FROM KYIV TO CANADA, ONE ARTIST’S AMAZING JOURNEY BRINGS HOPE AND A NEW SEWING BOOK

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Lancaster, PAWhen Olesya Lebedenko made the decision to move from her home in Kyiv, Ukraine to Oshawa, Canada, she was thinking about the wellbeing of her family and also her craft business. The Russo-Ukrainian War was at its height and making life impossible for small-business owners such as Olesya. Where once Olesya saw thousands of students in her art studio and shop, now her business struggled against the daily pressures of war.

Olesya closed the studio and sold her Kyiv shop and went through a long immigration process, with Oshawa as her steadfast goal. She had visited the Ontario city in the past and fell in love with its vibrant arts and quilting scene. 

While waiting to move, she needed to keep her creative mind flourishing. She began a year-long challenge. The goal was sewing one scrap block each day. First, there were blocks from books and the internet. But later she started off creating characters from children’s books and movies—characters such as Jiji Cat and Totoro. But soon, she began experimenting with her own characters. She loved this daily challenge. “I had no rules. No frames for creation,” she says. 

Soon, she realized that she had enough completed scraps and project guidelines to make a book. “I wanted to show others how to create funny bears, cartoon-like cats, charming penguins, and other fun characters that could be created using several techniques,” she explains.  

She put her scrap challenge ideas into a self-published book and took them to Quilt Market in Houston, Texas where she met the Fox Chapel Publishing team. The team quickly saw the magic behind Oleysa’s eyes and the talent in her charming creations. Shortly afterwards, Olesya was on her way to traditionally publishing her first book with Fox Chapel Publishing.

Now, Olesya is proud to share her new book with the world—Sewing Scrap Blocks with Character. The book is available now and features more than 60 fresh and modern patchwork character patterns organized by season, holiday, and specific categories – including baby animals and even cat yoga poses. Olesya is also creating more books with Fox Chapel Publishing. When asked what advice she would give other artists in her situation, she says, “Everything is possible. Don’t give up. Never.”  

With this pleasing collection of animal and seasonal designs, quilting teacher Lebedenko provides a convincing answer to a question all crafters face at some point: what to do with leftover material…Sewing and quilting artists with baskets of scraps will find enough projects to keep them occupied year-round.
—Publishers Weekly

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