Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

What is the Around the World Blog Hop?

There's a super fun linky party, of sorts, going around blog land called the Around the World Blog Hop!  I was invited to join by Cheryl, the Texas Quilting Gal - a new blogging pal I've really enjoyed getting to know over the past few months.  In turn, I'm inviting some friends to join in sharing their responses.  Next Wednesday, Shauna at Shauna's World, Heidi at DIY and Live to Tell, and Rene (Hi Mom!) at Quilting Nona will be answering the same questions about their creative processes.  If you'd like to share your answers to the questions below (or already have), leave a comment below with the link to your blog - I'm having such a great time reading all the answers so far!

A Little Bit About Me

If this is your first time stopping by, welcome!  My name is Shelley, owner and pattern designer here at Cora's Quilts.  My hubby and I have two beautiful, hysterical, rambunctious boys (ages 1 and 2.75), so in between dirt, flying dragons, walking the plank, legos, and endless piles of laundry, I manage to sneak in a little bit of sewing and pattern writing.

We make our home near Sacramento, California, in the foothills of the beautiful Sierra Nevadas.  Aside from adventuring with the boys, I'm an avid reader, lover of good wine and dark beer, collector of fabric, and ... dare I say it ... a budding knitter!  My love of crafting was definitely inherited from my mom and my granny, and I'm happy to have this little corner to share my thoughts and projects.

Question #1: What Are You Working On?

Well, I have several brands in the fire at the moment.  Most them have to be kept under wraps for the time being.  I did manage two finishes this summer, though.  In June, I finished Diana, a quilt for my best friend ...

Diana ~ Pattern Available Here
... and just last week I just finished the binding on my Spring Sampler project!  Getting a decent finished photo is proving to be quite a challenge, but I have a morning to myself later this week and am hoping to finally get a finished shot!

Spring Sampler Quilt Along
Over the next few weeks, I'll be gearing up to start our Aspen Glow Quilt Along.  

I'm so very excited about this project!  It's a great way to start ushering in the change of seasons and we've broken the quilt construction down into some very manageable chunks.  

We have some really, really fabulous sponsors and a great group of gals signed up to sew along.  Our schedule and more information about the pattern and quilt along is available here.  Email me at Info{at}CorasQuilts{dot}com to join our mailing list or follow us on Facebook to receive all the latest updates.  I hope you'll consider joining us!

Question #2: How Does Your Work Differ From Others In Its Genre?

I hope it's ok to go off on a bit of a tangent here.  The following has been simmering in the back of my mind for awhile now, and I feel like now is a great opportunity to share my thoughts ... interspersed with some random fabric eye candy. :)

The other night, after a hair-raising day with the boys, my hubby gently kicked me out of the house, telling me to go spend sometime doing something for myself.  I headed to one our local watering-holes/restaurants ... by myself (a very liberating experience, if you've never tried it) ... and sat with a pint of my favorite beer and my ipad, just reading and planning.

Flurry ~ Pattern Available Here
I spent some time on Elizabeth Gilbert's website.  She's one of my favorite {modern} authors and Eat, Pray, Love is my "crisis book" - reading about her journey always brings a sense of peace, 
breath, zen when I feel like my life is spiraling out of control.  Her words always help to remind me that no matter the journey or path we've chosen to take, it's important to indulge in good food, wine, and friends, to take time for ourselves to center and breathe, and that recognizing and reveling in the love in our lives can do wonders for the soul.

I kept coming back to an article on her blog titled "CRAFT" and while I consider myself to be a quilter before a writer, the article really spoke to me.  Elizabeth begins, 
I was speaking to an artist friend the other day, who said she was having a crisis of creativity because she felt she was losing her edge. She feared that her work was not experimental, bold, and innovative enough. She quoted Ezra Pound ("Make it new") and said she had stopped working because, simply put, she could not figure out any ways to make it new anymore.  - Elizabeth Gilbert, "CRAFT"
 Now, it's probably safe to say that her artist friend wasn't a quilter, but I think that the sentiment here is universal.  Don't get me wrong - there are a number of very talented fabric and pattern designers out there and their unflagging well of creativity is so amazing and inspiring to me ... but to be completely honest with you ... sometimes it can feel like our industry can seem a bit like a big game of keeping up with the Jones.  Trends blow up on Pinterest or Instagram but are over before half of us even realize they exist, let alone have the time to hop on the bandwagon.  Super popular fabric lines are sold out before we even realize they were available in the first place!  Trying to keep a pulse on what's popular can be exhausting!  And, there's nothing more frustrating or disappointing than sharing an "original" project to find several identical ones already out there in blog land.

Drift Away ~ Pattern Available Here
Elizabeth, however, has some amazingly beautiful alternative to the "creativity rat race."  She calls it "CRAFT" - the idea that, the traditional craftsperson isn't concerned with "make it new," but rather with the idea of making it again (and again and again and again) in an effort to constantly improve.
What an amazing idea, huh?  Just picking something that we like and working at it again and again to get better at it!  I love classic blocks.  I love playing around with them and discovering new (or at least new-to-me) groupings, orientations, or ways to put them together!  I feel a sense of achievement as points and seams come together more crisply and precisely the more that I work with them.  So what if I'm using the same blocks again and again - I love them and they speak to me.  So what if some of my projects are similar to others out there.  We're all drawing from the same traditions and inspirations, right?  Elizabeth says it much more eloquently than I ever could:
"I'm not trying to ignite a revolution every time I sit down at my desk; I just want to pursue excellence. ... Do it every day. Do it as well as {I} can. Repeat, repeat, repeat. That's craft." Elizabeth Gilbert, "CRAFT"
So, to come back to the question at hand, I don't know if this is really something that sets me apart from other quilters and designers, but I'm just doing what I love best, to the best of my ability, and working to get better at it, day by day.

Question #3: Why Do You Write/Create What You Do?

Simply put, because I have to.  I'm driven to it.  Crafting, especially quilting, and writing is my creative outlet.  Motherhood and family life, while infinitely rewarding, can also be exhausting and a bit draining.  My "craft" gives me a bit of escape and time to myself, and meets this deep-rooted need to make something and never have idle hands!  When I spend too long away from it, I start to go a little insane.

I get the biggest kick out of staring at a stack of fabric and seeing the possibilities come to life in my mind - didn't a famous sculptor say the same about a hunk of marble?  I love the rush and excitement of planning a new project and pulling together *the perfect* grouping of prints.  And, I love the deep-rooted satisfaction of creating something, start to finish.  I just don't get those kind of kicks from the laundry or the dishes!!

Question #4: How Does Your Writing/Creative Process Work?

This was a bit of a hard question for me to answer, mainly because it doesn't always work the same.  I have always been a visual person, so a fair number of my designs always start on graph paper before I even try building them in EQ6, my quilting software.

My design inspiration comes from all over the place.  Sometimes I see quilt blocks when I look at geometrical shapes, like my kitchen rug or mosaic tiles.  Sometimes I just sit and play with classic blocks until I have a design that speaks to me.

When I first started designing quilts, I often built quilt patterns around specific fabric lines that I loved.  More and more frequently, however, I'm finding that I build the quilt pattern first and then spend hours (days, weeks) looking for the perfect prints to fit my designs.

I'm also a big Excel geek, so all of my block and cutting calculations are built into a spreadsheet before I sit down to write my pattern and put together my sample.  Next, comes so mish-mash of sewing, writing, re-sewing, and re-writing until I have a pattern that works.

I use Microsoft Publisher to write my patterns, along with EQ6 and PicMonkey ... and occasionally good 'ole Paint to generate and edit my images.  {Incidentally, I'm considering the move to Adobe Creative Suite ... but just can't bring myself to commit to the monthly cloud usage fee.  I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've already made the move ...}

Throw in a couple of hours of typing and "nudging" text boxes and images around until my symmetry-loving-self is satisfied, and a pattern is born!

Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me share a bit of my creative thought process with you.  Be sure to stop by next week and get to know our Aspen Glow Sponsors!  Until then, happy sewing!


  1. That is a wonderful way to look at what we do...I get caught often wondering what I could possibly offer to the "sport" if you will of quilting...and it makes me freeze and show what I have been working on...I just quilt away, but mainly keep it to myself when I really do want to add to the inspiration out that spoke volumes to me!
    I so get that you HAVE to do this...and I think you do it very very well...I really love what you come up with! Thank you again for sharing...

  2. I like that there is thought out there about doing something really well. We'll always have/need innovators and creators, but we also should have and do need artisans and crafters, too. I can relate to getting points to match and blocks to be the right size, since I feel I'm new to quilting, even after 7 years! I'm not a fan of doing something twice, but I do appreciate the beauty and unending creative possibilities of the classic blocks while embracing modern fabrics.