We’ve been superfans of Karen Lewis‘s work for years… We were hooked from the moment we started seeing her stunning screen printed fabrics popping up in our social feeds and that adoration has carried through.
She is incredibly creative, kind, and well respected in her craft, as evidenced by all of the remarkable collaborations like with The Thread House, The Quilter’s Planner, Robert Kaufman, Figo Fabrics, Aurifil, and so much more.
Karen always has something new and creative up her sleeve, whether it’s sewing a top, hand-quilting, staging a temperature quilt for the second year in a row, or stitching up a fabulous maker’s tote.
Over the years we’ve been honored to release a series of collections featuring Karen’s work — from the bright rainbow hues of Blueberry Park to the subtle earth tones of Wabi Sabi Sewing to the whispered neutral tones of Wayside…
Just last week, at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, we debuted Karen’s 4th Aurifil set, Hampton Court. A delightful set of 5 Small Spools of 50wt thread, this collection is a bite-sized beauty, offering everything makers will need to dive into their next favorite projects featuring Karen’s screen-print inspired fabrics (Figo Fabrics)!
Thank you, Karen, for always coming up with fabulous and fun ways for us to collaborate. We’re thrilled to send this new collection out into the world! To learn more about Karen and her crafty adventures, check out the interview below!
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, Karen! Knowing that we might have a few readers who are meeting you for the first time, would you mind sharing a bit about yourself and how you got started in this super creative industry?
Hi everyone! My name is Karen and I live in the North of England, just outside Leeds in beautiful Yorkshire!
I grew up in Leeds but moved away for over twenty years for University and then living the life in London. When we moved back to Leeds with our three small children I knew I didn’t want to continue teaching which is what I had been doing. I set up a company Blueberry Park (yes that’s where my first fabric collection was named from!) sourcing and selling handmade products from around the UK. One thing led to another and the company gradually morphed into being solely my makes.
During this journey I came across Flickr and ended up down the rabbit warren of quilting and before I knew it I was quilting daily, went on a short screen printing course to design and print my own fabrics and found myself truly entrenched in our wonderful community. My journey took me to Robert Kaufman where I produced four fabric collections, followed by two at Figo Fabrics (Hand Stitched & Hampton Court) and two books Screen Printing at Home and Wabi Sabi Sewing.
Do you remember the very first quilt you made and how completing it made you feel?
I absolutely do! I had no quilting equipment… no ruler… no rotary cutter… no basting pins or spray… but I did have plenty of fabric! The quilt included everything I loved about textiles — linen and hand printed fabric and hand quilting. It was very small. I really had no idea what I was doing and made it up as I went along so knew I needed to keep it simple. It has faded to an inch of its life now but I still love it and still makes me feel the same rush of completion as it did back then.
You have a strong history with screen printing. Is that a technique you still regularly practice and how does that inform your design style?
It is. In fact, during lockdown I had a work shed built in the garden — fondly named The Printing Shed — which is where I can design and print undisturbed from a busy household. It’s a great place for me to get lost in my design process and also keep the printing mess away from the rest of the house!
Let’s talk about Hampton Court… Can you tell us a bit about how this collection came to be? What inspired these prints?
The last place we lived in London before moving back to Leeds was Hampton, down the road from Hampton Court. Hampton Court with it’s beautiful gardens and location next to the river became a regular place for us to escape to at weekends. It is full of inspiration with the ornate palace and decorative ironwork, the abundant gardens and basically sensory overload wherever you turn. I was revisiting a sketchbook from the time we were there and knew it had to become part of a fabric collection.
Your coordinating Aurifil set features 5 Small Spools of 50wt thread – how did you decide which colors to use?
I LOVE my new little collection! Thank you for working with me again! As you well know it was hard for me to limit myself to just five colours so it wasn’t easy but I wanted the threads to work across the fabric collection so it was important to pick colours that would work well together and with as many of the SKUs as possible with each thread. I am so happy with the final choices and can’t wait to see everyone sew with them with the fabric collection.
How do you use these threads within your own quilting and sewing practices?
Sadly,, I haven’t received my box yet so haven’t been able to use them with my fabric as yet! However, when I do, I am really looking forward to mixing it up with them with quilting. Trellis, one of the fabric designs, has multiple colourways and I am envisaging some fun matchstick quilting in random rows of all 5 colors. I think they will really pull together the colours of Trellis and the rest of the collection. It is interesting though because all the wonderful sewists out there do such amazing and unexpected things with both my fabrics and threads and so the thing I am looking forward to most is seeing what others come up with. It is always so inspirational!
Tell us about Privy Garden, the featured BOM. Where can makers sign up to participate? Are there kits available?
Yes there are kits available. The best thing to do is to go to Figo Fabrics to ask for a stockist near you. I am so excited about the BOM and sewing alongside everyone. Like everything in this industry all the prep goes on so long before that it’s always so fun when it finally arrives. Privy Garden is one of the gardens at Hampton Court and the central layout inspired the overall design, along with butterflies and flowers adding details in the blocks. It is a really fun pattern with lots of room for interpretation which I can’t wait to see.
We’re fishing for sneak peeks… what’s coming up for you in the second half of 2022 and where can we find you?
It has been a crazy year to date with various projects waiting to be revealed some in Love Patchwork & Quilting, a big project coming out with Today’s Quilter later in the year to name just a few… of what I can tell you anyway! Then there’s always the projects with Jo Avery and Lynne Goldsworthy with The Thread House bubbling away, our latest Summer Breeze BOM just been launched. People can go to thethreadhouse.co.uk to sign up for that and as for me you can find me on Instagram @karenlewistextiles and karenlewistextiles.com.
HUGE thanks to Karen for taking the time to chat with us. Before we leave you, we just had to add a little pssssssst did you know?? Karen created an exclusive collection to coordinate with Hand Stitched, her debut collection with Figo Fabrics. Feast your eyes below and click on the button to grab your very own set!!
Karen Lewis is based on the edge of Leeds, Yorkshire, where she spends her days printing, quilting, and designing new fabric collections for Figo Fabrics. She loves traveling and goes all over the world teaching, printing, and quilting. When she is not working, she is usually rambling around the local countryside with her scrumptious puppy Scout, any of her 3 (almost) grown up children, and her hubby.