In this new showcase I’m featuring four Modern Quilters that you will love!
I began sewing over 25 years ago, and began quilting and blogging in early 2009. I was pregnant with my son, and put on bedrest. My mom came to help take care of my daughter, who was 2 at the time. She brought her sewing machine and a quilting project. She taught me how to make a quilted bib for my son. It took me forever! I couldn’t believe anyone would make an entire quilt. Well, the next thing I knew, I was making an entire quilt! I couldn’t resist all the beautiful fabrics and patterns. I especially loved Amy Butler fabrics and her book In Stitches. I learned just how addictive quilting can become.
While I was learning various quilting techniques, I was also sharing my journey on my blog, Fresh Lemons Quilts. I started writing patterns and tutorials and posting them online, so others could learn along with me. In the summer of 2011, I co-hosted the Summer Sampler Series with Lee Heinrich and Kate Blakesley. The quilt-along’s focus was a sampler of 12 traditional quilt blocks made using modern fabrics and layouts.
This was the beginning of my love of modern traditionalism – taking a traditional quilt block or concept and tweaking it in a modern way. This can be done in so many ways. You can simplify a complex block to give a more bold and modern look. The layout can be changed to create asymmetry or use negative space in an interesting manner. Sometimes the eye needs a place to rest and negative space can help balance the quilt. Fabrics used can be powerful and bold. I prefer fabric that is either a solid, or reads as a solid. This lets the design stand out and the fabrics be the secondary bit of interest.
Over the last 9 years, Lee, Katie and I have written a book together (Vintage Quilt Revival), and hosted another five Summer Sampler Series quilt alongs. My love of Modern Traditionalism has only grown over this time. There is a never ending bucket of inspiration, and it is wonderful to be able to honor the past while participating in the modern quilting community.
Fresh Lemons Quilts
When I first told my partner’s grandma, the first quilter I ever knew, that I was interested in learning how to quilt, she grabbed my arm, gave me a serious look, and said, “Buddy, you don’t know how much fun you’re gonna have.”
And it’s true! I’ve been having a blast ever since. I’ve been quilting since 2010, and it’s been more fun and more rewarding than I could have imagined. What interests me most about quilting is that intersection between art and utility. As a quilter, I’m not just concerned with aesthetics, I’m also designing for comfort, warmth, security, and memory. I think about this with every quilt I make.
I love working with found fabrics: old clothes, worn-out linens, leftover shirting material, thrown-out umbrellas, and vintage tablecloths. I’m drawn to found materials like this because in addition to knowing that my art has helped reclaim perfectly usable resources, working with non-traditional fabrics imposes certain limitations on the design process which I find propel me to do more meaningful and interesting work.
I rarely have an overall design mapped out in my head when I start a new project. I begin with a few scraps of fabrics whose colors, patterns, or textures complement one another, and go from there, piecing them together until I find an arrangement that is somehow surprising, intriguing, or unexpected.
My quilts are designed for people who want to create a meaningful, unique space in their home. Each piece I design is unique and custom-made for your home. I work with you to ensure that your quilt not only fits your aesthetic, but also that it will last for years, becoming a modern heirloom you can pass down to your loved ones.
Without a doubt, my biggest influences have been the quilters from Gee’s Bend: Irene Williams for her play and wit with fabric and Loretta P. Bennett for her use of irregular shapes. And I should pay due to Brooklyn and the city of New York; without its geometry and textures, my work today would not be the same”
I’ve been sewing as long as I can remember, but really took to it in my early teens. I began with garments mostly and a bit of home decorating. I grew up half a world away from my extended family. As far as I know, there are no quilters in my family and I didn’t know anyone who quilted. The idea just always fascinated me. After years of thinking about it, I finally started quilting in 2002 and loved it right away!
I took my first quilting class at my local quilt shop and continued to take several more classes there in my early quilting years. My first glimpse of modern quilting was Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr’s book “Modern Quilt Workshop.” I looked at those quilts and thought “YES! Those are the kinds of quilts I want to make.” I joined Flickr (the photo-sharing site) in 2009 and saw an amazing number of outstanding quilts made by people from all over the world with all kinds of ideas I never would have thought of. It was a fantastic education in opening my mind to all the possibilities. This was a wonderful time when lots of people were blogging and sharing so much of their work and thoughts. The Modern Quilt Guild formed soon after and I found my stylistic home with modern quilting.
Some days, I just want to try to add a little beauty to the world, so I play with fabric until I find a design I like. Other days, I am inspired by a particular object, most often a building or sometimes something in nature. I describe my style as modern minimal and I am fascinated by trying to find out how much I can distill and take away while continuing to convey the essence of my subject or idea. I most often work with line. I sometimes describe my quilts as drawing with fabric (although, I am not good at drawing on paper!)
I love to work in black and white! Color is wonderful, but removing it keeps the focus on the lines and shapes and encourages the viewer to bring their own thoughts and emotions to the piece. When I work with color, I usually limit the palette to one or two colors. I like my quilts to have a calm feeling and limiting the colors and prints makes that easier.
Minimalism is where my heart lies. Hand in hand with that, I use a lot of negative space. Many of my functional quilts use an alternate grid as well. I don’t do much improv piecing although I do some improv appliqué.
Third Street Neighborhood is my most popular pattern and was one of my early modern quilts.
Forever is inspired by the traditional double wedding ring block. It is included in my book, Lines by Design Quilts (Fons and Porter, 2016).
(Both the pattern and my book are available on my website, https://debbiegrifka.com)
Canterbury #2 was inspired by a photo I took when visiting Canterbury Cathedral in 2017. It won First Place in Appliqué at QuiltCon in 2018.
Years ago, I studied weaving and textiles in art college but I chose to follow a different path that ended up not being very creative. So, about 11 years ago, I decided that I needed a new creative outlet and I signed up for a quilting workshop. The workshop was all about basic quilting techniques and it was taught by a local quilter named Johanna Masko. I fell in love with quilting right away! I’d missed being around textiles and using my creative energy so much!
What began as a hobby eventually turned into my full-time job – I’ve exhibited quilts all over the world and travelled to many places to teach. It’s connected me to so many amazing other artists and I’m so happy that I found this new path.
Generally, I’m inspired by things like architecture and modern design and I use a programming language to randomly generate many of my designs, so I tend to incorporate a lot of hard geometric lines and curves into my quilts. I have a weakness for colours…I love them all! Sometimes I try to limit myself to a palette of just black and white but other times I can’t help but put every colour of the rainbow into one piece.
Although my work aesthetic leans towards the modern, I also love and appreciate more intricate work. My father was an antique dealer so growing up I was surrounded by beautiful, handmade objects. I believe there’s a special energy that comes from old things that have been passed down from generation to generation. So, when I’m working on my most special quilts, I put a bit of myself into them with each stitch, knowing that they’re going to live longer than I do and they’re going to have their own unique journeys.