British Quilt Industry Interview Series: Sarah Ashford

This is the first in a series of interviews that I hope to bring you. I want to cast a light on the wonderful people behind the British Quilting Industry. These are the people coming up with fun ideas, patterns and products for you to use in your quilting endeavours! I think we should celebrate and support the quilting talent we have here in Britain, don’t you? If you know someone who I should interview, or you would like to be interviewed yourself, either pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post or drop me an email.

British Quilt Industry Interview Series The Crafty Nomad

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Meet Sarah Ashford.

Sarah is sponsoring a prize on my Tumbling Spools Quiltalong.

Sarah is a quilter, designer and writer. You may have seen some of her fabulous work in your favourite quilting magazines.

I recently got to interview her and thought I’d share that here with you guys!


Q: So Sarah, how did you get into quilting?

I always used to see my friend’s mum making beautiful quilts and I knew that one day I wanted to make them too.  That was long before social media existed!  Fast forward a few years and I started reading blogs, getting inspired by quilts online and when a quilt shop opened locally, that was me sold.  I bought a fat quarter bundle and haven’t looked back since.  

Q: Tell us about the first patchwork or quilted item you made

A: I have been sewing in one form or another since I was about 6 years old, but my first quilt was about 10 years ago; a baby quilt for my daughter.  I had no idea what I was doing! I used scissors to cut the squares and completely fudged the binding, but it was made with love and she still has it today.  

Q: What prompted you to set up a business within the quilting industry?

I’m a primary school teacher by profession.  But I found that with the long working hours and a young family there was very little time to be creative.  I had so many ideas and no time to put any of them into action.  So I left full time teaching and started making quilts for magazines and samples for fabric companies.  I then started making and selling the project pouches and writing more articles.  I still get to teach; I run a sewing group locally and I go into my children’s school and run a sewing club once a week.  I also teach at various retreats and Guilds, so I still get to be a teacher, just in a different form! 

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Q: What is your best accomplishment so far with patchwork & quilting?

I’m  very proud to be the founder of the #GreatBritishQuilter .  We have an Instagram photo challenge every September and it’s been so galvanising for the British quilting community.  The hashtag has been used over 11,000 times, which is just incredible and blows my mind because once it was just a seed of an idea in my head! We also had our very own Aurifil Thread box collection, which was definitely  a career highlight.   

Q: What's the favourite item you ever made?

One of my favourite quilts is the Airborne quilt that I designed for Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine.  It’s also featured on the Sewing Quarter TV Shopping Channel a couple of times, and it’s such a thrill to see other people’s versions of it.  It was my first published foundation paper pieced design and I was delighted that so many people have made it.  

Airborne Quilt by Sarah Ashford (Photography credit to Love Patchwork & Quilting Issue 56)

Airborne Quilt by Sarah Ashford (Photography credit to Love Patchwork & Quilting Issue 56)

Q: Tell us what your favourite tool is

Apart from my beloved Bernina sewing machine it would have to be a Hera marker.  I just love that you can use it to ‘score’ the fabric and not have to worry about using a marker pen, with the risk of markings not disappearing or suddenly reappearing.  It’s such a simple tool but I wouldn’t be without it.  Binding clips are up there with my favourites too.  

Q: Tell us your favourite fabric range

Ah, so many!  I do love anything by Cotton and Steel, and the Rifle Paper Company fabrics are particularly beautiful.  

Q: What are your plans for 2019? 

I’m bursting with excitement at the prospect of going to Quilt Con for the second year running.  I can’t wait to meet up with all the friends I made last year!  And I shall of course be at Festival of Quilts again too.  I also hope to do more teaching, more writing and one of my personal goals is to join in with the Coming Home BOM with Sarah Fielke.  I want to make a quilt for myself and I just hope I can find the time to do it!  

A big thank you to Sarah! I wish I was going to Quilt Con this year. I’ve decided to go in 2020, anyone else going then? I’m hoping to have some suitable quilts to enter by then! Plus a bit more time to save up!