Member Spotlight: Amy Friend

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From the age of five years old, Amy Friend has explored the world of quilting. Starting out with simple sewing, her mother would take the necessary steps to pass down the craft. It wasn’t until her adulthood that Amy’s love for sewing would reemerge. “When my son was an infant about 15 years ago, I wanted to sew things for him and that's when I started to make a baby quilt,” Amy says. "I didn't really know what I was doing." Through online instructions and a lot of practice, she eventually found her own style.


Amy left her job as a collections curator at the museum of Wheaton College once her family began to grow. Like her mother had done for her, she passed down sewing to her daughter. Once her youngest child went to kindergarten, she had the opportunity to continue quilting while working from home. First, she started off with hand quilting, but as her skills and confidence grew, paper piecing became her next fascination.

In the days before Pinterest, Amy found her inspiration for paper piecing on Flickr. There, she would connect with quilters from around the world and admire their work from the convenience of her home. Paper piecing can be daunting to quilters at first, but Amy dove in. As complex as paper piecing can be, Amy finds opportunity in the rigid lines. "I like the artistic freedom more than the precision," she says. "I even love the precision. I really liked the fact that if you can draw something with straight lines, you can paper piece."


Amy’s skills are even more apparent when it comes to her use of organic sources and creative approach. Borrowing from her daily routine, she cites her garden as one major source of inspiration. "I like to use colors that speak to me for one reason or another," she says. "I like to garden, so sometimes I'll notice the color combination in the garden, and then I'll try to find those colors in my stash and see how they work on a quilt." One afternoon when she was watering her yarrows, she took notice of the different shades of pink. As the water leapt from the spout and traveled towards the yarrow, she found the blue of her shirt. Seeing both the blue of her shirt and different shades of pink on her plants, a quilting combination came to mind. Once she found herself indoors, she noticed her husband’s lime green raincoat sided next to her son’s blue raincoat. Amy’s family, the elements, and her landscape would come to create the color palette of her next quilting project.


This organic process mirrors her beliefs when it comes to creating quilts for sale or competition. “I like to just make my quilt and if I find that I think one might work for QuiltCon, I’ll submit it, but I don't make quilts specifically for QuiltCon," Amy says. "I know some people do try to make a quilt for that purpose, and I think that leads to an expectation where you're likely to feel upset if it doesn't get in," she says. "So, I like to just make what I want." Without anticipating failure, Amy was granted creative freedom so her quilts could act as her compass. If her creations aren’t sold or accepted into competition, they’re donated to a variety of organizations or close friends.


Her generosity has helped those in refugee camps as well as the California Wildfire fund. Her donations have even reached the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where her collaborative “Boston with Love” exhibit resurfaces every year on the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. The exhibit consists of a number of quilters, dedicating their designs to victims stories and professions.


Paper piecing has connected Amy to a community of individuals that she otherwise would’ve never met. It’s also brought her work to museums and exhibits around the country. She’s even published two books related to the craft — Intentional Piecing and her Improv Paper Piecing.


Her creativity within quilting has empowered her to empower her creativity. When asked what she’d like to share with quilters around the world, she says, “I would love to encourage people to get involved with the MQG committees and task forces. I'm doing both the charity committee and the nominating committee, and I think it's a nice way to get involved with the organization a bit more. I started in the modern quilting guild locally a few years ago, but it's kind of fun to be connected on another level as well. So I would encourage people to give it a shot.”