Sunday, November 2, 2014

Modern Quilting, Modern Women

A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by Crystal McGann of Two Little Aussie Birds, wondering if I would be interested in joining in on a series she is starting on her blog about modern quilting.  In Crystal's own words, "This series on Modern Quilting, Modern Women celebrates what makes us who we are.  How our craft defines us and gives us a creative outlet which pays respect to our mothers and their mothers before them.  I see many different women coming together as a tribe of quilters.  Woven together by their craft.  Modern quilters are as diverse as modern women."

As part of the series, she is interviewing modern quilters and discussing some of the things that define us in this genre.  Of course I told her I was in!

1.  Tell us about how you started quilting and how you found modern quilting.

Finding quilting was kind of a fluke for me.  I didn't have any relatives that quilted.  I didn't have any heirloom quilts that inspired me to start quilting.  My first experience with quilting was when I was 10.  My grandmother was hand quilting a quilt as a gift for my cousin's upcoming wedding.  All my aunts and my mom and I gathered in a spare room in her basement and stitched away as we talked.  I literally think I was only able to make two stitches in the half hour I was there!  I thought, "Wow!  This is WAY harder that it looks!"  And I literally put quilting in the "never gonna do that again" category.  

I didn't even think about quilting again until I was pregnant with my first child, Lily.  My mom wanted to make her a raw edge flannel blanket and so she took me shopping to some quilting shops around our area.  This was my first exposure to fabric.  I was a little overwhelmed with all the choices and had no idea of a style that spoke to me.  My mom picked some adorable prints that were in the colors I wanted and when she made the blanket for me I was so excited!  I remember thinking that I would love to make a blanket like that one day.  

When I was pregnant with my second child or shortly after she was born, (I don't really remember), I decided I wanted to make her quilt.  I had NEVER used a sewing machine.  NEVER even touched one, but I was determined.  I had a good friend, Allison, that had been making some quilts for friends and had taken me shopping with her for fabric.  She told me that one of our other friends, Vanessa Goertzen of Lella Boutique, was an amazing quilter and that she had great tutorials on her blog for beginning quilters.  I looked on her website and it was gold!  Using her Quilting 101 tutorials, I not only made a quilt for Zoey, but also for Lily and then when the time came our third child, Reuben.  

With three children, I was really busy and didn't have time, let alone the passion, for quilting.  Then last year, my husband was going to school full time and we were looking for some ways that I could make some extra money working from home.  I kind of jokingly told him that if he got me a sewing machine, I could sell quilts and other fabric goodies.  And guess what?  I got a sewing machine for Mother's Day!  I'm kind of glad he was clueless to what he was getting himself into :) 

In August my baby brother was getting married, and I don't really know how, but I got the crazy thought in my head that I wanted to make them a quilt for their bed.  I stumbled across Camille Roskelley's Swoon pattern while surfing the internet and I knew it was the "one".  While shopping for fabric this time, something just clicked.  I was OBSESSED with the feel, the color, the print, the everything of the fabric!

That is really where it began for me.  I may have been a late bloomer, but I was made to be a quilter!

2.  What does it mean to you to be a modern quilter and a modern woman?

Truthfully, I have been ruminating over this question since Crystal contacted me.  I like to think that a modern quilter is anyone that is quilting as this point in time.  Obviously there are differences in style, in fabric choice, in technique between quilters. What is it that makes us modern?  One thing that comes to mind is technology.  Not only are we using more modern equiptment (computerized long-arms anyone?), but we are using social media to share and connect with each other.  And yet there are still those of us that love hand stitching and doing things that maybe our grandmothers' generation would have done.  I think what's nice about being a modern quilter these days is that there is so much choice and accessibility in our creative process because of technology.  For me, that is also what being a modern women is.  It isn't about what we do, or how much we can achieve, but rather that we have the choice of what we do and how we reach our achievements.   We are all Modern Quilters and Modern Women!

3.  Which quilt that you have made represents you and why?

This is such a hard question!  I'm not sure if I can really answer this the way I want to.  I want to be able to say, "Oh, it was definitely this one," or "It's got to be that one."  I don't know if I have quite made a quilt yet that represents me.  But I'm working on that.  Maybe one day I'll make a medallion quilt where each border represents a facet of what it means to be me :)

These two quilts come pretty close, though.

Blustery Day, an original design

Tone It Down, designed by Lisa Alexander for APQ magazine

I LOVE color and cheerful ones at that!  I have never used black or grey in a quilt that was for me.    In case you can't tell by looking at these quilts, I also need some structure.  I tend to be a bit unfocused and scatterbrained when I am in the middle of projects.  I can't think straight until I see them through.  If I gave in to all the wanderings of my mind, I would never get anything accomplished!  I need schedules, timelines, check marks, borders to help me organize my mind and my day.  I like clear cut lines and predictability.   Improv scares me with quilting and with life!  I don't like figuring things out as I go.  I like plans.  Don't get me wrong, I love to try new things and be creative, but I really need to have boundaries to tether that creativity to.

4.  How do you connect with other modern quilters?  What does it mean to you to have this sisterhood of modern women?

One of the first things I did when I started quilting was join my local modern quilters guild.  I didn't really know anyone else that quilted around me and I wanted to meet other women that had the same passion as me and learn from them.  I think it was the best thing I could have done!  The women that I meet with every month as so supportive, encouraging, and kind!  They are always willing to help when I have had questions, need help with new techniques, or need honest opinions.  Not to mention, they are so diverse and fun to be around!  I would highly suggest joining your local MQG, if you have one!

Another thing that helped me to connect with others was by creating profiles on social media that were geared specifically towards quilting.  I created a blog to share tutorials, things I was working on, etc.  I joined free social media sites, like Instagram, to also connect with others.  I was surprised at first how amazing the women were that "liked" my photos, or commented on my posts.  They were just like the women in my quilting guild!  So friendly and helpful.  I have never, to this day received a negative comment, but instead have gained confidence, friendship, and community thanks to the women that I have virtually connected with.

And that's a little more about me!  I am so happy I got to share my perspective a little bit through these questions and I'm equally excited to go read all about the other modern quilters that are linking up on Crystal's blog.  Head on over and get to know them too!


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful answers Amy! I think those two quilts you have chosen are very cheerful, bright and welcoming. Just like you!

    1. Thanks Crystal! I am so glad you decided to run this series! It's another great way for us to connect and I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone better!

  2. Great to get to know you a bit better, thanks for sharing your story. Love your quilts and I can't wait to see what else you produce over the coming years. :)

  3. I haven't linked up yet (too hard on my phone) but you addressed some very similar points to my answers! I loved getting to meet you and seeing your work, which is beautiful!! You have a great eye for color and balance. :)

    1. Thanks so much, Cassandra! Looking forward to getting to know you once you link up :)

  4. Love the quits that you shared: so pretty and such happy colors!! I started the tone it down quilt but haven't finished it yet: good for you for finishing!! That's quite a bit of work!! Hugs, H in Healdsburg

    1. I really don't think I would have the Tone It Down finished either if it weren't for Sewvivor and the time crunch that came along with it! It was quite a bit of piecing!