Monday, July 11, 2011

Sage Advice from a Seasoned Quilter

When I first started really quilting about 11 years ago I took a few classes from a very talented quilter, Leslie Ison. (I made this sunflower quilt, still one of my all-time favorites, in one of those classes.) Little did I know then that years later, her daughter Calli would become a very great friend.  So when Calli invited me to a 'trunk show' of her mom's quilts, I jumped at the chance to see Leslie's work again.  
Leslie is on the right. The show was hosted by Amber (a talented quilter herself - sorry Amber, not a great picture.)  Leslie has a way with fabric. I lover her use of color and her fabric combinations.  I don't think I've ever seen her make a quilt from a manufacturer's collection - she mixes and matches fabric lines in all her quilts. 
 This quilt is made up of 300 individually appliqued baskets. Wow.
And it's the second quilt like this that she's made.
 As she was describing her quilts, Leslie gave some sage advice (which I quickly jotted down on the back of a Costco receipt).

1. Make quilts that you love.  Amen to that. Isn't it hard to make something you just don't love?
2. Don't worry about perfection - it's overrated. Quilts need to have some imperfection in them.  Once again, Amen.  Perfection can be such an obstacle - I've seen too many people quit and give up because they were so frustrated by making their quilts perfect. Just enjoy the process and let go of the perfection.
 3. Label you Quilts. (Here's where I need to repent. I'm terrible about this. Vowing right now to do better!)
A work in progress
4. Document your life and your history and your family's history in your quilts. Leslie showed a bunch of quilts she'd made in memory of her mother's kitchen, her grandparent's farm, etc. They were wonderful.
5. Make quilts that mean something. Leslie made this quilt this spring after going to the Red and White exhibit in New York. This pattern is called Sunny Days and can be found at Geoff's Mom's Patterns (along with many others in this trunk show.)
6. When it comes to colors, there are no 'rules'.  Leslie shared the experience of learning to quilt from a master teacher who told her that the quilt she was working on needed more yellow. But she didn't want yellow in the quilt.  So when she teaches, she never comments on color or fabric choices.  Color is an expression of our own tastes and personality. Don't feel beholden to some color-rule-book.  Use what speaks to you and what you love.

You can see more about Leslie's trunk show at Calli's blog as well. Thanks again to Amber for hosting. I was inspired all over again by Leslie's amazing talent, quilts and by her love of this art form. Made me want to go home and lock myself in my basement for a week just start playing with color and fabric.

52 comments:

**MIGNONNE** said...

Wonderful advice! Thank you for sharing it. I need to get over my desire for perfection. I have so many UFO's that I just shoved in a closet because things weren't going just right. Maybe I need to pull them back out and forgive myself ; )

notes of sincerity said...

Thank you so much for sharing this advice with us. It is so helpful!
I have never considered making quilts as mentioned in #4. Such an endearing way to display special memories. :o)
Your sunflower quilt is gorgeous!! And that is one of your first quilts?! Oh my!! Don't look at mine, please. :o)
I hope you are having a wonderful beginning of your week.
Sincerely, Trish

Liz said...

Love this post! What great advise & beautiful quilts. Thanks for sharing.

Isisjem said...

Great advice and wonderful inspring quilts. Thanks for sharing!

Blue Is Bleu said...

Such wonderful advice I definitely embrace these rules, especially the last. And I try to impart it on customers of the shop I work at, and I hear "Oh, I'd never have thought those go together" so often!

And that red and white quilt is divine!

Sheila said...

Lovely quilts. Wonderful advice to quilt by ... thank you for sharing.

kristastitched said...

great post! great advice. wonderful quilts. thank you for sharing!

~The Bargain Babe said...

All great pieces of advice. I love that she didn't want to put yellow in the quilt (I love yellow, but not every color belongs in every quilt).

Jenny said...

beautiful quilts!
thank you for passing on such sage advice...i need to step up my game in a few areas!

Sarah Craig said...

Great advice, beautiful quilts, and a wonderful post!! But I'm curious - did you intend the pun in your post title? LOL!

Quiet Quilter said...

I agree with you on all counts....although there have been a couple of quilts chosen by relatives that I didn't like to start with...and they ended up my favorites...so keep an open mind...

Joyce said...

I love reading your blog! I am so grateful to have Leslie as a friend! Life is good.. enjoy!

SewingMom2Three said...

That's advice worth listening to! I know I get caught up in the details and forget about just enjoying the process. If only we could remember her words every time we sit down to quilt!

jodi@Pleasant-Home said...

Beautiful quilts! Thanks for sharing Leslie's quilts with us. Very inspiring!

Wendy said...

Making the quilt you love is the best advise. I so poor at labels, I should think more about it. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration. Now I need to search out that red and white block.

Barbara said...

I've just started quilting, what great advice!

Rachel said...

Once again, thank you for knowing what **MY** day needed...LOL...Seriously, I love reading your blog. Thank you for this post!

camp and cottage living said...

This is my 1st visit here. I'll be back just to view and enjoy the beautiful photos of the quilts!
I haven't quilted for years, but your blog is sure an inspiration to take it up again.
I have a box of patterns (some quilt) from 1929-1950's. So it would be neat to try some of the really old ones!
Take care-Kimberly

Linda said...

Amen to everything!!! (except maybe color - some people need some color theory to help them out a little, but nobody should ever think color theory is an absolute! Theories are not rules!)

Rhonda said...

love this post! excellent advice!!

I rarely rarely label quilts of my own.

Anonymous said...

Interesting - thx!

Miss Nancy said...

Lovely quilts, super good advice. Thank you for sharing and have a great day.

Betty Lou said...

What great advice, maybe we should all have that posted in our sewing rooms so we remember it. Beautiful quilt and they are BIG.

Gari said...

Leslie sounds like a great teacher. I am not a fan of "fabric line" quilts and prefer my eye to the color wheel. And, you are right, her quilts are wonderful. Thanks.

Jan said...

Oh, my goodness! Excuse me, I may be drooling!

Calli Makes Do said...

Oh Amy, what a lovely post! Thank you for such a nice tribute to my mom. It made me get a little choked up for some reason. Can we blame it on tiredness? At any rate, I'm so glad you wrote down the advice she gave.

Summer is getting the better of me... I keep wanting to call you to see if would like to see Jane Eyre at the Water Gardens one evening... if I ever have a free night. Sigh.

jessica said...

I liked this post. :)

Material Girls said...

I love Leslie!! I used to take her classes all the time. She is amazingly talented and so are all her daughters. Neat lady thanks for sharing!
Nadine

a little bit biased said...

Glad you could come Amy. Great post and thanks for the reminder on all of Leslie's great pointers!!! Sick pictures of me, but oh well! I wish I could have taken pictures... I may have to steer people over to your blog from mine.

Take care!
Amber

lifeinredshoes said...

Thank you thank you thank you!
The advice that Leslie gives is so important. The reason it took me so long to quilt were all the reasons she listed :)

FREE AT LAST!

Joyful said...

Fabulous quilting experience and great advice. I'm a would be quilter ;-)

Amy Gibson said...

What priceless advice! I need to start labeling too...just not sure of a method that I'm crazy about. Thanks for posting!

Campanilla said...

Wonderful!. Thank you very much for sharing these tips so fantastic, the truth is that some take them to practice ever since.

isa debat said...

tout simple et très beau

Carol said...

I've done patchwork before but not quilting. I recenty decided to make a dolly cot quilt as my first project so thank you for the timely advice.
Carol xx

Patty said...

Good advice,I especially like the one about color reminds me of a class m sister and I took last year, the instructor did not like my sister choice of color and kept making reference to it all weekend, I thought it rude and unnecessary. Wonderful quilt show thanks for sharing.

Annabella said...

Thanks for sharing such wonderful advice and quilts and your sunflower quilt is quite stunning. I`m a bad labeler too. Must do better.

Live a Colorful Life said...

I think one of my favorite things is to spend time with friends, looking at quilts, sewing, etc. They are all beautiful and special quilts--the red and white is my favorite.

Jennifer said...

do you have more info about the block used in the fourth picture? i like that block; it's so cute!

Shannon said...

"Document your life and your history and your family's history in your quilts." That's beautiful advice! To wrap a loved one in a quilt that comes with a story and sense of place creates true legacy. Thanks for the reminder!

Why Not Sew? said...

Great post! beautiful quilts and wonderful advice :)

Gayle said...

I'm here for my first visit to your blog because of your feature at Knock Off Decor. I started looking around and was thrilled to see Leslie Ison in your photos - I know her! And she's my quilting hero - I always have loved her quilts and wish mine were as wonderful - and I wish I could make as many as she does too! But I also make hooked rugs so that cuts into my quilting time a lot. Anyway, nice to meet another Utah quilting blogger - you have a great following (including me now!)

Sherry said...

What a wonderful quilt show. I too am bad about not labeling my quilts. Great advice in this post. Thanks much!

Maria said...

Thank you for sharing such great advice as a new quilter sometimes I worry too much about perfection , from now on I will "try" not to worry as much and enjoy it more : )

Christi Lynn said...

wow these quilts are amazing!!! :)

Earthtones Girl said...

I can't thank you enough for the wonderful and super wise advice. I'm a new quilter and struggle with trying to be perfect, cut perfect, sew perfect. I won't even comment on color. I just don't have an eye for it but I love it.
Your advice has set me free. I think I will go lock myself in my sewing room for a week and have fun playing.

Kristyne said...

Thanks for taking me to the trunk show too! What a wonderful collection of beautiful quilts and, of course, advise. Never too much of that! ;)

Jeanie said...

I really love your sunflower quilt! Do you recall where the pattern came from????

Ineke van den Akker said...

Just WOW!!

amy smart said...

Hi Jeanie - I don't have an email address for you, so I'll reply here, hoping you see it. The sunflower pattern is from an old Jan Patek book - about 15 years old. I tried googling and didn't find it right away. I'll try to keep my eyes pealed for it.

Gmama Jane said...

Very good advice INDEED!!! May I borrow Leslie's advice for my blog and give you and her credit?? I just think that advice needs to be heard and read by a lot of people. Thanks SEW much for sharing.
Blessings
Gmama Jane
P.S. You're a busy lady but if you get the chance, come by for a visit at my little blog http://grandmamasstories.blogspot.com
I'd love to have you as a follower. I am a long time follower of your delightful blog.

Cynthia@aquilterbynight said...

These quilts are beautiful and the advice is so important! I agree with every word and feel that "kindred spirit" feeling! Thank you for sharing. I found this post in some circuitous way... am new to quilt blogging and enjoying it immensely!