Category Archives: inspiration



I’ve been having fun making patchwork panels for some more linen placemats. I love working without a plan, and using up some of my scraps. Because I usually work with large blocks of color, I am creating a mountain of scraps. I will confess that sometimes I throw away small bits because the thought of that scrap heap gets a little overwhelming, not to mention messy. But, of course, I feel a little guilty about it. Then I read this post from Dinning Room Empire, Naptime Quilter about collecting scraps to give away to other quilty friends–such a great solution. How nice to feel generous instead of guilty!


Still, one of these days I’m going to make a scrappy quilt. While I love the idea of having a signature style–the kind where you can look at a quilt and tell who made it–I don’t want it to prevent me from trying something new. After all, half the fun of quilting is the endless variety. I am always inspired by Denyse Schmidt. She has one of the greatest signature styles out there–there is something about her fabric and color choices and compositions that makes her quilts instantly recognizable as hers even though they range from modern to more traditional. I’ve noticed that the quilters I most admire have a strong style but aren’t afraid to innovate. Katie Pedersen of Sew Katie Did is another great example: some of her quilts are made with tiny scraps and others with huge blocks of color, yet her signature style shines through in all her work. Just thinking about this makes me want to delve into my scrap heap!

Charity quilt, getting started

My guild, Gainesville Modern Quilters, decided to do a UFO (unfinished objects) swap and then make charity quilts with the exchanges. We plan to link up with SwimBikeQuilt’s 100 Quilts for Kids. I chose this lovely block that was hand-pieced by Mary’s grandmother.

IMG_2098I really want to make something special with this block. I was thinking that red and blue eight-point stars and some flying geese would suit the original design. But then I saw a very pretty star block on Hyacinth Quilt Design (from the book Simply Retro by Camille Roskelley) that I think might be just perfect.

hyacinthstarI also love the palette in this quilt from Spotted Stone Studio–I love the mix of navy and red with the soft pinks and gold–so pretty!

spotted stone studioHere are some of the fabrics I’ve pulled so far to work on this–and a big piece of white, which I plan to use lots of!

IMG_2096I am really excited about this project. Taking something rooted in family and traditional quilting and making something modern is super appealing. Plus, I’ve been making quilts for my Etsy shop, which is exciting and fun, but making a quilt for a child in need is a very different feeling. I look forward to sharing my progress–which should be fairly rapid since we are meeting the first week in September to gather our finished quilts!


Lately, I have been really interested in monochromatic design–or maybe duochromatic (not a word apparently). I love this painting by Jasper Johns (photo courtesy of the MOMA website).

jj_greentargetI also love these two painting by Marc Rothko (photos courtesy of the National Gallery of Art).

1MAA69rothko_1964There is something serene about these paintings that really appeals to me. I am very tempted to make a Double Wedding Ring quilt in all green, but I wonder if it defeats the purpose of piecing fabric to make a quilt in similar values of the same color? I like the idea of simplifying a quilt as much as possible without losing the quilti-ness. What do you think?

Amish bars

No, not drinking establishments for the Amish, but a very simple and appealing design created by Amish quilters. Years before I ever thought of making a quilt, I fell in love with the pictures in this book. I was working for a publishing company during a particularly ruthless merger, and discarded books were a sad perk of the layoffs. I picked up this little book and was amazed by the gorgeous colors and graphic designs.

_DSC0713I love the bar quilts the best–the design and color combinations feel so comtemporary. This one is stunning.

_DSC0715I finally saw an Amish quilt in person at the American Folk Art Museum‘s quilt show in 2011. Up close you can see all the gorgeous hand quilting that makes up for in intricacy and detail what the piecing lacks. (The quilt below is a recent award-winning quilt by Diane Loomis, Five Bar Blues. The quilting is just incredible.)

ceddc1b059d0d76f6ff3a5393d756761I also learned a little more about the origin of the designs and the use of color. The Amish used woolen cloth– the same that they used to make clothing–but in quilts they had more freedom to use color. In person, the richness and subtle sheen of the wool is also apparent. I’d love to try a quilt using wool cloth–I think it would be so luxurious and practical.

This book, The World of Amish Quilts by Rachel Pellman and Kenneth Pellman, looks like a great resource.

Paper sketches

I usually start my quilt designs in a sketchbook by making little origami paper quilt tops. I move the little scraps of paper around–like a very small scale design wall–until I like the arrangement. The origami paper colors correspond really nicely to Kona cotton, too–so, when I have a design I like, I match the paper colors to my Kona color card (greatest quilting purchase to date!).

When I scale up my design, I make a rough plan on graph paper to get a sense of fabric quantities. Then I work organically to piece the top–cutting out rough shapes, piecing and trimming as I go. Because the final design is improvised, even if  I repeat a general design, no two quilts will be identical.

I just completed a series of quilts inspired by Ellsworth Kelly paintings and I am excited to start a new series. I am debating between an improvised stacks design or a simple Amish bars style. Here are two paper sketches and the sketch for one of the quilts in my earlier series.


Which design appeals to you?