Sue Marsh, Designer Interview

Sue Marsh of Whistlepig Creek is one of our most popular download pattern designers.  I thought it was time for a designer spotlight all about Sue.  Here is what we found out about her.  I especially love her advice to new quilters. 


Tell us a little about you, your family and home life and how these are exhibited in your designs or process?

I live in beautiful Colorado with my husband and six (count ‘em six) cats.  I retired from corporate life as a software engineer eight years ago.  My husband joined me a year ago now we both work full time running the business.  We have two wonderful and talented young ladies that work for us, freeing me up to concentrate on design.  I have a very happy life and I think that is reflected in the silly designs that appear on the fabric I design for RJR.


How did you get started designing?  What was your first design?

I have sewn since I was twelve.  My parents allowed me the freedom to express myself through many mediums.  The characters I painted on the walls of my bedroom have appeared in my fabric.  I haven’t let go of that all-important inner child!

Pattern design has been a process.  I started sewing and selling other designers patterns at craft shows when I graduated from college in the 80’s.  There was a deep recession at that time as well, jobs for freshly minted grads didn’t exist, and the rent needed to be paid.   Slowly I went from modifying designs to developing my own originals.  I took my patterns (sweatshirt appliques and dolls) to the International Quilt Market in the fall of 1997.  I hung on to my full time software job until 2004, when my husband insisted I pick one full time job!


How has your designing over the years evolved since your first pattern design?

I have tried to change with the industry.  Doll pattern were big sellers in 1997, but are virtually non-existent now.  I’ve changed from dolls to applique to totes and purses to gadget covers.  I really try to stay up with trends.  Right now I am focusing on more modern quilts to appeal to a younger audience that is gaining momentum.


What type of patterns do you enjoy designing or do you have a specific design/style profile you enjoy most?

I love designing purse and tote patterns.


What inspires you and your designs?

Everyday life inspires my fabric design.  The little things that make me giggle may turn up as a quirky motif – such as seeing a dog riding in the back of a convertible car.

What developments or trends in quilting are you excited about?

There is an entire audience of young people ready and willing to try their hand at sewing.  They are free and fearless!


Tell us about your workspace?  What do you like about it and what do you wish you could change? 

My workspace just underwent a major overhaul.  I got a real sewing table for the first time ever.  As it turns out, it was huge!!!  So I “had” to invest in shelves and more vertical storage.  My workspace consists of our entire basement.  Since it is a walkout basement with lots of windows it doesn’t feel underground at all.  My husband would tell you my workspace consists of the entire house, with a few square feet carved out in the garage for him.


What is your favorite…

quilting technique to use?  Hmmm… my favorite quilt technique is my favorite long-arm quilter Kristy.


quilting tool that you could not live without?  Of course the rotary cutter and mat.  Outside of that, I find that specialty rulers and my GO! die cutting machine are fabulous assets.


style?  I’m in love with all types.  Just now learning paper piecing.


color?  I’m drawn to the cool colors, purple, blue, and green.


quilt designer? (Other than yourself of course)   My buddies at Whole Country Caboodle and High Prairie Quilts.


organizational tip? I’ll let you know when I get one.  I finally hired a young college student on break to come in and straighten me out.  I am doing my best to keep it that way.


Do you have a personal motto you try to live by?  Laugh a lot, especially at yourself.


Do you have any advice for new quilters?  Try everything, and forgive mistakes.  If anyone is looking that close, leave a little something for them to find. 


What would surprise us most about you?  I have a highly technical background, having graduated with a Petroleum Engineering degree and spent 20 years developing software.  I’m smarter than I look.