I’m excited to be continuing a blog post series I began last summer. Each week throughout the summer months we’ll hear from a designer about a pattern or book that caused them to head in a new direction and helped form their career. It’s the pattern that changed their life.
Picking up from where we left off, this is the ninth post in the series. You can read all of them right here.
Blair Stocker is a modern crafter and prolific “maker.” She’s the author of the book, Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects Into Stuff You Love. Blair also designs quilts and quilt patterns, creates online DIY content for various platforms, and passes along her love of making through teaching. Her blog is wisecrafthandmade.com. She lives with her family in Seattle.
Blair and I both started blogging in 2005. Although we’re old timers, we met in person for the first time at Craftcation in March. I’m so happy that she agreed to tell us about the pattern that changed her life.
Denyse Schmidt was the reason I got into quilting in the first place. She’s like my quilting spirit animal!
I had only been married a couple of years at that point, but was really excited about making things for our home, very interested in sewing, but was also sort of scattered, creatively speaking. I would try something and move on when it didn’t turn out quite like I wanted it to. But quilt making was something that I stuck with. I loved Denyse’s aesthetic, it was a completely non-traditional spin on a very traditional craft, yet it still had a nod to the past in its design and all of that excited me.
It was the mid-90’s, I was a newlywed and into all the aspects of homemaking… cooking, sewing things for our new home, painting furniture, gardening. To say I was obsessed with Martha Stewart Living magazine (and the TV show) would be an understatement. The magazine ran an article about Denyse’s quilts and I was just blown away.
There were no quilters in my family, I’d never seen anything like her work. Being pre-Google, quilting supplies weren’t a click away, so I couldn’t just Google her or learn more about her work online. It was a much slower discovery process.
I had taken one quilting class a few years before, at a local community college, and all it managed to do was thoroughly confuse me. Seeing Denyse’s work was the first time I got really excited about what I could create from fabric and patchwork.
By the time her first book came out in 2004-2005, I had two children and was more excited than ever about making quilts, and this was the first book that told me how to make the type of quilts I wanted to make. Her book opened my eyes to the idea quilts didn’t require razor precision, years of training, and technique skill to be beautiful. Not that Denyse didn’t know her craft, but her book explained the steps in an approachable, doable way. It took away the confusion I’d had about quilt making. To say I was excited about the possibilities doesn’t really do it. More like obsessed with the possibilities!
As a beginner at that point, my ambitions were way bigger than my skill level, but I really didn’t care. I chose her “What A Bunch of Squares” quilt pattern to make a king sized quilt for our bed. I opened the book just now and my notes are still plastered all over the pages, which made me really happy!
It was the first time I’d ever followed a quilt pattern. Working through it slowly and methodically as I did broke down quilt making into clearly understandable steps for the first time. I realized that I could really make a quilt, and I didn’t need create a situation where I was spending hours and hours learning techniques and skills, I could just put on some music and piece patchwork!
I loved the entire process of quilt making, and I still do. I now design quilts and patterns, so many I can’t keep count anymore. But that quilt and book was my tipping point. Since that book I’ve taken workshops with Denyse and am fortunate enough to call her a friend. She’s as awesome as her work.
De Dutch is one of Blair’s original quilt patterns. Her path to becoming a quilter and quilt designer began with Denyse Schmidt’s book.
Check out Blair’s quilts and her quilt pattern in her Etsy shop.