While shuffling through an array of our many scrap fabric boxes on a quest to create a new applique, my attention shifted to a heavy tub buried amidst hoards of sewing projects and quilts. It appeared to be stacks of retro quilting magazines. Excited, I pulled them out to review, and my anticipation grew as I realised they all featured Mum in one way or another.
I pulled out the first one sitting on top as I instantly recognised the quilt on the front. The magazine was Australian Country and Craft. Vol. 17, NO. 6. circa 2005.
(I couldn't find the actual date of this issue, if anyone knows please comment below).
And there, embedded in the pages, was a story about Mum and images that took me right back to my childhood. All her retro designs sprawled out on the page with glowing yellow font reading "A Poole of Ideas."
In that one statement, it was as if the article's author foretold the vision of our business today, which is now "Pattern Poole," a pool of creative sewing patterns.
It was the first page I opened to, maybe fate or maybe because the magazine was indented from me reviewing the page repeatedly as a child, proud of my mum and her creativity. But it sparked so much joy for me to see that I decided to grab my favourite quilt and head down to the wharf near our house to read and reflect in the lovely Australian winter sun.
The article reads:
A Twist of Fate
John Lennon once said that life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans, and this saying certainly rings true for Monica Poole.
Twelve years ago Monica spotted a job ad in the paper, seeking someone who had experience in sewing and sales - so she applied.
A fashion designer by trade, she was offered the position on the spot, and it was then that she entered the world of patchwork. "Although I had been sewing since I was a child I had never come across patchwork," she recalls,
"but it wasn't long before I was experimenting with fabrics and making quilts of my own." You could call it fate or even destiny, but it certainly appears as though she was meant to lend her skills to the craft.
On her first day in the store Monica was intrigued, "I was extremely interested and simply had to find out how it was done." she confides, "It was all so new to me." Surrounded by beautiful fabrics and sewing machines, it was an itch she was constantly tempted to scratch so it was no surprise when she signed up for a basic sampler class. Her impressive background in sewing made her a natural and her eye for design completed the package.
Each shift Monica worked at the shop taught her something new; she would
talk with the customers and find out about different techniques and styles.
But the most important part of any learning process is practice - so that's what she did. Her first creation was a charming heart quilt, which she made for her young daughter Alaura. "At the age of 13 she still likes to snuggle up with it on the lounge," she smiles, "but when I see it now I can't help but think I should have done a few more rows of quilting on it." And while she may look back and find room for improvement in her early work, it was those initial pieces that really got her hooked on the craft.
It wasn't until Monica and her husband started to renovate their first home that her new-found hobby really kicked into overdrive.
"I aimed to fill the house with quilts," she recalls. "I was trying to create a cosy feeling and I think they bring that." In her own childhood, she was surrounded by craft, and she wanted her family to experience the same creative atmosphere. "My mother was a dressmaker and my father, a carpenter," she says. "I have a very large family, and everybody was artistic in their own way."
It's well known that life doesn't always turn out the way we planned, and Monica is proof of this. She had always imagined she would one day have a bridal-wear business or perhaps even a fashion label of her own but chance took her down a slightly different path. "It all changed when I stumbled upon patchwork and quilting," she states. "Now I have a sewing pattern label, Moon Shine Designs, which includes quilts, cushions, and handbags." Her patterns are distributed to over 100 shops throughout Australia and can also be found in New Zealand and America.
The business is coming along in leaps and bounds, and it's hard for her to picture what her life would be like without it.
The key to Monica's success is in her designs - her creations exude a sense of style that makes them stand out. "I would describe my work as fresh, pretty and colourful," she muses.
"I simply love incorporating beautiful colours in my pieces." Her use of various tones and hues draws the spectator in, while the overall composition of her work leaves a lasting impression. She is inspired by current trends, be it fashion, interior design or any other artistic field.
And this is reflected in the contemporary nature of her patchwork.
Monica didn't expect to journey down the patchwork road, but sometimes the sweetest things are those we didn't anticipate. "