We are excited to continue our series, FeelGood Features, with fiber artist Shelagh Jessop of Stuart Moores Textiles! FeelGood Features showcases artitsts that work with upcycled/recycled and sustainable materials, or focus on making with intention. Because it’s not only important WHY we quilt, but it’s also important HOW we quilt. Our hope is that this series will introduce you to artists that you will love learning about and will demonstrate the ways in which you, too, can incorporate sustainable materials into your craft and practice creating with intention. Thanks for being here!
About Shelagh: Hi, friends! Thanks to FeelGood Fibers for having me. My name is Shelagh (sounds like Shayla) and I am the one woman show behind Stuart Moores Textiles (Stuart was my great-grandfather). SMT is a natural dye studio based on the east coast of the United States, right outside of Washington D.C. We (as in me, myself, and I) create plant dyed embroidery flosses and fabric for sewing and quilting.
I love natural dyeing so much I can’t even tell you. It is such a dynamic process and there are so many moving parts that I am constantly able to create new and exciting combinations of dyes; it doesn’t get old or feel like work. I never lose the excitement that comes when it’s time to rinse out a new fat quarter and see what I have created.
I started natural dyeing as an undergrad in Textile Design about 16 years ago. I was learning a lot about dyeing in general back then so my focus was more widely focused on all kinds of fabric dyeing. I had the world’s largest collection of hand-dyed fabric and no idea what to do with it all so I started quilting about 8 years ago to use up all that hand-dyed goodness.
I continued to dye (mostly with procion dyes) and quilt up until three years ago when my son was born and my whole world was turned upside down! I no longer have time to sit and sew large projects (so no quilts have been made since my little man came to town) but it has renewed my interest in plant dyes because it is a slow and passive (for the most part) process. I have been able to still express my creativity and obsession with color through natural dyeing.
I have always used upcycled materials and been a lifelong thrifter/clothing mender and just on a whim a few years ago I posted a picture of a pair of pants I fixed for my husband with some SMT floss and I couldn’t believe the response! People loved it and wanted to know how I did it so I posted a few tutorials on YouTube to show people how I was mending my clothes and it’s really blown up to my total and utter surprise. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I love creating plant dyed flosses and fabrics and combining them with visible mending techniques I taught myself out of books when I was a kid (and now seeing SMT flosses on other people’s mended clothing) is so fun for me. It’s also so incredible to see interest in this kind of thing growing so fast now.
As for what I am working on now, I have been recently thinking a lot about how much I miss my sewing practice. I have been brainstorming different ways to use smaller pieces of fabric to make larger items that look designed and intentional. SMT is already a pretty environmentally friendly business but I am always trying to move it closer to a zero waste model so recently I have been working on some items I can create out of the fat quarters of fabric that don’t make it to the shop because of uneven dye or odd shape. More to come on this but it’s an exciting challenge I have set for myself and I love a good challenge. 🙂