Recently I agreed to take a Process Pledge and share how I work to design and make my quilts.
Firstly I should tell you that I make quilts just because I want to. I have no practical reason for quilts. I just like to make them.
I enjoy the thinking and problem solving processes involved in designing my own quilts. I want to do my own maths (there’s A LOT of maths involved in quilt-making), make my own mistakes (there are a lot of mistakes involved in quilt-making) and draw my own pictures.
My quilts do have a quality about them that makes them able to be identified as mine. People who have seen several of my quilts can tell at a glance that I designed a particular quilt. I don’t see that myself, but I quite like that I must have a style.
I know that I use simple piecing. I don’t really like sewing lots and lots of little pieces into lots and lots of little blocks to make a quilt. I prefer to whip up a pieced top in an afternoon. I know that every quilt I make has my drawings made into applique. I like to draw. I’ve always like to draw. I remember the day in grade 5 when I drew a kangaroo, looked down at it and realised that it really looked like a kangaroo. I feel proud that I can draw, so I include my drawings on every quilt I make.
Mostly my quilts are fabric inspired. I see fabric that I love and want to use it. It’s usually colour that attracts me to a fabric first. I love reds and browns and pinks and turquoises. I generally work within a fabric range. I like to challenge myself to use as many fabrics from a range in one quilt as I can. When I see a fabric I begin to think about my drawings. I think, “That fabric would be perfect for pirates/ elephants/ dragonflies.” The piecing for a quilt is the last thing that I consider. I think of piecing as a way that the colours and design will bring your eye to my drawings.
I always think about the quilting when I am making a quilt. I want every element to work together. Long before the quilt is finished I know how the quilting stitches will pull the background back and allow the applique shapes to pop.
Along the way I have learnt a few very important lessons:
- Once a long time ago someone said upon viewing one of my new quilts. “Huh! All of your quilts are designed for children.” I had never noticed this, but on reflection realised it was true. For some time after that I tried to be a grown up and change the way I designed quilts. That was silly of me. I don’t really believe that I am designing a kids’ quilt when I am making it, but if that is how it turns out I don’t mind. I like kids and all kids should have quilts.
- I felt like a dodgy quilter for always working within a range. I thought the best quilters used a variety of fabrics and tried to change my process to seem like a clever fabric selector. Now I don’t worry about that at all. I admire that designers can use a limited palette of colours and designs to make 40 different fabrics that work together beautifully. I celebrate their cleverness in my quilts.
I recently read a quote and I am paraphrasing it here. It said that power and freedom come from not having to please. I think this is how I feel about quilting and perhaps about blogging too. I don’t do it to please, but it pleases me to do it. I am what I am and so are my quilts. I love my quilts, every one of them.
I feel creatively free when I make quilts for no reason at all.
I just want to make quilts…