Saturday, September 12, 2009

What ispires me

I'm always asked, "Where do you get your ideas for your quilts". When I first started quilting, I was just like most quilters; I would get a pattern, find the fabrics (had to have a light, medium and dark) and make the quilt. My first quilts all had to match my decorating colors. I was so proud that I could pick the fabrics! Can you see something in common about the quilts and figure out the colors on my home? This was the color dejour for the mid 80s.
As my children got older and didn't need my constant supervision, I started working in a quilt shop (in 1995) and teaching quilting classes. As I started gathering fabrics for customers I began to see colors in a whole new way. I expanded my color palette and experimented with putting fabrics together not with my home colors in mind, but with colors that I liked working with. My quilts no longer had to match my home.
I wanted to challenge myself and started entering contests. I was intrigued with miniature quilts and subscribed to Miniature Quilts Magazine. (These quilts I actually finished since I could quilt them easily on my sewing machine!) They had a yearly contest, Quilts from the Heart. I had just finished designing and working with a bed size quilt for the band's mom group raffle quilt for my son's high school band, so I decided to miniaturize it, donated it to the band dinner's silent auction and enter it into the contest. I was so surprized when I received a letter from the magazine tellng me that they wanted to publish it. I was even more surprized to see it on the cover! Mine is the red, white and blue one. (The person that won it in the auction would not sell it back to me so I don't have that quilt.)

The biggest revelation about fabrics and design for me was when I started entering the Hoffman Challenge in 1996. I  realized that by starting with a fabric or collection of fabrics, I could design my own quilts to show off the fabric's designs. After winning a second place prize in the 1997 challenge I was spurred on to create and enter more contests! As I entered more contests and won more awards, in 2001 I decide to contact fabric companies about designing for their new fabric lines. P&B Textiles was the first company to take me on as a designer. Now I currently work with P&B, Timeless Treasures, Hoffman, Benartex, and RJR as a commissioned designer.

So to answer the question as to what inspires me to design a quilt.... I find that the fabric lines "talk to me" on what kind of quilt design best enhances their theme or colors. If it is a specific theme, such as Americana or Oriental, I would use a block or blocks that reflect that theme. Some fabrics scream "curved block", some "simple block" (well they don't really scream just a voice in my head). No, I'm not crazy, I don't hear voices! It's just my brain is always on design mode. I will lie in bed at night trying to think of the best way to work with a fabric group and get up in the morning with the idea clear or at least clearer. I encourage everyone to try that at least once. Even if it is looking at a fabric group and finding a pattern to go with it, instead of visa versa, you are thinking in a different way. For more about me and what inspires me take a look at my recent interviews http://resources.quiltwoman.com/blog/ and http://www.electricquilt.com/users/news/2009/2009_03_3.asp .

Everyday do what you love and love what you do. 'Til tomorrow, Toby

1 comment:

Susan Connors said...

It sure is funny that your color scheme in the late 80's was the same as mine. Those quilts would have gone perfectly with the decor of the house we owned in Virginia. I had always tended to lean toward wanting everything blue, so when I decorated that house, I kept away from blue completely and went toward greys and mauves and like colors. When we moved into out current house, I went back to alot of blue. Oh, well, I really like blue.

When I did my first couple of quilts they had mostly blue in them. The fabric I picked out for the quilt for the retreat in Watersmeet is black with burgundy flowers with green foliage and cream mixed in lightly. Way different from the color scheme of my home. Even though there is no blue, I still love the fabric and think the quilt is going to be beautiful.

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