Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Coffee Talk Tuesday

I'm so excited to start our new Coffee Talk blog series with Melinda, one of our newer members who I know everyone already just loves!  Melinda's great personality, in addition to her astounding quilts, make her a joy to interact with, and I hope you like learning more about her!  --Elle

Interview with Melinda Newton

Hi Melinda!  Thanks for being our first interview for Coffee Talk.  I'm so glad you found us!  Just to start off,  tell us about where we can find you on the Interwebs.

less tilt

I blog at quirkygranolagirl.blogspot.com
I am quirky granola girl on flickr,
and I'm quirkygranolagirl on Instagram.

How long have you been sewing?

I've been sewing since I was a teenager. My mom sewed our clothes when I was little and I tried to sew myself some clothes in high school. That, unfortunately, did not go well. How many of us actually fit the sizes on the pattern? Yeah. That was my problem. I decided then and there to give up on sewing clothing. I did make a shirt and a pair of pants for my son when he was a baby, but I'd really like to try sewing clothes for myself again.

I can totally identify - I have a whole bag of fabric and patterns to try to make clothes that really fit, but I'm stuck.  Maybe we'll have to have a clothes sewing challenge with the guild!  How long have you been quilting?

I made my first quilt in college. I didn't have a rotary cutter or mat or a pattern. I picked out three fabrics and traced a box of cake mix to make the blocks. I used an old blanket as a batting and a sheet as the backing and the binding. I still have it and my son loves it on his bed even if it isn't my best work.

That's so cool that you still have it!  I gave away my first quilt that I made as a teen, but I understand from the recipient's mom that the baby I made it for, who is now out of college, still has it!  Isn't it great that kids aren't too particular!  What/Who inspired you to get into quilting?

My mom made a beautiful log cabin quilt when I was about twelve. She had help from a friend of hers and she jumped right into making a queen sized quilt for their bed. I still love that quilt even if it is in tatters now. She stopped quilting after that one, but now I have her interested in making a Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt. I adjusted the block sizes to 12" finished for her and she has thirty blocks done and I could not be more proud of her.

mom block 1

I love your mom's block - I hope you'll share pictures of her finished quilt with us (or better still, get her to share it with us at a guild meeting sometime!)  What is it that drew you to modern quilting rather than a more "traditional/classic" style?

I've always loved sewing with bright colors, but I had a heck of a time finding fabrics that inspired me. I stopped quilting for about ten years after college. When I picked up sewing again 3 years ago, I was delighted by the options out there. 

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

If I had to pick one person, it would be Amy of badskirt.  She uses color and patterns in a way that rock my world every time. She dives straight in and mixes black, hot pink, and chartreuse. I don't like any of those colors and then she makes something that I love so much it makes me weak in the knees. She constantly makes me question what I perceive as "my style."

I really like her work, too.  And that's one of the things I've enjoyed about your work...I think I like geometric or whatever, and then you bring in something like your house quilt, and I'm weak in the knees and totally inspired!  What styles (designers/manufacturers) of fabrics speak to you the most, and why?

I was recently on an Anna Maria Horner kick. Two years ago, I thought that her colors and patterns were too bold for me but I just had to have some of them anyway. Now I have a teetering pile of her fabric waiting for me to make a traditional sampler quilt.  But this week I'm on a graphic pattern bender--stripes, circles, plaids, squares, etc.  I knew I had to have the Metro Circles line and now I'm finally in the mood to use them!

I can't wait to see what you create!  When are you most productive? When do the most ideas strike you?

I always have at least five projects that I'm actively working on or thinking about. And on each project, there is a stage where I get stuck when I just can't picture what the next step should be. So I move on to the next project. That night I may look at the "stuck" item and sleep on it. I constantly dream about quilts and color and cutting and measuring. And then, one day, the next step will come to me as if I knew it all along. Sometimes that process can take months. It can be hard to be patient until inspiration strikes, but that is the only way the process works for me.

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

I have a mission to finish my old projects in 2013, so I'm mostly tackling the sashing, basting and quilting of bee quilts and finishing some quilt alongs. I have been trying to clear my plate to make room for the next big inspiration to strike.  ....And that big burst of inspiration did strike a couple of weeks ago.  I'm working on a quilt pattern that I'll offer up on my blog and I'm super excited.

That's fantastic!  I'm super excited for you, and I can't wait to check it out!  Are there any skills/techniques that you are hoping to learn in the next year?

I'd like to sew some clothing. I've bought some good patterns and a little bit of fabric, but I haven't found the courage yet.

Yup...we definitely have to get a group together to help each other on that front.  What quilt creation are you most proud of, and what is the story behind it?

I'm so pleased with my Hexie Quilt. I love my stash and my scraps and collecting all of these little bits of fabric love into a quilt top makes me so happy. I basted every hexie by hand, sewed them together with tiny stitches and quilted it all by hand...I poured my heart and soul into that quilt. And, it is really just the first installment of a series. I have cool hexies and neutral hexies all looking for a home on the wall next to the warm hexies...you know, when I get some spare time.

hexie quilt finished!

That's a wonderful quilt, and I hope you get some spare time...I'd love to see what you do with all those other hexies, too!  Did you ever have a quilt project go terribly wrong?

Oh goodness. I made a quilt with used jeans and corduroy pants and I bought some new corduroy for the border and backing--not realizing that it was stretch corduroy. This was a queen sized quilt that was immensely heavy and I had not yet learned about using a walking foot for straight line quilting. I was still trying to roll up the edges of the quilt and trying to fit a huge quilt double sausage through my machine while the edges and back stretched like crazy. It was awful. So, I let it sit for 10 years. Then I ripped out the quilting, cut the quilt in fourths, finished each one and gave them as baby quilts for charity. It felt so good to get that project out of my craft cupboard.

 the stack

That's terrific - what a great way to turn a frustration into a really wonderful service project.  I've got a stack of half-finished charity quilts, too, that I'd really like to finish, though I'm thinking about bringing them to the guild to see if anyone else would like to finish them off, since I don't have space to hold on to them for ten years (or even ten weeks right now!)!  If you had to choose one must-have book or blog to visit for modern quilting, what would it be?

I love the quilt and project books by Suzuko Koseki. I find them so inspiring even if I've never actually made anything from the three books I have from her. Every time I pick up one of her books, I fall in love with something that I never noticed before.   The I love Suzuko Koseki group on flickr is a good place to start if you can't find any of her books.

She is completely new to me - I'm looking forward to checking out the Flickr group.  Thanks!  Will you share some more pictures of your work with us?

Here is one of my recently finished quilts:

love, love, love quilt

And here are three of my favorite bee blocks:

itsy bitsy spider block

Amber's Sewing Block

landscape block

Wow!  Those are delightful!  I'm particularly enamored with the last one...that just completely rocks my world!  Thanks so much for participating in Coffee Talk Tuesday and for sharing your talent and inspiration with us!


  1. awww...thanks for interviewing me, Elle :)

  2. yay, Melinda! So many fun projects. I'd love to do a clothing challenge, too.

  3. holy cow... those scissors! those birch trees!! *Swoon*

    Ooooh, ooooh, pick me, pick me for the clothing challenge! I'd be happy to organize something on that note! Or I can do a tutorial or somethin'....

    Love this series, Elle!! Very fun.

  4. This was so much fun to read. Melinda - we're so glad you came to the DC area!

  5. Melinda, the scissors. Amazing.
    That light plaid on the bias of the top blade seems to catch the light just like a real pair. When can I join a bee with you? :)

    I'm so excited to get to know everyone through this series! Thanks Elle!

  6. I'm 100% in for a clothing challenge. Staple dress, perhaps... Assuming we all wanted to work on the same thing.

    Excited for this series! Thanks for sharing, Melinda!

  7. Nice to get to know you better, Melinda. And I too would love to be in a bee with you (and Jessie). :)

  8. What a great interview - glad to learn more about Melinda!

  9. I loved this! Thanks for turning me on to some new blogs, too. I saw your spider web block at my first (and only to date) DCMQG meeting and it was love at first sight. Amazing.