Love Patchwork & Quilting


- exhaustedo­ exhaustedo­ctopus

Top: Allie's well-known seaglass quilting technique. She loves using her favourite fabric scraps in many different colours to make the most bright and vibrant finish

Above: Allie's improv self-portrait started off using fabric colours that she didn't like. She eventually called this quilt "I'm Kind of a Big Dill" in reference to its pickle shades!

Below: Whether they're appliqué seaglass quilts or scrappy pieced patterns, Allie's creations use scraps of every shape and size

Many will know you for your striking Seaglass quilts – how did you start making these?

I loved the look of pieces of seaglass arranged on a white background, and wanted to recreate that in a quilt. At the time I had this idea, I was such a new quilter that I didn’t think curves or raw edges were allowed, I thought everything had to be really precise.

After going to my first quilt show in 2019 I had a lightbulb moment of ’it’s art... we can do anything we want!’ So I stopped worrying about how I would make it happen and just tried to make the image I had in my head.

Each time I make a seaglass quilt, I change it up a little. I’ve learned a lot in the process, but that first quilt was the one where I showed myself that there is more room for play in this medium than many of us think at first.

Tell us a little about your process – from designing to the finished piece.

Sometimes with seaglass quilts I’ll have an idea of the overall design, but most of the time I’m letting the colour of the fabrics take the lead. I start with fabrics that are speaking to me in the moment, and then build my way into different directions on the background.

The shapes of the pieces dictate the movement of the quilt. They’re some of the most improvisat­ional quilts I make because of this aspect, but I find them to be approachab­le.

Each quilt is unique, and though I have a vague idea of the finished piece, I never know exactly how it’s going to look when I start.

What’s your favourite thing about the appliqué technique?

I love the freedom it allows. I can decide where I want to put a piece of fabric, and I don’t have to do a lot of puzzling about how it’s going to get there. I can simply fuse it and quilt it down, and then create the look that I want.

Do you prefer hand or machine appliqué, and why?

I definitely prefer machine appliqué. I enjoy the methodical nature of hand quilting, but when it comes to appliqué I just want to design my quilt and move on to the next step. I also love playing with free motion quilting in and around my seaglass pieces, so while I’m using the machine to appliqué I’m also quilting, and all the magic happens at once.

The technique often lends itself to using small scraps of fabrics. How else can quilters be mindful of sustainabi­lity when making appliqué projects?

I try to use everything I can. No scrap is too small. I even save my offcuts after shaping the seaglass pieces to make mosaic quilts.

Seaglass quilts are excellent scrap busters, as they play with colour and value of fabric. No fabric is too odd to go in them – I make it a personal challenge to hide strange fabrics in these quilts, and still make beautiful compositio­ns. It’s all about the gradient of the pieces and how they work as a whole.

Working in this way has taught me so much about colour and value of fabric, and I find that it opens the possibilit­ies. I rarely buy fabrics anymore. Scraps tend to generate more scraps. I’ll use larger pieces in my other quilts, and the smaller pieces left over become seaglass.

Do you have any tips for LP&Q readers looking to develop their appliqué skills?

Allow yourself to learn and make mistakes. The biggest hurdle many new quilters face in free motion quilting is the fear of messing up. But making mistakes is good – that means that each time you’re going to learn something and get better at it. And sometimes those mistakes become happy surprises in the end.

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