ModBLOCK Contributor: Meet Shea Henderson

Today we are pleased to share more about our great friend, amazing quilter and author, Shea Henderson! Shea is a local, living just an hour South of us here in Hamilton. She actually worked for us a while back and we were so excited to work with her again while working on ModBLOCK together.

Meet Shea Henderson


Shea’s project in ModBLOCK is ‘Broken Bars’

Screenshot 2015-02-18 11.55.00

What is your sewing/quilting/crafting/art background?
I’m part of the demographic of women in their 30s who didn’t learn to sew in school (outside of one small project in middle school!), but are now taking up the craft with much vigor. I am lucky to have a mom who knows a lot about sewing and taught me when I was young, though! Passing on that love for sewing is something I am wildly passionate about, which is what led to my book School of Sewing, which is a beginner sewing book that also follows along with my group of eight friends whom I taught to sew over the course of a year.
How did you get started in this business?
My blog (and later, my business) name comes from the idea that an empty bobbin means you have been sewing and sewing and sewing for someone you love. A few years ago I left the world of middle school math teaching to stay home with our children. Patterns were always something I wanted to do and I love how it combines my love for the trifecta of teaching, math and sewing.
Tell us about your collection(s) and/or pattern style:
Much of what I design is based on pure need or functionality for myself or my family. I needed a sewing machine cover, so I designed the pattern Cover Up. I wanted to replace our store bought Christmas stockings, so I designed my Sleigh Bells stockings pattern. I want to be able to use what I make and, like Jenny often says, “wear it down to the last thread.”
What are you inspired by?
Color combinations are what I am drawn to first, then I think of shapes and layout. I see some really amazing colors together and I think, “Oh! I want to make something with those!” Seems backward, I am sure! I’m also inspired to make specific things because we have a need for them… much like the Christmas stockings I mentioned earlier!
How would you describe your style?
I like really clean lines and solid or near-solid fabrics.  I have a gigantic amount of love for topstitching!  Above all, I want a project to be something that isn’t fussy but also looks professionally finished.
What are some of you greatest challenges in your design process?
Time. And the lack of it! I have three young children (our oldest is 6) and time at my machine just isn’t as much as I’d like. I like having time to really test and prototype a project to be sure the fit and shape and function are at their very best. Maybe one day I’ll find those elusive extra hours in the day!
Do you have an online presence on social media?
I do! I’m active on Instagram @emptybobbin and love sharing current projects and works in progress. I have a Pinterest page and blog, too, but Instagram is usually where you’ll find me.
Are there any releases or upcoming events you have coming up that you’d like us to know about?
Right now I’m working to promote my book, School of Sewing. You can see a lot of info about it at (I dare you to watch the trailer and NOT get the itch to teach someone to sew!) I’ll be doing a book signing at Missouri Star on April 18th! I’m really looking forward to that!
Do you have a signature color?  If so, what do you like about it?
This is going to sound crazy, but…. gray. Specifically Interweave Chambray in Pepper or Essex Linen in Yard Dyed Black. I seem to be using them in everything I make lately. From quilts and bags to dresses for my daughter.
What is you favorite fabric line of all time?
I use solids most often, but I have fallen for many pieces from the Cotton + Steel collections. I also routinely find myself using Robert Kaufman Essex Linen, Railroad Denim and Interweave Chambray. I LOVE those!
What is your favorite tool that you use all the time?
I love my Triangle Square Up Ruler for easily trimming half-square triangles with two easy cuts. It’s such a huge time saver! I also love using thread conditioner when I hand sew binding. No more twisting and knotting!
What is unusual or unique about your style/art/patterns?
I’m very proud of the quality of the instructions and illustrations and “extras” in the tips. I think my teaching background really shows there. Giving size options and showing beautiful photos of many examples of finished quilts in the pattern is a big deal for me. I use a lot of solids, so that if someone wants to make the cover samples, it is easier for them to source the fabrics.  I think the latest Empty Bobbin pattern, Parallels is a perfect example of that.
Is there an experience or accomplishment you are most proud of?
Most recently, it would be the process of writing my book and seeing my sewing students (my friends!) learn to sew (and learn to love sewing!). Now that the book is out, hearing from people who have experienced success with a skill they never thought they’d “get” is deeply gratifying. One of my friends profiled in the book just finished her third quilt! And a year ago, she didn’t know how to thread her machine. THAT is awesome and makes my heart so very happy!
Thanks, Shea! Check back for more Q&A’s with the other ModBLOCK contributors! 🙂