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We caught up with Wendy Gardiner, internationally accredited sewing guru and author of our fabulous new series Take Two Fat Quarters, to chat about her work and projects. Ideal for sewists of all abilities, they are fantastic stash-busting project books that will get you making practical, colourful items in no time!

What is a fat quarter? 

A fat quarter is a fabricoholic's dream because it gives us a chance to use lots of lovely different fabrics without breaking the bank! It is a quarter of a metre – but rather than cut lengthways from selvedge to selvedge which results in one long strip, the metre is cut into half lengthways and then again crossways, resulting in four ‘fat’ quarters.

Bundle of fat quarters

How long does it take you to complete a project from the series?

The thinking time is the longest part – imagining the finished item, how to make it out of two fat quarters, what will work well and then working out measurements and how to write the steps so that someone else can follow the pattern. The actual making is the quickest bit! Altogether it will take between three and six hours per project depending on the complexity of the design.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I'm inspired by what I see in the shops and think ‘I could make that!' also from things I need myself – such as the cosmetic pouch (from Take Two Fat Quarters - Gifts) and the cable-tidy roll (from Take Two Fat Quarters - Home), plus things I see in magazines and books etc. It is often a case of seeing something and thinking, 'I could make that differently'.

Cosmetic pouch from Take Two Fat Quarters - Gifts Cable-Tidy Roll from Take Two Fat Quarters - Home

What are your top tips for beginners?

  • Read through the instructions for each project before starting and make sure you have everything you need before you begin.
  • Take each step one at a time; read the next before going on. Remember, each project has been tried and tested so will work if you follow the instructions.
  • Use pretty fabrics that you love and you will love what you produce. Patterned fabrics are best as they will hide any imperfections more easily!
  • Don’t beat yourself up if the end project is not perfect. Quirky differences are OK and a button or motif/appliqué can hide all sorts of sins!
  • Relax and enjoy sewing!
Garden Apron from Take Two Fat Quarters - Home Make-Up Kit Roll from Take Fat Two Quarters - Gifts Dotty Notebook Cover from Take Two Fat Quarters - Home 

What are you working on at the moment? Any exciting plans for 2020?

I am currently designing another weekender bag to teach at a Creative Sewing Weekend in March. It will include different zip insertions, using fastenings such as hook and lock, magnetic clasps, swivel clips and D-rings for detachable straps. I also have a number of dresses to make as I have bought (far too much) fabulous fabric including a Dolce & Gabbana piece from Geoff Rosenberg which is amazing! Plus I will be making a winter coat shortly – daft I know, but it is another class I am teaching in the autumn and I need to make a new sample; I have my eye on some great red cashmere for it.

I am also in the middle of putting together the workshop programmes for the Country Living fair in spring and Festival of Quilts which is at the end of July, but classes go on sale in March, and I will shortly be doing the autumn programmes for the Knitting and Stitching Shows. I’m about to film a video clip for a new dressform and do some product testing for Hemline (the haberdashery company). This is as well as writing articles monthly for Sew Today and Love Sewing. So busy, busy!

Wendy's book Take Two Fat Quarters - Gifts is out now and Take Two Fat Quarters - Home will be available soon.

Take Two Fat Quarters - Gifts  Take Two Fat Quarters - Home

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