Sunday, September 2, 2012

Designer Interviews

Meet Lisa Amundson of Around the Bobbin



When did you start quilting and how did that happen?
I started quilting around 1993 when a friend invited me to a quilting retreat. I had sewn quite a bit of clothing, drapes and home-dec projects, but at that point I hadn't tried quilting. For drapes, I tend to use patterns and books as a loose guide or starting point so I took a similar approach with quilting. In my ignorance, I picked up a clearance-rack quilting book from somewhere that had all the really old, complicated quilts in it that people made by hand around the turn of the century. I was drawn to the beauty of the quilts pictured in the book, but the book was almost completely void of any instructions and most of the quilts had a ton of little pieces.  I chose one of the "easier" quilts, a quilt made up of baskets, with triangles and appliqued handles. I had to adjust the size of the quilt for a queen size bed, and I carefully cut out most of the pieces with my scissors using the templates in the book . No rotary cutter. No cutting mat. Just some old scissors from my junior-high home-ec class 12 years earlier, a fabric pen, and a school ruler.

I drove to the retreat with my friend Pam, and I told her about my quilt prep. She was too kind to say anything, but she gently came beside me at the retreat and asked how much fabric I had left (answer: a lot as I overpurchased). To make a long story short, she and the other ladies at the retreat gave me a Quilting 101 lesson, and I re-cut everything and started over. I worked on that quilt only once a year at those retreats. During that time, I had 3 kids and I was working full-time so I had very little time for hobbies. But almost 10 years later I had a lot of great retreat stories and a finished queen sized quilt! These days, I always have a quilt or two I'm working on, even though I spend most of my sewing time on purses.

I started designing purses after a friend complimented me on my hand-sewn purse. I hadn't sewn the one she saw, but I told her we could try sewing our own purses. We did, and then I got hooked and couldn't stop!

How did you come up with your company name, Around the Bobbin?
I learned so much at those retreats that I can't think about quilting without the picture of the old quilting bee in my head. I learned everything from those ladies, as we gathered around our sewing machines (or "Around the Bobbin") and talked about techniques for this and that.
How would you describe your style?
I design purse patterns with a contemporary feel, often with unique shapes or texture to them. I'm pretty experimental. I'd like to get into quilt design at some point, but I'm having so much fun with the purses, I haven't had time to do both.
What inspires you to create a new design?
Well, really anything, but sometimes, it will be a technique I want to try. In the Annalise Bag, I wanted to try putting in a zipper for fun. Sometimes, it's a shape, like the Sassy Swing Bag mimics an upside-down bucket hat. I think that's one of the things I enjoy most about the process - the inspiration can come from anything, and then you play with an idea, and it ends up as something completely different from where you start.
Do you use technology when you develop new designs? If so, how?
Sometimes I'll play around on the computer. Often, though, I cut out paper shapes so that I can see the finished size and shape in front of me. When I make the templates, I find it easier to create those on the computer.
Do you participate in other activities related to quilting?
I still enjoy go to a quilt retreat each spring with friends. 
What are some of your interests outside the quilting world?
I love reading a good book, hiking, spending time with my family.
One unique thing about my family is that we all learned how to unicycle about 5 years ago, (except our youngest son-he learned to ride his bike during that time). Our oldest son even rode in a few parades and we all had a great time learning how to just "let go" and ride. The Twin Cities Unicycle Club led the classes in the local elementary school gym and it took most of us about 5-6 weeks of the weekly classes to ride unaided around the gym. It was a blast. Even though I haven't kept it up as much as I would have liked, we had so much fun just encouraging each other and learning together.
Anything else you would like people to know about you?
I dunno . . . I'd like to encourage people to just play with fabric. Go to your stash (or the fabric store) and pick out a couple of favorites and try a new technique or project!

Here are some of Lisa's designs:


Sassy Swing Tote


Cappuccino Bag


Saffron Bucket Bag

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