Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spotlight on... Jessica!

There are so many talented people in the Philly Modern Quilt Guild! We have every level of quilter from the just starting out to the 40+ years of experience. One of the best parts of this is the inspiration we can gain from other members - which you'll find no lack of in the following interview!

· Tell me a bit about yourself:

My name is Jessica Levitt. I'm 35 years old (for a few more weeks) and live in Central NJ with my two kids (ages almost 4 and almost 7) and my husband.


· What do you do?

I'm a fabric designer and now an author (That's fun to say!). I work from home so I get to spend lots of time with the kids. For fun I do more sewing of all kinds, I ballroom dance with my husband, and I love to travel both with and without the kids.

Please check out my blog, Juicy Bits ( www.juicy-bits.typepad.com ) to see what I'm up to lately.

· How did you get started quilting?

My aunt got me interested in fabrics when I was in about 7th grade. She mostly likes to just shop but I sewed my first quilt pretty quickly. It was an (absolutely hideous) Trip Around the World.



· Who taught you to quilt?

No one, but my mom taught me the basics of sewing. And I did a touch of sewing in home ec.

· Did you ever take quilting lessons from someone?

I've taken very few quilting classes. Maybe two ever. I mostly learned by trial and error. It took a while before I learned about batting, binding, quilting, and all that. My first few were done with the flip-right-side-out method and boy is that not fun to try to get the batting to lay flat.


· What do you like best about quilting?

I love fabric and playing with all the combinations. It's always fun to see how you can completely change the look of a pattern by swapping the fabrics.

· What is the hardest thing about quilting?

I hate basting. It's so time consuming (And I spray baste to make it easier) and hard to be down on your hands and knees.

· How do you decide what pattern to make?

I very rarely follow patterns. I'm often inspired by something but have to change it to make it my own. Although, lately I have realized the joy of simply following directions and not having to do any math etc myself. You can jump right in and finish in no time.


· Where do you do your work? Do you have a quilting room?

Yes, I have sewing studio. I'd send a picture but it's nearly always a disaster!

· Do you use a sewing machine, long arm quilter or do you quilt by hand?

I sew everything I can by machine. That includes binding. I'm all about instant gratification! I did recently send some quilts to a long arm quilter which was fun. No more basting or shoving it under the machine! But I will probably still do some myself.


· How much time do you quilt during an average week?

It really varies. I sew probably 8-10 hours on a slow week, much more if I'm actually working on something important. But not all of my sewing is quilting.

· Do you name your quilts or label them?

Yes, although I kinda hate coming up with names. I frequently don't get the label part done in time and have to go back and do it later.



· Have you ever taught someone to quilt?

Yes, I've taught classes at our local adult education program and taught plenty of friends. I love teaching beginners because they're so excited to see what they can make.

· How do you choose your colors? What are your favorites?

It's all about my mood lately or a particular fabric that speaks to me. My all time favorite color is chartreuse green and lots of other versions of green. You'll find that in a lot of my projects.


· Where do you buy your fabrics and materials? Is there any particular supply you’re partial to?

I shop in a lot of different places. I'm not particularly close to any big quilt shops, but Pennington Quilt Works (http://penningtonquilts.com/) is less than an hour away and I love their store. I grew up on Cape Cod and I still go shopping at Tumbleweed Quilts (http://www.tumbleweedquilts.com) every time I go back. Amazing store. I also shop online, but I'm not particularly loyal...it's all about who has the most of what I'm looking for.

· What quilt(s) are you working on now?

I'm excited to get started on my first quilting bee quilt from my Busy Bee group ( http://www.flickr.com/groups/busy-bees/ ). It's purples, greys, and greens! I'm also thinking of a baby boy quilt for a friend but I haven't made a firm design yet. And I'm working on writing up the pattern for my Prairie Glass Squared free pattern for my fabric collection Kingdom.


· Do you make up your designs?

Yes, very often. And I have finished my first sewing book. It has 7 quilts, plus bags, pillows, apron, tablecloth, and more! All the projects combine solid fabrics with designer prints. It's called Modern Mix ( http://www.amazon.com/Modern-Mix-Projects-Combine-Designer/dp/1607052490/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309976056&sr=8-1) and will be available in September.



· What other crafts do you indulge in or hope to learn?

Way too many to count. You name, I've tried it. I always want to learn new things. I do a fair bit of crochet. I also do costume design/sewing. I love party design and planning (I was a wedding designer for a few years). And home decor as well.
But the big one is fabric design. My second collection of Windham Fabrics is called Kingdom (http://www.windhamfabrics.com/cgi-bin/fabricshop/gallery.cgi?Category=521) and will be available in august. Designing fabric was a dream of mine, especially since I've loved fabrics before designers were even a thing (AKA before Amy Butler). After my kids were born and I was home a lot feeling somewhat isolated, I discovered the sewing/crafting blogworld and I was inspired to just go for it and see what I could come up with. I love Art Nouveau and Mission style and I knew I was going to incorporate that into my design. I do most of my work in Adobe Illustrator. Sometimes I sketch a design first and then scan it and edit it and add colors and all that. I get my inspiration everywhere and constantly make little scribbled sketches.

· What other organizations are you involved in to enrich your love of the fiber arts?

I don't belong to any other guilds, but I'd love to join a new online bee. It's been a lot of fun this year. Since I work professionally in the industry I get to go to Quilt Market every so often and be inspired.




· What are your quilting related goals?

Mostly I want to support my fabric addiction so I hope to do enough work professionally to keep up with my spending. :)

· What do you consider your greatest quilting related achievement?

Probably my first fabric collection, Timber (http://www.windhamfabrics.com/cgi-bin/fabricshop/gallery.cgi?Category=410) . It was so thrilling to see the designs come to life and watch others sew with them. But once I hold my book in my hand, I'll probably consider that my greatest achievement.


· What is your most treasured possession?

Well, I don't know if family counts as a possession, but they're the most important thing in my life. As far as actual material goods, I'll say this: I LOVE my bed.

· What is your motto?

"The Lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." - Chaucer



Congrats, Jessica, on your new book!! I can't wait to see it. And thanks a ton for taking the time to be interviewed!

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