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Meet Kris

Kris Meares

G’day! My name is Kris Meares and I’m the creative genius (they say there’s a fine line between genius and insanity! Tee! Hee! Hee!) behind Tag Along Teddies and I thought you might like to get to know me a little.

I can’t remember a time when I DIDN’T create. I blame my Mother. Mum did a lot of dressmaking when I was growing up & when she wanted uninterrupted machine time, she would either give me her button bottle (an item more magical than any magician’s hat!) or she’d hand me two squares of fabric offcuts, a wool-threaded darning needle & tell me to stitch around the edge to make a pincushion, which I stuffed with more fabric scraps. It kept me entertained & she got her sewing time.

I wonder what she ever did with all those pincushions?? Once at school, I drove the librarian mad borrowing craft books … you know … “1001 Things To Make With Toilet Rolls”. Once I was a little older, it was back to fabric & creating hip fashions & homewares for my Barbie Doll collection. Funnily enough, I didn’t particularly enjoy Home Economics in high school.

Mainly, I think, because whether cooking or sewing, it was all about writing a step-by-step plan & then following it to the letter. Whether cooking or sewing … or life in general!! …I tend to be a “muddling along” sort of person, so that ‘structure’ didn’t work for me. And pattern drafting??? Pppfffttt!! I was LOUSY at it! I often think my long-suffering Home-Ec teachers would laugh themselves silly about the amount of pattern drafting & instruction writing I do today.

I finished Uni with a Bachelor Of Arts, Majoring in Journalism & moved to the iconic outback NSW town of Bourke, where I worked as a newspaper Journalist/Photographer for seven years. It was during my time here that I picked up my creative journey again. I tried pottery, wool spinning, knitting, crochet, silk painting, cross-stitch & dressmaking, but after interviewing well-known Aussie quilter Robyn Ginn for the paper when she was holding a workshop, I thought maybe I’d have a go at applique & embroidery. Apart from learning a few basic embroidery stitches to earn a Girl Guide badge when I was eight, I’m self-taught, learning from magazines, books, hard experience (what NOT to do!!) & over the years, from other stitchers/quilters.

My designing journey began when we moved back to QLD & I attended a mohair bear making workshop in 2000. I took to it like a duck to water & was very soon designing my own patterns for mohair bears & selling them through a specialty bear shop. I was asked to teach a bear making class at a craft retreat & since the ladies were intimidated by so much hand stitching … & the price of mohair!! … I designed a bear made from a tea-dyed towel. That first bear pattern was the beginning of Tag Along Teddies patterns.

Why that name? Well … because the bears just want to “tag along home” with you! 😊 I then moved into stitchery projects, most featuring teddies, & designed wall hangings, bags & cushions, then branched into blanket stitch applique & eventually quilts. My first quilt design was picked up by Catherine Sanchez, the then editor of “Homespun” magazine, for publication. It was the first time I’d written instructions for a process I usually “muddled” my way through … I forgot to include the seam allowance in all of my measurements!!! However … I’ve continued to learn along the way … & now TRIPLE CHECK my instructions!

I’ve also branched out from teddies … though still design the occasional bear or bear-themed project. I’m addicted to colour & the way different colours & designs “pop” together, which means my designs often have particular fabrics as a starting point. I love the challenge of having a bundle of fabrics handed to me & being told to “make something” with them. You never quite know where my overactive imagination is going to take me next!

Over the last 12 years I’ve worked closely with Marion & Steph Marshall from The Quilters Angel. They started off stocking my patterns, but have become wonderful, supportive & encouraging friends. I’ve been a guest designer at a number of their fantastic stitching retreat weekends & thoroughly enjoy passing on knowledge, tips & encouragement to the ladies who attend. One of the best parts of designing & teaching is to see people who think they’re not creative, discover they ARE & that there is a freedom in the creative process. I love when people take one of my designs as a starting point & make little changes or additions to make the project their own. When I teach, I start by telling people there are two rules. The first is … there ARE NO RULES … just different ways of doing things & they should find the way that works best for them. And the second is … HAVE FUN! 😊

I am married to my best friend, Scott (AKA Geek Boy as he is the tech guru for Tag Along Teddies), and we live in a restored, sprawling Colonial style house with lovely high ceilings and polished floorboards that suits my shabby French provincial country cottage chic style of decorating. Our house is on an acre block in a rural area, so we enjoy pottering in the garden and being visited by a huge variety of birds, as well as the odd visit by our resident koala, Keith, whilst muttering about the destructive habits of Percy the Persnickerty possum who knocks over our bird feeders and Boris the Burrowing Bandicoot and his marauding hordes who dig in our gardens. When I’m not stitching I enjoy reading, watching movies, gardening, travelling, catching up with friends and yoga. I hope you enjoy creating with my fun Tag Along Teddies patterns and hope you’ll ‘tag along’ back often to visit my blog to see what mischief I’ve been up to. Keep stitching & keep smiling! Bear Hugs! KRIS xx

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