In today’s post I will present you four amazing Modern Quilters, their story and some of their quilts.
“When I was a sophomore in high school, my paternal grandmother offered to hand quilt a twin-size quilt to use in my freshman dorm room if I made the quilt top. My mom and I headed off to a quilt store and purchased a rotary cutter, rotary cutting mat, an Eleanor Burns “Quilt in a Day” book (a Card Trick pattern), and lots of fabric. After making my first quilt top, I made 2 other quilts while in high school and then took over my mom’s sewing machine every time I was home from college until my parents purchased my first sewing machine as a Christmas gift a few years later.
Whether it is due to my engineering background or not, I am very drawn to saturated colors and bold, geometric designs, and I tend to start all of my design sketches in black and white line drawings whether on graph paper or digitally on a computer. I am continually inspired by color combinations found in my husband’s nature photography. My favorite color is blue, and I do gravitate toward cooler colors, but honestly I love color and exploring different combinations and options. I tend to use minimalism and use of negative space in my designs, but recently I have been exploring curved piecing and some more modern traditional designs as a result.
My quilting activities are a mixture of discovery and elation. I have been an artist for most of my life (my parents gave me a set of oil paints in 3rdgrade). I have painted and crafted for over 50 years, mostly in my home raising 4 sons and working in retail. I returned to school at the age of 46, earning a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin and a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts in 2001. I began quilting about 4 ½ years ago when I retired from my Administrative position at the University of Texas at Austin. I was searching for a new creative endeavor and happened on “modern” quilts when I was googling for a new bedcovering. The works of Nancy Crow and Gwen Marsden caught my attention and I wanted to make what they were making. No one in my family quilted or did any kind of handwork so quilting was not something I was familiar with. I took a beginning piecework class at a local quilt store and was hooked. I love making “functional” art. I consider my quilts paintings using fabric as my medium. Currently I am working in my studio 12 hrs/day, 7 days/wk, teaching Zoom workshops and presenting Zoom lectures/trunk shows. There’s even a book in the future on my signature style of improvisational quilting, Dancing With The Wall.
My work has been exhibited throughout the United States and is included in private and museum collections. In 2019, I received the Emerging Artist Award at Quilt National, 2nd place finishes at QuiltCon2019 in the Improv category and in the 2-Color Challenge Category. I was awarded the first place award in the Improv category at QuiltCon 2020. You can also find my quilts depicted in many issues of “Curated Quilts” magazine.
“I made my first quilt in 2014, taking a break from sewing apparel for my first daughter. I continued dabbling in quilting until I began focusing more on it in 2016. I learned many quilting techniques from my teacher of an open sew group in North Carolina, where we brought our own projects to work on and could ask about anything! I’m inspired greatly by lines and contrast in lines. Much of my work has graphic line work, whether it’s straight lines or curves. I enjoyed sewing minimal color quilts initially (I love aqua), but more recently I’ve enjoyed sewing with unique color combinations (including aqua!). Many of my quilts include modern elements such as negative space, alternative gridwork, and playing with scale.”
I have been sewing since I was about 5-6 years old, mainly self taught (my mom sewed, and helped with the basics early on, but I’m very comfortable with self learning so I took it from there.) Most of my early sewing was clothing, which I still continue to make. I started quilting around 2000 and haven’t stopped. Initially I was working full time as a medical doctor (pediatric pathologist), so there was not much time for creativity outside of work and raising 2 children. Although I never stopped making quilts, I really started again in earnest in 2013, when I joined the newly formed Front Range Modern Quilt Guild. Although I am no longer a member of that guild, having transitioned to the closer Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild, the support and encouragement of my guild mates really gave me extra nudge to put my quilts out into the world. Since that time, my quilts have appeared in museum shows, 3 books (one due in 2021), magazines here and in Europe, calendars and postcards. I have won numerous awards here in the US (Quiltcon, AQS, International Quilt Festival- Houston, Mancuso, MQX, Vermont Quilt Festival, Road to CA to name a few more recognizable shows) and just recently abroad at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England.
I would describe myself as a modern quilter and I always work improvisationally, even with quilts that appear more “organized”. For me quilting is a process, and I add and edit as I go, stopping when the composition is done. I routinely use remnant material left-over from making clothes in my quilts (along with quilting cotton) and I prefer to work in solids rather than prints. I am an undeterred maker, happy to learn new things and repurpose garment making skills and tools into making quilts. I also work on only one quilt at a time, having only a single WIP on my design wall.
I get my inspiration from everywhere, travel, photos, books, my family. My favorite color is orange (I made what I consider my first modern quilt using orange as the focal color). Other favorites include deep reds, orangy-pinks, and chartreuse- I prefer the colors to the right and left of the traditional red-green-blue color triad, and really love crossweaves, and atypical fabrics, like linens, silks and velvets for their added textures.
As far as the design elements of Modern Quilting: for construction and visual impact, I prefer odd number off-set composition. I LOVE the challenge of insetting any shape and prefer the crisp finish of a pieced seam to applique. I hand draw all my inset circles and curves and I find having garment sewing skills renders me at an advantage for the curved shapes and unusual techniques that I routinely use, like unique bindings. I once spent more time curve piecing a binding that precisely matched the quilt, than I did piecing the quilt top. I am also a HUGE fan of matchstick quilting (if I’m quilting a quilt myself). And we’re talking dense, dense matchstick quilting with many changes of thread colors, thread material and thread thickness. If I’m not quilting myself, I am blessed to have an amazing longarm quilter, Christine Perrigo, who is also a dear friend and an internationally award winning quilter herself. I have such confidence in her ability to know what the quilt needs that she has carte blanche for the quilting design and execution.
It would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I am also a founding member of the BeeSewcial group, 8-10 improv quilters spread across the US and Canada that create modern award winning group quilts. We are in our 6th year of creating together and are going strong.
Could you please let me know when you post , my daughter is a masters degree student at UNAM, and speaks Spanish. I know she would get a kick out of seeing your write up. (She is currently at home, but hopes to be in Mexico City in January once the number of Covid cases starts to decrease there- remote learning until then…..).