What if, as makers, we not only dedicated our time to creating works of art, but also to reflecting on the process. What if we celebrated the individual achievements and recognized the emotional weight so often held within each and every stitch. What if we slowed things down and listened to the stories behind the projects? These questions are the foundation of Just One Quilt, a campaign launched by maker and educator Jenni Smith in April of last year.
Jenni’s goal is truly to enlighten curious people about what drives the quilting process, how quilts are used, and why the craft of quilting is so beneficial. She wants to challenge the stereotype that quilting is an old-fashioned practice. She strives to highlight what makes the process of quilting so impactful, both on a personal and a more widespread level.
The stories are entrancing, portraying bravery, love, and passion… a true celebration of a maker’s creative journey.
Aurifil (in partner with Janome) is a proud sponsor of Just One Quilt and we’re honored to feature Jenni here today. We hope you enjoy her story and get just as lost in the loveliness of the series as we have!
What is the Just One Quilt Campaign?
The Just One Quilt campaign is a fresh way of sharing what quilting is all about. It is made up of 52 short films, but we are not just chatting about the technical details of a project – we are getting to the heart of the matter. Watching a 3 minute story you could laugh out loud, learn something new, gain a fresh perspective or burst into tears. We’ve managed all of this so far, and the weekly films are resonating with makers around the globe.
Who is in the films?
I have discovered that everybody has a lot to say once you get them talking about quilts, because it’s a true passion and nerves soon disappear. We have chatted to local makers, quilters and designers known Internationally, attendees of sewing retreats, and people we’ve met at QuiltCon and Festival of Quilts here in the UK. The criteria for taking part is simply a willingness to share and be authentic.
Why did you start this campaign?
I read a business book that asked you numerous questions to establish what really drives you and by the end I had written down that my big dream is to encourage everyone to make Just One Quilt in their lifetime. I achieve that at a local level through teaching, and through my Top Tip videos online, but to reach people who have never even considered it as a craft I decided the best way was to share what makers really get from it, on an emotional level. I was keen to explore what keeps bringing us back for more, why a need to create is so crucial in modern life and what other motivations drive the quilting process.
What has been suprising?
I anticipated that the films would resonate with viewers but I had thought less about how it could affect the people telling their own story. I have realised that we spend many hours sewing a project, but rarely allow ourselves the luxury of time to reflect on how it made us feel. Those who have shared personal accounts of how quilting has helped them with anxiety, a difficult experience, bereavement and more have found it truly worthwhile.
NEW UPDATES FOR 2020
Just One Quilt is almost a year old! Jenni and her team have diligently been producing a video a week (with a little time off last Summer!). They’ve launched 40 videos and have at least 12 more to go! They’ve had over 580 hours watched on YouTube from over 15k views with 100% positive feedback and a lot of comments and interaction across Facebook, Instagram, the Just One Quilt blog, and participants’ pages. It is truly a campaign customers can relate to and are really keen to talk about. As for the Just One Quilt team? They are still thoroughly enjoying the process.
We’ve loved partnering with Just One Quilt and have so much love for their process. We also feel incredibly lucky that they’ve worked with a handful of Aurifil Artisans and Designers. Artisans Chris English, Lucy Engels, and Lucy Brennan have been included, as have Designers Karen Lewis, Jo Avery, Nicholas Ball, and of course, Jenni Smith herself! (click on each name to check out the story and see Jenni’s embedded above!)
Jenni Smith has applied to lecture about Just One Quilt and what has evolved from making the videos at Festival of Quilts. She is also in discussions with a handful of other press outlets, so we’re looking forward to hearing even more about the series throughout this year. She has also just launched an online quilt course — check that out here.
We have to offer our sincere gratitude to Jenni, for taking the time to chat with us, for slowing things down, learning the stories behind the stitches, and sharing them with the world.
Jenni has been sewing for the last 25 years. She grew up in a house where her mum and nan stitched upholstery for the caravans and trailer tents designed by her grandfather. She studied History of Art and Italian at University before working as an Associate Producer in documentaries. In 2006 she spent a year in Toronto where she learned how to quilt and her love of dressmaking grew with the birth of her daughter a few years later.
For the past three years Jenni has been taught by sewing veteran Ann Ladbury. She has also developed her own series of textile art and has made original pieces for Sex and the City actress Kristin Davis and US artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon.
Jenni’s goal is to share her knowledge and enthusiasm, inspiring a new generation of people to embrace the handmade revolution.