Designer Interview: Lee Monroe | OLFA - CraftOLFA – Craft

Designer Interview: Lee Monroe

From her home in North Carolina, designer Lee Monroe creates her line of projects and also tutorials to help the sewing and quilting community become better at what they do. Once you are done learning a bit more about Lee make sure you head over to see her Wool Pencil Case tutorial


Please tell us about what your business.

My business is named May Chappell for my great grandmother. Sewing is often passed from generation to generation so I loved the idea of giving a nod to the woman who taught my grandmother to sew. My grandmother then taught my mother who taught me everything I know about putting thread to fabric. I affectionately call her The Guru. She gave me life and then made it better by teaching me to sew. I design patterns, including quilts and the occasional bag or sewing notion. I have a line of patterns called Mini Mays meant to be completed in just a few hours. I also travel to teach with guilds and local shops. If you enjoy online classes, I have a Bluprint (Craftsy) class.

Cased is a Mini May pattern.


Where are you from? What is your community like?

I live in an old 1929 cottage in Winston Salem, NC with my pup, Mack the Chihuahua. It’s a beautiful little town near the mountains. One of the best parts of my town is Old Salem. (No witches here, that Salem is in Massachusetts.) It’s a pre-Revolutionary Moravian settlement. Highlights of my year are Christmas Tea and Easter sunrise service in Old Salem. ( I always refer to Winston as a small town because I grew up in Dallas, so it’s small by comparison. It’s a great place to live, art and culture abound.


Do you specialize in a specific look or technique?

I love all things fabric- from zippy pouch to queen size quilt. A lot of my classes focus on streamlining your techniques to become a more precise piecer. My background is in fine art and graphic design. My love of graphic shapes and clean lines definitely influences my quilting. I love to see how simple quilting shapes can interact with one another to create a new and interesting design.


What do you like most about teaching people?

My favorite thing is seeing what people create with my creations. I love developing patterns, but there’s something so special about watching folks go down their own path to create something with it. I love when someone has an aha moment where they master a technique or take their design in a new direction.


Do you have a favorite teaching location?

The most recent is usually my favorite! Meeting new folks and learning about the area that I’m teaching in is tons of fun. I’ve eaten famous local taco pizza, visited a town’s strawberry festival, and have seen the world’s largest pecan. Each one was a great life experience shared with a talented group of quilters. I’m always looking for my next adventure.


Is there a certain technique you’re especially fond of?

I do love appliqué! While hand appliqué will always hold a little place in my heart, blind machine appliqué is just a bit faster. I love that you get the look of handwork with the perfection of a machine stitch. You can check out my tutorial for freezer paper appliqué here. (


How have your tastes changed over time?

I love graphic clean prints and that’s been pretty constant. I do make a point to go through every piece of my stash at least once a year. If I don’t love it anymore, then I pass it along to someone who will! I’m in constant use or purge mode.


What craft or hobby did you do prior to sewing? Do you still continue?

I’ve never met a needle I didn’t want to create with. I’ve been stitching my whole life, but really got into quilting in my thirties. I also love knitting, embroidery and cross stitch. I have to create something every day. My first stitched creation is an apron, I made my grandmother at about age 3.


Which social media platform do you prefer?

I love the visual aspect of Instagram. I just want to see all the pretty things! It’s overwhelming how much talent is out there!


Besides OLFA, what are your go-to quilting tools?

My BERNINA! I’ve always stitched on a BERNINA and love how reliable the perfect stitch is. A sewing machine cannot make you a better quilter, but it can help you reach your potential.


Please give us a sewing or organizing tip.

Measure and label your batting scraps. It makes a huge difference. I use all my scraps now! You can read more about this tip here  and see all my Tuesday Tips here.


Which school class do you wish you’d paid more attention to?

Accounting! Although to be fair, it wasn’t that I didn’t pay attention, I never enrolled. Seriously, take all the business classes!


What have you dreamed of doing but haven’t yet?

Most of my dreams are travel related- I just checked off Morocco! So now my top five are Japan, Croatia, Ireland, Faroe Islands and Colombia. I had to edit that down from twelve!


Other social media links for May Chappell:


Instagram @maychappell

Facebook @maychappelldesign