Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Coffee Talk with Shirlene

It seemed appropriate to start off this year's Coffee Talk feature with our new guild President, Shirlene Davis. She's enthusiastic and a real go-getter and I'm happy for the opportunity to work with her and get to know her better.

Shirlene, how long have you been sewing?

I anxiously waited for 8th grade to take the block of classes with wood shop, art, home economics, and music.  In home economics we had two sewing projects.  The first was a pillow project and I chose an apple with a worm coming out.  It was red broadcloth with a felt stem and worm appliquéd to the front.  We had to sew a garment as well; vests were really big so I made one from black corduroy and a patch with of a coat of arms. I was going to get an “A” because my Mom was an avid sewer.  Let’s say that it was not “A” quality work by my teachers’ standards. I did a lot seam ripping because my seams were not straight. 

How long have you been quilting?

I got started quilting about 3 years ago.  I had been contemplating making a t-shirt quilt out of my high school t-shirts.  I still go to football games and needed a stadium blanket. I attended a co-workers retirement party and asked what she was going to do.  Just so happens she was going to be the bookkeeper at Prairie Quilts.  I asked if they offered classes as she said “they sure do”.  There was a t-shirt class they just started offering and it was downhill from there.

Perfect timing! What or who inspired you to get into quilting?

My then new sewing machine made me get serious about quilting.  With my new machine I could take classes free, short of the supplies and quilt kit.  So I took a yearlong class to complete Stitcher’s Garden.  I learned the ins and outs of my machine and too many skills and techniques to count.

I need that class. I still don't know the ins and outs of my machine. What is it that drew you to modern quilting rather than a more “traditional / classic” style?

Ladies in different classes I had been taking at various local quilt shops were talking about things they were doing with their guilds.  I thought I might look into joining one.  I Googled “Oklahoma Quilting Guilds” and ran across OKCMQG webpage.  Compared to the other guilds, OKCMQG site was the most inviting to my likes and did not interfere with my Thursday night bowling league. I visited a meeting and joined up.  I value the knowledge of the members along with the diverse way they apply the modern quilt aesthetic to not only quilts, buts other forms of sewing arts from handbags to clothes.

Traditional quilts I like as well, but there has to be a design style that really speaks to me.  I have a couple of El Camino Real quilts I am going to make for my bed, one is pieced, and the other is appliqué. 

Who do you find inspirational in the world of modern quilting and why?              

That is a very good question.  I am a class junkie and I love to sit with a group and learn something new along with everybody else.  I took 2 workshops offered by Oklahoma Quiltworks the summer of 2014 where Carolyn Friedlander had two sessions offering instruction for two patterns: Totem and Olive.  I have not really ventured into the world of paper piecing, but once you try it you can’t help to be hooked.  I really met Carolyn for the first time when her Architextures fabric line came out and hit the shelves.  I found the color and prints interesting and to meet her in person and find out she was a professional architect was amazing.  You can see her life in her art from fabric to patterns.


If you take a peek into my quilt supplies you will find I have a good collection of quilt rulers.  Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts is the other person I find inspirational.  I love her line of rulers and their companion patterns. It is very easy to choose a color pallet or precut fabrics to produce amazing quilts.

Snack Time

What styles (designers, manufacturers) of fabrics speak to you the most, and why?

If you look at my stash you will find precuts, solids, and blenders.  I have an infatuation with solids.  I LOVE Kona cotton solids by Robert Kaufman fabrics.  Any quilt I make will have either all solids or at least 1 solid to bring out a color in a print I really love.  My favorite blenders are Grunge Basics by BasicGrey for Moda Fabrics.  I like the fact that I can pull colors that complement each other and have a really special quilt in the end.  I mention pre-cuts because most manufactures offer them, if there is a line a really like I’ll get a layer cake, if I love it I buy a fat quarter bundle or both.  Color Theory and Ombre Fabric by V and Co for Moda is next on my list for pre-cut purchases.  Do you see a Moda theme here?  Then of course I have Carolyn Friedlander’s Doe is in my stash now with a nifty Ten square, Robert Kaufman equivalent to a Moda’s layer cake.

When are you most productive?  When do the most ideas strike you?

The last three years I have been in learning mode taking classes to build my quilting skills and techniques.  I am happy to check “Intermediate” when asked about my skill level.  There are 3 times I am most productive.  Before, during, and after a class, workshop, stitching groups, or sew days.  Before, because I am gathering supplies, fabrics, and pattern for class or sew days.    This is when I get an ideas and inspiration.  I look at what I am going to do with the project after I am done. Is it for me or can I gift it?  Based on that, I can look for fabrics and complete any pre-tasks.  During an event because I have however long I am there to work on the project uninterrupted.  The guidance from the instructor or even my neighbor in class eliminates the frustration and spinning my wheel at home.  After, because I want to finish up that particular block or make another of the same project so I won’t forget what I learned.

What are some quilt patterns or styles that you hope to tackle in the near future?

2015 will be a busy year.  I’ll be working on completing works in progress (aka WIPS) for all of the classes.  A half day class is not enough time to complete a quilt.  I’m guessing I have around 15 projects between classes and block of the months.

I am most looking forward to two BOM projects:
Jaybird Quilts, Gravity
Pile O’ Fabrics, Skill Builder BOM 2015 Technicolor Galaxy
Both projects use solids and blenders.

What quilt creation are you most proud of?

1,000 Pyramids

This mini was a project featured in Modern Patchwork magazine.  I looked at materials to make it and I had 60 degree ruler, charm packs, and white yardage to make it and I did.  In looking at my stash, I pulled blues and that one color of chartreuse and voila!  The one cool thing about this mini was the use of the strip tube technique to make the triangles.  It was a timesaver and pretty cleaver.  I think it aided in the points lining up so nice.  This is my first piece that has been shown internationally, it was with collection OKCMQG members shown at an arts center in Hungary.

Did you ever have a quilt project go terribly wrong?

I would say if you were a long-arm quilter and saw the back of my Stitcher’s Garden quilt you would say no way.  No amount of ironing will get those seams to lay flat.  As I progressed through the quilt you can tell which ones were earlier blocks in the project. Between learning how to read the pattern instructions and mastering the quarter inch seam it was a chore to complete the quilt top.  At least it looks good all put together.

Ha, ha...thats what counts! If you had to choose one must have book or blog to visits for modern quilting what would it be?

Can we make it plural with books or blogs?  I have a huge appetite for information so when I start something new at work or in my quilting I can do it with confidence.  Many of the members of the Modern Quilt Guild have books and blogs. I encourage you to seek out your favorites.  I’ve narrowed it down to a couple.  I use an application called Bloglovin' because there are so many I follow.

Here are 5 blogs I check the most often follow:
Moda Fabrics Blog- love their fabric and many contributors are MQG members
Moda Bakeshop great projects for precuts found here
Jaybird Quilts - I fun blog supporting her books and rulers, also Angela Waters quilts for her projects.
Sew Mama Sew - Tons of contributors if you follow one site, this is it.  One stop shop for great info.
Pile O'Fabric Quilting Blog - Love her annual skill build projects and the Stash and Share (great color ideas)

My collection of quilt books has evolved to where I am comfortable to purge a few books, because they are not where I am at design wise. These two books are new to my collection and I wish I had them both when I started quilting Modern.  I would say these should be must have:

Carolyn Friedlander’s Savor Each Stitch is just a good read with written stories along with great companion quilts.  I have a beautiful signed copy I treasure.

Let’s not forget magazines.  I only get 2 in the mail.  Love, Patchwork, and Quilting because I love the freebies stuck to the front and many of their projects require templates.  Block, by Missouri Star Quilt Co., incorporates great family stories and projects from their business.  Missouri Star Quilt Co. is on my places to visit list.

Wow, you are a wealth of knowledge! What is your advice to someone just diving into the world of modern quilting?

Try at least one workshop or attend a social group meeting to tackle something you want to learn more about. 

Great advice! Thanks so much for letting me interview you. I look forward to see your next project!

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