One of Moda’s newest designers is Norway’s Wenche Wolffe Hatling. Her first line for Moda—Jol—is perfect for winter and Christmas and works well for Valentine’s Day, too. Read on to find out about Wenche’s first profession, the most challenging part of being in the quilting business, and her family’s unusual hobby.
Tell us how you got started in quilting and sewing.
I have always loved handcrafting. Knitting, weaving, crochet, sewing clothes, wood working—I did them all, at school, in the local 4H-club and at home.
My mother always knitted, but I had aunts who started patchwork and quilting in the mid 1990s. I saw their work and wanted to give it a try, and bought a quilt magazine and discovered that I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) follow the instructions—I wanted to make my own patterns! And so one of my aunts came to me, saw what I had been working on and said “Do you have a pattern for that? I want to make it! So I started making patterns! I named my business “Northern Quilts.” Northern Quilts is now a quilt shop/ web shop (www.northernquilts.no) in Norway.
What is your professional background?
I’m an architect by profession, and I have worked as an architect for many years, doing public planning, designing houses and urban spaces. The quilt design grew bigger and in 2010 I quit my architect job to work full time as a designer and quilt shop owner.
Tell us about how you came to work with Moda.
I’m a well-known designer in Scandinavia and I have been designing patterns since 2002. I travel to teach classes and I run my own quilt shop in the small city of Steinkjer in Trondelag, the middle region of Norway. I make quilt patterns and booklets, and design for quilt magazines.
I started my international career by attending International Quilt Market with my own booth, presenting and promoting my pattern designs. In 2015 I started working with MODA, and I’m really happy to be with them! Designing fabric is so fun!
Are you a painter/artist as well as a textile artist?
As an architect, I love to draw, doodle & sketch, and the need for putting things on paper is always there. My house (and bags) are full of pens and sketchbooks, so when I have an idea I can easily grab the nearest available sketchbook. I especially enjoy the planning process! I love to sketch my ideas and make a fabric pile with all the fabrics for the project. This is the fun part, to bring an idea to life, to make it happen with colors, textures, and shapes.
Tell us about your latest project.
Right now I’m working on 2 new BOMs (blocks-of-the-month)! I run a quilt shop and pride myself on offering unique BOM programs each year. This year I will make my new BOMs available in English, and downloadable for my overseas customers. One of the new BOMs is a pieced strippy quilt called “Summerdream,” made in soft pastel colors, with lots of cute blocks—flowers, leaves, a butterfly, and a cat. The other BOM will be with stitchery blocks and a city theme—houses, towers, and cute shop fronts. The biggest challenge is find the time to do it all! I’m always working on different ideas at once, so my home studio tables are always full of WIPs (work in progress). Creative mess!
What inspires your designs?
Inspiration comes from art, books, and my garden. I do a lot of garden photos and the colors could be the starting point of a quilt. I sketch a lot and these small drawings often become stitchery motifs. By visiting trendy interior blogs and web sites, I also get a lot of inspiration! My fabric designs are inspired by Scandinavian folk art. You know, knitting, embroidery, rose painting, and folk costumes are a big part of the Nordic heritage. Old patterns and traditional art surround us, even if “Scandinavian style” right now has a very subdued color palette.
Is there someone you admire in the world of textiles?
I admire the women who created and made beautiful clothes and quilts several hundred years ago! To work with what they had available, no electrical light, no sewing machines, no equipment that we today take for granted! When you take a look at the back of an old unquilted quilt top, and see the stitches and the thread they used, and you can see the hours of work going into it, and the will to make something beautiful- that is for me a very touching example of women’s creative strength.
What is the most rewarding part of your work? And what is the most challenging?
The most rewarding part of my work is getting positive feedback from my customers! I’m so happy when somebody tells me that my doodles and ideas have sparked their creativity! When they start with MY pattern and then makes it THEIR own, using their own colors and ideas—that makes me so happy! Quilting should be relaxing, enjoyable and easy to accomplish, and give the quiltmaker a good feeling. If I can put a smile on somebody’s face when they see my quilts and patterns, I’ve succeeded!
The most challenging? TIME. I’d like to know whom to ask about 28-hours days…
Tell us about your family and what you do for fun.
I love to be with my husband of 24 years and with my kids—I have four of them—my youngest is 12 and my oldest is 23—and I’m so happy when we’re able to do something together. We have a family hobby; we dress up as Norwegian Vikings, and attend Viking Festivals, demonstrating Viking handcraft like tablet weaving (me) and wood pole lathe turning (my husband). Very fun!
If I’m not sewing, you’ll find me…
Sleeping! I’m not a sporty girl, so I love sleeping!
Well, we’re guessing Wenche needs that sleep, given the busy life she leads! Have you stitched up anything with Jol yet? We’d love to hear about it.