Monday, February 7, 2022

A look back at 10 years of designing quilt patterns

I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately ... maybe it comes with hitting another milestone age wise?  Maybe it comes from the dreary gray of winter where you can't really get out and do things....  

Regardless, as the snow was falling outside, I was cleaning the studio and I came across a competition quilt ribbon from 2013.  It was one of those moments where you find something where it doesn't belong.  Why was this ribbon crumpled in a pile of fabric?  Why wasn't it neatly tucked in the box of other ribbons I've won? 

The ribbon was from a quilt I designed and quilted.  This quilt was juried into a lot of shows, won ribbons and travelled across the country.  My quilts have travelled more than me lately!  

2013 seems so long ago.  I had just had my first quilt accepted for publication in 2012 so this was designed and made in the early years of my design career.  

That ribbon really got me thinking...  it got me thinking of all the things I miss about competition quilting.  

The thrill of the acceptance letter.  

The pride of seeing a ribbon hanging on my quilt at a show.  

The anxiety of reading the judges comments.  

The push to do better each time.  

The anticipation of the awards ceremony. 

The comraderie between quilters as we celebrated each other. 

The learning of new techniques and methods. 

Most quilt pattern designers focus on the blocks, the layout and the secondary patterns created by the blocks and the fabric placement within the blocks.  It's a tried and true method. 

However, I came about it from a different angle (which is no surprise to those who know me well!).  I was playing in the competition world with my quilting and had some specific needs.  

I needed quilt patterns that would allow me to showcase the quilting.  

I needed wide open spaces.   

I needed design elements that were strong enough to play a supporting role to the quilting. 

I needed quilts of specific sizes to fit in the show categories.  

I needed designs where I owned the rights.  

I knew what I needed ..... but I couldn't find it

.... so when faced with that challenge, what does any creative person do?  They make it themselves! 

And so I did.  Graph paper became my best friend.  Test blocks were made photographed, copied and pasted to make mockups.  There was no tech-edited math, it was all trial and error.  And it was fun!  Was it easy?  No, there were piles of sketches bedside where I would make notes and draw quilting motifs in the middle of the night.  But it was fun!

And that is what I miss the most ... the fun!  

So as I'm getting ready to celebrate my 10th year as a published quilt pattern designer, I want to move back to the fun.  To a more light-hearted approach to my designs.  To quilts that are fun to make and fun to quilt.  My journey started with the quilting and it's time to move back to it.  

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