Inspiration for my quilt “Dancer”. Oregon Coast, Summer 2014 Photo by: Jamie Emig

The inspiration for my quilts comes from various places. For the quilt “Dancer”, I recreated a photograph that a friend had captured of me frolicking on the beach. Often, I am inspired by something blooming in the garden, as with “Artichoke” and “Passiflora”. There is so much beauty in the world, the possibilities are endless! Sometimes, I get an idea, then search images on the web for references. For example, on “Nude #2”,  I wanted a nude female in such a pose so I looked for one that I liked and thought I’d be able to recreate with relative ease and enjoyment. I decide on an image and sketch it out. Sometimes. Or I just wing it.

My creative process is not set in stone. I tend to change my approach depending on what I’m creating or my mood. In one instance, I may sketch something onto the batting, other times I may sketch an image onto fabric and cut it out. Or just go for it and see what happens. Basically, like any artist, I let the piece unfold naturally.

The fabric pieces are all layed out and ready to get covered with tule and pinned.

Now it’s super fun crazy stitching time! I use a free-motion quilting foot and a very basic out dated Kenmore sewing machine. The one that my mom got me when she taught he how to sew my first shirt from a pattern. (I could say that I use this machine to prove that it can be done on any sort of machine, though I believe that to be true, it’s really just because I haven’t been able to afford another one.) I’m mostly self taught so I sometimes just go buck wild with my stitching, kinda like scribbling with thread. I like the look of it. Since I’ve taken a class in free-motion quilting my stitching has become a little more refined, for better or for worse. The stitching part can be fun and freeing while stress inducing all the same. Unwanted stitches can be very challenging to remove. I just open up the throttle and hope for the best.  This is where I’ll add more detail and definition as well as highlights and lowlights, removing the pins as I go. I am basically drawing with thread. It’s really exciting, you should try it.

The backside of "Artichoke"
The backside of “Artichoke”

To finish up, I sign it in thread then add a nice binding (that’s the border, for non-quilters). Sometimes, if I’ve remembered to leave space I’ll give it more of a border before I bind it. Lastly, I hand-sew a quilt sleeve on the back for hanging on a wall.

I have this huge box of fabric scraps. When I’m more organized I have the fabric separated by color. Either way, I go through and pull out all of the colors I want to use. I’ve collected quite an array of fabrics over the years. Sometimes I incorporate fabric with printed images that match what I’m depicting, as seen in “Passiflora”. The scraps get ironed flat in preparation. I make my quilt sandwich (yum) with the cotton batting and a piece of fabric for the back. Then I start cutting and ripping scraps, usually laying down the background before I lay down the foreground image.

Once I have it all arranged just right, I lay a piece of tule (fine mesh like what tutus are made of) over the whole image and pin it down. I use a lot of pins. I gotta make sure this baby isn’t going anywhere, not due to high winds, cats, earthquakes, nothing.