My name is Julia McLeod and I’m thrilled to join Laura, Pati and Kirsten in ‘See How We Sew’. As a resource for quilters, sewists and crafters, our goal is to share ideas, inspiration and information.
Mine is a familiar story: I’ve been drawn to fabric and sewing since I was a little girl, growing up in England. Both my parents were good with their hands. My father made the violin I play to this day and my mother sewed her own clothes and a couple of new dresses for me each summer. Those dress-making scraps were my favorite play-things.
Graduating with a degree in textile design, my career took a few twists and turns. I found myself specializing in the design of luxury fabrics for the menswear industry. A job in New York City’s menswear industry brought me and my husband to the United States in the early 1990’s and the rest is history. We’ve raised two American daughters here and have yet to return to ‘the olde country’.
As you might expect, for many years I worked with a pretty conservative color palette - I can talk at length about what makes a particular shade of navy, beige or grey terribly wrong or just right!
Here's an example of a grey pinstripe my company sold to J. Crew, back in the '90s.
Quilts grabbed my attention on a visit to Pennsylvania’s Amish Country. I was captivated by the powerful use of color and composition. My early quilts were made for my children. Moving to California and joining a few quilt guilds led to a re-awakening of my interest in quilting. It’s an art form with endless possibilities.
Since 2016 I’ve been using silk in my quilts. In a class facilitated by Sue Fox*, I experimented with all kinds of textiles, bringing together tulle and satin, corduroy and velvet, African prints and silk neckties. I get a kick out of incorporating unlikely fabrics into traditional quilt blocks.
This is the classic block 'Card Trick' made with necktie silks, cotton prints and overlaid with a satin-stitched motif.
Sue Fox and I collaborated for more than three years under the name 'Silk and Salvage'.
We shared a scavenger instinct that led us to work chiefly with reclaimed fabrics, silk in particular.
In the manufacturing and recycling industry there’s the concept of the ‘loop’ - the journey of materials from their initial source through to manufacturing, consumer use and disposal. With effective recycling you get to 'close the loop', so raw materials don’t always have to be virgin materials - trees, sand, aluminum, cotton - they can be recycled and brought back into the loop as post-consumer paper pulp, bottles, cans and rescued textiles.
On my own small scale, I enjoy 'closing the loop' by using upcycled fabrics. I’m as happy in a thrift shop as I am in a quilt store. All my projects involve textiles ‘harvested’ from old garments and furnishing fabrics.
This recent piece, 'Mariposa', incorporates a vintage embroidered linen table topper with silks from a wedding dress, neckties and a blouse.
I look forward to sharing more with you in future posts.
Find out more about my quilts, lectures and workshops at https://juliamcleodquilts.com , follow me on Facebook and Instagram: Julia McLeod Quilts.
Thanks for visiting See How We Sew! I hope you’ll pick up some ideas, inspiration and information with every visit.
*Sue Fox: https://textiledreamstudio.com , Instagram @fox.quilts_salvaged.stitched, Facebook: Sue Fox Quilts