Ruby Ruler™ Ambassador Jenny Haynes of Paper Sax Sten
Happy Monday to everyone! Today I’m excited to introduce the newest Ruby Ruler™ Ambassador, Jenny Haynes of Papper Sax Sten! Ruby Ambassadors are designers I admire, from all over the world, and help me spread the word about my Ruby Ruler™, Ruby Minder™ quilting and embroidery tools. They demonstrate how they use them in their own work and tell us a little about their design process.
I have long admired Jenny’s beautiful work, discovering her when the Modern Quilt Guild awarded her quilts at Quiltcon 2019. Since then, I’ve watched Jenny create and teach curved piecing like the expert she is, and am so happy to have her share a bit about her process and using the Ruby Ruler™ in this interview, enjoy! (Read and learn more about past Ruby Ambassadors.)
Jenny Haynes of Papper, Sax, Sten (paper, scissors, stone in Swedish)
Blair: Where are you located Jenny?
Jenny: Sheffield, UK
Blair: Please tell us a little about your background and how you came to design quilts?
Jenny: I was born in Sweden in the early 70’s and I started sewing at an early age. Bags, quilts and everything for the home but my main interest was fashion and pattern cutting to start. The passion of making clothes and drawing patterns took me to London. I found the fashion industry harsh, killing my creativity instead of feeding it and I soon fell out of love with the fashion industry. I had a couple of years break from making. When I took it up again it was all quilts and all fuzzy warm feelings about making again. The real fire came as started to design using curves. I always prefered making it up than following someone else’s pattern. I have now been designing my own patterns, for my own use, for five years and to sell for a couple of years at Pappersaxsten.com.
Blair: Do you have a dedicated studio space or in your house, as space requires?
Jenny: We moved out of London to Sheffield four years ago and I’ve now got a sewing room. My favourite bit is the high table which means I can stand up and sew on my new Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9450QPC. Having design wall and having a space where I can make a mess is priceless.
Blair: How do you organize your fabric stash in your space? By color? By project? Do you have a large stash?
Jenny: I’ve not got a big stash. It’s mainly solids which I sort by make. The few prints I’ve got are sorted by colour. Except my Carolyn Friedlander, Lucy Engels, Karen Lewis and @nohatsquilts that have their own shelf space.
Blair: You have demystified the idea of curved piecing, and do a beautiful job of designing modern quilt using curves in new and unexpected ways. Where did your interest in curved piecing begin? And tell us how you came to design your beautiful classic and oval curved piecing acrylic templates?
Jenny: The first curved block I made was the classic Drunkard’s Path which is still my favourite. I love piecing two opposite shapes together. The templates are a tool but also my muse;) I had them made as I wanted a precise block, with an exact ¼” seam allowance and straight edges. Maybe the longing for precision is a Swedish thing or a hangover from my pattern cutting days but most likely it’s a way to escape the chaos of everyday life. I see myself as a methodical designer. I play with one shape, then include another, combine the two in one block and each step reveals something new for me. The Ovals are the Drunkard’s Path Templates elongated. It was a natural next step for me after years of playing with the ‘normal’ circle. I’m currently exploring the hole block I made with these Ovals.
Find Jenny’s acrylic templates here. I have Jenny’s templates and I can’t wait to show you what I’m working on with them!
Blair: It can be overwhelming to choose fabrics for a new quilt. How do you approach choosing fabrics for your projects? What are your favorite kinds of fabrics (print or solid?) to use and why?
Jenny: I love prints but I mainly work with solids. When I design, I sometimes find the prints distract too much from the design process. Consequently, when I choose fabric for a quilt what I really choose is colour. I used to be very matchy matchy but in the last year or so I’ve been enjoying colour clashing and playing with value and hue. Every now and then there is a fabric line I can not resist. Sarah Elizabeth Sharp’s, @nohatsquilts, line Untamed batiks for Me+You is such a collection.
(The Reel to Reel pattern, above, will be launched in the new year.)
Blair: It can be confusing to some to think deliberately about color values in their work. But as I explain to students in the workshops I teach, we are thinking about and making decisions about color value all the time, whether or not we are aware of it. Can you talk about how you view color value in your work? Any tips on how you would initially approach the color value question in a new project?
Jenny: With my latest WIP, A Hole Lotta Luv quilt, I’ve been playing with perspective, using curves and angles, but also value, to create an optical illusion. I have really enjoyed using the Ruby Ruler™ to check and confirm my colour choices. I used to tell my students in class to squint to see if the colours pop. There’s no surprise the Ruby Ruler™ is a lot more accurate 😉
Blair: I was asked by a student once- Does value HAVE to come into play in a quilt design? Is using different colors enough? What do you think?
Jenny: It depends what your after. I like to think that a quilt with some depth and movement, created by adding value, can be more exciting but then I love exciting quilt design. Some want calm and still. The Ruby Ruler™ can help with that too, by making sure there is no unintentional popping.
Blair: How has the Ruby Ruler™ helped you make color value decisions?
Jenny: When I was choosing colours for my A Hole Lotta Luv quilt I knew I wanted the dowels to protrude and the holes to recede. I played with the Ruby Ruler™ to make sure the colours did what I wanted them to do.
I learnt that the colour that appear darkest to the naked, albeit squinting, eye isn’t always the one with the lowest value. The turquoise (Kona 440 Breakers) appears too light to compete with the pink (Kona 1384 Watermelon) but has in fact a lower value (less light and more black). See below-
Learn with Jenny
Blair: What new things do you have happening this month and beyond?
Jenny: I’m teaching in Australia in March and I’m really looking forward to include the Ruby Ruler™ in my teaching. Especially as I’ll be making versions of the A Hole Lotta Luv quilt with both @brisbanemqg and @quiltnsw. There are of course some curvy quilt patterns in the works.
On top of teaching in the UK and abroad, I will do more 1-2-1 teaching online so people around the globe can learn to sew no-pin curves. Look for some really cool tutorials coming up so sign up for my mailing list to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Favorite Quilt Block?
Blair: What’s your favorite quilt block?
Jenny: The Drunkard’s Path, without doubt. And maybe with an added skinny inset strip as a twist. More of this new block, with accompanying tutorial and pattern, coming up in the new year.
Blair: Where can people find you online?