Recently we came across PatchworkFun, featuring "patterns for serious quilters". We were hooked! Australian designer Chris Jurd has created dazzling quilts with foundation-pieced blocks, combined with fun fabrics (imagine flying geese surrounding geisha, as in her Noodle Box pattern). Chris has had over 40 projects featured in quilt magazines. Her quilts have won awards at Australian shows; last year she won a blue ribbon for "Lots of Dots" (below). Chris also has a blog called Patchwork Fundamentals. Read on for our interview with Chris!
Lots of Dots, 64 x 76", by Chris Jurd at PatchworkFun
"Lots of Dots" is a new take on a sampler of 26 circle blocks; this stunning quilt won first place at the 2011 Sydney Quilt Show in the "New traditions from Old Favorites" category. The pattern set - which was just released last week - comprises patterns for the 26 different circle blocks in the quilt featuring foundation piecing, applique and English piecing. If you live in Australia, a Block-of-the-month program is available from Hobbysew. Two of our favorite blocks are shown below.
Jacobean Star, 55 x 55", by Chris Jurd at PatchworkFun
In "Jacobean Star" a striking foundation-pieced center circle is appliqued in the middle of a machine pieced eight-point star. The center is surrounded by machine pieced setting squares and triangles and finished off with appliqued diamonds, then surrounded by a pretty floral border. This one is rated for the intermediate sewer; see the pattern at PatchworkFun.
Emperor's Wheel, 50 x 61", by Chris Jurd at PatchworkFun
Chris Jurd's "Emperor's Wheel" features a recycled kimono center surrounded by curved foundation pieced flying geese. Lots of oriental prints are combined with foundation pieced New York Beauty blocks to create this stunning quilt. We love the mixture of New York Beauty blocks with focus fabrics!
Chris Jurd with her award for Lots of Dots as seen at Always Quilting by Aurifil
Quilt Inspiration Interview with Chris Jurd:
QI: We see that "Lots of Dots" won the 2011 award for New Traditions from Old Favorites. Can you tell us about how you came up with all the different circle blocks? Also, the use of dotted fabrics throughout is so clever and unusual. Was that cited by the judges in their decision?
Chris Jurd: I love to play on the computer with EQ7 and try and draw interesting/difficult blocks. For the last few quilts these have been circle blocks. I regularly browse a reference called 5500 Quilt Block Designs by Maggie Malone which is a treasure trove of blocks you don't often see anywhere else. In the Lots of Dots quilt I had a ball drawing all the different designs and reproducing them in all different sizes. There were lots of blocks that didn't make it into the quilt and I was sorry when the project was done as it was such fun playing with the designs and fabrics. In Australia you don't get a judges' critique after a show so I don't know their comments but I guess I stood out because the quilt was different from the norm. The use of spots and dots fabric was calling out to me with all the circle blocks. One of the joys of making this quilt was the search for fabric and you'd be amazed how many dotties there are out there - nearly every new range has some in it and I crossed all genres to get them - oriental, reproduction, funky and more.
QI: In addition to being beautiful to look at, your quilts are very distinctive. What strikes us are not only the blocks, many of which appear to be unique, but also your fabric choices. For example, instead of using batiks or hand-dyes to make your New York Beauty blocks - as is often done - you have used Asian, large floral, dots or other prints. Can you say a few words about your design sense and style?
Chris Jurd: I just love colour. I'm not a fan of batiks (yet) and there is so much beautiful fabric around that I want to include as much as I can in my projects. Heavens knows I've collected enough! I guess this is why my quilts are basically "scrap" quilts that are sewn on the fly - auditioning fabrics as I go and using the design wall to work out the next choice. Light here, dark there, big print, small contrasting geometric etc. Sometimes a design will brew for a while then I get a run on and sew like crazy til it's done. I tell my students to concentrate on contrast in value and scale of the print to make sure the design stands out and it seems to work. I don't consciously think of the colour wheel but it seems to influence my work in that I'll go for contrasting colours not complementary ones and the weirder the fabric design the better! I favour the old traditional blocks with a twist. After all what's original - we are only reinterpreting designers who have come before us.
QI: What inspires you the most? e.g. vintage quilts, a particular fabric in your stash which you want to showcase, an era in history, or- ?
Chris Jurd - I'm inspired by antique quilts and quiltmakers and browse my collection of books and the web for ideas. Makers of these quilts had none of our tools and gadgets and look at the work they produced - amazing - so we have no excuse for not continuing their tradition. Japanese quiltmakers are inspiring too with their interpretation of traditional designs. I'm so happy we can see the big Japanese shows on the net though it's on my list of things to do when I get a chance to travel. These days I buy fabric if I see something I can't live without - that's the current criteria! It will sit on the shelf for a while then will often spark a design. When it's used up it's time to go shopping and do my bit for the economy.
QI: Thank you so much, Chris, for sharing your inspiration with us today!