Jo Rudd’s
Quilting Journey

Sharon Thomson

Without customers visiting us, I’ve had a chance to chat to the staff and teachers about things that we don’t usually have time to talk about in depth. So I thought you might like to read a little about their journeys. Their first experiences of sewing, what they love to make and funny or poignant memories about their life with sewing. Each of these articles are tagged in our blog as: Meet the Team. Over time, using this tag will pull up all the posts with our staff stories. 

We’d love to hear your story too! Your first sewing project, a memory of someone who inspired you,  a hilarious fail or mistake, your first sewing machine or early lessons. These are often experiences that draw us together and are sometimes the reasons why we keep doing what we’re doing. Maybe it’s the memories we have and the memories we hope to create for others through our projects. So send in your stories. We’d love to hear about what got your started and how you’ve got where you are on your sewing journey. You can email us through our contact page.

So now, here’s the first in our series of conversations with the girls you often meet at Berry Quilt & Co. There are lots of pics. Scroll on down to the bottom of the post for the image gallery. 

Jo’s Quilting Journey

Jo has always loved working with fibre: yarn, fabric, felt… any fibre really. She’s been a knitter of garments, crocheter of anything, played with punch needle embroidery, sewed clothes, sewed toys. Dyed linen, experimented with fabric printing and stamping and even learned to spin yarn! She’s been an embroiderer and completed massive cross stitch samplers. She says with a chuckle that she has had some funny results and tells a story of a jumper knitted in her university days that turned out way too big! That was before she learned about checking the gauge before diving in.  

Jo is one of those crafters who just jumps in and has a go at anything that seems fun or needs to be made. She’s made curtains, cushions, tote bags.. you name it… But until very recently despite being so crafty, she has NEVER done any quilting!!  She had been a fan of Amy Butler’s fabrics in the Mid-west Modern Amy Butler boom days. The patterns, designs and bright colours attracted her to the fabric, she made clothes for her daughter as a small child but she still did not have an inkling to do any quilting….until she came to work with us at Berry Quilt & Co!  

I headhunted Jo. We were acquainted through having daughters the same age. We had mutual friends. She had a reputation as a crafty person. I needed staff and she came to mind. I had an idea that she’d fit in well. I knew her general craftiness and inventiveness would be an asset to the team and that it wouldn’t take her long to pick up the kinds of things that quilters would need help with. I also knew that she would have the right happy, open, can-do, problem solving vibe that I always look for in staff. I’m so glad that she was interested in the idea of a ‘crafty’ job because it’s turned out really well!! She began late August 2020 so it has been a year that she’s been with us a couple of days a week. Many of you will have met her in the store. 

Since being around fabric more often, she’s been attracted to the designs of the Ruby Star Society girls amongst others. She didn’t think she’d ever become a quilter but says the fabrics drew her in! The first quilt she made, teaching herself, was a modern sampler with oversized blocks set in a simple column layout.  Now she’s completely hooked and has a few projects on the go; A traditional medallion quilt using Tilda fabrics for her Mum, some English paper piecing to stitch by hand and during the year she has also made memory quilt for her 18 yo daughter from all the clothes she’d made Amelie as a child. NOW she has a brand new quilting machine and is dabbling with free motion quilting on her most recent quilt. Jo has made more quilts this year that I have I think!  SO I guess we can say that we’ve well and truly turned her into a quilter!! 

Jo says that working at Berry Quilt & Co. she’s loved listening to the teachers while they are in class and enjoys seeing the different creative processes they encourage. In the store, she really enjoys helping people choose fabrics for their projects because she gets to look at fabrics in the store in different ways. Jo enjoys that it stretches and challenges you sometimes to work out solutions. It’s always satisfying when customers are happy with their choices and they go away ready to get stuck into their projects. 

Jo’s first sewing machine was bought by her Dad. It was a heavy black metal Singer which was originally operated mechanically by treadle. Someone had converted it to electricity and it was controlled with an unusual side knee lever. It weighed a tonne but worked!. Jo didn’t do textiles at school but still managed to make clothes for herself on the old singer, including her yr 12 formal dress! She thinks her Mum still has the machine somewhere.  Jo remembers that every so often her Dad would borrow it to sew canvas awnings and things for caravans. They’re nice memories to have of her Dad who is no longer with us. “He was so handy” she says.  I’m  thinking Jo got her ‘making it’ drive from her Dad who was always a fixer of things. Many sewing origin stories focus on sewing inclination or crafty ability being passed down the maternal line but in speaking to Jo I’m reminded that Dads can play a big part too. 

Now she’s been lured to the ‘dark side’ and become a quilter, Jo says she’s most attracted to scrappy quilts. Ones with lots of different fabrics and she’ definitely a print girl rather than a solid girl and her stash is growing! Haha we all know where that is heading! Buy some more cupboards Jo!!  

Click on an image below to open them up full size and generate a gallery to scroll through.  


Jo didn’t really think she’d ever be a quilter…. Look at her now! 

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