Caroline Greco from Nightingale Quilts is one of my Instagram friends who I’ve not yet met in real life. I’ve bought her Finding Formation pattern to make for a friend’s baby due in December. The pattern tester versions I’ve seen on IG look super and I’m so looking forward to starting mine. She has recently had a new pattern listed with Pink Castle Fabrics which is hugely exciting for her. I like the geometric style of her quilts and that they lend themselves to a number of different colour combinations.
So, let’s get to know Caroline a little better.
1. Tell us a bit about you?
I’m an odd one. It is hard to describe me. I don’t have favourites of anything. No favourite food, music, movie, colour or anything. I believe that our moods and things we surround ourselves with impact us, as well as the sheer volume of choice in everything makes it impossble to have one favourite thing and rule out all others. As such, I don’t really have a specific sewing style, clothing style, I will try anything (within reason) once, and I find it makes life MUCH more interesting!
2. When did you start quilting?
I can actually say the exact month! It was April 2012. I have had over ten years of chronic health problems that have made it impossible for me to pursue a conventional job. Ater a long time of sitting around playing xbox, having months disappear with nothing to show for it, with no sense of achievement or and losing friends because I couldn’t leave the house often, my mother had had enough. She took me to a quilt shop and dragged me in kicking and screaming (figuratively). Sewing, my whole life, had been seen as something ridiculously boring and the fact that my mother was trying to replace the awesomeness of Xbox with it, was laughable.
3. How did you learn – Self taught/ Lessons / Online (tutorials etc)?
After showing me the importance of 1/4”, my mum supervised my first quilt, but didn’t really have much input. I designed it and (after I got over the frustration of using the imperial system for measuring everything) even quilted it without any assistance.
I have taught myself everything. Purely through the trial and error method. I have only used one pattern (and that was for a bag). I find that making things up as you go along works well, and it’s the way I”ve always done it. If you don’t have traditional methods taught to you, it can go two ways a) you accidentally do it the traditional way or b) you can invent a new way of doing things.
4. When did you start designing patterns – what got you interested in that process?
I have always designed patterns I guess. I always just saw fabric, and made up what I thought it would look good as and sewed it. I didn’t start writing the ideas down until I had been sewing for a year and a half when someone from my mother’s quilt group said she would like a copy of my pattern…..I had to tell her that I had to write it down for her (it took about 20mins, but I didn’t write in the fabric requirements, just instructions and fabric cuts). That was the first.
From there, I just started drawing all the designs when they came up, and I have a notebook full of sketches that I have to find the time to turn into patterns.
I think my love of mathematics, science and biology has somehow made pattern making easy for me. As a result, I find shapes and patterns in everything I see. I’m always amazed by the inspiration that can be found just sitting around you in your own environment. You just have to look a little harder. The only problem is finding the time to get the ideas out of the notebook and onto the computer and then out into fabric!
5. What would your advice be to someone who has been making quilts for a while and wants to start designing?
I would definitely say to go with what you love. If you love traditional blocks, fiddle with them, but add a little feeling of you. If you like improv, truly improvise. Go nuts. Make it the way YOU have always wanted it. Try forget what the “rules” for patchwork are. Put an idea together and don’t give up until it works.
The most important thing though, for me, was making the majority of my quilts super user-friendly. My patterns are so descriptive and illustrated….bordering on over simplified. I just want quilting to be accessible to anyone. I want people of all skill levels to feel as though they can achieve anything! I try to keep my measurements to whole numbers or 1/2s (eg cut 4 ½” for a finished 4” square) so that people aren’t trying to fiddle with 7/8ths and 5/8ths unless it is absolutely necessary.
6. What’s your favourite part of the quilt-making process?
Quilting for sure. Unfortunately I’m only able to do straight-line quilting for now. I wish so very much that I had the physical stamina and abilities to do so many more things with it though.
For example: I have a domestic machine. This means, I don’t have the strength the pull anything bigger than 60×80 (and that is exhausting, wears me out and can put me back a few days to recover) through it. I also cannot do FMQ with my wrists.
My dream is to have a long arm. That way there will be less stress on my body and much more quilting freedom.
7. What’s next for you – where do you see yourself in five/ten years’ time (whichever you feel like answering)?
I would be happy to be a pattern writer. There’s always the dream that I could make a business out of it, but for now my health limits the time I am able to sew. If I had famous people making my patterns (or pattern testing so I don’t have to put my body through the sewing/quilting) and magazines asking for my designs would be a dream too.
8. Where can we find you?
For now I have just my blog, which is more just to announce new pattern than anything else, at www.nightingalequilts.blogspot.com.au and my Instagram: @nightingalequilts where I am on almost daily (and multiple times a day) and how most people contact me. My patterns can be purchased through my Craftsy store.