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Dr Lili Mihai sitting at her Brother XVD 8000 quilting machine

Dr Lili Mihai helps heal through quilting

If working on an acute hospital ward wasn’t enough, Dr Liliana Mihai has also set up her own successful #BrotherBiz, selling material from her home in France and teaching machine quilting both online and at weekend retreats.


Liliana, who is originally from Romania but now lives in Brittany, says her career and pastime are perfectly paired, with many of her students championing the healing benefits of her weekend retreats.

How did you turn your hobby into a #BrotherBiz?

I’ve been sewing since I was six years old, but it wasn’t until I moved to France around 13 years ago that I got the bug for patchwork and quilting, which wasn’t very popular in Romania at the time.

I started watching YouTube videos about the different quilting techniques and I found a real love for machine patchwork. I noticed that there weren’t many people filming these tutorials in French. After I’d built up confidence, I set up a YouTube channel to show people how easy it was.

I had been running the YouTube channel for a few years and I had some very positive feedback, but I noticed that a lot of the queries I received from viewers were about the  materials I used and where they could buy them. At that time I ordered all my fabrics from the USA and England. So I had another light-bulb moment and decided to set up a French boutique with my husband Claude in 2019.

two quilts and a patchwork bag

Tell us about Licence to Quilt…

The business is a joint enterprise between myself and Claude. I create the content and do the sewing for YouTube, Claude does the filming and then back to me for video editing. He is also very helpful cutting and preparing fabrics. Before, he had never touched a sewing machine in his life, but now he is able to sew some basic things and assemble blocks. He’s currently attempting some free motion quilting but he’s not quite there yet!

We also run our boutique from our home in Brittany which is managed by Claude while I go to work at the hospital. I try and divide my time between the two – I don’t want to give up either yet!

Alt text: Dr Lili Mihai and Claude with their Brother quilting machine and logo

What machines do you use?

Growing up, my family in Romania had an antique machine where you pedal to make it go faster – but thankfully things have moved on since then! I bought a simple sewing machine around 10 years ago but noticed that everyone I was watching on YouTube was using Brother machines. When it was time to upgrade, I treated myself to the Brother XVD-8000.

The first thing I did when I bought the machine was quilt over some patchwork that was waiting on a shelf to be quilted. It was a dream to use and is very good for free motion quilting. I know a lot of people like to sew by hand, but I prefer using a machine, it’s faster, more precise, and sometimes I’d like to say it’s even prettier!

The only issue with the 8000 is that it’s a little heavy for me to take to my patchwork club and classes… So I have a Brother FS 155 which is much easier to carry.

Both my machines have been very good. I have never had to repair either and they are used every single day. They are very resilient machines! I know my Brother machine will go through lots of layers, it’s reliable and it does beautiful stitching. I even like the design of the machine – I wouldn’t change it.

As well as the sewing machines I have a ScanNCut which I used when I created my first English Paper Piecing quilt and I use it sometimes to cut precise shapes in my fabric. I showed it in one of my videos and got lots of positive responses from people who hadn’t seen the machine before – so they were very excited to see what it did. I look forward to using it more because I don’t use it as much as the sewing machine – watch this space!

Dr Lili Mihai with her Brother sewing and ScanNCut machines

Tell us about your retreats

I am proud to say we are the only French boutique which organises quilting retreats for French speakers.

They are a lot of fun and I enjoy doing them - one lady said she felt so good after the three days that she should have the cost reimbursed by national health security! As a doctor of medicine it was lovely to hear that my sewing retreats were also providing health benefits. 

It’s more than sewing together. We set up in Le Beau Rivage, a local restaurant based in Caurel where the owner lets us use the dining room for our sewing. Not only do we get some delicious food, but it faces a beautiful lake that we can look out on as we sew. It’s a very enjoyable few days and everyone says how they feel much more relaxed.

group of 6 women sitting on low wall in front of lake

What are your plans for the future?

At the moment Claude and I run the boutique from our house, but we would eventually like to have a unit where we can store the fabrics. We have bolts of fabric everywhere so it would be nice to have our shelves back.

We’d love to run more retreats – we have a lot of followers from Canada so it would be lovely to have some international visitors too!

Where can people find you?

You can watch my tutorials on YouTube @Licence To Quilt or visit our boutique at www.licencetoquilt.com.
I’m also on Facebook @Licencetoquilt and instragram @Licence_to_quilt

two quilts and quilting on Brother sewing machine
Do you run your own #BrotherBiz? We’d love to hear from you!
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