Designer Justin Stafford of Keaton Quilts lives a big, quilting life in the big city – New York City! He shares a little bit of his world with us. When you are through reading all about Justin be sure to head over to his Christmas Tree Skirt Tutorial!
Living in a large city, what is your quilting community like? How do you find ways to connect with quilters?
I’m lucky enough to teach lots of classes and private lessons around the city on a regular basis. That usually means a trip to the local quilt shop where I do much of my teaching which is a great hub for some quality quilty chat. Also, my two best friends are quilters. One a longarm quilter, Stephanie Lauro of Beansy Quilts, and the other, Reyna De Courcy of Bramble Brains who also teaches and designs patterns. My favorite quilty meet-up in the city takes place the third Saturday every month at local shop, Gotham Quilts, where I host an afternoon session and evening session (though many join me for both) of Social Sewing where quilters of all experience levels come to work on their projects. I get to give them tips and guidance on what they’re working on. It’s so much fun seeing their projects progress throughout the year and always just so much fun.
What is the driving force behind your designs?
I am all about surrounding myself with all the happy I can – so I find many of my designs to be on the cheery side with lots of bold, bright colors. I’m lucky to live in the east village of New York City which is such a vibrant community full of galleries, street art, community gardens and so much more which often leads to inspiration.
Besides quilts, what else do you design?
I also design patterns for general sewing and am working on designing a fabric line at the moment.
You have an ambitious teaching schedule. What do you love the most about teaching?
I certainly do! Most weeks I teach 6 days a week but have been known to go a full 7 on occasion. Teaching is by far my favorite part of my job. There’s nothing like getting to experience the excitement of a beginner making their first quilt or an experienced quilter mastering a new technique. When a newbie leaving my introductory class asks if I will help them pick out fabrics for their next project- my heart just beams with happiness.
Do you get any unique opportunities to show off your quilts?
I was lucky enough to have my quilts featured in Saks Fifth Avenue windows last fall. To have such a prestigious institution judge my quilts as something they deemed special enough to want to display was a truly humbling experience and one I will never forget. The other big opportunity I had to show off my quilting was at the previous years Folk Art Museum Gala. I was the special guest of their CEO and got to display one of my quilts at the event. They even played a little video – which you can find on my homepage – and had me stand up at the end. Naturally I was in such shock that I could barely stand up and when I did, tears just streamed down my face.
Do you have other crafts or hobbies you enjoy doing?
I really love anything creative but my other big love besides quilting has to be photography. I recently got a 150-600mm lens and a new camera body capable of great high frame rate video – so I’ve been camped out at the parks in my area shooting all the wildlife with my dog, Diane Keaton
How do you spend a free day?
I don’t have many of those but when I do I usually end up doing the same thing. I’ll wake up early and start my day at the gym, (it’s rare that I don’t have to rush through my routines – so I take the opportunity to leisurely go through my workout) I follow that up with Korean BBQ at the Kunjip in K-town, sometimes I’ll take in a museum but I usually end up seeing whatever is playing on the 100 ft x 80 ft IMAX screen at Lincoln Center. I then walk all the way home to the East village when the weather permits.
Which school class do you wish you’d paid more attention to?
I wish I had taken more photography classes in college. I’ve been thinking about beefing up my skills a bit by taking some individual courses at my old alma mater here in the city, FIT.
Any projects you currently have in the works?
Yes! I am so excited for my first book from OddDot to release early next year. It is called Tiny World – Quilting and includes everything a beginner would need (instructions and supplies) to make their first mini quilt. It’s currently up for pre-order at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Besides OLFA, what are your go-to quilting tools?
My other favorite quilting tool would have to be my Original Scrapbox Workbox 3.0 which houses all my quilting supplies in the most beautiful, organized way. It allows everything to be within arms reach while also folding up like a transformer when I’m finished – putting everything out of view – which is key in my tiny NYC apartment. I can’t recommend them enough – having mine has been such a game changer in my life. Runners up include: Bernina B560 sewing machine, Aurifil thread, Niagara spray starch, Schmetz 60/8 sewing machine needles, Liberty of London lawn and Essex linen.
Please give us a quick tip.
If you are ever piecing with a slippery fabric like linen, voile or lawn – give it a good spray with some Niagra spray starch to help it maintain its shape while working with it.
Bonus question: What should someone not miss when they visit New York City?
I highly recommend checking out New York City’s only local quilt shop – Gotham Quilts! Wherever I travel, my first stop is always the local quilt shops in the area.
Connect with Justin on his social media platforms.
Company name: Keaton Quilts