Quilting

Last week I mentioned some exciting news for my family for next year, and we are in the throes of preparation and procrastination at the moment. Towards that end I need to sell some of my beloved quilts, we need to raise some funds and well, there are just so many quilts that I can store and use.

I have listed six beautiful quilts on my etsy shop, five of which are the quilts that appeared in my book — Little Bits Quilting Bee. All the details of each quilt is listed at the etsy store – but if you have questions please email me! Kathreen[at]whipup.net

  • This colourful toddler quilt “Cloud song” features Kona solids and applique textured clouds, as well as softly rounded corners, the binding is hand stitched.

  • This round quilt “Sunny Day Mat” is perfect for baby to play on, it features a textured centre and playful prairie points around the edge.

  • This twin sized pretty girls quilt “Summer Sundae”, is quilted in a playful squiggly free style design, and the bunting ‘popsicles’ around the border make for an interesting feature.

  • This square bed or lounge quilt “Sewing Circle”, is a traditional and tricky curved quilt design, made with Amy Butler fabrics, with a large Amy Butler print on the back, the hand sewn binding finishes it off.

  • This modern twin sized bed quilt “Modern Fortress”, would be perfect for a boy or girls room, and would be equally lovely thrown over a lounge. The backing is a vintage sheet and the charcoal stripes and border is quilting linen.

More

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Over the years we have linked to and created a whole bunch of wonderful resources for quilting. I have put together this resource page to make it easier for you to navigate this site to find all of these great projects. You’ll want to peruse the quilting category too of course. And browse all the posts related to my quilt book too.

 Quilt Process and Discussion

Quilting Link Love

Quilt Patterns + Tutorials

Technique + Block Tutorials

Essential Tutorials

{Quilt pictured above is from my Mid-season quilt tutorial}

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Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

John Adams is a husband and father of 3 who enjoys sewing and quilting in his spare time. Inspired by the growing number of crafting blogs and the emergence of vibrant, modern quilting fabrics in the textile industry. John convinced his wife to teach him how to use her sewing machine in 2004, he started his blog, QuiltDad, in 2008, since then, John has become very active in the online quilting communities and is a co-founder of the popular e-magazine for modern quilters, Fat Quarterly.

OK, it’s about time I ‘fessed up. My blog name – and, to be honest, the “handle” by which I am most widely known within the quilting community – came about as a total fluke.  I decided to start my blog almost on a whim, but didn’t realize that choosing a blog name would be the very first decision I’d have to make. It all seemed so … so permanent. I felt like I was making a big commitment.  It may be because I work full-time in branding in marketing that I felt that the title of my blog would be responsible for carrying such a burden, and that it would be a direct reflection of me and the voice I would be putting out there into the world through my blog.

So, in that short moment, as all of these things were flying through my head, I simply mashed together two things that were in the forefront of my mind, and that both represented things very important to me in my life: my budding passion for the art of quilting, and my role as a father to my three beautiful young children. And that’s how QuiltDad was born.

What has become evident (and most interesting) to me over the course of my nearly five years of blogging, however, is not how meaningful these two facets of my life are independent of one another, but what happens at the intersection of the two. I think I’m only beginning to realize how important it is to simultaneously embrace myself as both a creative person – on my best days, I might even use the word ‘artist’ – and as a parent. Because by doing so, I think I can be infinitely better at both.

First, allow me go back a bit and comment on my ability to follow a creative path as a child myself. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and, as a student in the always-crowded New York City Public School system, I had to choose between receiving art instruction OR music instruction at a very early age. Although I would consider myself to have been a very artistic child – drawing and painting was something I both enjoyed and had some natural skill at – the lure of the music program and learning to play an instrument was too strong. Besides, all of my friends were joining the band. So, at age 9, I decided to learn to play trumpet and never again received a minute of formal art education.

Throughout high school, between sports and academics and music and college admissions and, of course, having a social life, it was way too easy to neglect seeking out creative opportunities on my own. And so, by the time I started college, it seemed like the time for doing anything of substance with my creative talents, sadly, had passed.

I soon embarked on a successful career in the business world, went back to school for my MBA, got married, and started my family. But the need to re-introduce creativity back into my life was too strong to ignore. Through a series of events following the birth of my third child, my son Sean, I discovered the rich online modern quilting community – a community that embraced this novice quilter with a most unexpected demographic profile with warmth and open arms. (This series of events and how I started quilting is a story – and blog post – unto itself!)  I decided to start a blog, selected the QuiltDad name, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I started QuiltDad when my twin daughters weren’t quite three years old, and my son had just turned one. In many ways, my blog and my identity as a quilter has grown up alongside them. And here are some things that I love about what I have observed:

My children have a role model to show them that your job does not define who you are. As I mentioned, I earned my MBA from a top school and work full time in Corporate America. I know from experience that there are many, many people in my situation for whom their work consumes their lives. We live in a society that too often defines a person by their occupation and, in the business world especially, it’s very easy to let your job eat up every free minute of every day. The notion of work-life balance can seem like a fallacy. And I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always easy to fit your hobbies, pastimes, and creative endeavors alongside work and family commitments into a 24-hour day (just ask Kathreen, to whom I delivered this guest post late!). However, I force myself to maintain that balance, and to carve out time to do the things that make me complete. It makes me a better employee, crafter, and father.

My children have a father who is not ashamed of being creative. Let’s be real: being a “manquilter”, I’m a bit of a novelty in the online blogging and crafting community. I’m thrilled to see that other men have emerged as amazing talents and strong voices in the modern quilting world but, to outsiders, it’s still considered to be a strange hobby for someone like me to have pursued. I still choose who to share my hobby with very carefully. At best, people think it’s interesting and want to hear more about it — to a point. But at worst, it’s perceived as weird, unusual, and — to be honest — quite feminine. That’s why I think it’s important for my children to see that I am proud of my craft — not just in a flag-waving, “look at me” kind of way, but in a way that’s important enough for me to continue to pursue despite what others might think.

My son, especially, is learning to challenge gender stereotypes. Yes, among the uninformed, quilting still carries the burden of being something that grandmothers do. And even in the modern quilting community, I think it’s safe to say that it’s still largely a female-driven craft. Why is this the case? I believe, in large part, that this has to do with long-standing gender roles that have drawn (pushed?) women towards sewing, needlework, and the like. And really, I don’t have much issue with that except when society dictates that it’s not OK for boys to express themselves through the textile arts. I’ll be honest here: I am not sure that my own father, when he was alive, truly understood my passion for sewing and quilting. I have a heightened sensitivity to the remarks of others, the sideways glances of co-workers, the attitude of the ladies at the quilting shop when I tell them no, I’m not shopping for my wife — and I hope I can raise my son to develop a different perspective and set of values when it comes to art and creativity.

I am teaching my children to follow their dreams and their creative calling.  More than anything else, I hope I am exposing my children to a lifestyle in which creative expression is not only appreciated, but is present each and every day. All 3 of my children — my son included — have informed me that they want to learn how to quilt. I have helped each of them make a mini quilt for their dolls and stuffed animals, and seeing their sense of pride and accomplishment was invaluable. Recently, they all wanted me to teach them to hand embroider, which they picked up very quickly. Most importantly, I want to ensure that they aren’t forced to make a sucker’s choice that will divert them from the path of following their hearts and their passion.

I couldn’t have scripted the course of my life over the past couple of years – the formative years both for my children and for my artistic self – any better.  And I’m excited beyond belief to see what the years ahead hold for us.

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Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Weeks Ringle {blog}, together with her husband Bill Kerr run the Modern Quilt Design Studio (previously FunQuilts), they have a new book Transparency Quilts just out, and they also publish a magazine Modern Quilts Illustrated.

Infinity © FunQuilts

We started our business in 1999 with virtually no planning. I had been making modern quilts since 1987 and Bill began making them with me when we met in 1995. We both had other careers but wanted to work together and wanted to integrate a business into our home lives. It was not ideal but sometimes you can’t wait for the right moment and you just have to go for it. And we did.

We began making high-end custom quilts for interior designers, architects, gallery owners and individuals. The design world embraced us and soon our quilts were in magazines and newspapers across the country. At the time there was no Modern Quilt movement and we were not optimistic that there ever would be. We were criticized for machine quilting our quilts and for doing minimal and improvisational quilt patterns. We had no desire to try to covert the quilting industry to our way of thinking because it was so futile at the time.

Outside the Box © FunQuilts

We were making and selling our quilts primarily in New York. On September 10, 2001 we received large orders from two museums that we thought would provide a good amount of income for us for the coming months. At that time, the waiting time for orders was about eight months. Then came September 11.

Bill and I first watched in horror at what we were seeing. Later we started to feel the effects on our business. Within days both museums cancelled all of their orders, worried about the future of tourism in New York. I remember sitting in our old offices and saying to Bill, “We need to totally redesign our business. Today. I’m wondering if we should think about trying to teach a class in our studio.” Years later former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and current mayor of Chicago would have a sign on his desk that reads, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” That was our mindset at the time. Bad news: We had the feeling that we were about to lose everything. Good news: We had nothing left to lose.

We had already booked a show at a local art gallery. I asked if we could put out a simple brochure for classes. Within a week, the class was filled with people who had seen our work in magazines and at the show. Orders from other parts of the country came in and we thought that we could balance things out even without New York.

Color Conspiracy © FunQuilts

Eventually both FreeSpirit and Rockport, our first publisher, called asking us to work with them. Bill and I went to Quilt Market and watched an unknown designer also with FreeSpirit, named Amy Butler, launch her first line. “Maybe there will be a place for Modern Quilting after all,” I remember saying. It was 2003. We proposed our second book Modern Quilt Workshop to Rockport soon after and it became the first book printed that we know of with “Modern Quilts” in the title.

“You were too early,” are words we hear a lot. Now the bookshelves are full of books on lots of different aspects of Modern Quilting and few can believe that we were given a hard time by a quilt magazine editor for making an orange quilt. It’s a different world now, which has both its pluses and minuses for us.

Jewel Box © FunQuilts

The crises are still there and even after 13 years in business, five books, over 100 fabrics, features in over 70 magazines and our own magazine, we still don’t feel as though we’re an established company. Everyday continues to have its own surprises and challenges. We continue to work 15-17 hr days six to seven days a week (because that’s what it takes to make a living in a rough economy when you own a business, not because we’re workaholics) with breaks for our daughter, soccer games, getting exercise, cooking dinner and such. But we’re never, ever bored.

Horizon 1999

[I was just reading an old post that Weeks reminded me of … She wrote this post for Whipup back in 2006 and back then was hopeful that one day there might be a modern quilt conference where all the modernists could hang out together … so exciting to see it all happening with Quilt Con coming up next year – and Weeks and Bill will be there teaching and talking. Ed.]

 

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Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Alissa Haight Carlton lives in Los Angeles and is one of the founders and president of the Modern Quilt Guild.  She has written two books, Modern Minimal: 20 Bold and Graphic Quilts and Block Party: The Modern Quilting Bee. She blogs at handmade by alissa.

My creative process for designing and making a quilt is something that I’ve consciously worked at developing. I’ve come to realize that if you don’t have a process, how do you know where to start and where to go from there? I’ve also realized that my process changes, depending on the purpose of the quilt. If a pattern is going to be written up for the quilt, I always start by sitting down and designing the quilt. I use Illustrator for this. My abilities with the program are limited, but I love that I can design everything to scale, so I know my numbers will all add up. Once the quilt is designed, I get down to the leg work of following my own pattern and making the quilt. I often find this tedious as it feels purely like labor, but I’m driven by my desire to see my vision become reality.

If I’m not going to write a pattern for the quilt, I work in a completely different (and, for me, a much more fulfilling) way. I tend to keep my design process going throughout the making of the quilt, which makes the construction feel less like labor and more like part of the creative process. I thought that I’d show this process through the designing and making of a specific quilt (the one pictured above).

Let me begin by saying that the single most important tool for me with this process is a design wall. I simply tacked some cotton batting to my wall that fabric sticks to. This way, I can put things up, step away, hem and haw and just generally look at it a lot. Getting a design wall was transformative for my quilt design and I’d recommend it to any quilter out there. You can see it here on the left side of this photo of my (never this tidy) studio space. It takes up a whole wall and is 100% worth it.

The first thing that starts me thinking about a quilt is usually the colors and fabrics. For this quilt, which was a commission, I was given some guidelines in terms of the colors requested, so I pulled all of my fabrics that I thought could work.


From there, I didn’t know what direction I was headed, but I knew I wanted to do some improvisational piecing, so I cut a whole bunch of the fabrics up into strips and started piecing.

I love improv piecing. I never worry about where the quilt is headed – I just enjoy the process and working with the different colors and fabrics.  I also tend to focus on shape and color placement quite a bit since I usually work with solids. I  have turned to solids more and more as I’ve progressed in my quilting. I personally find a lot of patterned fabrics placed together to be busy and that takes away from the graphic feel that I to go for in my quilt designs.

Once I’d pieced a fair number of the improv blocks, it was time to start thinking about where I was going to go with them. Now try as you might to avoid it, at some point you have to decide where you’re going with a design… Unless the quilt is going to be improv from corner to corner and then squared up at the end, you eventually have to do some planning and dreaded math. When I reach this point, I turn to Illustrator. I’d been thinking that I wanted to create stripes with the improv piecing (I like the idea of improv within a structured context) so I took a photo of the blocks lined up and cropped it to be a strip. From there, I put the photo in Illustrator and messed around until I came up with a plan of this simple woven effect.


You can see that I just stretched and squeezed the one photo as needed to fill in the stripes. I wasn’t concerned with getting it to look just right since the only goal here was to sort out placement of the stripes within the negative space. Since I work to scale in Illustrator, I can also establish sizes of all of my piecing and negative space portions this way.

So from there, I kept on improv piecing until I had enough to fill in all of the strips, and I cut out all of the pieces of fabric to fill in the negative space – placing it all up on my design wall as I went along.

Here’s where I made a mistake – one that happens to me semi-regularly. I didn’t go with my gut. The pale yellow was the only fabric that was almost right that I had in my stash, so even though my instincts were telling me it wasn’t completely right, I kept on going because I was eager to make progress with the quilt. After walking away from my design wall and coming back to it a day later, I knew I had to make a change. A pale tan was in order, not a pale yellow.

A trip to the fabric store later, I had the right fabric and I got down to business finishing the quilt top.

Once I finish a top, I always make the back using up fabrics I have left from the front. To be honest, I pay very little attention to designing these backs and tend to just put them together as the fabric I have allows.


When it’s time to quilt, I think long and hard about how to best compliment the design of the quilt. I tend to not think about quilting before it’s time to do it. I’ll think it through while I’m basting, and I take my time making the decision. Here I quilted the negative space with very dense straight lines that echo the piecing design and then I filled in the improv stripes with less dense lines. I stopped and started so that the quilting followed the “weaving” effect of the piecing.

From there, all that’s left is the binding! Again, this is something that I don’t think about until it’s time to do it and my instincts usually point me in a direction. I like to use the binding as a frame of sorts, so I’m usually drawn to one of the darker colors in the quilt top. Here I went with one of the darker yellows.

And there you have it, how I design a quilt, from start to finish. As I mentioned earlier, I love to keep the design process going through as much of the construction as I can. I get very bored by the labor of making quilts (yup. I’ll admit it.) and I’m not the type who can sit down and make the same block 100 times. I almost never make the same quilt twice. I’m driven by the desire to see what will come next and sometimes my quilts turn out very differently from how I’d first imagined them. I am also not scared of making mistakes. I have started many projects and once I was half way through I realized I simply didn’t like where the quilt was going so I stopped. I put it aside and chalk it up to a learning experience that I can apply to future quilts. Or maybe it can be chopped up and used in a different way? You never know where your ideas, even the bad ones, might lead you!

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