Quilting Inspiration from 100 Days of Modern Quilting

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It’s the fifth week of 100 Days of Modern Quilting and we will take a glimpse into a few of the things that inspire modern quilts.

As with many other forms of art or craft, there is almost an unlimited number of sources of inspiration for a quilt. It is interesting to hear about quilt inspiration because it often tells the story of the quilt. A quilt can be inspired by another quilt. It can be inspired by a piece of fine art. It can be inspired by a textile design. It can be inspired by color. Inspired by words. Inspired by an event.

This quilt was inspired by a pattern on a rug coupled with a traditional log cabin design.

  This quilt was inspired by a baby name, Cici. Can you see the two C’s? CC Quilt by Latifah Saafir

This quilt was inspired by a classic teddy bear and classic baby boy colors

B-Boy Quilt by Latifah Saafir

We hope you enjoy looking at all the quilts and share with us what you are inspired by.

Featured Quilt 1

The first featured quilt in the Week of Inspiration is a fun example of how a quilt can be inspired by an event as well as a phrase. Heidi Burkhardt designed this 56 x 88” beauty as a wedding gift for friends.

In her own words: “We were invited to the wedding of a longtime business friend of my husband. As we pondered about the present we could give, I joked and said, I could make them a wedding quilt. As they are not a young couple who needs to build a household and we don’t know them very good privately, this seemed to be a good idea. I’ve met the bride only once, but thought that something simple and elegant should be good . My husband asked them for hints what they like and don’t like and between other things they mentioned the colour yellow.

Soon I found the basic fabric (it’s the fabric for the backing not seen in this photo ). It was not until we received the official invitation, a beautiful card with the lyrics of the Beatles song ‘ when I’m 64’, when I had the idea of quoting another Beatles song.

I’ve seen the word LOVE in this formation of course many many times, this is surely nothing new.”

Heidi lives in Germany and blogs at http://libellenquilts.blogspot.com/.

Featured Quilt 2

Inspiration can come from many places in modern quilting so it’s no surprise that art would inspire quilt designs. Today we will look at a quilt by quilter Heather Jones that was inspired by the work of Joseph Albers.

Heather says: “This quilt was inspired by the work of Josef Albers and his wife Anni, and was made as an entry into for the second challenge of Project Modern. It was my first attempt at making a monochromatic quilt, and as it had been a long, dreary winter, I went with various shades of pink. I was an Art History major in college and grad school, so I was familiar with the work of Albers, who may be best known for his series of works “Homage to the Square.” In these works, Albers experimented with the relationships between different colors arranged in a series of squares. I thought that design would work well in a quilt, although I shifted the layout of the squares in my design. The Anni quilt was chosen as a winner of Project Modern: Challenge 2 by judge Malka Dubrawsky. This quilt is modern in my eyes due to its bold use of color, strong graphic elements, and over-sized blocks, which measure about 24″ square.

Anni Quilt by Heather Jones

Heather says “I find inspiration all around me, and I really love the challenge of translating what I see into quilt designs.”

Anni Quilt Detail by Heather Jones

Heather is the president of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild and she says that she can honestly say that the guild has changed her life. Although she had made quilts in the past, she didn’t consider herself a quilter before she began the CMQG, and now she can’t imagine quilting not being an integral part of her life.  You can follow her work on her blog oliveandollie.com

Featured Quilt 3

So many quilts. So much inspiration. Sometimes the inspiration for one quilt is another quilt! In this case one quilt inspired many, many quilts. Leila from Where the Orchids Grow created one of those quilts called Plus & X Blocks Quilt.

This quilt was inspired by Setsuko Inagawa’s submission to the 2011 Tokyo International Quilt Festival. Amy Gunson of Badskirt Amy shared a tutorial for the block on her blog and many people including Leila decided to try it out. Though inspired from a quilt that was created in Tokyo, the original block was attributed to Nancy Cabot in 1938 (source: Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.)

Setsuko Inagawa


Leila has been sewing since she was a little girl but, she just started quilting 7 years ago, when she was pregnant with her son. After creating a few quilts she stopped because at the time the designs and fabrics that were available weren’t very appealing to her. But, thankfully, she started quilting again 2 years ago when she discovered modern quilting online. It opened up a new world of designs and fabrics and techniques that spoke to her and she hasn’t stopped quilting since.

You can find more of Leila’s work on her blog at wheretheorchidsgrow.blogspot.com or on Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/where-the-orchids-grow/.

Featured Quilt 4

Today’s featured quilt was inspired by none other than the quilters of Gee’s Bend. Great inspiration will inspire you to take an idea, reinterpret it and make it your own. This quilt was a collaborative project for an online quilting bee, so it was 10 quilters interpretation which adds a certain complexity and interest to this quilt.

Lisa Filion who blogs at http://www.upstatelisa.com asked her nine Bee-mates to create a row in this quilt. She then took these 10 rows and combined them to form this quilt which she then hand quilted in Size 8 Perle Cotton.

"GEE'S whiz, i BEND wanting a quilt like this! Thanks Row 10!" by Lisa Filion

In Lisa’s own words: “The story of the quilt is that I belonged to a flickr group called Row 10. Each month, one of the members chose a theme and all members created a row 60 inches long and 6 inches to 12 inches wide in that theme for that member. So when it came to my month, I decided that I would like a Gee’s Bend inspired row from each of my friends in solids. I ended up calling the quilt, “GEE’S whiz, i BEND wanting a quilt like this! Thanks Row 10!” It measures approx 60 inches by 74 inches and now hangs on the wall in our hallway so I can admire it each day!”

Back of "GEE'S whiz, i BEND wanting a quilt like this! Thanks Row 10!" by Lisa Filion

Lisa has been sewing since she was 13 when her paternal grandmother who was a master seamstress, knitter, smocker etc. gave her money for her first sewing machine. She took a quilting class at a local community college just before her first child was born and she was hooked. She can’t believe she’s been quilting now for almost 20 years!

Detail of "GEE'S whiz, i BEND wanting a quilt like this! Thanks Row 10!" by Lisa Filion

You can find Lisa on her blog at www.upstatelisa.com and this quilt was documented on her old blog at upstatelisa.blogspot.com/2011/05/new-equation.html. You can also find her on Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/upstatelisa/. Sadly there are no modern quilt guilds in upstate New York where she lives but she does luckily have 4 quilt shops within a 20 mile radius of her home!

Featured Quilt 5

The inspiration for the “Amish Impressions Zig Zag” quilt by Sujata Shah came on a stormy day in the summer of 2010. The original idea for the technique used in this quilt was developed back in 2004 after the Gee’s Bend quilts became popular and Sujata was inspired to explore Improv quilting. Sujata’s quest for making organic and fluid quilts led her to develop this unique Improv technique. In 2009 she made the first version of this quilt made with prints.

Amish Impressions Zigzag Quilt by Sujata Shah


In the summer of 2010, with both her boys home from college, Sujata and her family experienced a severe and memorable thunderstorm. On that afternoon as the day turned into night, the storms got so bad that the power went out. The lightening was intense and the rain was pouring as if the sky had fallen apart. The storm that night inspired the colors and pattern of the “Amish Impressions Zig Zag” quilt.

If Sujata had to put a title to herself as a quilter, it would definitely be an Improv Quilter. Most of her inspiration and influence comes from antique quilts and cultures from around the world. She finds a lot of similarities in Amish and Indian style of quilting. They both are bold, colorful and simple. She is originally from India and it was natural for her to combine the two cultures that used very few tools to create this art. Her quilts are also heavily influenced by African art and textiles.

You can find Sujata on her blog at therootconnection.blogspot.com/ and on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rangolidesigns/.

Featured Quilt 6

Sometimes, inspiration can come from more than one source. Today’s featured quilt “New York Skyline” by Jessica Blomquist has two definite inspirations.  As the name implies it was inspired by the skyline of New York City as well as Denyse Schmidt’s quilts.

In Jessica’s words:

“I just started quilting (and sewing for that matter) in 2010. My mother and grandmother have quilted for decades, but I never was interested in learning how to quilt.  My grandmother bought me a sewing machine as a wedding present and I decided that I wanted to learn how to use it. I thought a quilt could be an easy first project.

My “New York Skyline” quilt was the third quilt that I made.  I googled ideas for quilts and fell in love with modern quilting and especially the work of Denyse Schmidt.  I really like the concept of using only solid fabrics in quilts. I had recently moved to Los Angeles from New York City and I missed the city so much.  I decided to make a quilt in honor of the city I missed and also using Denyse’s “Drunk Love 2-Tone” style as inspiration.”

"New York Skyline" Quilt by Jessica Blomquist

“It was the skyline of New York that really inspired this quilt. The shapes of the buildings leave beautiful footprints on the island. The grey fabric has sheen to it reminiscent of the steel and lights of Manhattan. Water envelopes New York without overpowering the beauty of the city, similarly the blue border emphasizes the quilt top. The style of the quilt also represents New York. New York is contemporary, innovative, powerful, and loud like modern quilt making. New York is also rooted in tradition and long-established like traditional quilt making. This is my ode to a city that I love.”

Inspiration for Jessica Blomquist's "New York Skyline" Quilt


“The quilt is actually made from black and grey sheets from IKEA.  I was a new quilter, I didn’t have a fabric stash yet! I wanted each block to be unique, but I ran out of ideas. I ended up making several of the blocks a second time but switched the colors.”

Jessica is a proud member of the Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild.

Featured Quilt 7

Jen Carlton Bailey created this quilt as a wedding gift for friends and was inspired by the couples style and things that they love.

Here it is in Jen’s own words: ‘Cameron and Daria are true love birds. They married this summer and I knew they needed a quilt-you know, for snuggling, staying warm and baby making! The original design didn’t work with the red color theme, so I set off to make something new. It had to be Mod or Mid Century. I mean, it’s their favorite aesthetic, well, and mine too (which always helps when you’re making a quilt for someone else)! The color was easy. Red-but not all the same shade, even though both the Volvo and the Vespa were painted the exact same color-Formula Red”

 Quilt by Jen Carlton Bailey

“Attached you’ll find the three things that inspired me for this quilt. A Mondrian Inspired painting found after oodles of Goggle Images search! As well as Cameron’s collection of Vintage red vehicles.”

Inspiration for Quilt by Jen Carlton Bailey

“The quilting was inspired by the planets in Orbit. However, don’t count the lines! I had to add a few to make it work. Using two different color threads helped give a little more heft to the quilting. The yellow adds a little more “modern” touch I think.”

Quilting Detail for Quilt by Jen Carlton Bailey

Jen is a proud member of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild and you can follow her at her blog BettyCrockerAss. One of her recent blog post titled Nothing is Original talks about Inspiration vs. Copying in quilting and is a fun way to end this week of Inspiration. Hop on over to her blog to check it out!