Meet our teachers: Julie Fagan, modern appliqué
I’m so proud of the quality of instructors we have lined up to teach our classes at The Village Haberdashery! Many of them are a little bit famous in certain circles, but since they may be new to you I thought I’d make introductions in a little series called Meet our teachers.
Julie Fagan is the designer behind the East London appliqué pattern company Kip & Fig. She has been an enthusiastic crafter from a young age and studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. Her contemporary designs have been featured in Love Quilting & Patchwork Magazine and her machine appliqué tea towel class has been a sell-out both times we’ve run it! The next class is Saturday, 7 September, 10:30am – 1:30pm. Reserve your spot here!
The Village Haberdashery: You are fully qualified in drawing! What does that mean?
Julie Fagan: Yep if seven years of art college is any measure at all, then apparently so! Not quite the same as saying you’ve finished seven years training and are a fully qualified doctor though eh? Drawing is so subjective – we all have our own taste, style and ideas about it. I suppose when I think about it I’ve studied and produced many types of drawing, from expressive to technical, and still find it all endlessly fascinating. I love artists preparatory drawings and their choices of mark making – there’s a term artists use called the ‘economy of line’ – which is about achieving the maximum effect from every line in a drawing and leaving out any unnecessary fluff and it’s a concept I’m interested in applying to my own work. I’m intrigued at the breadth of drawing and how it has such different forms and purposes, for different practices or uses – it can become so specialised but ultimately it’s all about communicating ideas and expression. Over time I’ve experimented with lots of different tools, materials and methods – both in 2D and 3D – the combinations and possibilities are never ending! So I see appliqué as a form of drawing, but instead of pencil and paper it’s using fabric and thread. I’m a big fan of digital freehand methods and use a drawing tablet, but I’ll draw using anything to hand, and on anything – that’s what Shed HQ’s studio walls are made for no?
TVH: You’ve been crafting all your life. What are your other crafty passions beyond drawing and appliqué?
JF: I’m a crafty dabbler, who’s quite gung-ho and enthusiastic so I’ve probably driven my family and friends a bit up the wall over the years – but I really enjoy learning new skills and experimenting! So I’ve a variety of projects on the go – toy making for my two-year old niece, print making, knitting, crochet, paper crafts, sewing for my home/clothes and as gifts – and I love my gardening. Drawing though seems to sneak in everywhere else though! It’s been the backbone of my art practice, has helped plan out my garden, prompts me when I’m knitting as to what shape the jumper should end up looking like…
TVH: Tell us about starting up Kip & Fig. Why did you choose to focus on appliqué and what is your company’s mission?
JF: My sister is a keen crafter and is really creative, but she’s always asked me to do the drawing bit, as she’s never been that content with her own. So I started designing for my sister and with my niece in mind – my sister was then using the designs to make beautiful gifts, items for her home and clothing. So the idea for Kip & Fig started to form – I love drawing and I wondered if there were people, like my sis, who would find having a design useful? Appliqué is so full of creative potential, it’s a fantastic and affordable way to personalise, upcycle and make unique items and gifts. So early last summer I thought, maybe Kip & Fig designs could fill that gap and be a useful helping hand?
To be honest at first I was a bit adrift – it wasn’t that I didn’t know what to draw, I had too many ideas so it was more a case of where to start and what designs would Kip & Fig customers want, need or feel inspired to use in their projects. Then one morning last summer I had some fruit for breakfast and was sat there admiring the shape of a pear – so I drew that… and the rest of the contents of the fruit bowl. Since then it seemed natural that the inspiration comes from what goes on in everyday life, with customer requests here and there too. When one of my cousins got married last summer I stayed at a B&B with my sister, her partner and niece that was a working farm. My niece’s absolute joy over being around all the animals (and watching her stomp about in her little pink wellies) inspired all the farmyard designs – including a set of big and little wellies! So there’s a story behind every design, including those my customers request!
So I suppose Kip & Fig’s mission in life is that everyone can appliqué if they want to. Why not give it a go? If drawing is not your thing, using an appliqué pattern means the focus is on the creative sewing and decision making – no stress over drawing, more fun with fabric!
TVH: What will students learn in your upcoming course, Modern Machine Appliqué?
JF: All the basics of machine sewn appliqué as we make a tea towel featuring a contemporary appliquéd fruit design. Although there’s a no-sew method which works well for some projects, undoubtedly machine stitched is more secure, particularly if you are washing an item frequently. Plus stitching opens up a world of creative opportunities – fabric might play a starring role but there’s the choices of thread, stitching or other finishing details too. As well as those choices personalising a design, it’s also possible to choose the level of detail you want to use from the original design – that can be really handy depending on the size of a project and time available to make it in. So our morning workshop will be all about maximising the enjoyment of creative sewing and decision making, as well as learning some basic machine stitching skills, so that everyone leaves feeling confident going forward on their own – plus taking away a beautifully finished tea towel ready for action!