Modern quiltingModern quilters 14

In this new showcase I’m featuring four Modern Quilters that you will love!

Daniela O’Connell

I’m Daniela and I’m a self-taught quilter from Germany. I discovered quilts while on my honeymoon in the US in 2013. I had never sewn anything before and I wasn’t very good with anything handmade. But that quilt I’ve seen and touched in this quilt shop in Joshua Tree changed me.

Back home I bought a sewing machine and taught myself how to quilt. In the beginning I’ve sewn quilts from patterns but very quickly designed my own quilts. As an architect I’m drawn to clean and simple designs and fresh colours. 

Today I love to improvise, my quilts mostly develop on my design wall. You would think that as an architect I am sketching everything beforehand and plan everything out, but with quilting it’s quite the opposite. I love the process of designing and the intuitive dialogue with fabric. It’s exciting for me to not know what the finished quilt will look like. I do sketch ideas though, it’s nothing specific and mostly the sketch doesn’t look anything like the finished product. 

My main inspiration comes from graphic design, abstract art and everything that catches my eye. 

I almost exclusively sew with solids today even though my stash still consists of more prints than solids. I also like to mix prints with solids to create interest. 

Quilting for me is a creative outlet, a place where I can experiment and push myself. The quilting community is ever supporting, and I met some incredible people through quilting. That’s probably the best! 

Thanks, Carolina, for this series and for inviting me! I got to know a lot of inspiring makers! 


Cheryl Arkison

I’ve been quilting for 22 years now. My mom taught me how to sew as a kid, and I took Home Ec in grades 8 and 9 (even winning the school award in grade 8!) but it wasn’t until I was 23 that I started quilting. I would pet fabric and think about it, but it took my first nephew to get me to quilt. Well, truly, it was that I thought no one could judge me for quilting at 23 if I was making a baby quilt. He was my excuse to start! And next year I will be making him a wedding quilt.

I just want to play. The whole notion of play is what inspires me. Most of my quilts begin simply because I want to try something. That might be a colour combination, a technique, a specific quilt block, anything. That initial spark may not amount to a finished quilt, but that’s okay. The important part is that I experimented and that I gave myself the time to be creative. Think about it, kids don’t go to the playground or start a game of tag because they think they need to get exercise, they just do it because it is fun. That’s how I think we should approach our creative habits. The process is the fun part. If all we wanted was a finished quilt we can buy one. We are doing this because we enjoy making. So we should be approaching it all as play. Well, maybe except for basting because there is nothing fun about basting a quilt!

When it comes to style I tend to be a more is more kind of quilter. If I need a red I would use 10 or 20 reds instead of a single fabric. The majority of my work is improvised as well. That is, I start a project without knowing what it will finish like. Again, that is me giving in to the process. When I was writing my books (I’ve published 3 books with Stash: Sunday Morning Quilts; A Month of Sundays; and You Inspire Me To Quilt) I worked the opposite way, designing the pattern first, but since then nearly all my work is improvised. It’s very liberating. 
As a teacher I interact with my students to have them get the most out of the experience as possible. My preference is to teach skills or technique over specific patterns. That way they can add it to their creative toolbox. When we are together in class it is, again, about playing. My job is to guide, entertain, instigate, as well as teach. 

My own creative pursuits work around a busy family schedule. In the past few years I’ve maintained a dedicated creative practice that I call Morning Make. Setting my alarm to be awake before the rest of the house gives me a chance to explore my own interests without interruption or influence. I like to create before I consume. It’s out of bed and before caffeine, the news, email, or social media I give myself 15-60 minutes to sew, draw, write, stitch, paint, print, or do whatever strikes me. It has the exact same impact on me as a meditation or yoga practice would. We say in our house that we all have a better day is Mama gets her Morning Make!
@Cheryl_Arkison (IG and Twitter

Sarah Ruiz

I’m Sarah Ruiz, a quilter, pattern designer, and tech editor in Houston, TX. I started quilting in 2011, almost entirely on a whim. I had always enjoyed arts and crafts growing up, but had very little experience with sewing. Still, I had a feeling that it was something I would enjoy. (Spoiler alert: I enjoy it A LOT!) I made a few bags and household items, but quickly realized that quilting was the most appealing thing to me as a way of creating art and patterns with fabric. I am usually drawn to more structured and precise designs, and I love geometric shapes with strong lines and high contrast. My favorite color is blue — in any shade, from navy to turquoise. I’ve yet to meet a blue that I didn’t like!

I also work full-time as an aerospace engineer, and that technical background is strongly tied to my quilting pursuits. I loved the math and puzzle-solving aspect of making a quilt, and over time that led me to designing my own patterns and using my technical and graphic design skills to help other pattern designers as well. I’ve met so many amazing people and artists thought quilting, and love being a part of the modern quilting community!


Melissa Mason

I’m Melissa de León Mason and I’m a modern quilter, pattern designer, and quilting teacher. I first started quilting twelve years ago while living in Cairo, Egypt. I loved to explore the city and one of my favorite parts was the fabric market, a whole district filled with endless stalls of gorgeous colors and textures. I found myself buying up fabric but had no idea how to use it so I sent away for a sewing machine and taught myself to sew. My early projects were truly hideous but eventually I improved. I really enjoy foundation paper piecing and curves and I’ve always had an eye for bold color, something I attribute to my childhood growing up as a Mexican American living on the border. Although I sometimes play with more muted palettes, I always find myself coming back to designs that are loud, colorful, and a little chaotic. Which is probably also a good way to describe me.