Erin and I have known each other for a long time in blog world years, and she's a creative inspiration to me and many others. She seems to have limitless amounts of energy and she's fun to hang out with in person too! When she asked me to interview me for her first book, there wasn't a moment of hesitation. QuiltEssential, A Visual Directory of Contemporary Patterns, Fabrics, and Color is a quilter's first stop. Folks who know quilting from the "outside" may confused by the special language quilters have. And there is a special language, believe me. Erin covers lots of ground level techniques and terms in this book, giving the sewer the knowledge to know where and how to start. Beautiful photographs, inspiring images, and practical information sprinkled throughout the book. Everything you need to know to make your quilt your own is here.
And because I'm nosey, I asked Erin some questions about her book. And because she's nice, she agreed. Grab your coffee and settle in!
Blair: Congratulations on QuiltEssential! I am so glad you agreed to talk about the book with me!
Erin: For you, anything! Seriously, thanks for asking. I am excited to share more about QuiltEssential and how it came about.
Blair: Could you give us a synopsis of what QuiltEssential is about? Who is this book for?
Erin: QuiltEssential is a quick-reference directory for quilters. There are not any specific quilting projects in the book. Instead, QuiltEssential is divided into four sections (Fabrics, Colors, Designs and Assembling), which cover almost everything that you need to design and make your own quilt. I talk about color palettes, calculating yardage, fabric care, shapes, settings, different piecing methods and more! I also interviewed nine contemporary quilters (including you!) about their quilting stories to give my readers even more inspiration in their own quilting journeys. Because the book is a go-to reference manual on quilting, it is a great addition to almost any quilter’s library. It will be helpful to beginning quilters who need a lot of information at their fingertips as well as more experienced quilters who want to design and sew their own quilts.
Blair: The subject of quilting is so huge! There are lifetimes of information out there. How did you go about zeroing in on what you wanted to talk about in the book?
Erin: I know what you mean! There is always so much to read and learn when talking about quilts. When I thought about writing QuiltEssential, it was important to make sure that this book was unlike other quilting books out there. I thought about the kind of book that I would want to have on my shelf when working on a quilt design. I knew it needed to cover all areas of quilting, from the initial thoughts about colors and fabrics to the nitty-gritty math need to calculate yardage requirements and the like. I wanted to add some historic information about quilting styles as well as talk about quilting as it is today. Basically, I wanted to give quilters the tools they need to design their own quilts from start to finish in a format that provides easy access to concise information. I sincerely hope readers will find QuiltEssential to be a great addition to their quilting tool box.
Blair: Did you discover anything new about quilting while you were writing this book? Has writing QuiltEssential changed the way you quilt?
Erin: This is a great question! Writing QuiltEssential gave me good insight on just how varied modern quilting can be. It runs the gamut from collage and art quilts to traditional quilt settings and designs in more contemporary fabrics. I think my biggest take-away is that quilters today aren’t bound by fussy rules. Instead, they have the freedom to use tried and true techniques. And while I had heard this before, writing QuiltEssential made that sink in. It made me realize that I can look at quilting in the way that works for me, even if the methods I am using aren’t conventional or popular. As long as I like it, it’s good. As far as changing the way I quilt, I think breaking down the quilting process has made me more intentional in how I approach things. I’m spending much more time developing color palettes, thinking about shapes and figuring out the best way to make something I am dreaming about become reality. Case in point: the compass/star block I drafted and paper pieced recently. I spent a good deal of time contemplating how to do it and which fabrics to use before I actually sat down and did the sewing. With one block finished, I think I am going to stare at it for some time before taking it farther. I find this intentional design invigorating.
Blair: Writing a book is a fascinating subject all on its own. Can you give us a little insight into your experience writing this book? Was it what you imagined it would be? Completely different?
Erin: I don’t know what I thought it would be! I really just jumped in and got it done. That may sound flip, but I don’t mean it that way. Because QuiltEssential is a reference book, I did not have to manage writing with project making. I think that would be more difficult to juggle – my creative process when I am making is much messier and frantic than my writing process is. I was a History major in college and the hours spent writing long term papers really came in handy. I did find it funny that I still had to write every single thing down on paper with pen before I could begin typing it. I guess old habits die hard! I will say that I had always assumed that a book is written from page 1 until the end. It is such a surprise to me that I could write it in any order I wanted. And I did…the end was written well before the beginning!
Blair: What was the most stressful part of the whole bookwriting process? What the your favorite part of the process?
Erin: Stress? The deadlines! It’s no secret that I am a procrastinator AND that I domy best work under pressure. That said, I was very concerned that writing a book would bring out all of my bad habits and the bad behavior that ensueswhen I leave things until the last minute. It was important to me that when writing QuiltEssential, I gave myself parameters so that it wouldn’t overtake my entire life, and consequently, the lives of my husband and daughters. I made the rules, stuck to them and said no to many requests for my time. And because I prioritized the writing, I was successful in managing my time and making the deadlines. Phew!
As for my favorite part, I guess that it would have to be the sense of purpose that I had when writing the book. I’ve spent the last 14 years as a stay at home mom, and while I feel very blessed to have the luxury and opportunity to be home with Jane and Kate, the book had me using parts of my brain that I missed using daily. I hadn’t even realized that I was missing it – such a good thing to discover. I have a real pride in what I’ve accomplished with this book. Having an end goal and working toward it consistently and purposefully was very rewarding for me.
*Let me just interject that I know exactly what Erin is talking about here. I felt the same way as I've watched my own book become reality and watch my little cottage business grow. Raising and parenting kids is certainly a job and a hard one at that. So to be able to try something like this, which stretches us beyond our parenting frame of mind, and allows us to explore a passion like hand making, something we truly love, can create a sense of accomplishment that is unmatched!
(I am so honored to be one of the quilters profiled in QuiltEssential.)
Blair: I know that you, like myself, did the writing of your book from home, fitting it in around kid's schedules, family, etc. What worked for you on any given day? What didn't work? Can you tell us any tricks or things you found that kept you organized throughout the writing process?
Erin: During my first conversations with the publisher, I was very upfront about my need to be a mom and wife first and an author second. The number one rule that I had was that I would not write when my children were out of school. And that is exactly what I did. I started writing the book on the day my girls started the new school year in August 2012 and my final deadline (before editing) was the day they got out of school for Christmas break. I structured my days like I would if I were working for someone else, treating the book writing like any other job. After the kids went to school, I’d exercise and then it would be time to sit and work. I moved my computer from the kitchen to a desk on a second floor so I would have an office space. At lunch time, I’d leave the computer upstairs and go downto the kitchen to eat. I’d even turn on the TV for a half hour to give my brain a rest. Then it was back upstairs until the girls got off the bus or I needed to go getthem. Keeping myself on this schedule worked very well for me. I also learned to say no a lot – less coffee with friends, less volunteering at school. And while Imissed those opportunities, I knew that writing the book needed to be my primary focus when my family wasn’t around.
As far as actual process goes, I set goals and made lists at the beginning of each week and then worked towards completing them. I also found that I am a paper and pen girl at heart. Spreadsheets do not do it for me! Beyond writing in a notebook before typing, I did all of my editing on printouts of my first drafts and then transferred it to the computer. I also kept the writing organized by chapter in a three-ring binder so I could put my hands on a particular subject at a moment’s notice. The visual learner in me loved seeing that binder get fatter as the weeks went on!
Blair: Any advice for folks who may be interested in writing a craft/technique book? Where should they start? How should they approach it?
Erin: I think my story is a little different from other authors as I was approached to write QuiltEssential instead of seeking out the opportunity on my own. That said, once it was presented to me, I took some time to mull it over and researched whether it was a unique idea. I thought a lot about why I wanted to write this book and how I could make it something unlike other quilting books on the market. Once I felt confident that it was something that I wanted to do, I made the classic pros/cons list to see if it was really feasible for me. And it all added up to a good idea, good timing, and a genuine enthusiasm for the project. I discussed it with my husband and then jumped in.
I think that anyone wanting to write a craft/technique book needs to be passionate about what they are writing and should come at the subject with a unique point of view. That is what will make you and your idea stand out from others.
Erin, thank you for taking the time to talk about your book, QuiltEssential, and the process of writing it. I'm so honored to be a small part of it.
Erin and C&T Publishing has generously offered to give away one copy of QuiltEssential to wise craft readers. Just leave a comment on this post in order to be eligible (North America only).
Friday Favorites is a weekly series of posts about my favorite things, inspirations, people, and other favorites. Enjoy!
colored pencil, acrylic, graphite, embroidery on duralar.
colored pencil, acrylic, graphite, crochet doilies, glasshead pins on duralar.
colored pencil, acrylic and thread on embroidery on duralar
Lisa Solomon is a true inspiration to me for so many reasons. I mean, she juggles being a professor and an online teacher, an artist, with being a mom and wife, and creative force behind MODify. Lisa does indeed wear many hats. (And I have a feeling they are all beautifully crocheted from colorful pearle cotton). Lisa's artwork grabbed me the minute I saw it, many years ago. Her delicate crochet and thread work of viruses and toxins, her beautiful visual interpretation of the radiation migration of the Fukushima Diachi plant caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster, and her felt tank installation (a hard steel machine built for combat rendered in beautiful colors of felt), her work makes me think about the concept of art in a way I never did before. Its hard to explain, as art can be sometimes. The feelings that art can evoke can't always be described perfectly.
I am lucky enough to own an original piece of Lisa's , from her domestic scenes series, "Two Lime Chairs".
I knew I wanted to include her as soon as I started my Friday Favorites series and she has graciously allowed me to pick her brain so that we may all read more about her world. Mixed in between, I have included images of some of her work (I selfishly tried to pick my favorites, but narrowing it down was hard). Here goes!
3. What are your favorite sources of inspiration? How do you record your ideas?
3. Give us a glimpse into what a day (or part of a day) of doing artwork looks like for Lisa Solomon.
5. In your book, Knot, Thread, Stitch: Exploring Creativity Through Embroidery and Mixed Media, you pulled together so many creative ideas for using thread to draw, embroider, and create. It caused me to look at so many new ways to create with your simple techniques (embroidering a portrait is on my list to do very soon). What's your favorite type of embroidery?
6. I know there are many of us all over the world who are contributing to the 1000 doily installation you are creating for later this year. Can you give us details about it, and where and when it will be?
Oh the 1000 doily project. The first time I have really asked for help with a big project [from people other than my mom and immediate friends who usually offer to help me before I ask them]. I have been completely overwhelmed with the response to this. I am going to do a show later this year – November 2013 at Fouladi Projects in San Francisco. http://www.fouladiprojects.com The working title is Sen which is 1000 in Japanese. 1000 is a big deal in Japan – think 1000 cranes for good luck, or 1000 buddhas [there's a temple in Kyoto which houses 1000 buddhas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanj%C5%ABsangen-d%C5%8D]… I wanted to use this idea of 1000 – but within my own lexicon. So I had this vision of 1000 doilies. And I wanted to tie it to other things that really interest me namely color and color theory.
I have a special bookshelf in my studio that is filled with favorite quilting books. The ones I pull out to look through when I feel in a creative rut. Each of them inspire me in different ways (some for color, some for pattern, some for symmetry of design) and they are the ones I turn to again and again. In my eyes, these books represent quiltmaking as an artform, not simply craft. I thought I'd share a few of them.
This book was published by the American Quilter's Society in 1995, so not really vintage, but the quilts of Anna Williams span a lifetime of instinctual, brilliant color patchwork piecing, a lifetime of honing a skill she described as "what I do to take my mind off my troubles". The copies of this book left in circulation are not cheap, and it is shockingly thin (a mere 25 pages), but it is truly inspiring. As Denyse said in her workshop where I first learned of Anna, "you can't fake" what Anna did with color, pattern, and quilting. Sadly, Anna passed away in June of 2012. I love having this book of her work to inspired me.
Quilts by Roderick Kiracofe.
This book was a gift from Erin and I absolutely love it. Not an old book at all, quite new in fact, available as a self-published book on Blurb).The colors, the patterns, the entire collection of quilts in this book is completely inspiring on so many levels. Some of these quilts were shown at QuiltCon recently (another reason I should have gone!) and it must have been wonderful to see these in person. Great fabric and color reference on these pages. And something about seeing beautifully colored quilts on a stark white background really appeals to me.
Abstract Design in American Quilts: A Biography of an Exhibition by Jonathan Holstein
This book is the story of an exhibition that opened in 1971 at the Whitney Museum in New York. This book reminds and inspires me to remember the art of quiltmaking. There is an entire story within the pages of this book of how the exhibit came to exist, along with full pages of the quilts themselves with information about each one. There is page after page of graphic inspiration and use of color and pattern. This is a beautiful book for any quiltmaker to have in their collection.
Patchwork Simplified by Alice Timmins
This is a well-used old library copy with a copyright of 1973. I love the mod, geometric feel of the patchwork in this book. Look at those wonderful quilted skirts above (although I'm sure she is beating her head against the wall on the right, wondering why she didn't just make that fabulous patchwork into a full quilt instead of a skirt).
Patchcraft by Elsie Svennas
Another treasure, beautiful use of color and shapes within quilts. Gives great examples of applique and embroidery used in quiltmaking, although many of the images are black and white. Still...
The Perfect Patchwork Primer by Beth Gutcheon
This book is just a great reference book for so many techniques, standards, and really just the whole idea of quilting's place in a creative life. A must-have for any vintage quilt library.
I would love to hear what quilting books you have to inspire you!
Happy Friday! I have a treat for you today! Handmade Hostess: 12 Imaginative Party Ideas for Unforgettable Entertaining, is a brand new book, just out, written by fellow Seattlite Kelly Lee-Creel and Rebecca Soder. Fellow fabric lovers may be familiar with Kelly's fabric line, Storybook Lane, and now she has written a book for us in that same well-done, handmade style.
I just LOVE this book! It's full of page after page of fun, innovative party ideas and ways to create festive decor that doesn't involve buying tons of decorations, and instead offers many beautiful ideas to handmake your party decor. I have never been a fan of cheap, storebought party decorations. In fact, it's kept me from throwing a party more than once, it just all feels disposable and cheap. My alternative has always been to go plain white, but as I was looking through this book I got so many ideas of all kinds of ways to create a fun atmosphere I just may have mentioned I want to throw a party to some folks around here.
Leprechaun Clothes Banner
Kelly, the author, offers thoughts and an example of how many of the projects can be used for different types of parties altogether-
"In writing this book, we wanted to include as many extra tips and decorating ideas as we could. It's been fun because even friends who don't sew (or who are just in a hurry!) can flip through the book and find a few quick projects. For example, in the Mad Hatter party, we made AstroTurf place mats. We drew a fancy shape onto construction paper and used that as a template. (Most AstroTurf can be cut with regular scissors.) I love that someone can take the ideas from one chapter and adapt them for a totally different theme. I'm dying to use my faux-grass place mats at Easter, for example."
Visit the Sew Mama Sew blog post Kelly wrote on making fabric feathers, another fun party decoration. I also heard that Kelly is possibly creating a class around one of the projects in the book that will be held at Seattle's own Drygoods Design in the Spring, so look for that. I will pass along more info as I hear.
We have one book to giveaway to a wise craft reader, just leave a comment on this post for a chance to win. And Kelly has opened this giveaway to US residents and international, so everyone has a chance! I will pick a winner next week.
Congratulations on a beautiful book Kelly and Rebecca! Good luck everyone!
4/2/13- Giveaway is closed and winner has been chosen, thank you!
Today I bring you creative inspiration from all directions. A while back, Jennifer, my sister-in-law and constant source of creative inspiration, sent me a link to little scraps of paper, a website full of short documentary films of artisans in their studio, working and talking about how they work. Short little jolts of inspiration in video form, any time you need it.
Everyone should have a video of themselves in their creative workspace, talking about what they do.
And I give you permission to fall down the rabbit hole today. Enjoy!
I have been working feverishly on my newest quilt pattern, Echo Star, in actual quilt form all week long and nursing a few sick ones around here. In between, I have been watching the Quiltcon 2013 speakers on Craftsy and am so inspired! Angela Walters, Heather Jones, Jacquie Gering, David and Amy Butler are the ones I've watched and listened to so far, but there are even more!
Quiltcon is the first conference created and held by The Modern Quilt Guild. I couldn't attend (but don't plan to make that mistake again!). Looked like such an inspiring 5 days. But, luckily for us, Craftsy has put together video of many of the lectures as a free offering on their site!
To be truthful here, I didn't quite get Craftsy when they first launched. But I'm totally converted at this point. I have taken several Craftsy classes and their platform is wonderful. The videos are clear, if you have a question, ask it and the instructor will email you a reply. There's lots to like about it. (This is all totally unsolicited by the way!)
Have a great weekend everyone, see you on Monday with a new desktop image for March!
Update: Giveaway has been closed and winner has been selected. Thanks everyone!
By now, you know I love doodles, right? To me, doodles are art (and deceptively hard to do well). Which is why I'm excited to share a new book with you, Art Doodle Love: A Journal of Self Discovery by Dawn Devries Sokol. Part journal, part scrap book, part sketch book, this book is filled with pages that have been altered in some way right out of the gate. (I actually received this book in the mail shortly after I did this altered book project, very timely). But not altered in a way that you aren't able to grab your doodle pen and make these pages your own.
So now that there's no fear of the dreaded blank white page, what to doodle in this book? There are prompts and pages throughout the book to get you going on a creative journal, one that's all about yourself. Perfect for those of us who like to doodle in the margins of the pages and right random notes and thoughts, the pages are meant to be completely filled in with your whims, thoughts, and doodles. What you'll be left with is a creative book all about you, and likely you will have made some interesting discoveries along the way. And it's a book for doodlers of all ages, I know a 14 year old here who likes it already.
I am giving away a copy of Art Doodle Love to one commenter (US only please). Just leave a comment on this post to be entered into the giveaway, a winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday evening.
Today I bring you the quilted world of Luke Haynes. I learned about Luke through his exhibition at Island Quilter last year that I couldn't attend (boo!). A self-proclaimed "architect turned quilter", he creates quilts often using used clothing (my favorite fabric for quilts). His pieces can be powerful, tongue in cheek, thought provoking, and stand alone statements.