Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Designer Interviews - Brenda Miller

Meet Brenda Miller of Among Brenda's Quilts - and Bags.

Brenda is a fellow Canadian designer and a member of the Creative Passion to Profit Mastermind (through the International Association of Professional Quilters).  Brenda and I have similar backgrounds. We both started sewing doll clothes!  Our passion for sewing and creativity lead both of us to quilting and design.

When did you start quilting and how did that happen?
I actually started piecing early in life.  Nobody in my family quilted but my Mom did have a Singer Sewing Machine for mending.  We also had a bag of scraps.  I found a pattern for a quilt top made of 4” squares in a Family Circle Magazine, part of a ‘Gifts to Make for Under $10’ article.  Not knowing how to make a template for a perfectly square 4 ½" square was a problem for me.  I was only 10 years old with nobody to help me.  I sewed together 3 or 4 rows, but when I went to join them together nothing lined up like in the picture.  I should have boldly carried on like a Gees Bend Quilter but I gave it up.  It took me another 15 years before I finally finished another quilt. 

How did you come up with your company name?  
My friend Shirley Bobier, a retired librarian teacher, and I were throwing names around one day.  Shirley suggested that I have a name that started with the letter ‘A’, that way my business name would not get lost in the alphabet, when buyers were looking around for patterns in the distributors listings.  Shirley had just recently opened a quilt shop and I had given her all of my pattern samples for display in her store.  Shirley was literally ‘Among Brenda’s Quilts’.  That’s basically where the name came from.  Later when it came time to figure out a logo we ran into a problem.

How do you illustrate the concept of being among Brenda’s quilts? 
My friend Christine Buechler and I decided my cat Harry would be among my quilts and we popped him into the logo.  He is in fact often among my quilts, lying on them or in the middle of them on my sewing table.  My company name has morphed into Among Brenda’s Quilts & Bags, but some suggest it should be Among Brenda’s Bags and Quilts because I’m better known for my bags than my quilts.  Constant tweaks seem to be a way of life with my company name!

How would you describe your style?
That’s easy.  Patterns with Purr-sonality!

What inspires you to create a new design? 
I design for function.  Some of my business acquaintances call me the functional bag expert!  When I got a request to design a casserole cover that converts to a table runner from my friends Lisa and Marlene, I created the Home Cooking Casserole Cover and when my son and his girlfriend for a party bag I designed the Bevy Bag.  When I got a request to design a bag that uses a whole package of 2 ½" Bali Pops the My Monster Bag pattern was born.  Right now I’m designing a bed runner and pillow set for my son and his fiancé.

My quilts are usually designed with a fabric line in mind.  Fabrics inspire me to no end!

Do you use technology when you develop new designs?  If so how?
Yes, I use EQ programs to design a good number of my quilts and other flat items like runners and place mats.  The bags are not doable on EQ as they are three dimensional.  I do them in my head, do a sketch and just start cutting fabric. 

Do you participate in other activities related to quilting? 
Yes, I have been a member of the Huron Perth Quilters Guild for a number of years.  I have been their program director and was the chair of one of the guild Quilt show in 2010.  I just recently joined the Modern Quilt Guild in London, Ontario. I also belong to a group of six ladies.  We get together at each other’s homes about once a month to eat (notice that eat comes first) and to sew.  It’s a great support group to bounce ideas off of. 

It was my honor to host a fund raising quilting class to benefit the town of Goderich, Ontario after a tornado swept through the town in the spring of 2011.  Guild members participated and we raised about $2,000 for town relief.  I was really proud of the guild members that day. 

What are some of your interests outside the quilting world?
I love to read, camp in a tent, walk my dog and garden.  I am very interested in whole food nutrition and its power to heal the body. 

Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?
Not really, I am just an ordinary person whose love of sewing and quilting has taken me off on a wonderful tangent.  I’m always surprised at how far I’ve come in the quilting industry.  I couldn’t have done it without my friends, my husband Rob, son Paul and strangers who just took and interest in me and helped me out. 

Here is one of Brenda's MOST functional bags - the Everything Goes Bag.  I think I need to make one of these to carry ALL my stuff, including my iPad!


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