My degree is actually from Ryerson’s Media Arts program, where I majored in photography. My first creative loves were paper, bookbinding, photography and collage. Along the way, I also took woodworking, stained glass and neon signmaking classes. It wasn’t until I was working in New York City that I discovered sewing and immediately fell in love with making my own clothes.
When I’m not at the workroom, I’m hopefully sewing, gardening or going on adventures with Maisy. At any given time, I can have up to ten quilts in various stages of progress. Not to mention all the clothing projects that are in queue! I really do love to make things and the thrill of completing a project or learning a new skill never gets old to me.
In my wildest dreams, I hoped that the workroom would become more than just a shop, but would also be a vibrant and inspiring place where friendships would form over pretty fabric and cups of tea. I’m definitely most proud that this dream came true and that I am witness to it every day.
I think my dream project is to make a quilt entirely from Liberty of London Tana Lawn fabric. I’ve been collecting different bits of Liberty for years now. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to start it soon!
Japanese Dress Books
Japanese Dress Books 2
Sewing Machine Essentials
Sewn Men’s Tie
Our dearest shop dog who saw us through the workroom’s first nine years. We could not have built such a welcoming space without her sweet guidance and company. We miss her sweet face every day.
I studied Environmental Design at OCAD and Graphic Design at Conestoga College. I enjoy working on our houses, immersing myself in nature, riding my bike, making things out of wood, and designing stuff. I run my own graphic design business, specializing in branding small businesses and helping them communicate with the world. I’m inspired by entrepreneurs who build a business around their dreams. They’re wonderful to work with.
Alexis Da Silva Powell
My earliest making memory is obsessively weaving construction paper. So obsessively, in fact, that I quickly ran out of construction paper and took to shredding any paper I could get my tiny hands on. Always one to encourage my creative pursuits, my mom allowed me to paint wall-sized murals in the kitchen and on the windows looking out into our backyard - worms were my speciality. Around the same time, I started creative movement classes and my love of making was joined by my new love of moving. Growing up, I continued to dance and make (knitting, glass blowing, macrame, gardening - you name it, I was going to try it!) and eventually graduated from York University with a BFA in Dance.
The magic of making never stops affecting me and I am always proudest of whatever project I have just finished. No matter how simple or complicated, no matter if I have made it a hundred times or only once, making with my hands is pure (insert sparkle emoji).
If I could make my making dreams come true, I wouldn't pick a specific dream project. My dream would be to have more time to do ALL the projects I have ever dreamed of. I would love to travel and learn from artists in their studios in a variety of different mediums. Harvest bullrushes and learn to weave them? Incredible! Go to Shetland Wool week? Of course! For now, I have the amazing opportunity of learning from the extremely talented teachers at The Workroom.
My education is in English Literature and Librarianship and sewing obsessions started early for me. I suffered devastation in Grade 7 Home Economics when my teacher gave me an A- on a very complicated hot dog pillow. I made 9 more cushions before I got the A grade I thought I deserved (and before the teacher refused to mark any more pillows!).
When I started working full-time, fate was generous enough to give me a quilter with whom to share my cubicle. After that I took quilting lessons every week for 16 years and carried my sewing tin with me everywhere. Teaching at the workroom fuels both creativity and joy. I especially love to see people combine skills from multiple classes into a quilt or garment that is totally their own.
If I am not at the workroom I am caring for my daughter Faye. When she falls asleep, you can usually find me quilting, knitting, baking, fussing over my indigo plants or watching Sherlock with my husband, Darcy.
I have great affection for my Shibori Star quilt which happened very much by accident. The cloth was dyed in 2009, but it was finished as a whole cloth piece, in a fit of sewing therapy in 2011. You can read about it here.
My passion for indigo was sparked 18 years ago when I saw naturally dyed fabric for the first time. It was years before the opportunity to learn the process presented itself. Back then, my wildest dream was having the time and space to do exactly what I do now.
Hand Pieced Star Sampler
Intro to Handwork
Whole Cloth Quilt
Ignacia Ibarra Black
My background includes a diploma in pattern drafting and clothing construction from George Brown. I also have a BDes from OCAD where I majored in industrial design and minored in material art & design. The latter included ceramics, woodworking and weaving.
Other interests that I have explored include leatherwork, painting, ballet, and wishing I could be better at learning how to play my auto-harp.
Leatherwork is my most time-consuming pursuit at the moment and with it I like to practice traditional techniques of hand cutting and saddle stitching. More recently, I have been trying to teach myself the archaic practice of shorthand—for writing quick notes and secret messages!
When I am not working at the workroom, I enjoy taking on freelance creative jobs that include, but are not limited to: building glittery props for the windows of William Ashley, making construction paper cutouts of contemporary artists for online videos, and sewing clothes for tiny puppets.
I dream of taking a class with Carolanne, especially her Honeycomb Smocking class. I think my dream will come true in a couple of weeks! I am going to learn how to sew a beautiful smocked cushion and it will be made out of garment-weight leather.
Since I started working at the workroom, there’s been so much talent and motivation that has walked through the front door. It has been an inspiring experience, so I will try to find some time to get back to machine sewing. I think I will start with a quilt! Or a strapless black velvet dress.
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Michigan, but my crafty education comes directly from Mom!! She sewed, knitted, macraméed, embroidered—you name it!
When I’m not at the workroom, I’m a mother and wife, plus stitching, designing and sewing as much as humanly possible.
I love the light-filled space, the sewing stations, the delicious wall of loveliness, and, most of all, the wonderful staff and my fantastic students at the workroom! I am always delighted to see how everyone combines their fabrics and makes their projects all their own. I can’t wait to come to class!
Amish Bars Quilt
Alphabet : Machine Paper Foundation Piecing
DIY Hand Quilting & Frames
Double Wedding Ring Quilt
English Paper Piecing
Favourite Four Patch
Houses: Machine Paper Foundation Piecing
Intro to Cross Stitch
Learning Curves Runner
Pineapple Log Cabin
Super Star Quilt
Amanda McCavour is a Toronto-based artist who works with stitch to create large-scale embroidered installations. She is interested in thread’s assumed vulnerability, its ability to unravel, and its strength when it is sewn together.
McCavour uses a sewing machine to create thread drawings and installations. By sewing into fabric that dissolves in water, she can build up stitched lines on a temporary surface. The crossing threads create strength so that when the fabric is dissolved, the thread drawing can hold together without a base. With only the thread remaining, these images appear as though they would be easily unraveled and seemingly on the verge of falling apart, despite the works ravelled strength.
Learn from Amanda:
Free Motion Embroidery
Image to Cloth
Joanna Schleimer is a hand weaver using fine, natural materials to create delicate, personal and nostalgic textiles. Her studio work focuses on embedding imagery within cloth, exploring both additive and subtractive processes, both on and off the loom. She is particularly interested in memories and feelings that are evoked from meaningful garments and heirloom objects.
Joanna studied Material Art and Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, graduating in 2011.
Learn from Joanna:
Grainsack Tea Towel
Heirloom Tea Towel
Intro to Tapestry Weaving
Twill Sampler Tea Towel
Woven Rag Rug
I grew up with a mother who is a fibre fanatic, in a house full of yarn and fleece and looms and spinning wheels. So I was crafting from a very young age, doing everything from sewing, knitting and dyeing to needle point and cross stitch. In 2002, I set off for the mountains of BC and did a three year textile program at the Kootenay School of the Arts, an eclectic, wonderful little school. One of the instructors there turned me on to natural dyeing in a big way, and a fellow student taught me about the wonders of boiled wool, which I now use for my production line of hats.
I currently enjoy juggling my teaching at the Workroom with two small businesses, Julie Sinden Handmade and The Love of Colour. The first is my line of boiled wool hats and other accessories, that I have been making for more than 15 years, and which I sell at small boutiques and the One of a Kind Show. The Love of Colour is my newest venture, and draws on my almost 20 years of studying natural dyeing, and more than a decade of teaching it. It's a small line of my favourite natural dyes, including our very popular beginner natural dye kits.
I love having the chance to meet such a wide range of people who all share at least one common interest at the workroom. Sharing my love of natural dyeing with the community, and seeing what students create with the things they dye in my classes is such a joy.
Intro to Fibre Reactive Dyes
Printing with Natural Dyes
Crafting has been with me since I was a kid. After lunch at my grandmother’s house was when she would sit on the edge of her bed and make, mend or alter a little something with a needle and thread. Showing me how to imagine a little change and how to make it happen.
Since then I have been fortunate enough to pursue and learn so many skills and interests from so many people, taking me to so many new places. Whether it’s knitting, crocheting, spinning, sewing or giving how to dye a try, to play with clay, to rollerskate… the list continues… it’s about keeping heart, mind and hands connected. Carving out time to try something new drives me forward and I learn so much more than the intended skill.
I am so grateful to be a small part of the workroom. It is a hub of creativity and imagination everyday. Seeing the shop through each maker’s eyes keeps it all fresh… the workroom is like a potluck where everyone is invited to make something and show ‘n’ tell is such a fabulous surprise. It is humbling and enlightening to witness and learn something new from so many people each day I am in the shop.
Most projects I make often have some (self imposed) challenges. I usually veer away from the pattern with some alteration or another, get frustrated and eventually figure out a solution (through trial and error and consultation) that makes me even more thrilled with the outcome.
As long as I’m discovering… that is my favourite way to make. My dream is to keep it this way.
Have fun, roll with it, go further.
Sherri Lynn Wood
Sherri Lynn Wood is an artist working in Oakland, CA. She is the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant for Painters and Sculptors, and a two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow. She has been making and improvising quilts as a creative life practice for twenty-five years, and blogs about it at daintytime.net. Teaching credits include Penland School of Craft, QuiltCon, and numerous modern and traditional guilds across the country. In 2016, she will be an artist in residence at Recology, the San Francisco dump, where she will begin work on her second book. Her first book, The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters—A Guide to Creating, Quilting and Living Courageously, released by STC Craft/Abrams in April 2015 has sold more than 10,000 copies.
I think most creative endeavors start in childhood, and I attribute my start to my mother allowing me to be who I was. I was solemn, thoughtful and serious. She also let me dress myself from the time I could make moderately reasonable choices. She never made any decisions about who I was, or what I was going to be, she just let me be, and that shaped me into what I am, and how I treat my work.
First I found printmaking, and received a BFA in it. Then I found fabric design. Then I found sewing. Then I found gardening. I probably do most things in between too. I just like making stuff, and I like saying things in the work that I do.
When I’m not at the workroom, I’m at home in Salt Lake City, UT, gardening, petting a cat, planning a party, planning a trip, sewing a dress, making some art…
I love teaching because it is an enabling power. I get to share beautiful things that I’ve learned with wonderful people all over the world. Then you get to keep and share that joy. It’s a circle. I also love teaching at the workroom because I love the feeling, and I love the peeps.
The sewing project that I am most proud of is most certainly my Meadow quilt.
I’m dreaming of doing super complicated and time consuming couture sewing…
Castle Treasury Quilt
Pattern Design & Block Printing
The Meadow Quilt
Elizabeth (Libs) Elliott is a textile designer exploring the intersection of technology and traditional craft by using generative design to build handmade quilts.
All her quilts are randomly designed using a programming language called Processing. The project began in 2012 as a collaboration with designer and technologist, Joshua Davis, who provided the original code framework.
The Weight of Love Quilt