was that everyone was to identify
their oldest UFO. We all had to bring it in to our meeting at the start of the
year and explain what it was and why we had not completed the project. We then
had to commit to completing it by the end of the year. It will be fun to see
everyone finally complete these projects.

When do you find time to sew?

Whenever I can – but in reality it is in the evenings and
over weekends. I work full time as an IT Manager by day and moonlight running
an online fabric store.

Do you have a dedicated sewing space or room?

I live by myself, so have my sewing machine permanently
set up in my dining room, surrounded by bookshelves storing the fabric and
patterns I sell online.  Long term I
dream about opening up a bricks and mortar store perhaps in Crows Nest or
Neutral Bay.

Sue's Sewing Area

Do you have any other hobbies you like to indulge in?

I wish I had the time to indulge in everything I want to
do. I do read a lot, love travelling, scuba diving (although it has been a
while since I last did this) and spend a lot of time reading blogs etc.


You can find out more about Sue here:


Thanks for a FUN and interesting interview Sue! LOVE your work, I must say! Next week we have a Pattern Designer from Louisville, Kentucky… you know Kentucky, the place with the horses?? LOLLL Curious? Well you will have to wait until next week to find out more……

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  1. Thank YOU for joining in Sue (and thanks for your lovely comments about my bag designs!)….it’s been fun getting to know a bit more about you and your awesome sewing projects! One of these days I must have a go at quilting….I am scared I will get HOOKED though LOLLLL BUT looking at your quilts is really inspiring me to have a go……

  2. Oh, Christine, I loved this interview! Thanks for featuring Sue!
    And, Sue, I enjoyed reading your comments about your growing up years. Your experiences really gave me more of a global “glimpse” and that was fun! Your designs are beautiful–the quilt you made for your niece Jade is beyond gorgeous!!!
    Best wishes on your fabric business, too! I hope that someday you realize your dream of having a brick and mortar store.
    I look forward to next week’s interview (I always do–every week).

  3. I am really PLEASED that you are enjoying these interviews Krista….Your comments are always MUCH appreciated too, by the way….and I always look forward to them as well! It lets me know people are actually finding the interviews interesting! LOL

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