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Bluebird of happiness...

Bluebird of happiness...

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Austin Bluebird.  I never get tired of looking at pictures of this quilt - I love everything about it.


If you haven't seen it, this is Laurie Simpson's first Block-of-the-Month quilt.  It's made using several Minick & Simpson fabrics, many of which were re-printed so this quilt could be offered as Block-of-the-Month kits through shops.  I really wanted to sign up... I even bought the pattern... but I know my history.  The only thing I'm good about is keeping all the kits together.

Do you participate in Block-of-the-Month programs?

I love them and wish I were better about keeping up.  I tried to count how many BOMs I've done - with "done" meaning "purchased the kits for" - and I think it's nine.  I have two that are for the same pattern, just from different shops.  I loved what both shops had done and I couldn't decide which one I liked best so... I haven't finished either one.

I'm not currently enrolled in one but I am making want to make the blocks for the Snapshots quilt.

I'm told that one of the tricks to staying current is to cut the block out as soon as it arrives - within a day.  Make it a priority.  If the cutting is done, getting the block pieced seems less daunting.  It's the easy part - the most enjoyable part.  I did get Block 1 cut out but that's as far as I've gotten.  I'd better get busy because Block 2 is coming soon.

Do you have any tips for me?  Or am I hopeless cause when it comes to keeping up?

While you think on that, I'll get back to Austin Bluebird.  I'll admit to having a little bit of bias regarding the wonderfulness of the quilt because I like Laurie and her sister, Polly.  We went to the Infinite Variety - Red & White - Quilt Show in New York City together and while I can't recall how it started or what Polly said, I remember standing on a street corner trying not to fall over because I was laughing so hard.  People who meet them always think that Laurie is very shy and reserved, and I suppose that's true.  But that isn't the whole story, the girl has a wickedly dry sense of humor.

I think her quilts show that... that and an independent spirit, she does it the way she wants to do it so that it looks the way she wants it to look.


When you started making this quilt, did you envision doing it as a block-of-the-month pattern?  Yes I did.  We've had requests for several years to do one and I finally decided to do one.  I've always admired 19th-Century sampler-style quilts that were all willy-nilly and quirky.  With this thought in mind, I spied the drawings for the Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt on Lissa Alexander's desk.  That quilt looked so great with all the different-sized blocks that I decided I wanted to do mine the same way - no sashing and each block a different size.  Though mine would have to have lots of appliqué.

Looking back over the entire process, was there anything you would have done differently?  Nope.  While I designed it on paper and made the quilt from my sketches, it was the inspired construction devised by our graphic designer, Lisa Christensen, that makes this quilt something special.  The month-by-month breakdown of the construction was her idea entirely and I think it's brilliant that your quilt top is finished after Month 12.  It's quite the morale booster to realize that once your blocks are done, the top is done too.  There isn't a stack of blocks waiting to be put together.  We were lucky to have her creative input.

And… will you ever do another?  (Please say “yes”.)  Yes.  Even though I don't have any ideas drawn up, the response has been great and I had fun designing this one.


Last year, you made the spectacular English Paper-Pieced Mrs. Billings Coverlet quilt using Minick & Simpson fabric.  It's entirely hand-pieced, and then you hand-quilted it.  What is it about handwork - hand-appliqué, hand-piecing and hand-quilting - that appeals to you?  I jokingly tell people who ask about it - that it's cheaper than a psychiatrist.  Maybe it's not such a joke.  I have always loved handwork.  I escape into it.  I find it so relaxing to spend the evenings working on a hand-stitched project - all the while engrossed by a ballgame or murder mystery on television.

(Laurie is a Detroit Tigers' fan.  Murder mysteries and Tigers' games... it might be the same thing.  Just saying.)


What’s the best part about the quilt business?  Easy - the people.  It's an unusual little sorority that we have in this business - with a few enlightened men.  I've made great friends.

Don’t worry - I won’t ask you what the worst part is.  Instead, is there something you wish you could change about it?  I had to think hard about this question to find something that needs changing.  I'm still thinking.....

What is the one thing you wish you knew about the business before you started?  I wish I were a little bit more computer savvy, and that I knew about photography.  But it seems I can only wear so many hats.

What is the one thing you’re glad you didn’t know about the business before you started?  (That might be the same question.)  Yes, it sort of is the same question.  If I thought I had to know all the things that I've picked up and had to learn along the way I might have been too intimidated to even begin. Who knew that this path would lead to being a designer, author, business owner, accountant, and chief cook and bottle washer?

My favorite Vulcan Mind-Meld question… Name one person in the industry whose mind you’d like to read, whose brain you’d like to pick.  Why?  What is it that they do that you’d like to understand?  Wow, that's a good question.  Polly and I have had this conversation a lot.  There are so many people who have amazing talent that we admire.  But if I had to pick one, it would be Kaffe Fassett.  We had the good fortune to spend some time with him when we did the Pour Amour du Fil show in Nantes, France.  His genius with color is obvious and when he talks about his process and obsession with textiles - it's just so inspiring.  I hesitate to throw the label "genius" around, but he is deserving of the title.

Now you know why I like Laurie.

I'll let you know how it goes with my Block 1.


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