Suzy Williams is a quilting entrepreneur. She has used her modern, minimalist aesthetic to take pattern design to a new level through her use of stunning photography and a vibrant social media presence. Suzy came to quilting at the age of 15, when she curiously peeked into her friend’s mom’s sewing room. Brenda Winkelmeyer became Suzy’s quilting mentor, and, combined with Suzy’s background in graphic design, the textile business Suzy Quilts was born. Suzy’s quilts have been featured in numerous publications, including Modern Patchwork Magazine, QuiltCon Magazine, Modern Quilts Unlimited, and the book Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. She also writes a monthly column in Love, Patchwork & Quilting Magazine. Suzy is a BERNINA Ambassador, and even flew to their headquarters in Switzerland to film videos to promote the release of their new machines made specifically for quilters. Suzy has released countless successful patterns, all of which are available for purchase on her website, and has licensed textile designs to Land of Nod and others. In 2016, she partnered with Toyota, where her quilt of a cityscape was featured in print and web ads for the brand. The Suzy Quilts website is full of educational tips and tutorials about quilting, all delivered with a dose of Suzy’s wit and photos of her adorable dog, Scrappy. Suzy lives in Chicago with her husband, dog, and almost-here baby boy. Welcome, Suzy!
How would you describe your quilting style/aesthetic?
Suzy: My style is minimal modern. Before making a quilt, I always try to ask myself, “Would I like this in my home?” That question guides my choices.
How would you describe the creative environment in your home as a child?
Suzy: I was fortunate that as a kid, I was always encouraged to explore. I loved to poke around and try new things, discovering the world on my own terms. I was always thankful for that foundation because it made me more adventurous as I explored art when I was older.
What artists and makers do you most admire or have an influence on your work?
Do you consider yourself a “quilter”, an artist, or some combination of both?
Suzy: Oh I’m definitely a quilter, but when surrounded by my fancier friends I call myself a textiles designer. I also like to refer to my business as a textiles design business. I think that encompasses more fully where I see my business going.
How would you define “making with intention”?
Suzy: Maybe this will sound funny, but I think all making is done with intention. . . it just depends on what that intention is! I love to take a look at how inspiration and emotion affect the outcome of a work of art. Whether you make something when you’re angry, sad, excited, or joyful, you always put a part of yourself into what you create, and the outcome is always beautiful.
Do you think that having a craft makes us more compassionate? If so, then how?
Suzy: I don’t think having a craft necessarily makes people more compassionate; however, I think it has fed a certain part of my spirit that in turn nurtures compassion. Everyone needs something that fulfills them on a deep level, so they can then give deeply to others.
How does creating feed your soul/spiritual purpose?
Suzy: I feel like I was made to create. Whether I’m designing or quilting, I get into this space where I am completely energized. It’s invigorating to commit yourself to working, both physically and mentally, in such a creative and innovative way.
Are there any rituals that you perform to prepare/ground yourself in your work?
Suzy: Honestly, sometimes I spend time organizing my space and getting in the right mindset… and sometimes I just have to dive right in. I bring whatever I feel, whatever I have experienced that day, to the sewing table and work it out. It’s all part of being human, right?
What is the support system you have in place for creating your work?
Suzy: My family has always been really supportive of my work, but the community of quilters is also really amazing. There are so many inspiring and encouraging fiber artists out there, and I love how they build me up when I need it!
How do you deal with comparison to / envy of others? Can you describe a time when you used comparison/envy/admiration to push yourself in your own work and self-discovery?
Suzy: I think this is always a struggle for artists and artisans, whether we admit it or not. There have been times where I have looked at other quilters and have really gotten down on myself for not producing enough, or not working hard enough. But then, I took an honest look at myself, and I was proud of the work I was doing. Sometimes you just need to see your own craft from a different perspective to appreciate the gift it is to create!
What was the most challenging thing you ever made?
Suzy: There is one pattern, in particular, that was very emotional for me. The Rocksteady Pattern was one that I wrote during a really hard time in my life. It helped me to be able to process everything that was going on while creating something new and meaningful to me.
What does it mean to you to work in a traditionally domestic medium that historically has been regarded as predominately female (aka “women’s work”)?
Suzy: I actually have not thought about this very much! There are so many quilters that I respect, both male and female, that I have always felt honored to be a part of the community.
How do you see your current work in the context of quilting history?
Suzy: I love to think of all of the quilters who have gone before me, and all of the people who have influenced my style. I hope that I can honor the tradition of quilting while bringing new and innovative ideas to the table! I’ve been slowly adding to a series on my blog called the Fab Fiber Artists series. It’s a great excuse for me to dive deeper into the lives of artists I admire.
Thank you, Suzy! Your unique voice in the industry is truly inspiring! For more about Suzy, or to find out more about her patterns, tips and tricks, visit her website. Also, connect with her on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.
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