Friday, December 17, 2010

Featured Crafter - Camp Follower Bags

FQ: Tell us a little bit about your creative journey?

"I have always been an artistic person. I cherish creativity. My mom made clothing for us growing up, so the whir of the sewing machine was some of the background music to my childhood. 

I started quilting about 11 years ago after my third miscarriage. I really needed something I could control in my life and I found it in a 4 week beginners quilting class. I was a dreadful student and I never finished the class due to having to meddevac a patient back to the USA (I was an Army Nurse stationed in Heidelberg at the time).
About 2 years later my husband deployed to Iraq for the first time (he is in the Army too) and I was left with 2 tiny children, and long nights to worry about what was going on and what could happen with my life and my husband. Once again, I needed something I could control. 
 I turned back to quilting and have never looked back. There was a great quilting group at my church and I got involved with them. So quilting was the first deployment and the next deployment was making the bags. I make bags from military uniforms. The proceeds from my little business helps me afford my significant fabric addiction. The bags became so popular that I started a little website and have sewn for people for about 7 years now. I love it. Each bag I make is totally different and wonderful. My website is"

FQ: Which part of the quilt making process is your favourite and why?

"Well, honestly I like most of the parts. Each step plays into the next. I design a quilt as I go normally. I guess the least favorite part is pin basting quilts, but it is important because while I am pinning I am planning on how to quilt the quilt. Quilting is definitely my favorite step. I love sitting at my sewing machine deep in my zone planning my next quilt, and my menu for the next week and other bags to design....I do lots and lots in my mind while I am quilting."
 FQ: Do you have a favourite fabric designer?

"I have several favorite designers. I love Amy Butler. Each and every collection is filled with grace and passion. Sometimes she sends me her design room scraps for me to use them in my Hero Quilts (Quilts I make for the children of service members killed in combat from their father's uniforms) I love using her fabric for my Camp Follower Bags. 
Like so many contemporary quilters love Anna Griffin, Michelle Engle Bencsko Denyse Schmidt, Heather Ross, Anna Maria Horner, Heather Bailey and Kaffe Fassett's shot cottons. I also love just about any fabric Lecien makes."

FQ: Where do you draw your inspiration from when making bags and quilts?
"I am inspired by the uniform itself when making bags. I maintain the functionality of the pockets when designing bags, but each shape needs to be comfortable and practical as well. Sometimes a lady will suggest a shape or specific purpose for her bag and I will design around that thought.

My quilts are inspired by color and emotion and fabric combinations. Sometimes by an entire fabric collection, or maybe I just want to try out a new to me technique. There is not much rhyme or reason to what sort of quilts I am working on."
FQ: Do you have a favourite quilt or other sewn item that you have made?
"I have a couple favorite quilts. I made one quilt right after moving to Australia out of Lecien tea dyes and antique reds that so reminds me of the landscape of where I used to live. Another favorite is a simple 9 patch I made with some of my favorite pieces of fabric from my horde.

My favorite bag is really ugly and plain. I made it with BDU cargo pockets of my husband's pants and some olive drab water resistant canvas. I obtained the canvas in Alice Springs, Australia from a man who makes swags (an Aussie cross between a sleeping bags and a tent). I love it. It is currently my pool bag. I had to make myself some pretty bags so when I tell people I make bags they don't look at me like I am a lunatic. I make these glorious bags - works of art really and I carry something that is as dull as it can be."
FQ: Are there any new creative skills that you would like to try in the future?

"I am planning a liberated quilt along for my blog. That will be lots of fun. Mainly it is for my mom, so she can get a crash course in liberated piecing before I whisk her away up to Michigan to quilt with Gwen Marston. But everyone else is invited to quilt along with us.

I am also really into adding bits of hand quilting to my pieces even if it is just the final bold hand stitches that finish the binding of a quilt. Anytime I can add some text, bit of uniform or map print fabric to a piece I am as happy as a clam."


  1. What a great interview! I love that every bag is different.

  2. Having had the privilege of being neighbors, I can tell you that Ms Campfollower is extraordinarily talented, gracious in sharing her time and talents to teach others, and above all - fun and hospitable in every way! She is as beautiful and delightful as her quilts and bags! Can you tell I miss her dreadfully!!!

  3. Hey there folks! Thanks Jennifer, I miss you too. But you know that. Thank you for featuring me, Fat Quarterly!


  4. I love following the Camp Follower on Flickr. Her work is very inspiring and free.

  5. Great interview! Tia's work is so inspiring, I'm a regular stalker of her etsy store.