The story so far .…
Leslie Edwards was born and grew up in San Francisco during the social and political regeneration of American society of the 1960s and 70s. One of three children of a mother who loved handicrafts, Leslie began making her own clothes as a teenager and embraced a new interest in knitting when she was at University. Both embroidery, sewing clothes and knitting became an important part of my life until she discovered quilting.
After graduating from the University of California’s Berkeley campus with a Bachelor’s Degree in African History, Leslie’s love of the outdoors led her to working for a white water rafting company for the next 11 years. She also took every opportunity to explore the far corners of the world where she pursued her passion of observing people, their customs and lifestyles.
Her interest and fascination with Africa, gained through her studies, was subjected to a dramatic cultural shock when she made her first trip to Africa in 1983. She was particularly moved by seeing African women, adorned in vast lengths of fabrics with vivid colours and bold geometric patterns, acting proud and present despite their circumstances. This trip saw her stay on in Africa until her funds ran out after 5½ months and really ignited Leslie’s passion for African history as well as the fabric, which she still holds today.
Her stash expanded radically during another trip through West Africa. “The colours and patterns on the African wax fabric were so luscious I couldn’t resist and I came home with over 80 yards of fabric,” explains Leslie.
Leslie began quilting after she had married, shifted to Australia and found herself in Melbourne with time on her hands and a trunk full of fabrics. She attended a day workshop and made a sampler quilt combining different traditional blocks. The experience was like a homecoming to Leslie: she was immediately hooked and had no time now to make clothes, drawn as she was by the excitement and potential of quilting.
Leslie (now retired) worked as an IT problem-solver and has completed significant contracts at Telstra, the National Electricity Market and the Department of Education and Training. She is an exceptional cook, an avid reader and a long-term book group member.
Leslie and Glen live in Melbourne, and they’ve also created a home-away-from-home in the Mansfield foothills. It is a place to escape and commune with nature: home to wombats, kangaroos, amazing bird life and a few not-so-friendly Australian creatures. Their two cats, Ruby and Coco, are totally at home in both the city and country.
Leslie has studios at both of their homes, where walls and all other surfaces are adorned with quilts and works of art that bear witness to her design skills and extensive understanding of what makes colour and texture work.
Leslie travels back to California to see family and catch up with quilting trends most years. She also celebrates Thanksgiving each year in Melbourne with a traditional feast for her friends and family. It’s a time of great importance to her as she relates the roots and history of the celebration and its significance to American society.
Leslie was interviewed recently for a magazine article.