Member Spotlight: Sophie Zaugg

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When Switzerland began a three-month nationwide lockdown, Sophie Zaugg was sewing. As a stay-at-home mother of two young adults in the quiet valleys of the countryside, quilting was already central to her routine, but with all activities canceled, there were no longer distractions to pull her away from her creative work. "The pandemic did have an impact on the type of projects I chose to work on," said Zaugg. "I preferred short-term projects that provided immediate satisfaction and somewhat balanced the uncertainty of the global situation." Along with fabric masks, which were a mandatory item for family and friends, Zaugg quilted pillows, pouches, and bags—some of which are currently being sold online and through local shops.

Orangeraie by Sophie Zaugg. Photos by Sophie Zaugg.


The area in which Zaugg was born and raised, near Geneva, Switzerland, has a longstanding tradition of watchmaking, which she jokingly suspects has made her a perfectionist. She didn't come from an artistic family, and it was self-determination and discovery that brought her to quilting. After knitting for a couple of years, Zaugg came across a book about traditional quilt blocks for sale and decided to teach herself how to quilt. "After unsuccessfully teaching myself how to learn to piece traditional quilts by hand, I took a few classes in a local quilt shop to learn quilting basics and how to use modern tools," said Zaugg. She also signed up for workshops that focused on color study and improvisation.

LOVE by Sophie Zaugg photographed at QuiltCon 2020 surrounded by Sophie and friends.

Years later, Zaugg exclusively made quilts, and in that time, she developed a flexible workflow that gave her the freedom to work on both planned and improvised projects. "My planned quilts are designed on the computer before piecing," said Zaugg. When she does improvise, she sets a few simple guidelines for herself—a rough idea—but allows the design to evolve as she begins to answer questions of arrangement and composition, piece by piece. "I mostly work by machine, though," said Zaugg. "All my machine quilting is a straight line type, done on my domestic sewing machine." With straight-line quilting, Zaugg achieves the aesthetic she seeks to maintain for her quilts: interest, texture, and dimension without any craftsmanship component detracting from the design.


Horizon by Sophie Zaugg.

A traditional Zaugg item from Luna Love Quilts does include signature clean lines, clever design, and a composition that feels distinctly complete. And when you order items from her, each item is packaged in pearl white wrapping paper, knotted with a string bow, and stamped with a Luna sticker printed in a slender font. "My quilts usually do not tell stories and have no particular meaning," said Zaugg. "I am drawn to geometric and abstract designs, and what I focus on is visual impact." Despite the natural surroundings of Zaugg's work, she draws inspiration from urban art and architecture.


Funky Town by Sophie Zaugg.


In the earlier stages of her design career, Zaugg entered competitions that required entries focused on specific themes. She would enter as a means of challenging herself but never was satisfied with the final product. It took her a while to realize that the theme's restrictions weren't the most conducive guidelines to produce the work she was most interested in making. Now she crafts quilts from designs she genuinely loves, and if she does submit to competitions, she submits by category. "If I were to give any advice to my younger self, it would be to have more self-confidence: trust my own choices and tastes," Zaugg said.


Sophie standing next to her quilt Eclat which won first place in the Piecing category at QuiltCon 2019.


When she decided to quit a part-time job as a computer programmer in late 2015, Zaugg began clarifying her signature style and trying new things like sewing accessories. "At a point, I had to convince myself I was able to sew a zipper," said Zaugg. She has become a fan of sewing pattern makers like Anna Graham, @noodlehead531, and Svetlana Sotak, @sotakhandmade. In quarantine, she made Sotak's Devon Pouch pattern, with prints from Carolyn Friedlander, @carolynfriedlander, and Graham's Wool and Wax Tote Bags, with Essex Linen fabrics and canvas from Ruby Star Society.


Flashback by Sophie Zaugg.


This past August, Zaugg appeared in Issue 88 of Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine with one of her pillow patterns, Graphic Splash. The experience of contributing was new to Zaugg. "I've been a bit nervous about producing something appealing to other quilters," said Zaugg. "It is intimidating to have published work." The feature includes two photos of her design, and Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine invited their readers to add a pop of abstract style to their couches with Sophie Zaugg's effortlessly cool style.


Gelateria by Sophie Zaugg.


Fitting with her serendipitous quilting discovery—finding a craft book at a sale—Zaugg discovered the Modern Quilt Guild online. "I saw events on social media and thought straight away, 'that's what I would like to see in a quilt show." And so, it's no surprise that Zaugg's favorite quilt, she said it is Gelateria: a quilt inspired by a Street Art mural painted by Jason Woodside. She saw it in Nashville attending QuiltCon, and the design, Zaugg said, makes her smile.


Detail of Gelateria by Sophie Zaugg.