QP Ambassador Sarah Ashford shares tips for January's block, why she loves to quilt, and what inspires her

QP Ambassador Sarah Ashford shares tips for January's block, why she loves to quilt, and what inspires her

Sarah Ashford is a modern quilt pattern designer and author and founder of the Great British Quilter. She was part of the Quilter's Planner team to work on January's block, Center Compass, and as an 2024 ambassador for us, she has joined us for our monthly podcast and on social media to share her tips and little more about herself. 

Sarah Ashford on the Quilter's Planner podcast

Q&A with Sarah Ashford

We asked Sarah to share with us a little more about herself, her quilting and more. You can find Sarah online at SarahAshfordStudio.com and on IG
@sarahashfordstudio.

QP: Before we get started, we want to know, what fuels you for quilting? Tea, coffee, water or perhaps something else?

Sarah: Oooh, well that depends. If it’s the morning, then definitely coffee. In the afternoon I like a nice cup of tea. I am British after all!

QP: How would you define your quilting style and aesthetic? What would you say makes your work uniquely yours?

Sarah: I love bright colors, fun prints and you can’t beat a text print, in my opinion. I also love embellishments such as cute labels, zipper charms, incorporating selvedges…all those little details that make a project extra special.

QP: What are your origins in quilting and the creative industry? How did you become the quilter that you are today?

Sarah: I first started out writing quilt and project patterns for magazines, and while I sometimes still do this, I also write a lot for publications. I’ve also written 2 books, Jump into Patchwork and Quilting and Rotary Cutting Basics, hosted a podcast and have 4 thread collections with Aurifil. Last year I trained as a Wellness Coach and so I like to talk about the interplay between wellness and creativity.

QP: Where do you seek inspiration? Who and what inspires you?

Sarah: I find inspiration all around me, but I confess I do spend a lot of time on Instagram and it’s just full of incredible projects, it really does get the creative juices flowing. So I’m inspired by other quilters for sure, but I’m also inspired by patterns and colors in nature, in art, in tiles, buildings. Having a phone is great because I can take photos and make notes as I see things.

QP: Tell us about your workspace. What is it you love about it?

Sarah: I’m very lucky to have a studio at the top of my house and I love that I can have it just how I like it. I have a big table for cutting and a desk for my sewing machine. I love that it’s filled with quilts, pillows, projects I’ve made, fabrics that I’ve collected over many years and lots of things that are special to me.

QP: When are you the most productive?

Sarah: I tend to be most productive mid-morning, after my second coffee of the day, and then I have another burst of creativity at night, usually when I’m supposed to be going to bed! I always have to tear myself away at night, because I’m so engrossed but I have learnt that if I don’t get a good night’s sleep I won’t do well the next day!

QP: How do you use the Quilter’s Planner in your daily life? How has it helped you in your quilting life?

Sarah: I literally used my Quilter’s Planner every day. I used the diary pages of the planner to organise my week, and what’s going on with the rest of the family too. I also really like the calendar pages to get an overall sense of what’s going on each month. In relation to quilting, I love the projects-at-a-glance pages, so that I can keep track of all my projects. The project planning pages are also really useful too, especially for when I’m designing a project and need to make lots of notes.

QP: What is your favorite feature of the Quilter’s Planner?

Sarah: I really love the goal setting pages, as this is really useful for me to think about what my goals are and how I’m going to achieve them. This year, I also love the page of quilt blocks in the reference section. It is such a pretty page and it’s great that there are instructions on the blog for how to make each block!

QP: How do you prefer to design? With pen and paper or digitally? If so, what program/app do you use?

Sarah: I mostly use Electric Quilt 8 to design my quilts, although if it’s a small pillow, zipper pouch or project then I will often use the graph paper in the Quilter’s Planner. Sometimes you can’t’ beat good old fashioned pen and paper.

QP: You shared with us some tips for piecing your quilt block for the sampler. What do you think is the most important thing to remember when making your block? Do you want to elaborate on any of those tips?

The Quilter's Planner Sew-Along January block is called Central Compass

Sarah: For the central medallion, I think there are 2 important things to remember. Firstly to cut out and label all the pieces carefully, particularly the background pieces, because there are a lot of them! This will help you immensely when it comes to the piecing. Secondly, press all the seams to the dark side if you are using a light background, because you don’t want any colored seams showing through lighter colored fabrics.

QP: What are your ‘must have’ quilting tools and notions?

Sarah: I would say a 28” rotary cutter is essential, as it is SO much easier to use for cutting small pieces than the standard 45” cutter. Being smaller, it allows you to have more control, more precision and is therefore safer too. I also wouldn’t be without my quilting gloves for when it comes to quilting. They give me more grip on the quilt or project, and make it so much easier to handle.

QP: Do you attend quilt shows? If so, what are your favorite ones to go to?

Sarah: Oh yes I love to go to quilt shows! I’m about to go to QuiltCon in Raleigh, North Carolina, so I’m starting to feel very excited about that! It will be my fifth show. The other one I go to every year is the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham UK. Both shows are a great opportunity for me to catch up with my quilting friends and make new ones, as well as staying in touch with some of my favourite brands.

Sarah: QP: What are you working on right now?

Sarah: Right now I’m working on a 365 day project, using embroidery to chart my fitness journey. I’m using a panel for each month, and I’ll then sew all the panels together to make a wall hanging. I’m loving the process so far!

QP: What project are you looking forward to starting, or are avoiding working on?

Sarah: I have quite a few WIPs that are in much need of attention, including a quilt for my husband and a BOM quilt from a few years ago that isn’t finished. I’m trying to be good and not start any more big projects until these are finished, but I’m always making smaller projects, as it’s nice to have a quick finish too.

QP: Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to your younger self about your creative journey, what would it be?

Sarah: Try everything and don’t be afraid!

Quick Fire questions

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Solids or prints? Prints

Summer or winter? Summer - without a doubt

By hand or machine? A bit of both!

Twitter or Threads? Threads

Go out or stay home? Go out

Quilted coat or quilted accessories? Quilted Coat

A book or Netflix? Book then Netflix!

Pins or binding clips? Binding clips

Plan ahead or be spontaneous? Plan ahead

Triangles or curves? Curves

Early bird or night owl? Night own

Seams pressed open or to one side? One side

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