Author Interview & Review

Author and co-founder of the Sewing Summit, a sewing and blogging conference for the modern sewist, Amy Ellis has made a name for herself in the quilting stratosphere with the release of her book, Modern Basics: Easy Quilts to Fit Your Budget, Space, and Style. Published earlier this year by That Patchwork Place, an imprint of Martingale & Company, Amy’s book celebrates the creative person who lives in a busy household. For those of you who tell yourselves, “I don’t have the time or space to quilt,” yes you do!

In her book Amy showcases 14 different quilt projects each constructed from one repeating block design. Beautifully photographed and filled with great tips, Modern Basics would make the perfect gift for a beginner or someone who’s interested in quilting, but needs a little nudge to take the leap. We all know that quilting can get overwhelming sometimes, even inconvenient. To help, Amy includes several tips throughout her book about topics like design walls, choosing fabrics, organizing your projects and encourages you to enjoy the process.

Filled to the brim with 63 pages of original, contemporary quilt designs I recommend this book to non-quilters, confident beginners, all the way up to advanced quilters looking to share their love of quilting with the younger generation. I encourage you to grab a copy of Modern Basics today. You or someone you know might just be inspired to make your very first quilt!

A few months ago I had the opportunity to email Amy a few questions about her book. Here’s a transcript of the interview:

RWQ: Thanks for talking with me today Amy. Modern basics is a wonderful book for people looking to fit quilting in their busy schedules. In your introduction you mention most often the people who say they don’t have time to quilt are most in need of a creative outlet. Would you say this book came about because of your own need to express yourself creatively while trying to manage a busy household?

Absolutely! My house is non-stop, like so many other moms, yet I have this deep desire, or need to create on a regular basis. I’m fortunate enough to stay home with our four kids (3 in school this year), and am so thankful, as it has afforded me opportunities I never could have dreamed of!

RWQ: How long have you been quilting Amy? What design/fabrics did you use for your first quilt?

My oldest is eleven now, and that’s how long I’ve been quilting. I used simple charms, but living in Southern California at the time, I skipped the batting, didn’t want her to overheat! Next I moved on to tiny 9-patches alternated with a white on white fabric – simple and fun! I didn’t learn about designer fabrics for a few more years, so those were made with less quality fabrics. I learned to sew garments as a girl, and love the methodical process of quilting now, as it is the only thing that stays done around our house.

RWQ: My favorite quilt in your book is the Basic Puzzle featured on page 33. Can you tell us how that design came about?

Basic Puzzle is one of my favorites too! I actually was watching Project Runway, and I saw a wall in one of the apartments that had wood in the same shape repeated. I had to pause the tv, and grab my sketch pad! From there it was just a matter of getting the proportions to a size that I liked, and sorting out the puzzle as I pieced it!

RWQ: What quilt in your book was the most fun for you to make?

Hmm, that’s tough! Modern Maze narrowly wins over a couple others. It’s a simple quilt to piece, yet it’s so dynamic! I remember staying up, even later than planned, to watch it come together into a quilt top.

RWQ: What is your most favorite part of the quilting process, what is your least favorite part?

I love finishing the binding (by hand) and watching the final product as it transforms into a quilt, finally. My least favorite is cutting, but only because my back usually hurts when I’m done! I need a taller table.

RWQ: Are you a one quilt at a time type of person or do you have multiple projects going on at once?

Both! Usually I’m working on my next deadline, while something fun is catching my eye in my fabric drawer. So I try to stay focused, and get what needs to be done, done. However, while working on the quilts in my book, I learned I was faster when I simultaneously pieced three quilts, instead of cutting one, piecing one.

RWQ: When you design a quilt do you already have the fabrics in mind that you want to use or do you select fabrics after the design is complete?

In the last year, I’ve started designing in solids first, then once I’ve found the right overall look for the pattern, I’ll add in fabrics until I have it just right. Instead of a sketch pad, I’m now designing on the computer, which makes this so much fun! I’m always designing something new, and when I see a group of fabrics I like, I look over my designs to see which I like best for it.

RWQ: Please tell us about the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival you host. I always enjoy visiting your website, more so during Quilt Festival time!

Bloggers’ Quilt Festival is my bi-annual event scheduled around Quilt Market, for bloggers to showcase their current favorite quilt! I love reading the stories behind the quilts, so often the making of a quilt is emotional, or healing in some way to the maker. And quilts are always made with love, so having that understanding, makes each quilt even more special! And that is what I always find lacking when I walk the halls full of quilts at a “live” festival – the emotional connection. Anyway, any one can join, there’s no judging, just a fun community of quilters, sharing, and connecting with one another. Oh, and I have fantastic sponsors each time, with an abundance of giveaways!

Visit Amy’s Creative Side during the week of October 28th thru November 4, 2001 to see the quilts featured in this seasons festival!

The first Sewing Summit has come and gone. Amy shares with us a little insite about the included activities:

“Earlier this month a group of 200 sewists gathered in downtown Salt Lake City, for a non-stop weekend! The Sewing Summit is the brain child of myself and my partner Erin – we planned, and made decisions for an entire year before the event came to fruition. It was an amazing time – imagine a room full of your blogging friends, whom you’ve never met, but “know”. There were lots of nervous butterfly’s the first evening, but once everyone started chatting, the rest of the weekend was a blur of activity! We offered classes in garment, bag and quilt construction; with lots of inspiration in every class. I hope you will make plans to join us next year!”

Links :
Amy’s Sewing Summit Recap
Official Sewing Summit Recap
Erin Singleton’s Website (Co-Founder)

To learn more about Amy and her book, Modern Basics: Easy Quilts to Fit Your Budget, Space, and Style, please visit Amy has generously offered a copy of her book to one of my lucky readers! If you’d like to win, please leave a comment on this post. Only one entry per person. All duplicate entries will be deleted!

I will draw several winners using the Random Number Generator and announce them here in an upcoming post!

You can purchase a copy of Modern Basics at the Fat Quarter Shop!

Happy quilting,