April 06, 2014

Experience Freedom in Quiltmaking: One Quilter’s Musings


A few weeks ago the speaker at our quilt guild was a local shop owner.  Her presentation was excellent, and she showed many quilts.  Several quilts were accompanied by touching stories, which I always find charming.  It’s nice to know what prompts a quilter to sew, or to know what took place during the time a quilt was being made.

One of the things that was shocking to me was a response to several questions she asked.  For example, “Who made a quilt out of XXXXX pattern?”  Or “Who bought the XXXX line of fabrics or the XXXX Jelly Roll to make a quilt?”  For each time she asked a question like that, a lot of hands went up.  I don’t mean just a few.  I mean a LOT!

I have been to many quilt shows in our part of Michigan where it is obvious that a quilt group has worked on the same pattern.  Rows after rows of displayed quilts feature the same pattern in different colors.  Or even the SAME exact color settings!  I also see many quilts that use ONLY fabrics from one designer’s line in whatever quilt they have made. These tell me several things.  One, the guild probably brought in a workshop teacher where students had to make his or her pattern. Two, students are encouraged to use a particular line of fabrics.  Three, there is a serious lack of originality in this group of quilters. 

I will agree that when a designer creates a line of fabrics, they (usually) all coordinate nicely.  Putting only fabrics from one line into a quilt provides assurance that the colors and designs work great together no matter what pattern is used.  But the creative quilter who has a sense of freedom to explore may choose several fabrics from one line and ADD TO THEM from their stash of from their local quilt shop (LQS) collection, making the quilt truly unique. 

When a designer creates a pattern from his or her quilt which is for sale or to be used in a workshop, there is nothing wrong with making the quilt as the designer planned.  But there is such freedom and – I’ll say it – glee – when you can take parts of the pattern and add to or change it up to create a blend of your ideas and theirs.  The quilt in my last post was made this way.  The center portion of the quilt was designed by and included a workshop by Karen Kay Buckley.  I loved her pattern, but I used scraps from my own stash.  I used the applique design as the center of a somewhat medallion setting.  I like how the colors and setting work together, and as I sit and hand quilt this 60 x 60 inch quilt, I like it even more.

You can go back and visit my quilt “Purple Reign” in the post shown here. 

I encourage all quilters to allow themselves the freedom to make their own choices.  Please YOURSELF.  Allow yourself new opportunities to experiment with your quilts.  Try designing your OWN pattern or setting.  Be unique.  Be an inspiration to others.  You are more talented than you know!

March 30, 2014

“Purple Reign” in Progress

I’m still here… and I’ve been very busy working on

“Purple Reign.”

2014 IMG_4651
Purple.Reign.2014 photo 1
photo 2 I used Mountain Mist Poly Light and it is like hand quilting through butter! 

Stay tuned…

January 28, 2014

How do you choose which quilting project to work on?

If you are reading this blog, chances are pretty good that you are a quilter.  And, if you are indeed a quilter, you have within your DNA  a unique bit of biological information that makes it nearly impossible for you to only work on one quilting project at a time.  Rather, it renders you utterly indecisive. Let me help you understand by giving an example.

I have many projects in various stages of completion. 

1) Redwork Owl DSC02875
2) My own Jane Stickle variation IMG_1915
3) Barn Owl

(Yes, I know, there is no owl there… yet. Leave me alone!)
Barn Owl
4) Feathered Star ESQG presentation
  5) Purple Reign Floral

It should be noted that this list does not include quilts which exist only in my brain.  I have found that QIB’s (Quilts in Brain) can be more dangerous than quilts which have

  1. emerged into semi-reality based on hours spent in Pinterest or magazine reading
  2. fabric which has been selected and is already in the home
  3. a sketched design
  4. any measuring that includes a ruler/yardstick/tape measure

And WHY, you might be wondering?  How can a QIB be dangerous?

A QIB sneaks into your consciousness at a moment’s notice.  It stays there, driving you crazy, and you try to force yourself not to think about it.  You tryg to make it go away.  But no.  You start seeing the design in your mind.  At first, you just see the shapes.  Then the shapes turn into various different color combinations.  The combinations morph into thoughts of needing more fabric.  And then quilt size becomes an issue.  If you must make it, how large of a commitment will this be?  Tiny?  Huge?  You don’t know how much fabric to buy.  Thoughts of a whole bolt tickle your brain.  It makes sense.  With a whole bolt, you will certainly have enough.

Eventually, you will begin to wrestle with yourself.  An argument ensues. 

“I really should not begin another quilt until I finish X number of quilts I have already started.”

“Yes, but this quilt will be SO FABULOUS!”

“But it will require me to spend more money on fabric that will just sit in my stash, taunting me.”

“I know, but if I don’t buy the fabric now, it might not be available when I need it.”

“Yes, but how will I hide the fabric once it is in the house?”

“I can put it in my sock drawer.  Nobody will find it there.”

“I will want to start the quilt as soon as I buy the fabric.”

“No, I won’t.  I will be strong!”

“OK, yes I will.  But this should be an easy quilt to piece/applique, and I can get it done in no time at all.”

“What about the quilt I am working on now?  That will never get finished if I start another one.”

“Yes it will.  I must finish that quilt.  But I need to start this one before I forget it!”

  “I need to find my car keys. Have you seen them?”


Yes, it seems funny.  But you and I both know there is a ton of truth here.

How do YOU stop the madness?  What is YOUR secret?