Meet Theodora Badra, an international quilter

Theodora certainly is an “artsy” person. Not only does she quilt, but she also paints and collects art, and does needlepoint. For a living, she runs an art and framing store with her husband. Oh, yes… Theodora is from Greece.

1. Is quilting part of the tradition of your country? Tell us a little about the customs.

Quilting is not known here in Greece, but I believe is will catch on eventually. I am trying my best to introduce it to as many women as I can, plus recently I discovered that there is a craft store in downtown Athens that teaches quilting .

Women of earlier generations weaved with looms. Generally country women and all women would crochet, needlepoint and knit. They would make a dowry for their children for when they marry, such as crochet tablecloths, embroidered sheets, doilies, bed covers with all of the various crafts . I myself have a couple of my mom’s crochet pieces: one for for a table and bed cover and also a wool crochet blanket. But I must mention that in earlier times they did make something like a quilt. It was a large bag filled with cotton wadding and quilted with thick thread with big stitches and for some reason they used a shiny thick fabric like satin. I used to see them when I was very young in country homes. They are called paploma, but in general very few women are involved with these crafts anymore. They find things on the market that are mass produced from China. Here in Greece very few women sew. There are seamstresses that sew garments on commission, and there are plenty of little shops that do alterations for clothing — simple things like hems and even sewing on buttons, just to give you an idea of how unfriendly women are to the needle and thread.

2. What fabrics do you use? Is it difficult to purchase the cotton fabrics most often used for quilting in your country? Do you buy locally? Are there fabrics you use that would be considered unusual throughout the quilting world?

When I decided to start up quilting I had found a big bag of fabrics that were thrown out. I wanted more variety, of course . I started to visit a couple of fabric stores and purchased all the variety that they had, but it. was very limited and expensive . I wanted my quilt to have many various prints. I did purchase on the internet and I also would visit home decor stores where they throw out the discontinued fabrics, so they would give them to me. But again, some were real thick and I make cushions out of these fabrics . Recently I discovered a shop downtown that has plenty of fabrics. Very few cottons for quilting, but the prices are super cheap (1.23 euro per meter) and I bought 5 different prints 5 meters of each. I just love their prices, because I usually pay 7 euro at the shops near my home.

At times I was so desperate for variety I found myself using silk, wool, corduroy, linen, flannel — just about anything that I could get my hands on at a reasonable price. I just hope one day quilting will catch on so I can find more fabrics for quilting. I sometimes buy from the internet and I also have made a super nice generous blog friend that has sent me a box, so for now I am good.

Click here for Theodora’s interesting post on fabric shopping in Marousi.

3. What do you use for batting? Once again, are you able to find this locally or do you have to order it online?

As far as batting I find the simple batting at the shop near me, But the batting they have is thick, which is too hard to hand quilt. I just recently quilted a couple of baby quilts, but it is hard on my hands. I also have found the thinner batting, but the lady at the store near me ran out and she hasn’t brought any more yet. I recently found a shop that sells batting and at a better price, so I will be visiting that shop one day to buy a large roll of it.

4. What about other supplies? Threads, stabilizers, fusible web, etc? What are you able to purchase locally and what do you have to obtain from outside your country?

Since I started quilting I look through home decor magazines and would clip any quilt photos I would see and keep them in a folder. I work with frames and I have a matting board which I use plenty to cut out squares and triangles to use as templates. I would sit at the coffee table and draw around the template on the fabric with a pencil and cut out with the scissors. When I lived in California and I was looking around to buy a sewing machine back in the early 80’s I did see a mat and cutter. And a gentleman there who was a quilter showed me a folder with photos of his quilts from shows. I was really impressed. He also showed me how the cutter and mat was used, but it didn’t dawn on me to buy one then. I was just overwhelmed with his super quilts, plus I was looking into buying a sewing machine.

As far as fusible web, I recently found that it exists and I haven’t used it yet, but I will when I decide to applique again. I believe the shop downtown has it. I have done applique and I would just use a thin iron-on interfacing used for garments and I tell you it is a lot of work. I have a photo of an applique quilt I recently finished for a little girl.

There is a shop near me that sells notions for sewing and they carry 3 types of thread. I am not so particular about thread. I plan on buying a long arm quilting machine and set it up in my shop, through a quilt friend that lives in Thessalonika. She has the machine that I plan on buying and has done research and found the thread that her machine works well with, and it is a thread that is manufactured here .

5. Do you use “modern” quilting tools, like a mat, rotary cutter and specialty rulers? Have you had to improvise and adapt tools?

Through blogging –which I just started recently– I came upon a blog that mentioned an Olfa cutter giveaway. So right away I followed the instructions and wrote in the comment box about how I have never had one and that at that time I was looking into buying  one on the Internet, so I thought maybe I could win one. To my surprise, I got an e-mail from Cyndi (the lady who had posted the giveaway on her blog) and she actually offered to buy one for me! She also sent me a good size mat and extra blades. I should mention she is the lady who also sent me the box of fabric. She is the most generous person I have met . So I do have now all I need . Just recently I found that the shop downtown carries cutters and mats and I can get blades for my cutter.

6. Is there a particular technique you prefer over others or that you feel has become your specialty?

My technique is very simple: cut and sew. The pattern that I fell in love with is the log cabin and I like to pay around with that changing it in different ways. I also love the box-in-a-box, and love to just cut strips in different shapes like triangles. Just playing around with different fabric colors. I love to play with colors and I like to use white in between. I find that it brings out my shapes and colors more and whites and solids are easy to find. Pretty prints are difficult to find.

I also went through a faze of making house quilts and I made about 5 of them. One I sold to a friend that loves quilts I also put in little trees using corduroy for the trunk and green felt for the tree part. I get carried away when cutting out pieces. I still have a little box with a stack of roofs, windows and doors that are still waiting to be sewn together. I do a zig-zag stitch to place the door and window and I also do a zig-zag cross on the window for a little detail and buttons on the door as a handle. They are so much fun.

7. What about other quilters? Is there a group or association that meets in your city/country? Do you plan events together?

Through the internet I was able to find my friend Kristine. She lives in Thessalonika. She made a face book site titled Quilters of Greece Unite. She recently moved with her husband to Greece and has started a charity project titiled “Quilting With a Purpose.” She makes quilts for the local orphanages in her area by teaching a small group of women to quilt in her apartment studio. I have also helped her by posting about her charity and also donating quilt tops. She requests quilt tops for baby size, which she quilts on her machine and the women help complete the quilts . She had a goal of 50 baby quilts this past Christmas to take to the orphanage and I was very happy to help her reach her goal. She has visited me a couple of times and I plan to go up and visit her and check out her long arm machine and table, which I plan on buying.

Through Kristine I also met a couple of ladies recently and we plan on getting together soon. They happen to live in Athens, but there might be others quilters out there, so it’s just a matter of time since we are busy working housewives and mothers.

8. What would you say are the biggest challenges or difficulties for a quilter in your country? What are the greatest opportunities?

The greatest challange is trying to find pretty print fabric and a variety of it. For me, the best opportunity is to make it known to more women and to actually make quilts in my shop. Since I have this advantage I plan on setting up a small studio when I get my quilting machine. I want to set it up in the window so people can walk buy and watch me quilt. I believe it will get attention since there is nothing like it here. That way peope can see the quilts in the window and maybe sell some so I can make more. I have mentioned it to some friends and they are just as excited as I am and they keep reminding me of when that day will come. I of course will have to do alot of manouvering since our shop is packed with paintings, but I will find a way to fit it in and make it nice.

9. What is your quilting philosophy?

Using what I have to make something stunning that one can use to cover and snuggle with or to use for any purpose to beautify a home.

10. Is there anything else you would like to share that you feel is central to who you are as an “international” quilter?

I am inspired by the pioneer women of early America who used what they had from recycling clothing and flour sacks to make quilts . I have great compassion for these women who worked in the fields and  also managed to make some beautiful quilts for there families, many of which have survived so we can admire them for there workmanship and without the tools that we now have. I myself feel like one of them when I manage to work in my shop making frames and also making quilts using anything I can, like recycling fabrics from shirts and clothing . I just don’t like to waste anything — not even the smallest scrap. I sew up the bits and pieces left over and make a pillow, for example, or piece a quilt.

I feel so fortunate to have quilting as part of my life. I enjoy every aspect of it, from picking out the fabrics, cutting, sewing, and finishing with hand quilting, which I enjoy tremendously. Before I finish a quilt I get excited about making a new and different design with different colors. This  is a problem, as  I have about 10 tops finished but not quilted. But once I get my quilting machine and table I will have plenty to keep me busy.

I wish all quilters lots of insperaton and energy to finish there quilts. xoxo Theodora

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We hope you have enjoyed this little “visit” with Theodora. To get to know her even better, make sure to visit her blog!

This entry was posted in Inspiration, International Quilters. |Comments closed

5 Comments

  1. Posted February 11, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Hello Angie I stopped by again to look at you wonderful blog ,so many intersting things to look at, thanks for the interview.xoxo theodora

  2. Irene
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi Theodora, it’s nice to meet you by this way. What a wonderful management of colors are there in your quilts! All of them looks so bright and happy. Congratulations, nice work!
    Irene.

    • Posted February 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Hello Irene I hope you have a chance to stop by my blog and visit , and I also hope that I will be able to visit your blog one day ,thank you so much for your sweet comments,theodora

  3. Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I’ve become friends with Theodora through blogging and e-mailing, and I loved reading this interview to get to know her better. Everything she makes is truly a work of art. She had told me about the challenge of finding fabrics, but she truly has a knack of making something beautiful from nothing. Thanks for a great interview!

    • Posted February 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Sunny you are a sweet heart I always like to hear from you !!!

  • Angie Padilla

    I am a self-learner. I taught myself to sew and to quilt. And I taught myself how to draw. I am learning how to dye my own fabrics and am dabbling with mixed media. I am a quilt designer and teacher, and design and publish my own line of quilt patterns. With this blog I would like to share the bits and pieces of my life.

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