Collaborative Quilts=Excitement

When invited into another quilter’s studio, I never turn that offer down! Roaming or following a quilter around her studio offers concrete information as well as subjective impressions. As creative people we borrow ideas and find inspiration in the work of others. Pat Pease and Wendy Hill invite all of us to explore new possibilities in their book Creative Quilt Challenges: Take the Challenge to Discover Your Style & Improve Your Design Skills. This book feels like an extended visit with two quilters alive with energy. These two quilters share their techniques as well as the excitement of collaboration.

Wendy Hill and Pat Pease invite the reader into their studios in Creative Quilt Challenges.

Wendy Hill and Pat Pease invite the reader into their studios in Creative Quilt Challenges.

Pat and Wendy open their book by explaining, “The idea to explore our shared affinity for friendship, fabric and design came naturally to us.” After devising seven challenge themes, each made a quilt relating to the theme. Those fourteen quilts became a special exhibit at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in 2013. Sometimes the quilt was passed back and forth as each added to the whole. We can now see those quilts in this book which explores the creative impulse and emphasizes the benefits of collaboration between friends.

I don’t see quilting as a competitive sport, so I am enthusiastic about how readily and easily women share ideas and inspirations with each other. Each quilt is a journey. We make our own series of decisions about what to include in our quilts and what to leave out (or cut apart). Pat and Wendy discuss their very different approaches to the creative process–one is more methodical, the other more intuitive. Perhaps you will find yourself in their musings about their creative process.

I am writing this blog post as part of the blog tour arranged by Pat and Wendy’s publisher C&T Publishing. Visit the other ten posts listed below to see what other quilters found valuable in Creative Challenges. Also, be sure to leave your comment here to be entered into a drawing to receive your own copy (international winners get a digital copy).

Creative Quilt Challenges is a new book that will become an old friend as you return to it often to explore new possibilities for your own projects.

Creative Quilt Challenges is a new book that will become an old friend as you grab often it to explore new possibilities.

Challenges and collaborative efforts are a central part of my own quilting life, so I am also choosing to include some examples from my own quilts. The authors explore options such as working with textured fabrics like silk and linen. I’ve been exploring both, although I do not use stabilizers. Yes, silk is slippery, and their idea of using a ½” seam allowance with non-cotton fabrics is a sound tactic to try. Here is my all-silk quilt made with recycled silk. The dark “peacock blue” fabric of a nubby silk is cut from a blouse. This project began in a guild retreat class on The (Modern) Disappearing Nine Patch taught by Adele Atha. I followed the instructions and kept rearranging, but felt I wanted to add more of the peacock blue fabric. Once that was done, it still felt like the quilt needed a zinger or two. That’s how the squares of copper and chartreuse silk came to live within the boundaries of Downward Mobility (32” x 32”).

Downward Mobility, 32" x 32", is my all-silk experiment completed in 2015. Most of the silk is recycled from thrift shop garments. I did the free motion quilting on my 1971 Bernina 830.

Downward Mobility, 32″ x 32″, is my all-silk experiment completed in 20015. Most of the silk is recycled from thrift shop garments. I did the free motion quilting on my 1971 Bernina 830.

Pat and Wendy encourage this idea of exploring and modifying as you go. I like the idea of starting a project not knowing where it will take me. I liken it to leaving a guided tour and exploring the countryside on your own. The risks are minimal and the rewards many as you explore all your options.

Choosing the binding for Downward Mobility offered me one last chance to catch the viewer’s eye. I found a bright, multi-colored cotton to repeat some of the rich colors in the quilt. In the past when I have chosen to use a silk binding it was because I just had to have the vibrant terra cotta color of that particular fabric. With that silk binding, I worked slowly and carefully, starting work on the binding only when I was fresh. I’ve discovered that working with tricky fabrics or new ideas goes better when I am not frazzled.

Pat and Wendy’s chapter on techniques intrigued me. I was glad to see the detailed instructions (with photos) on applying a two-color binding used when you want a different color binding on front and back. I first used this technique when I did not have enough of the fabric I wanted to use for the binding. To solve this problem, I paired it with a different fabric to be viewed on the back edge. It proved a useful way to “stretch” my limited supply of that favorite fabric for the front.

In many ways this book is an educational tool as well as an adventure in quilting. I learned about “shot” fabrics. These are fabrics woven with two color threads. One color is in the warp threads and another color is used in the weft (crosswise) threads. I have been attracted to these shimmering fabrics, but was unclear about their composition. Shot fabrics could be cotton, linen, rayon, silk or a blend. When white is one of the colors it is usually called chambray.

My own experience with collaborative quilts has only been positive. In 2014, Therese Ramsey had purchased a castoff block at a studio sale from well-known modern quilter Jacquie Gering. I reworked the block and added several slices to make an inner border. Therese created the next border of selvages and we were off on a fun journey. The result is our quilt, Red Robin (38” x 47”), seen below. This is just one of the quilts I now have through “joint custody”.

This is the block created and rejected by Jacquie Gering. Therese Ramsey bought it at Jacquie's studio sale. I replace the plain muslin center with a small black square surrounded by a vibrant red.

This is the block created and rejected by Jacquie Gering. Therese Ramsey bought it at Jacquie’s studio sale. I replace the muslin center with a vibrant red.


Therese and I collaborated to create Red Robin in 2015. After we finished the top, Therese machine quilted it. I did the binding and the label naming us as co-creators.

Therese and I collaborated to create Red Robin in 2015. After we finished the top, Therese machine quilted it. I did the binding and the label naming us as co-creators.

Another version of a challenge comes for me when I discover unique tidbits at a thrift shop that seem to be calling to me. I may not know the creator, but I like her creations. My quilt Pumpkin Treat contains four different thrift shop items. Several years ago I found these small scale granny squares (on the right in the photo). I was drawn to these petite squares even though several were unraveling. My mother often crocheted similar squares from her leftover yarns uniting the yarn scraps with black edgings. I stowed those twelve squares away until I found the other elements. The repaired granny squares and the small orange felt bag were the starting points. At a thrift shop, I was impressed with the tidy handwork done by unknown hands on the orange bag.

My mother's Halloween costumes designed for her four kids were often creative, and sometimes spectacular. Fond memories of her are but one of the reasons I like working with fall colors and pumpkin themes. These thrift shop finds called to me and now seem to have always belonged together. Pumpkin Treat, 2014, 29" x 28"

My mother’s Halloween costumes designed for her four kids were often creative, and sometimes spectacular. Fond memories of her are but one of the reasons I like working with fall colors and pumpkin themes. These thrift shop finds called to me and now seem to have always belonged together. Pumpkin Treat, 2014, 29″ x 28″

Set together on a background cut from a shirt, I appreciated the energy I saw on the design wall. The electric blue inner border came from a beautiful dress made of a 75% silk and 25% linen blend—paid $.50 cents for this find. The Kaffe Fassett border fabric and the Phillip Jacobs floral I used for the appliqué contrasted with the plaid. I was so enamored of this project, I added tiny copper beads as accents on the appliqued leaves of Pumpkin Treat (29” x 28”)

Creative Quilt Challenges has encouraged me to expand my design skills—the more we experiment the more we build our confidence. My next challenge, inspired by this studio visit with Wendy and Pat, is to take their challenge to use zippers to add color, texture, or whimsy, or all of the above. If you, too, decide to do a zipper-laden quilt please let me see it. I’d enjoy hearing about your process. Go to www.ctpub.com to explore this delightful book.

Blog Tour Calendar
Monday, March 28: Lynn Merrill with C&T Publishing
Tuesday, March 29: Maria Shell That’s me!
Wednesday, March 30: Sandra Clemons
Thursday, March 31: Tierney Hogan
Friday, April 1:Gina at BOLT Fabric Boutique
Monday, April 4: Yvonne Fuchs
Tuesday, April 5: Kristin Shields
Wednesday, April 6: Paula Mariedaughter
Thursday, April 7: Teri Lucas
Friday, April 8: Wendy Hill, wendyhill.net/blog

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22 Responses to Collaborative Quilts=Excitement

  1. Deirdre says:

    This is a great philosophy on quilting- designing organically removes the pressure of feeling like the “perfect” quilt must be completely planned out before even starting. The freedom to design as you go also allows for the flexibility of trying out new techniques.

  2. Joan. Beyette says:

    One of the many reasons I love quilting is the collaboration and support women give each other. When my small quilt group gathers around one person’s project to try to work through an issue, the room fills with love, and often laughter, while solutions are always found. All while creating something beautiful.
    The book sounds fabulous, and I do intend to buy one.

  3. Deirdre says:

    Great focus on how collaboration can take the creative process in new and challenging directions. Love the focus on upcycling materials found in places other than fabric stores. This truly lets the fabric guide the design process, which can also take the creative process in new and challenging directions.

  4. I love how you used the plaid shirt piece on the autumn quilt, and the bright blue there is perfect!
    I knew about “shot” fabrics, but didn’t realize that chambray was one! Of course!
    Looks like a fun book, inspiring too!

  5. I had not seen the silk quilt, Paula! Really beautiful! I love the selvages. Great minds run in the same channel–I have been working on a selvage quilt this week. I would also happily win the book. I think I saw it in Barnes and Noble on Monday.
    Kathy

  6. It is interesting what kind of an end result you get when collaborating with someone – I think I would like to try that some day. As always, your quilts are outstanding! And the book on Creative Quilt Challenges sounds like worth of exploring!

  7. Jennie Wehrenberg says:

    Love your blog and all the pics. This book sounds so interesting. Thanks for the chance to own one. Would be a great addition to my library of books.

  8. Allison says:

    I need to haunt the thrift store you go to! LOL our love cal store seldom has such great finds but I have been hoarding wool sweaters to use as felting materials for a quilt I have in mind! Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  9. Maryann says:

    Thanks for sharing your quilting journey.

  10. Betsey says:

    Looks like a great book, with lots of new ideas. I love a challenge!

  11. Therese Ramsey says:

    I love learning so much through challenges. Sharing design ideas, fabric and friendship all enhances the journey of making a quilt together. That book looks fascinating!

  12. Teri says:

    Thank you for sharing these challenges. The book looks very interesting.

  13. Robin Bodishbaugh says:

    I’ve been looking for a book that would get me thinking in a new direction, and this one sounds perfect. I tend to start with patterns and would like to branch out a bit. I like the idea of starting with a challenge and seeing how others interpret it compared with my own interpretation. Working one the same quilt together would offer a new dimension to designing.

    I frequently seek out advice and feedback about my quilts in progress, and those collaborations never disappoint. I always come away with new insights and ideas–as well as encouragement to be brave and innovative.

    Thanks for your interesting article, Paula.

  14. Kathleen says:

    I’ve been cruising through all the blog reviews of this book and getting pretty excited about trying some of the ideas the authors present. And then you brought up the “shared custody” thought. Hmmmm…. have to think about that one.

  15. Kathleen says:

    Forgive me if I appear twice. I thought I posted a comment and now i can’t find it!

    I thoroughly enjoyed your discussion of this book. You present several thoughtful ideas about how you’ve met challenges. You probably didn’t mean to make this a point, but your “joint custody” comment is what caught my eye. While working collaboratively with my daughter and having so much fun doing it, we’ve always had the owner firmly established before we started – one for her, one for me, one as a gift, etc.

    I’m not sure how well I’d manage a joint custody arrangement. Thought provoking…

  16. Lisa Marie says:

    This looks like such an interesting book! I would like to be challenged to try new things with my quilting. I enjoyed learning about the things you have worked on and also about the book.

  17. Billie Shannon says:

    I took a collaborative class from Wendy and Pat several years ago in Sisters, OR and am really anxious to explore this book.

  18. Mary Furber says:

    I love the idea of starting with a found block and turning it into your own project. I have a few antique blocks I should try that with. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Kate B. says:

    Love these quilts. Such a sense of freedom.

  20. Shirley VD says:

    I love the stories behind your art quilts. It has started a thought for me in regards to using some “thrift store finds” that I just couldn’t leave behind, but didn’t really know what to do with. I will have to let some thoughts simmer for a while, and see if I can’t incorporate them into something artsy. Thanks for your post, and the opportunity to win this book. Sounds like it could provide some more inspiration.

  21. Martha M Payne says:

    I’m not a quilter but I like quilts for warmth, beauty and that they, indeed, represent a real part of women’s history.
    Paula Mariedaughter was the first person to help me see quilts as an art form.
    It’s fascinating to read about Paula’s inspirations for quilts, their connections to her life and now through her blog to discover so many share her passion. Paula’s quilts are always such a surprise and joy to behold; and like professional ice skaters, Paula makes her finished art look so easy. But I know her work represents hours of intense concentration and hard work.
    It’s of great benefit to know others share their skills, knowledge and show their creations in published books.
    Thank you Paula, Pat and Wendy for informing, educating and continuing an incredible art form and being an invaluable part of women’s creations.

  22. Adele says:

    Pat and Wendy’s book sounds wonderful! Anyone that knows me will confirm that while I’m not always one up for a “quilt challenge”, I am all about collaborating with quilting friends on a quilting project! These friends and projects are the spice of life! Hope to find more good ideas in the “Creative Quilt Challenges” book!

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