Website/Blog: Mad Quilter’s Disease
1. How did you come to be a quilter?
I blame my aunt who, one Christmas, showed me a picture of a quilt she made for a school raffle – a purple and gold bargello that looked gorgeous and complicated. Being the process-oriented soul that I am, and with a quilting shop that had opened just around the corner from my house, I asked her how it was put together, and she explained the process. It seemed so easy!
However, I did have a sewing background: my mother sewed everything from clothes to toys to Christmas decorations, and I learned to sew from her. So quilting wasn’t completely outlandish. (Just mildly outlandish.)
2. What is it that you love about being a quilter?
I love the play of colour and the use of clever design to draw the eye in the patterns that may not necessarily reflect the quilt blocks themselves. And I love the way many disparate pieces come together to make a whole and beautiful thing. And I love the way that I’m creating something that’s not only beautiful but very functional. More than anything else, when I make a quilt, I want it to be used.
And, of course, there’s the wonderful community of quilters here in Australia and across the world – a pleasure to meet and know and be inspired by!
3. What are you most proud of from your quilting experience?
That I’ve tried a wide range of styles and designs and patterns, and haven’t gotten stuck with any one type.
And I’ve learned how to free-motion quilt!
4. What’s the one piece of advice about quilting that all new quilters should know?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it the wrong way. Anyone. You’re making something that you want to make the way you want to make it. That’s okay. Even improvement isn’t absolutely necessary (although straight and well-measured seams are definitely a bonus, but, trust me, you can fudge it and nobody will notice) and as long as you’re good with what you create, it’s all good.
5. Who’s the quilter(s) that inspire you at the moment?
Right now? Hm. My taste in quilters is rather like my taste in music – somewhat eclectic, and more geared to the item than to the artist.
But recent quilts that caught my eye: Moccasin by Gen X Quilters , Iceberg by Two Little Aussie Birds , Tangled by Red Pepper Quilts and Honey by Elizabeth Hartman
6. What quilting challenges would you like to conquer in the next 12 months.
Free-motion quilting on my domestic machine, if only for small projects. Practising enough to get good enough to make things I wouldn’t be ashamed to give away!
I’d like to actually publish a couple of quilt block designs, and a quilt pattern. I’m really good at working things out for me as I go along, but really bad at writing them down and actually formalising a process.
7. What’s your 3 favourite quilts that you’ve made that reflect who you are as a quilter?
Oh yes, it’s a gingham quilt! Made with gingham!
I have a very keen sense of mischief and always have. Like the ‘Gothic Summer Sampler’ I subverted several years ago, I made this quilt to kick sand over the line of “what’s modern” and “what’s traditional”: rainbow-bright colours in a pattern/print that’s very traditional!
This is the kind of quilt that I like to make: something that takes quilter expectations (“Gingham? How boring!”) and tosses a glitterbomb into the mix. (“All the colours of the rainbow? GIMME!”)
I designed this myself based off a prompt for an art project. Basically, I found a design I liked, worked out how to put it together, pieced it together row by row…and then realised there was a simpler way to do it. It was my first attempt at free-motion quilting on a longarm, and if I’d had any time left before it was due, it might have been my first attempt at trapunto, too!
It reflects who I am as a quilter because of the process that I went through to make it: this is a design I like, how do I put it together, choose fabrics, quilt it.
Mondrian Dreaming was made for the Sydney Quilt Show 2014. It’s a Disappearing 9-Patch, with a modern twist – have at least 4 of the 9 patches be of the same fabric.
I made this quilt because it seemed to me that, lovely as the complex and complicate quilts in the Sydney Quilt Show 2013 were, they weren’t accessible quilts to your basic sewist. Not everyone has the time/resources to play with the blocks and colour of a Double Wedding Ring or English-Paper-Pieced hexies. But something that’s composed of squares with a modern slant? Yes.
I love quilting – it’s definitely an art form to me. But as quilting and quilt show judging moves into a realm with a seriousness that borders on competitive sport, I think it’s also important to keep quilting accessible. A simple, yet effective quilt was what got me into quilting in the first place; and it was important to me not to forget my roots in this.
8. If you weren’t a quilter, what other creative endeavour would you like to master?
Wait, we’re limited to mastering one creative endeavour? (I don’t tend to read the instruction booklet...)
I write. I garden. I cook. Mastery? Well, I’d really like to be better at drawing so I could do character tableaus and interactions, but that’s mostly a case of practise making perfect. Unfortunately rather more practise than I have time to do right now.
9. What is your favourite kind of pie?
Apple pie. With real apples, a sugared crust, and dollops and dollops of cream. (Are you done with that cream bowl? Just hand it over, thanks!)
10.What holidays, traditions or religious occasions do you celebrate in your family at this time of year?
My family is Christian, so we usually attend whatever services we can reach (based on traffic and locality).
Christmas Day Lunch is the major celebration, though – early to the parentals’ house, opening presents, then the Christmas Day Lunch (with bonus relatives) and the post-lunch coma. In recent years, I’ve spent the afternoon/evening reading through the Yuletide Fic Archive, full of fanfiction about books and shows and movies that I love.
New Years’ Eve has been quiet the last few years, mostly because I’m a homebody and I don’t want to deal with drunk crowds. Easier to just stay home and sleep in the New Year!
11.Do you listen to music, watch television or prefer the hum of the sewing machine when you sew?
I don’t mind music, but I tend to forget to turn it on until just before I finish – so the hum of the sewing machine!
I tried watching TV while sewing, but I need to be able to see what’s happening – I can’t just let it play in the background.
12.What are your favourite types of blog posts to read?
The pattern posts. Definitely the pattern posts! People are so full of amazing ideas and designs – it’s a joy to watch the process unfold and a pleasure to come out saying “hey, I see how that would work!”
13. How important to you is learning a craft? How do you think we can keep the craft alive?
Arts and crafts are my sanity space – a chance to do something creative and tactile, more than the programming I do for work, or the reading and storytelling I enjoy in my other free time. So learning a craft is very important – an aesthetic outlet, and one focused on colour and pattern, both very much things that I like being able to develop and manipulate.
Encouragement. Making friends. Developing community on the social networks that quilters use – Instagram, Pinterest, FB and others.
14.If you had to pick any designer to sit down and chat or work with for the day who would it be and why?
Rashida Coleman-Hale, because she’s a successful woman of colour in the quiltblogging world and that’s unusual, but I really love her colours and designs, particularly with the Cotton+Steel line of fabrics. (And I’d ask for a sneak peek of the next “spring” line!)
Two or three complementary colours and a contrast: the actual colours don’t matter too much as long as they’re very bright, very saturated colours.
And rainbows are always safe…
16.Do you have any quilting goals for 2015, what are they?
Make at least 3 scrap quilts.
Complete 4 WIPs.
Get all my ‘free’ quilt tops quilted (by me or a professional).
Publish a bag pattern and a quilt pattern.
…I think that’s it. There are probably more, but for the moment that’s all I got.
17.Do you prewash your quilting fabrics?
Nope. I used to – right at the start – but I didn’t really like the way it crumpled in the wash and wouldn’t iron out. And these days, I figure that the quality quilting cotton we have doesn’t need to be pre-shrunk the way it used to.
18.What’s the best quilting tip you ever got?
“Don’t overthink it. Just do it.”
Other than my roller blade and cutting ruler? My Clover open-sided thimble. Fits to my finger, perfect for handsewing.
I’m not much of a sewing gadgets person I’m afraid – the basics tend to do me quite nicely!
20.What are you hoping the festive season will bring for you?
A bit of peace and a breather. I’ve been running flat out for the last few months, so it would be nice to sit back and not have anything with a due date for a while!
Thank you Sel for sharing with us!