Beginnings: Laurel Hickey

In this new section of the newsletter, we’ll feature members and their projects at the start of the process of making a quilt. Share what inspired you – a change of season, a fabric you couldn’t walk away from, a workshop, a new baby in the family, a wedding, anything at all. The quilt needn’t be finished – there is always show and tell for that. If you’ve ever felt the urge to say more about your quilt, here’s the place. Please send your photo(s) and story to the newsletter editor.


hickey3I’m drawn to brighter colours in the Spring, away from the taupes and muted homespun that I usually work with and find so deeply satisfying. While at Creative Edge looking for fabric for the Stack-N-Whack workshop in May, I found a fish print from the Kaffe Fassett Collective that I couldn’t put down. ‘Wild’ barely describes it. There wasn’t enough on the bolt for the class but I picked up three meters for my stash, plus some Kona fat quarters in slightly greyed colours to tame the very bright print. Once I got them home, I realized the solids went perfectly with a dotted fabric that’s been in my stash practically from when I started quilting a few years ago. I knew I wanted to work with brighter fabric after the long winter, the problem was deciding what pattern to use.

After thumbing through quite a few books, I found myself returning again and again to Denyse Schmidt’s “Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration” and her Churn Dash pattern. I checked online and liked the modern versions with strong colours and free motion quilting to fill in the spaces, or more simply, straight lines. And besides, the name was irresistible. I didn’t get far into the cutting and making of sample blocks before I realized these weren’t going to be quilts that really spoke to me. Fun yes. I’ll enjoy making them – the twelve-inch bocks work up unbelievably fast – and I won’t have any trouble finding homes for them either. But I still wanted a ‘me’ quilt in that pattern.

There’s another quilt in Denyse Schmidt’s book that I love, but more for the play of light on the fabrics than for the design: Shoeman’s Puzzle. The large-scale block uses just two fabrics, a shot cotton and a Kona solid. It got me thinking – what about a relatively low contrast churn dash quilt that mixes a wide range of shot cottons instead of just one. I’ve a lovely selection of Kaffe Fassett shots and stripes, but the fabrics are so beautiful I’ve hesitated dipping into them. Plus, the skinny-quarter length shots were a birthday present and I wanted to use them together in something special. I pulled out some likely pairings of colours and ironed them, applying Mary Ellen’s Best Press at full strength to stabilize the loosely woven fabric. Blues and browns, rusts and greens, soft stripes… yes, this was what I wanted. I anticipate a quilt I’ll fall in love with again and again over the years, and in all seasons.

Laurel Hickey