I'm often wrong. Which I love. I love the fact that there is always more to learn and that I don't already know everything. And that sometimes things I have believed wholeheartedly turn out to be complete piffle. And that sometimes you have to learn things slowly, rather than just being taught. And so today, because all those statements are true, I want to say that I was wrong about patchwork. Totally wrong.
I didn’t think I liked patchwork. In fact I have been known to say that I h#%e patchwork. I want to interject in my own post and say I now realise my previous statement is total blasphemy (Anna just looked at me and sighed, bless her). Patchwork is obviously not one thing, and there are so many styles and tastes that there is something there for everyone. Yet again, one woman's water is another woman's wine.....
But back to where I started. I thought patchwork was way too busy and too bright and messy and loud. It just seemed too much. And then on top of that I really hated the idea of taking a beautiful print and chopping it into little pieces. That didn't make sense to me. And that is not to say that I didn’t see the a quilt here and there that I liked, but for the most part I thought they weren’t for me.
That said, I liked quilts – their function and the feeling of them. We sleep under one in the summer rather than a doona. I even made a few – wholecloth quilts of course - where I didn’t need to snip up the pretty pretty fabric. And I also think there was also some kind of avoidance of patchwork hidden in my dislike, in that I was also a bit scared of trying it. It seemed like a different science to making a frock. One where colour choice was oh-so-important. The same quilt pattern can look so vastly different – stunning or super-ugly based on this simple but complicated thing called colour and fabric selection. Learning how to do that felt a little bit impossible.
And then it happened - slowly but surely I was shown the error of my ways. About two or three years ago quilts started popping up on the web and pinterest that I didn’t just like - I LOVED! And they were sometimes quilts where pretty fabric was chopped up, and still I loved them. And then I started seeing people who were making quilt making into an artform with their incredible talents in composition and form, and their deep understanding of colour.
And I really did fall in love.
So I thought that today I would share some of my favourite quilt makers - the ones that have made me fall in love. Then in the next post, I'll tell you a little bit about what I think they have in common that makes their quilts oh-so-special.
First up there was Denyse Schmidt. For those of you who haven't heard of her she is a quilting pioneer and really the first person whose quilts spoke to me. I first saw her work about five or six years ago and I loved her Sonic Blue/Deep Blue quilt. A bit improv-ish, still simple but stunning. (There is also the Tangerine version). Pretty fabric was cut up but I wasn’t forced to shield my eyes from the busyness. I can picture this quilt in my mind so easily as I have looked at it so many times. And then she did a range of quilts called the Mount Lebanon series. Go and have a look at them. They are really beautiful and even more quiet. And at the time I hadn't seen anything like them.
My dislike shifted a little, and I purchased a couple of quilting books - the super one from Purl Soho and both books by the incredible Denyse. And there were some beautiful things. Things that I felt could be adapted to my taste. I started to see the potential.
And I started pinning things on Pinterest. And slowly, but surely have built a whole board of quilts I love.
Maura Grace Ambrose of Folk Fibers
So then, about two years ago, I came accross Maura Grace of Folk Fibers. Wow. I fell so hard and so deep - as did the rest of the world. I think it was the Colorado Quilt (shown below in reds and pinks) initially and then the Georgia (dark one) and then the Idaho (yellow). Totally different quilts but all with something totally interesting and stunning about them. Maura uses naturally dyed fabrics, machine piecing and then hand quilting producing these amazingly tactile looking quilts. I adore the yellow Idaho one so much I think I dream about it. And at the time Maura was blogging a little more, and I had just joined instagram where she documents her process. Maura has made one amazing quilt after another for years now - developing her style and her techniques over that time. It has been truly amazing to watch.
And through watching I became a little obsessed with learning more processes. I had to learn how to do a sashiko type stitch on a quilt. I made a wholecloth quilt or two for my small girl in order to teach myself how. And then progressed on to my imperfect quilt which I loved making almost as much as I love it finished. It was definitely a process as well product thing for me.
Making a few quilts and planning many more has meant that I have become even more curious about other makers. So in the last few months I have gone out looking for more. I have been looking for people who make quilts that I love, so that I can analyse them to figure out why I love them so much. What is it about them that speaks to me - and once I understand that - what it is that I want to make. It is all part of my visual diary process for quilts.
I have found another three modern quilt makers that I LOVE (and I can't wait to find more). I love watching their work and their process (often via instagram) and anything they want to give me really and I have come to the conclusion that I actually LOVE patchwork (and them. I really love them - they are so inspiring!)
I'm going to show you a few bits and pieces from my three latest loves in no particular order, but please follow the links and have a look at their work. There is so much more to their work than I am able to show in one post.
Hopewell Workshop – wow! They have been popping up all over the interwebs. Claire and Eliza really understand simple composition, colour and form. The simplicity of those three things in their quilts really make my heart sing. I adore their use of simple prints mixed with plain fabrics, and simple arrangements. Unlike many of the other quilt makers they aren’t solely making one-of-a-kind pieces and the quilting is done on a machine. Which makes their quilts more accessible. They are true masters of fabric choice.
I first came across Lindsay Stead on pinterest. The amazing quilt below right won First Place in the Minimalist Design Category at QuiltCon 2013. And was all over the place. But it was only after finding her through instagram and then her website that I realised how amazing she is as this quilt as not a one off. She is a master of mixing up a traditional pattern in new ways. The one below left won the Judge's Choice Award in the same year. The two quilts towards the start of the post are also hers.
Her latest series of quilts explores scale - enlarging quilt blocks to full quilt size. I love these.
And finally Meg Callahan - the quilter about whom I know the least but again I found via pinterest. I didn't even realise the quilts I was pinning were the same person until I went through the wormhole and found her website. I actually didn't realise initially that they were quilts. I thought they were blankets that were printed. Again I was wrong ;). And wow! Her patterns aren't traditional. They are more detailed than a common traditional quilt pattern and more geometric. And they are unlike anything I have seen before.
I mean c'mon. Look at those things. I could have added a heap more of Meg's quilts but this is already a photo heavy post. Go and have a look at her site.
So next post I'll tell you about the things I have learned about why these quilts are so special - other than just their genius. I've looked at them a lot and they have some things in common that we can all learn from. I'll also give you a bit of a list of other wonderful work I've seen you might want to check out.
If this post has sparked your interest in what patchwork might do for you, you might consider joining Melissa Wastney at our Freedom Patchwork course in September. She will be teaching a day of patchwork exploration, where you will come out with the skills you need to start making for yourself. Imagine the possibilities.
If you have other people that you think I should look at please leave them in the comments. I am hungry for more. Or maybe you just want to tell me about things that influence your quilting and patchwork. I'd love to hear.