What inspires your work? How do new ideas come to you in quiltmaking?
For one thing, I keep sketch books and doodle a lot. And a lot of my designs come out of these doodles as I revisit them. I like things that are functional and decorative at the same time. I usually get my ideas when I'm working on another project--one thing inspires another. I'm not usually inspired by fabric, but use it to express my ideas. I also like to have a focus--such as designing a little boy's quilt, or a wallhanging for spring, etc. If I don't have a focus, there are too many options out there and I tend to stumble around and not complete anything. There are a lot of good ideas out there but some tend to be rather tedious and difficult. I always aim for simplicity and ease of construction.
Your designs are often full of whimsy and those of us who know you, know that you are a fun person to be around. If you were given a sewing day with no restrictions and no obligations, how would you fill it? What would you do?
Lately I've been experimenting with felted wool. There are several ideas I'd like to try. I would also make some new clothes. Clothes in the store are never what I want, so making them is the only solution. But my real desire would be to spend my free time painting. That's what I've been doing for the last couple of years, and I'd like to translate some of my pictures into cloth for wallhangings. We'll see if that ever happens.
If you could offer one piece of advice for quiltmakers today, what would it be?
Don't agonize over every little detail. I've looked at some of my past projects and I don't even know where the mistakes are anymore. If I do make a mistake, I usually dub it as the location where the evil spirits escape and move on. If the resulting quilt is too small, I add some borders. If the quilting isn't perfect, I'm probably the only one who knows. Sewing to me should be fun, not a chore.
Marla Stefanelli is currently the editor of Quiltmaker's sister publication, Sew News magazine.