Wednesday, September 2, 2009

NH Mirror Magazine September Edition

Love of quilting brings joy to others

Mamaka Mills transforms belongings of lost loved ones
into one-of-a-kind art.


Courtesy Photo

Alix Joyal first began sewing at age 10 and, at age 12, crafted her first quilt using an airline blanket, a pair of corduroy pants and a skirt – a do-it-yourself kind of girl from the start. And with that, a tremendous passion was ignited.

Joyal, 31, of Hooksett, has always loved patterns and color, and the influence of textiles was strong in her family. Her grandmother was a seamstress, her mother worked as a pattern maker in New York City during college, and her father was a thread salesman in New York City at that time as well.

Joyal realized early on that people love to receive handmade, one-of-a kind gifts, which only fed her love of quilting.

“I was always fascinated with textiles and fabric and the idea of reusing and recycling clothing to create quilts. Quilting for me became a way for me to express my love for my family and friends,” she said. “I definitely carry that over into my quilting today as the custom projects I do are very heartfelt and sincere, and also bring joy and comfort to those who receive them.”

Joyal studied textile development and marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Earlier this year, she created her company, Mamaka Mills, a quilt studio located in Dover specializing in contemporary couture quilts.

The idea for the company has always lived within Joyal, and later the sustainable aspect came about when she was traveling across the country and learning about organics, natural foods and sustainable business practices. Now, she is committed to operating the company with the highest moral and ethical standards for sustainability and quality.

“From a very early age, I wanted to be my own boss and have my own legacy, which is something I learned from my parents, who own an insurance company,” she said.

With her background in textiles, Joyal can reuse almost anything – from clothing to accessories – to incorporate into quilts that are one-of-a-kind works of art, functional and sustainable.

Joyal originally started the company manufacturing her own quilts, using her own designs and color schemes. Since then, she has expanded into the custom market, making quilts from clients’ designs and themes, and using their clothing and fabrics.

She is now working on “Military Memory” quilts made from the uniforms of service men and women. She is also creating a series of quilts for a family that has recently lost their young daughter, using the girl’s clothing and accessories, such as an umbrella, winter mittens and stuffed animals.

Joyal has been surprised at how popular this kind of service is among those who have lost loved ones and wish to remember them and utilize their belongings in a unique way.

“This project is very dear to my heart because I know how important this is to them, which in turn gives my work meaning and purpose,” Joyal said. “ I feel very blessed to have taken a path like this.”

Julia K. Agresto is a freelance writer who lives in Dunstable, Mass.