All posts filed under “Still Lives

Quilt no. 016: Floating Squares

When I left my apartment on a clear Saturday morning, I had only a handful of expectations about Sherri Lynn Wood‘s Improvising from a Score workshop. I decided the night before that my only goal that morning was to show up with my tools and I would go where the day wanted to take me. I had a stressful and trying few weeks prior to the workshop and I just wanted to engage in something that was going to allow me to make something without internal expectations.

Front Details

Sherri’s approach to making and quilting feels really refreshing to me. Up until taking her workshop, I had been wanting to spend a lot of time refining my craft, perfecting my piecing and my hand stitching. I was much more focused on further refining what I already knew, rather than exploring. Her workshop gave me the opportunity to learn how to trust myself a little more, to listen to what my creative impulse drove me towards and that a plan doesn’t need to have a predicted outcome.

Front Details
Something shifted for me that day. I talked in the entry for my previous quilt about the patch work bags I made when I was teenager. Making this quilt felt like that: challenging, fun and engaging. Picking the fabric, using scissors to cut the pieces and fitting them together was a delightful and welcome change to the heavily structured and planned quilts I’ve been making.

I chose to piece this from different shot cottons, various types of Kona and Bella solids as well as some printed quilting fabrics that where given to me by Jess at Threaded Quilting. There’s a layer of washed muslin between the top and the pieced back, which made the hand quilting quick and easy. At 34″ x 43″, it will make a lovely lap quilt for it’s new home with Hannah Jewell in North Carolina.


While this quilt doesn’t feel like anything I’ve made in the past, it has led me to a new way of piecing that is much more compelling to me. While my meticulous planning led to quilts that met my expectations, it has been freeing to drop those expectations and just make.

Backing Details

Quilt no. 015: Improv Study in Yellow and White

After finishing my block for the Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild’s Twisted Sisters Quilt, I had a bunch of the assigned fabrics and this white on white circle. I dislike letting UFOs sit around and when the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum announced their 25th Anniversary Challenge, I knew what I was submitting.

Quilt no. 015: Improve Study in Yellow and White Detail

Quilt no. 015: Improve Study in Yellow and White Front

With this quilt, I basically just wanted to explore piecing together fabric without meticulously planning the layout. I had a bunch of fun putting together the original block and wanted to continue with it. It brought me way back to the way I used to piece together corduroy and denim for bags when I was around 14 or 15, which was haphazard and aimless, letting the piece of fabric grow and shift until it was as big as I wanted it to be.

Quilt no. 015: Improve Study in Yellow and White Detail

Quilt no. 015: Improve Study in Yellow and White Front

That said, it has led me to a place where I want to do more improv piecing. It’s been interesting to see what comes from intuition and reaction, rather than meticulous planning. It felt much more important when I was first gaining the skills set I needed to make a quilt to have specific plans and measurements.

After taking Sherri Lynn Wood’s improv class in early June and reading her book, I think I’m headed off in a new direction. I’ve always thought quilting was fun but improv piecing feels much more engaging. I’m pretty excited to show off what came from her class and a larger quilt inspired by her Floating Squares score when they are finished.

Quilt no. 012: Quarter Squared

I like to think of Quilt. 012 as Quilt no. 011’s little sister quilt.  This tiny darling, 30″ x 30″, was constructed entirely from the trimmings and leftovers from Quilt no. 011, because I couldn’t bear to throw away all of those triangles. This quilt taught me how to have serious patience when it comes to piecing. It also taught me that I should be way, way more meticulous when it comes to trimming flying geese blocks. My goal was, honestly, to use up of the leftovers from Quilt no. 011. I bought half a yard of fabric to bind it; everything else was leftovers. The quilting was simple, meant to highlight and complement the visual effect of the piecing. The back is a golden yellow linen look fabric that I bought from Lost and Fawned’s destash sale nearly a year ago.

Quilt no. 012: Details

I like to think it speaks for it’s self, which is part of the reason why I am rushing through the details of the quilt. But also because I’ve got some stuff to talk about.

I spend a lot of my non-quilting time thinking about quilting. Pondering color palates at red lights, turning over ideas about composition while doing the dishes, contemplating my newly discovered interest in improv piecing. One of the things that I keep coming up against is what to do with the quilts I’ve made. Sell them? Give them away? Hold onto them with the hopes that someone will want to hang them in a show?

I don’t know. I freeze up when it comes to figuring out how to get my work in front of an audience and/or monetizing it. I’ve never been compelled by the business of art; I’ve always just wanted to make stuff. My disinclination towards selling my work, in the past, has made me feel like a goddamn failure. I started making quilts because they felt like a purely creative endeavor, motivated by my interest in learning a new skill set and exploring fabric as a medium. Now that I have an ever-growing stack of completed quilts, it’s hard for me to not ask myself what to do with them.

Quilt no. 012: Back

I contemplate selling them, of being the artisan that I sometimes think I want to be. But I get stuck, tripped up in branding, pricing, advertising, doing shows and markets. I don’t know who would buy them, especially not at the price point that would compensate me fairly for my time. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that when it comes to creative work that monetizing it might not be the answer. It’s not that I am lazy. Making for the sake of making means something different than trying to make a product that someone wants to buy. While I wouldn’t mind selling my quilts, I do not want it be my sole goal in making them.

I might end up changing my mind. I do that a lot. But right now, this is where I am.

Quilt no. 012

What has made this last year so good for me, in terms of quilting and creative work, is that I’ve found community to share what I’m working on. When reading about the history of quilts, I was struck by how social it often was. It was something that was I missing. I had it when I was at college and it petered out as everyone went their separate ways. I found it first on Instagram, I recently started hanging out with the Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild and have met an incredible amount of smart, deeply talented people who’s work is outstanding. I am humbled by the fact that I get to hang out with them. While my life has been kind of a mess this last month, I am looking forward to attending meetings, having some time to sewcialize and hang out with creative folks again.

I feel more compelled to be a part of a community of makers and to find where I fit in to that community. I’m more interested in getting modern quilts out into the world and getting other people’s work seen, both by quilters and non-quilters alike. At this moment in my life, I want to be a part of something bigger than I am, rather than trying to get noticed as an individual. I think it’d be way more rewarding for me to, for instance, teach others or help put together local shows. I’d love to hear your thoughts, dear reader.

Quilt no. 012: Front

Quilt no. 011: Fogged

I am envious of the talented quilters that populate my social media. I see them start and finish quilts and other projects in matter of weeks and months while I am still plodding along in my hand quilting. I pieced 7 quilts in the past 12 months and finished 4 of them. I suspect the remaining three will take me until, at least, October to finish. Quilting is a slow process for me. Hand quilting is about letting time pass without consequence, of having a place to channel creativity, anxiety and perfectionism. It’s about giving myself idle time to get lost in minutiae and detail. It’s about finding calm and quiet in the repetitive motions, about losing myself in work. I feel accomplished and focused when I spend a few hours every day hand quilting.

Quilt no. 0011: Blowing in the Wind

I feel conflicted about my slow, plodding, methodical working process. I feel like I should be churning out work, to get it up and in front of people, to continuously send WIP images to my instagram account. To output for the sake of audience. To have more than one quilt in mind to submit to shows and competitions, to have a choice. I’d even like to be able to see my work evolve faster, to execute my ideas and have them be finished pieces. Despite the fact that I’ve got a bunch of WIPs, I’m still contemplating three more quilts to be made in the future. I’ve got fabric earmarked and piled together, inspiration images pinned, planning vectors half started.

Quilt no. 0011: Front Texture Quilt no. 0011: Front Stitching

Basically, quilting forces me to slow the fuck down.

Quilt no. 0011: Back
Previously, I’ve pieced and quilted quilts according to sections, which is a nod to the Amish quilts I love so much. For this one, I wanted the pieced sections to interact a little more and so I let quilting lines intersect, let others bleed out of their space. I think I was successful in creating more motion in this quilt. It feels less still and static than the others I’ve made.

Quilt no. 0011: Back Detail & Drape Quilt no. 0011: Back Texture

This quilt was made for the sake of making. I wanted to challenge my piecing skills. I wanted to make flying geese blocks. I had a bunch of grey and blue-grey scraps from previous projects that I wanted to use up. I have a thing, a negative thing, about leaving scraps sit around with no purpose, which is also why the back is the way it is. I was thinking about mist, about foggy days. In a Missouri summer, I was longing for a cool, misty landscape. I was thinking about moving to Colorado, about mountains, about craggy rocks and pine forests.

Quilt no. 0011: Front Texture