Episode 41 : From Ukrainian Cross Stitch to Canadian Quilting with Olesya Lebedenko

Hello and welcome to the first episode in this new series of Making Stitches Podcast!

You can listen to this episode here.

Olesya Lebedenko with some of her previous books

Kicking off this new series is a chat I had with Ukrainian artist Olesya Lebedenko. Olesya first got creative as a young child making up stories for her toys, then at the age of 5 she was taught to cross-stitch by her grandmother. Crafts would stay with her throughout her life – she says she has never been able to sit and do nothing with her hands.

An example of traditional Ukrainian cross stitch along with quilted button in Ukraine’s National colours

When the global economic crash hit in 2008, Olesya found herself without a job and expecting a baby with her husband, so she turned to craft as a way of making money. Firstly with craft supplies to make rag dolls and then also teaching students how to make them. However, when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, things changed, and Olesya and her family began planning to move to Canada to begin a new life closer to her brother and supported by her quilt-making and applique work.

A traditional quilted Ukrainian cottage scene used to make a glasses case

Now based in Toronto, Olesya runs workshops, writes for several craft magazines and has written a number of books, the latest of which is due out in May featuring applique designs of flower animals.

One of Olesya’s fox poppies

At the beginning of this interview, we spoke at length about Ukrainian folk embroidery, the war in Ukraine and Olesya’s fears for her family and friends still living in there. She also spoke about the online abuse she and other Ukrainian artists have experienced since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

The quilt block of a dreaming cat which Olesya referenced in our chat
One of Olesya’s books

To find out more about Olesya and her beautiful work, please have a look at these links:

Olesya Lebedenko Design
Olesya Lebedenko Instagram
Olesya Lebedenko Etsy Shop

You can find out more about traditional Ukrainian embroidery here.

A quilt block from Olesya’s 365 days quilting challenge

If you would like to buy a PDF crochet pattern for Sophia the Sunflower, (£5 from the sale of every pattern will be donated to the UNHCR Refugee aid effort supporting Ukrainian refugees) you can find the link here.

The music featured in this episode is Make You Smile by RGMusic from Melody Loops.
The Making Stitches logo was designed by Neil Warburton at iamunknown.

You can support Making Stitches Podcast with running costs through Ko-fi.
Making Stitches Podcast is supported by the Making Stitches Shop which offers Making Stitches Podcast merchandise for sale as well as Up the Garden Path crochet patterns created by me & illustrated by Emma Jackson.


Making Stitches Podcast is presented, recorded and edited by Lindsay Weston.