Today we’re welcoming quilt designer Deb Grogan as a guest blogger on Quilty Pleasures! Deb designed the adorable Georgie Giraffe quilt featured in our September/October ’16 issue, and today she’s going to tell us all about how this sweet design came to life:
Hello my fellow quilters! My name is Deb Grogan and I am a quilt/pattern designer and CEO of The Quilt Factory, that stands for Chief Everything Officer! I live in the midwest with my husband and two yellow labs, Bailey and Charlie. My pups share my home studio with me during the day… mostly snoozing, but occasionally there is a rousing game of fetch and sometimes a rummage through the fabric scraps in my garbage can which then end up all over the floor!… lol. Aside from being a quilter I am also an avid reader and vegetable gardener. My husband and I are vegetarians, so dinner is always an interesting array of vegetables with beautiful color and texture, artistic in many ways… I am also an artist and paint with fluid acrylics that have a transparent watercolor-like look.
I have been an artist and product designer for major giftware companies for the better part of two decades. I have designed countless products for home and garden, from dishes to metal garden art, holiday ornaments, quilting fabric and more. It is this rich past in design that has been my greatest treasure when it comes to designing quilts as it pushes me to think outside the boundaries of just sewing seams together. When working in product development my task was always how can I take this object, make it better and make it different? I use that same line of thinking when developing ideas for quilts.
Having quilted for almost 20 years, its was easy for me to put together various blocks and choose colors of fabrics that I found pleasing. But I wanted to do more, I wanted to bring my art and experience as a product designer to my quilts. I love to design using appliqué, as it is the best way to bring my art to life in fabric. It’s easy then to add surprising or dimensional aspects to my quilts to give them a little personality. Those simple little design elements have been added to Georgie Giraffe as well. His little ears folded over and tucked in under his head when appliquéd, create a dimensional look that helps bring Georgie to life.
So, where do I get my ideas and inspiration from? This is probably the biggest question I get and my answer is always pretty much the same: from the world around me. While that may sound rather simplified, as an artist I tend to find interest in little things. The concept for several of my quilts with animals seemingly “peeking out” from the quilt came to me when I found my dog Charlie behind the fence in the vegetable garden, the side he wasn’t supposed to be on… lol. The quizzical cock of his head when I asked him how he got in there made me laugh. So placing Georgie’s head and neck to appear as of it is coming out from either behind or under something, made it fun. The traditional quilt blocks I added to the quilt reminded me a bit of a garden fence.
The Process….This is another question I am often asked and while each designer is different, many of us do similar things, just in different ways. I always start with a sketch. I can often be found perusing Pinterest looking for subject, color or textural inspiration, or as often is the case, while doing something totally unrelated an idea will come to me, so I scribble it off in one of many sketchbooks I keep handy.
Once I have decided on a design, I make a more technical drawing then take my ideas and start the quilt creation process in EQ7. It is a great program to put down the bones of my design. I often draw the elements for the appliqué design right in EQ and then use Adobe Illustrator to clean things up, make additional adjustments or add instructions within the appliqué templates. In EQ7 I can audition different fabrics which can be downloaded from the fabric companies’ websites. It helps me know how much yardage is needed of a particular fabric so I can work directly with the fabric companies to get yardage to make a sample quilt. American Made Brand solid cottons were used to make Georgie along with the Impressions and Moire lines from their parent company, Clothworks. This process is important as it is how I write my patterns. The actual assembly of the quilt ensures I am writing instructions that any quilter can follow and that what I have given them for appliqué templates and instructions is accurate.
Once my quilt is pieced and appliquéd it heads out to my wonderful long arm quilter Charisma of Charisma’s Corner. We make a wonderful team and she never disappoints with her amazing talent and ability to breath life into my quilts. Once I bind it off it goes to the wonderful folks here at Quiltmaker who make it shine with the fabulous photography; they really showcase all the quilts they share with you readers, in the most delightful way. Thank you ladies!
I hope you find as much joy in creating your own Georgie as I did. Please share pictures with the lovely gals at Quiltmaker and myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) I love to see your beautiful creations! Thank you for letting me share a bit of my day with you and for sharing your time with me!
Take time from your busy day, everyday even if its just a few minutes to be creative, push yourself to learn a new technique or try something our of your comfort zone. Creating from your own two hands truly feeds the soul… xxx, Deb
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Thank you for joining us today, Deb!
If you’d like to make Georgie Giraffe and don’t have a copy of our September/October ’16 issue, print and digital copies are available in our online store.