Creating bold, punchy quilts and inspired designs - How Jemima Flendt does it all from her studio
Welcome to The Creative Files, where we speak to some of the biggest crafters, makers and designers, gaining insights into their creative processes, inspiration and their advice for newcomers. Today we spoke to Jemima Flendt, a passionate quilter who creates incredible modern designs for many different publications and also dedicates her time to teaching others her craft.
Who is Jemima Flendt and what is it that you create?
I am Jemima Flendt from Tied with a Ribbon. I am a quilt and crochet pattern designer, author and fabric designer from Perth Western Australia. I contribute to many international magazines and other book publications with my designs. One of the areas I am most passionate about is in teaching and sharing my skills and love getting to travel both here in Australia and internationally.
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?
Over the years Tied with a Ribbon has evolved but the main core of what I do is still very much at the heart of it. I am very passionate about teaching quilting, sewing and crochet and with my pattern designing and writing books, I am so excited to get people started on their own journey. At 16, I started making quilts with all the left-over scraps that my mum had been sewing with for my little sister's bedroom makeover. I was very much hooked on quilting from then on and loved making quilts for everyone. I was professionally a High School Economics teacher and was dabbling with designing and writing patterns in my spare time. Tied with a Ribbon then began to grow to the point where I made the decision to leave teaching and pursue my quilting full time, I never dreamed that one day it would be my full-time pursuit and I couldn't be more inspired than to walk into my studio each day and create and design. It really does light me up and teaching others is such a huge thrill.
How did you cultivate your distinct style?
I love bright and bold prints, modern designs with large block style designs have become what I have been known for. In the early days I was very intimidated by other quilters and sometimes took other's opinions to heart. As I have become confident in my own style, I now realise their critiques of my work, were that they personally didn't like it and not that it wasn't good or didn't work. I began to understand how making designs that I loved were the ones I became most passionate about and that in turn made it easy for others to love them and to want to make them. I often look at things around me and see how I can translate them into quilt blocks. Architecture and things like graffiti and nature have inspired my designs.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
When starting out with a new design it generally starts as a design in Adobe Illustrator from an idea that has sparked. It may be a drawing I have scribbled down with a design element or could even be a picture of something I have seen and that starts an idea. Once I have drawn up the design on the computer, I then work out the dimensions and block sizes based on how consumers actually buy fabric/yarn. So, for example I will tweak a block size to work for a fat quarter so that the pattern can be pre-cut friendly or an easy way for someone to walk into a store and buy the fabric. This will save the maker time, effort and money and help out those at the beginning of their journeys to easily buy the requirements they need.
After having it all drawn up on the computer then I go into my studio and start to work up samples and then work with the fabrics for the cover design. Usually, I will make at least two samples of a design and I like to work them up in very different colourways, to show variety in how the pattern can be made. Then the quilts are quilted and photographed. The pattern is all written up, edited and then heads to my distributor for publication of the patterns that land in stores worldwide or uploaded to my own website.
The part of the process I love most is when people start to make it themselves. I always love seeing all the different fabrics used, colour interpretations or ways that it can be changed.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
It always starts at the gym and then coffee early in the morning. Then I head into the studio and check through my diary, which holds my to-do list and the commissions or patterns I am working on. I will work through emails and reply and action these. It's then either about sewing or working on designs at the sewing machine (or with my crochet hook) or it might be all about working at the computer with designing, editing, writing and prepping things like the upcoming release. I spend a bit of time on social media with my Instagram and Facebook pages and make sure I have the next post or reel ready to go. I work till late, I definitely don't work a 9-5 job but that is what makes my work very exciting.
What has been your favourite project to work on so far?
My most favourite project I have worked on was my Love Triangle Quilt Pattern. This originally came out in the Magazine, Love Patchwork and Quilting and was inspired after a trip to Melbourne. I was walking through the Melbourne CBD and there were many alleys filled with amazing graffiti. I saw a letter "S" painted on one of the walls and I immediately wondered how I could translate letters into quilt patterns. In my mind I was working out how I could sew blocks together to create this letter, from there the Love Triangle Quilt was born with its bold and big equilateral triangle letters. I chose really bright solid colours and it was such a fun quilt to design.
Who are your biggest artistic inspirations and why?
I am such a big fan of Tula Pink, I love the way she sees the world and interprets it onto fabric. Anna Maria Horner designs the most amazing florals and graphic designs that show colours used in very interesting ways and colour combos you would never put together yourself, but work so well. Carolyn Friedlander is a master at Architecture and nature designs, the way she sees the world is always inspiring.
Do you have a single piece of advice you'd give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?
Listen to what lights you up the most and create that, don't design what everyone else tells you they would like.