Q & A with Kathy Doughty, co-author with Sarah Fielke of Material Obsession.

How did you learn to quilt and what do you remember about the experience?
A friend gave me a quilt when my second son (who is now 16) was born, and I remember holding the quilt and saying, “You have to teach me how to do this NOW!” I got a few tips on basics from her and lots of library books and immediately started making quilts for my family.

Your quilts feel fresh and modern but very much rooted in tradition. How do you achieve that?

I think we have a lot to learn from antique quilts. Initially, I tried to replicate the feel of them but with bigger shapes because I thought it was too hard to work with small shapes. The result does feel both modern and traditional, especially when the quilts are made with some of the current fabrics with large, colorful graphics.

In the knitting and sewing communities we have seen a strong influx of new, young enthusiasts in recent years. Do you see evidence of this in the quilting community?

Absolutely. We see young women making things for themselves with patchwork fabric, such as quilts, bags, skirts, and housewares. There are also lots of mothers coming into the shop every day looking for fabric to make quilts for their children. Women of all ages appear to be looking for a source of creative output, which is fantastic.


You attract a large American audience to your blog and website. Do you see differences/similarities in the American vs. the Australian quilting communities?

Americans tend to comment on the blog while Australians email or stop me at shows to say they enjoy reading the blog, but very rarely leave comments. I think the quilting community is basically the same around the world. We all want to learn and share techniques that help us to express ourselves creatively. The internet takes the quilting bee concept to a new and wonderful level where we can share our quilts and lives in an instant. I am always fascinated to see a concept travel around the blogosphere.

Which quilt in Material Obsession was the most fun to work on and why?
I loved making Ginger Snap. It was the first time I worked with Amy Butler fabrics and the 60-degree ruler. I bought both of them at City Quilter in New York City. I got back to Australia just in time to go to my quilt group retreat. I took a huge box of fabrics from my stash and sat at a table sewing strips together, wondering what would happen.This was the beginning of my stash activator idea, which involves finding a new contemporary fabric (the activator) that works well with a lot of fabrics from my stash. It also started my love of using ruler templates to achieve wonderful (and accurate) results!

Which project in Material Obsession was the most challenging to work on and why?

Liberty Fields was a challenge as there were so many triangles to cut out, and when I had all the blocks done I had to figure out how to lay them out for a dynamic effect. It is my favorite quilt for its simple beauty.

When you were a child, what did you imagine you would be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an artist, but I didn’t think I could be one because I couldn’t paint. Through my career in marketing I met so many creative people and I learned that being an artist is about how we see things, not how we paint. What a gift it was to learn that!

If you could spend an afternoon quilting with one person in history, who would it be?

Susan McCord. I love the fact that she was a simple woman, living in harder times with five kids and she still had time to make the McCord Vine Quilt, among others, with thousands of strip-pieced leaves appliquéd in panels.What drive she must have had

What are you making now?
A traditional Australian wagga quilt made from repurposed wool suiting, three dolly quilts, an American folk art-style medallion quilt, a wild Gee’s Bend-inspired scrap quilt, a flannel quilt, a cot quilt, a pretty-in-pink lone star, a single bed boy’s quilt with giant zigzags, a hand-pieced flower block, and an art quilt with a tree theme. At the same time I am quilting a fan quilt and a strippy triangle quilt. Yikes. Does that answer your question?