"I've always sewn, it's as natural as breathing to me, and I get fidgety if I cannot. The pleasures of working with fabrics are enormous and ever-fascinating. And, because I work for myself and I have to make things that are mine, I design, innovate, play. I cannot make from another's pattern and anyway would not find it fun.
"There is something so utterly delicious about opening a package of new colours, new fabrics, stroking them and pressing and looking to make something that no one else has ever made before. I do understand that it's hard for most people to know where to start; this is why I make patterns and tutorials, teach in person and online, why I find it so rewarding to encourage and enable that level of pleasure in others.
"I started working with Oakshott fabrics more-or-less by accident. My friend introduced me to the stand at Festival of Quilts some years ago. My retail experience and basic bossiness meant that I ended up working all weekend, then going home with new friends, new ideas and a lot of cloth.
"One of my particular pleasures is to take a 'pack' of fabrics and make something just from that - it's nice to have a limit of some kind. My first real success was the City Lights Quilt (above): packing up from a show in Edinburgh, we dropped a Lipari block and the packaging exploded. I took it home and came back a week later with a quilt top, then a week after that with the quilted item. I have never seen anything snapped up so delightedly by so many happy sewists.
"Fabric needs to be nice: cheap, synthetic, poorly-finished? Not for me. I like texture, absolutely adore colour and am always happy when cutting and sewing. Consistent quality is important. Fabrics that press nicely are a must - much of what I do is improvisational and I am always happy with the way the Oakshott fabrics press."
Helen's designs for Oakshott