Getting to know Telene Jeffrey, Handi Quilter’s newest International Ambassador

by Mary Beth Krapil

We would like to welcome our newest International Ambassador, Telene (Hester Helena) Jeffrey! Telene lives in Krugersdorp, Gauteng, South Africa. She is an amazing quilter, teacher and artist. She is an SAQG (South African Quilters Guild) Accredited Quilt Teacher after successfully completing the Teachers Accreditation Course.  Telene has won numerous prizes for her quilts and attained Master Quilter Status from the SAQG. She has proudly had a quilt juried into the IQA Houston Quilt Show 2016 where it was displayed in the exhibition.

Free motion quilting is Telene’s absolute passion, and she is a firm believer that everybody can quilt. Her goal is to inspire students to simply try, as she knows they will never look back!

We sat down with Telene and asked a few questions to get to know her a little better.

HQ: What does being an HQ Ambassador mean to you?

TJ: Simply put it means 2 immensely important things to me. Firstly, to be able to represent a phenomenal brand and fantastic products on an international level. Secondly, that this international organization recognizes my work as good enough to represent their brand.

It is an incredible privilege for me to work with Handi Quilter.  I specifically appreciate and admire their focus on education and training of quilters and not just the sales numbers. When I started quilting, I never ever thought, for one single moment, that I would venture into teaching quilting. Yet I now feel like it is part of my purpose on this earth. Sharing my gifts and skills and spreading inspiration is what I enjoy doing daily and to be recognized for those skills and gifts is extremely gratifying but also very humbling. Little me, way down here in South Africa…

For me to spread the quilting love, I need to work with a reliable product. One that can do what I want to do. One that does not fail me when it’s Sunday evening and the quilt is due on Monday morning. A brand that provides incredible back-up service should I run into a problem. A brand that listens to the needs of the consumer and happily develops products to suit those needs. A brand that constantly seeks to improve and provide the latest in technology.

Being a HQ Ambassador means I would hopefully be able to reach more people; Inspiring quilters of all walks of life, styles and places! I love it when a quilter has the ‘ah-ha!’ moment or as I call it: when-the-penny-drops-moment.

Of course, the HQ people are just incredible. I have been welcomed with open arms from the first day I met the South African Importer and Distributor, Claire Wallace, and the first time I had direct contact with Handi Quilter head office personnel at Houston Market 2017! I cannot wait to see what the future holds!

HQ: How did you get started in quilting?

TJ: I have been sewing since 1986 with my mother and because of a problematic overlocker, my parents ended up buying a sewing machine dealership instead of just a new overlocker! My mother discovered the world of quilting and subsequently arranged for 2 of South Africa’s top teachers, Wendy Burtenshaw and Susan Bornman, to teach a beginner sampler quilt in her shop back in 2000. I joined the workshop and that was that! I fell in love! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to make many quilts during my time in the corporate world, 2001 – 2009. In January of 2011 I took over the quilt teacher role at my parents’ shop and fully immersed myself in the quilting world.

HQ: How would you describe your style of quilting?

TJ: Feathered! Don’t you think we should start a new style called Feathered? 😊 I’m addicted to feathers. I think I would place my style as sometimes contemporary, not really modern nor completely traditional. Although I am happy to be called an artist, I don’t think I’m an art quilter. Well, maybe not yet! Certainly ornamental. Certainly NOT minimalistic. I struggle hard with quilting just a little bit. See, I think we need a new style name! So maybe the style “Ornamental” would be most appropriate to me.

HQ: What is the most fun thing you have done as an Ambassador?

TJ: Meeting my quilting idols and sharing silly moments of laughter with quilters from all over the world. It is in those moments that we discover the power of the global quilting community and share a common love of all things pretty.

HQ: Of all your quilts, which is your favorite?

TJ: My current favorite is my Dream Big quilt called ‘Ode to Kelly’. I initially wanted to do something completely different with my Dream Big panel and I designed 5 or 6 different options, but when it came down to picking my favorite design I kept going back to this feathered option in Kelly Ashton’s style of feathers in the petals. It just didn’t feel right to me to do something dramatically different. Kelly has inspired so many quilters across the world to have a go at the fabulous Dream Big Hoffman panel and I thought it fitting to dedicate my quilt to her. I also don’t get very many opportunities to quilt for myself and so this quilt is mine, ALL MINE! I do, however, have drastic plans for the next panel.

HQ: Do you still have your first quilt?

TJ: Yes, I do! It was the quilt I made in the sampler quilt class taught in my mother’s shop in 2000. My son loves to use it in winter time. I have wondered several times if I should put it on the frame and quilt some more, but then I won’t have a visual reminder of how far I have come.

HQ: Who is your inspiration/muse?

TJ: Everything. Everywhere. I have learned to really look at my surroundings, where ever I go, because inspiration is everywhere! I do however have several quilting idols that I look up to and continue to be inspired by;  Kimmy Brunner, Ricky Tims, Judi Madsen, Karen McTavish, Kathryn Harmer-Fox, Debra Linker, Carol Selepec, Sophie Standing, my 2 best friends Claire Wallace and Jane Renton, there’s too many to name them all.

HQ: Of all the “tasks” in creating a quilt, which is your fave and least favorite?

TJ: I totally LOVE free motion quilting! I LOVE machine work! I don’t particularly love piecing, not anymore. I don’t like handwork and I especially despise sewing/working away thread tails. Does that make me a bad person? 😊 But did I mention that I LOVE free motion quilting?

HQ: Do you have any other hobbies / interests?

TJ: Yes! Several actually!

I’m interested in quilting and sewing machines. I’m fascinated by quilting history. Creating quilting designs to free motion is one of my favorite down-time things to do. I really love taking photographs for quilting design or quilting project references and inspiration. Researching and experimenting with new techniques for quilt creations are also top of the list. Oh, and I like to read…fiction.

HQ: How can our readers get in touch with you?

TJ: You can find evidence of my quilting lifestyle on my:

website – www.ladyjanequilting.co.za 

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ladyjanequiltingshop/ 

Instagram – @teleneljq

HQ: Thank you Telene! We are proud to announce that Telene will be our keynote speaker and guest teacher at Handi Quilter Academy in June 2019. What a great opportunity to take classes from this awesome teacher.