I'm thrilled to be joining the talented See How We Sew team. For me, quilting is both an individual and a social activity – I enjoy making my own designs, but most of them are what they are because of some outside inspiration, advice, or collaboration. My mom and dad, kids, husband, and fellow quilters have all participated in the process. By way of introduction, I'll share some of my early favorite quilts and their stories.
My First Quilt
I started making quilts about 18 years ago. I bought a book (Quilting for People Who STILL Don’t Have Time to Quilt by Marti Mitchell), got some supplies, and decided to give it a try. I was inspired by the techniques and designs in the book, and I went BIG: my first quilt comfortably covers a queen size bed! After I finished that first project, I took a couple of classes to learn the basics of machine piecing – including a bunch of things I wish I had known for that first quilt.
We Made Our Bed
My husband Steve is a talented woodworker, and has made much of the furniture in our home, including our bed. I made this quilt for him, inspired by the design of the bed and some of the other colors in our room. There are words from our wedding vows quilted in each of the larger solid squares. This picture shows the bed, the quilt, a bedside table he made, and two paintings by my mom. I really like that so many of the items in our home have "stories."
We Meet Again Tonight
My friend Anna gave me a great box of scraps: mostly strips and some leftover pieced parts. Another friend, Gailen, gave me an unused quilt kit (enough fabric for a specific queen-sized quilt). I used both sources to make this enormous crazy log cabin block. Because of the provenance of the fabric, and because the design elements seem to meet in the middle, I thought it would be fun to have the quilting design be words from a song I sang with friends in college: “We Meet Again Tonight.” Thank goodness the talented longarm quilter Sue Fox was able to translate my quilting idea into reality!
Playing in the Waves
This quilt was inspired by a photo I took of a group of kids standing on a beach, playing with the water line and waves. The backlit photo looked like it had been taken in black and white, with the water, sky, and wet sand shimmering silver. I was pleased to be able to use some of the fun fabrics my quilting friend and fabric designer Carol Van Zandt had just given me, and had fun adding the sparkle with metallic thread.
These are made with men's shirts and ties, and backed and bound with wool suiting material. After I raided my husband's and my dad's closets for shirts and ties they were done wearing, I put out a call on Facebook for friends to send me any ties they were ready to part with. Special thanks to my friend Mike who sent the orange stripe -- one of my favorites. I also found a few brightly colored ties at the Oakland Museum's White Elephant Sale, along with some XXL shirts that gave me lots of material to work with. I finished the center panel first, and wanted to display it in my living room. The space called out for something wider, so I added the side panels. Now it makes me think of a kimono.
Having originally focused only on designing and piecing, I have more recently begun to do the actual quilting myself. I’ve also made most of my more recent quilts with some sort of comfy/cozy backing, like flannel, fleece, or minky. Although it poses some challenges, it’s what my family prefers – and how can I argue with that?
I love color and design, but I have never been a professional artist. My “studio” is a corner of my son’s bedroom and my “design wall” is the hallway floor. I value good quality tools, but I don’t feel comfortable spending lots of money on myself and my leisure activities. I like learning traditional techniques, but not necessarily making traditional quilts. I look forward to sharing more quilts and learning from you on See How We Sew!