around the world blog hop

Hi everybody! Today, I will be sharing more about myself and my creative process as a part of the continuing blog tour that has hopped around the world in the past few months. I'm happy that Rahna from Blooming In Chintz asked me to participate. We have followed each other on Instagram for awhile, and she has made many fabulous quilts. I love the way that she selects fabric for her quilts. So what I am going to do is answer four simple questions about Grey Dogwood Studio. But you will soon find out that those simple questions have complex answers!

What am I working on?

Quilts! I have several projects all going at the same time. I'm sure that's not a surprise. For many years I focused only on one quilt at a time. But having a few projects gives me a choice every day. Do I feel like listening to the radio while appliqueing 6" Dresden plates?

Or maybe I'm already dreaming of a White Christmas, so I make a cup of tea in a Santa mug (yes, in October!) and work on red and white flying geese. These are made of Bunny Hill's Winter Wonderland, and I just started them a few days ago. 20 done and 192 more to go.

And each month I look forward to the Moda Modern Building Blocks-Of-The-Month from Fig Tree Quilts, and I start sewing the very day that the package of fabric arrives.

I've spent a considerable amount of time avoiding the borders that need to be added to my Jumping Jacks quilt! The borders are cut and just need to be pinned and stitched. 

And the Fig Tree Cherry Pie quilt still needs borders, too. I stall forever when it comes to borders!

And for course, the Quilty Fun birthday cake quilt that I made last week also needs borders! Have you download your copy of the cake pattern? It's free and is available here!

 Quilty Fun birthday cake pattern by Lori Holt for Fat Quarter Shop

Quilty Fun birthday cake pattern by Lori Holt for Fat Quarter Shop

Why do I create what I do?

Humm, why does such a simple question have such a complicated answer? Most importantly, it is the joy of making a quilt. I love being able to have something that I made. I've always been crafty. Can you guess what my favorite toy was when I was little? That big fat box of Crayola crayons with the built-in sharpener. I loved the metallics the best: gold, silver and copper. When I quilt I create something artistic that's also useful - all squishy and cuddly and comforting. I like knowing that I am creating something worth leaving behind, something that will make people want to learn more about me. I'm always pushing to learn new techniques, such as template piecing, working with 1/8" measurements (cut on the bias, even!) and hand applique. Sometimes I enjoy the process and wonder why I postponed it for so long. And sometimes I learn that I dislike a technique, but at least I've tried it.

The best example of boundary-pushing was the Farmer's Wife quilt along a few years ago. I saw the Farmer's Wife book at the bookstore, and it scared me. What, no rotary cutting instructions? I put it back on the shelf. But each time I went to the bookstore I found myself drawn back to it. The very difficulty of the quilt was what made it so compelling. And then the online sew along groups started and I knew that I had to get over my fear of paper templates. I enjoyed making those blocks so much that I kept going and made it king sized! It's probably my favorite quilt ever, and well worth the intense effort. 

How does my work differ from others?

Ok, let's address the big, pink quilted elephant in the room first. I'm a male quilter. I'm definitely in the minority. Each time I visit my local quilt shop I see more men shopping for fabric, and that makes me really happy. But I live in New York City. It's amusing when I visit quilt shops in small towns around the country. People look at me like I'm an alien, and I usually have to tell them that I'm a quilter. And then I head to the shelf of pretty vintage-inspired prints. Aha! That's another way that I'm different. Many male quilters work with darker fabrics or bright solids. Not me. Bring on the florals, dots and ginghams! The fabrics that I return to again and again are by Fig Tree Quilts and Bunny Hill (for soft, mellow vintage), Tanya Whelan's cabbage roses, and almost anything by Pam Kitty Morning and Lori Holt. I also like to mix in whimsical Japanese prints from Lecien.

I'm fairly consistent with a modern-vintage style. I'm very much influenced by vintage quilts of course, plus 1940's, 50's and 60's kitchenware from the flea market, cookbooks, British porcelain, tartans and menswear fabrics. Cakes, pies and candy are a great source of color inspiration. I'm happiest when sewing with bright prints mixed with pastels for balance.

 Did you see the cookbook by quilters Amy and David Butler?!

Did you see the cookbook by quilters Amy and David Butler?!

How does my creative process work?

Interesting question! Fabric, patterns and social media all factor into my work. 

I'm like lots of other quilters in that it's all about the fabric. I'll fall in love with a new collection and then spend months trying to find the perfect pattern to show it off. When I see teaser photos of an upcoming fabric collection online, I'll start to think about how I can fit it into a quilt. For example, I'm already thinking about how I can mix the upcoming Pam Kitty Garden and Fig Tree Aloha Girl collections with my existing fabrics. By thinking this way, I'm sure to come up with a quilt that will have my own unique color imprint. I also prefer to work with controlled scrappy fabrics. What might appear to be random is actually very thought out. I try to always include a variety of visual textures and print sizes. 

I also hoard quilt patterns. I buy far more patterns than I'll ever use. Sometimes I just want to see how a block is constructed, and I'll learn a technique that I can apply to a future project. Learning about how that twisted ribbon border was constructed can be useful. I enjoy thinking about how to customize patterns to create something unexpected. For example, Lori Holt's Quilty Fun sampler quilt was designed with a large bee medallion. I reduced the bee to half size and made four of them. And in this quilt, I also challenged myself to include black fabric.

 Quilty Fun sampler by Lori Holt

Quilty Fun sampler by Lori Holt

I like to transform patterns for wall quilts into bed quilts by doing the quilty math (with graph paper and a calculator!) - my birthday cake quilt began with just one block and I decided to turn it into a larger quilt. I also like to take patterns and completely change the fabric assortment. For my Butterscotch Tart quilt, I took the pretty, muted color palette shown on the Fig Tree pattern and shifted it into a completely new direction with bright reds, whites and blues from mostly Pam Kitty Morning and Lori Holt. And then I tossed some pink into my patriotic quilt, because, well, why not?

 Butterscotch Tart by Fig Tree Quilts

Butterscotch Tart by Fig Tree Quilts

And quilting should be fun! I'll usually try a few test blocks. If it isn't fun, or I don't like it, then I don't proceed. There's too much great fabric and too little time to make something that isn't enjoyable! I recently tried to do a strip pieced quilt. It was so easy that it bored me. That was the end of the strippy project! Sometimes, I need lots of little HSTs or tiny flying geese to keep me interested.

 Whit by Carrie Nelson

Whit by Carrie Nelson

I love to fussy cut my fabric to highlight special motifs. I'm not afraid to waste fabric if it means that I'll get the look that I'm aiming for. Here, I've cut Lecien's Flower Sugar to give a lacy effect to the mitten cuffs, centered the large floral on each mitten, and centered the yellow floral stripe on the outer border scallop.

Social media is definitely very inspirational. I love to see what everybody else is working on. But for me, the challenge is to be inspired without copying others. We all get to learn a little about each other. We share vacation, food, family and pet stories. It's like having a whole big group of quilting friends all around the world! We encourage each other. And its a great way to quickly get opinions and feedback from my virtual friends, such as "help, which background do you all think is best?"

Thanks so much for visiting with me today. I hope that you've learned a little more about Grey Dogwood Studio. It's been fun (and challenging!) to have to think about who I am and why I do what I do. 

And now, it's my turn to introduce you to the next three bloggers on the Around The World tour! 

These three talented quilters will all be sharing their stories with you next Monday, November 3. So be sure to visit them, ok?

I love the way that Rebecca Grace at Cheeky Cognoscenti works through her quilting process. She explains in detail how she decides on block sizes, alternate blocks and colorways. I always learn something from her. I discovered her blog while doing a search for information about Singer Featherweight sewing machines. I've bookmarked this entry - it's loaded with good tips! 

Donna Moore at Donna's Lavender Nest has a sweet vintage inspired blog, full of my favorite retro prints. She also has an online shop with those hard-to-find Japanese prints, and they're available as individual fat quarters or as custom bundles. And her packaging is lavender!

And my friend Cynthia Horst at Dream Quilt Create is also going to share her story with you, too. I've followed Cynthia's blog for several years and I am a big fan of her quilts. We have similar taste in fabrics (we both love to collect Lori Holt's fabrics) and we really bonded while doing a Quilty Fun sew along together! 

Grey Dogwood Studio is on Instagram! Follow me at @greydogwoodstudio to see all my latest projects, plus the occasional cupcake and cute cat photos!