QM Staff Inventory: I Love Funky

If you took inventory among Quiltmaker staff members, you might be surprised. Our personal quilt styles don’t necessarily reflect the style of QM, which is generally traditional and whimsical.

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I’m the staff person who loves funky. For me, the more offbeat, the better. Sometimes my co-workers have to reign me in. They are kind and they do it gently.

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Funky Baskets by Diane Harris, based on tutorial by Darra Williamson

This is a little basket quilt I made using a free tutorial from Darra Williamson. I made my handles funky because I thought they’d be more interesting that way. I put borders on just two sides.

 funky9 QM Staff Inventory: I Love FunkyI’m the person who brings a wild quilt to guild and wonders why everyone looks so puzzled when it’s my turn for Show & Tell. The quilt above is an example. I know its aesthetics may not be for everyone, but it’s one of my favorites, partly because of the weird border fabric.

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I got this fabric from a clearance table. It’s one of my favorites ever.

I got this fabric for a song because apparently everyone else thought it would be a challenge. I loved it instantly! It’s a Terrie Hancock Mangat design. I cut the border on the quilt above 9.5″ wide to show it off.

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I made this baby quilt on a retreat with Mary Lou Weidman.

Occasionally I meet a kindred spirit who loves funky as much as I do. One such person is Mary Lou Weidman, a nationally known designer, author and instructor who has also become a friend. I made the quilt above under her guidance at a retreat in Idaho. She encouraged me to leave that bottom right corner just as it is. I like this piece so much that I haven’t been able to part with it as I’d planned.

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Orphan block with borders, used as a practice piece for machine quilting

Sometimes I buy orphan quilt blocks and build weird things around them. The quilt above started with the very strange vintage block of polka dots and pastel stripes. I thought it had potential and I had a great time adding borders and quilting it.

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A leftover strip of reproduction fabrics discarded in our lunch room

This is a leftover strip from someone’s reproduction project that I found in our lunch room at the office. I wondered if I could create something totally different out of these browns and rusts.

I paired them with some Michael James “Colorstripes” and voilá.

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Reproduction strips and Michael James Colorstripes join forces to make something completely new.

The borders are different widths and are not straight—by design. I think asymmetrical is more interesting than symmetrical.

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Dresden plates and improv piecing

Here’s a small quilt I designed and made when I was playing with Dresden plates and improvisational piecing. It’s another of my favorites. I like the border: it’s red and aqua but I kept it interesting by using different reds and different aquas. I grouped them together so it wasn’t too chaotic.

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How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?

Here’s another improvisational piece I have started. The photo shows the various fabrics I was auditioning for the next border. I so want to use those cowboys and I still might.

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Improvisational star quilt in progress

Here’s a closer look. I just stopped the verse when I ran out of space. I learned something on this piece: if you’re going to go wonky, go BIG. The star points aren’t uneven enough. They are off enough to look off, but not off enough to look wonky.

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Love, based on an idea by Tonya Ricucci, made by Diane Harris

This is a small Love quilt I made for a graduation gift. I thoroughly enjoyed adding the big-stitch handwork. The Love block is an idea that originated with Tonya Ricucci.

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Nested Nicks, designed and made by Diane Harris, Quiltmaker’s Small Quilts & Gifts Fall ’11

Nested Nicks, above, is a quilt I designed for Quiltmaker’s Small Quilts & Gifts Fall ’11. That’s about as tame as I get.

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Happy Holly Days, designed by Diane Harris, Quiltmaker Nov/Dec ’09

Happy Holly Days appeared on QM’s Nov/Dec ’09 cover. It’s probably the funkiest thing I’ll ever have in Quiltmaker.

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October Rain fabric collage by LeeAnn at Nifty Quilts; used with permission

I’ve found some bloggers who really love funky, and I devour their posts. One of them is LeeAnn of Nifty Quilts who lives in Seattle. Above is a fabric collage she did after a class with Freddy Moran, inspired by the work of Edrica Huws. Isn’t this just dynamite?!

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Here’s another quilt by LeeAnn at Nifty Quilts. Her fabric choices really appeal to me. Used with permission.

And this star makes my heart jump a little. I think it’s wonderful.

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Organized Chaos by Sujata Shah of The Root Connection; used with permission

Another person who is always dreaming up something fabulous is Sujata at The Root Connection. I love Organized Chaos, above.

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Sunday Paper by Sujata Shah of The Root Connection; used with permission

And get a load of this wonder. Does it get any better?! Sujata calls it Sunday Paper. She has a second blog called Basket Full of Scraps. I read them both.

The thing is, some of my favorite funky bloggers don’t post that often because, you guessed it, they are busy sewing!

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Goalposts quilt

Here’s a simple baby quilt top I pieced a few weeks ago. I thought it was great until I took this photo. Now I see that the quilt will have to be called “Goalposts” unless I add red to the top and bottom, too. There’s a limit to how much weirdness I can handle.

funky14 QM Staff Inventory: I Love FunkyAnd one last WIP (that’s quiltspeak for Work In Progress). These are traditional blocks I made in funky fabric combinations. It’s a traditional design that’s making the rounds of the quilting internet under the name Swoon, made popular by the talented Camille Roskelley. I have since added a great border and it’s ready for quilting.

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Another improvisational work in progress

Here’s another improv piece I started at Mary Lou’s retreat. It’s exciting to build something in this freeform way. You never know what you’ll end up with! It makes ordinary piecing seem kind of boring.

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Improv Christmas quilt

And this Christmas quilt is coming together bit by bit. Putting it together is like a puzzle. I am really anxious to finish it.

My job with Quiltmaker has taken me down so many creative pathways. I am constantly exposed to new ideas, new ways of doing things, new perspectives on quilting and art and the world. I love every minute of this work because it brings me joy. And I hope that shows in the quilts I create for myself and the people I love.

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A few other staff members will be sharing their quilting styles over the next several weeks. I think you’ll enjoy seeing how our tastes are similar to, or different from, QM’s.

About Diane Harris

I'm Interactive Editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I've been writing pattern instructions and product reviews, and doing a host of other tasks necessary to help produce a national pattern magazine. Now I work remotely from rural Nebraska to generate some of our online content. I manage the QM Scrap Squad, our blog tours and our Quilt-Alongs. I have one of the best jobs in the world.
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14 Responses to QM Staff Inventory: I Love Funky

  1. Paula says:

    I love your improv Christmas quilt! Oh my gosh. I can’t wait to see it all done. Once again, you inspire me!

  2. Sujata Shah says:

    Diane,
    I love all your funky quilts. Each one has personality of its own! Love your hand stitching on the LOVE quilt. Thanks for featuring my quilts, blog on his post.

  3. Paula Krolikoski says:

    Great quilts with a lot of heart

  4. Colette says:

    I agree with Liz above: A segment or three in future issues would be great to put into QM about deconstruction and improv quilting. Meanwhile, thank you for pointing us to the blogs above where I can share with others that outside of the box is okay.

  5. Sophie says:

    I don’t call it funky, nor lazy, but improvisational, scrappy quilting pretty much defines my style as well. Your Happy Holly Days quilt is one of my all-time favorites from Quiltmaker.

  6. Linda Erickson says:

    Love it
    Funky quilters of the world, unite!

  7. Liz Engman says:

    [Echo, here]…Love, love, love your quilts and the samples shown. I’ve wanted to try making things like this, but have never found the opportunity. A series of challenges to “free your inner wackiness” might make a good future article (or series) for Quiltmaker. Small projects, so readers could “dip their toes” in the improv water.

  8. Cathy says:

    Diane, I love, love, love your quilts. I probably would have passed on the border print you bought…but now I’m going to rethink this and try something different. Hugs

  9. Jennifer says:

    I think I find more inspiration in quilts like these because they give you “permission” to float outside the rules! In a quilt shop once, the owner almost refused to cut my selections because I was going to use a batik and a cotton in the same quilt – she said I just couldn’t do that. It turned out to win a second place ribbon at a quilt show!

  10. Anne Wiens says:

    You rock, Diane.

    Note to self: Add a Mary Lou Weidman retreat to our Bucket List.

  11. LindaJ says:

    Diane I love your style! I didn’t realize “improv” was something other people did too (guess I’m living under a rock). I thought I was just being lazy about measuring precisely.

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