Design Wall: Exploring Traditional Quilt Blocks in an Artistic Way

Exploring traditional quilt blocks in an artistic way

Vivika Hansen DeNegreName: Vivika Hansen DeNegre
Title: Editorial Director, Quilting Arts and Modern Patchwork Titles

I live in: A small town on the Connecticut shoreline that has great hiking trails, beautiful beaches, a charming town square, an arts and crafts school, and even a thriving quilt shop!

I started quilting: about 20 years ago on a whim. It was my mother’s fault! I asked (nicely) if she’d give my 3-year-old daughter a family heirloom quilt for her new bedroom, and she replied, “No – but it looks easy enough. Why don’t you make one yourself?” And the rest, as they say, is history. I am glad my mother said no – she saved that heirloom from magic markers and craft scissors – and encouraged me to try quilting. A few years later she wrapped it up for my 40th birthday when I could appreciate its beauty and intricacy (and had the good sense to protect it from my kids).  I’ve loved that quilt ever since!

What I’ve made: I come from a long line of serial crafters, and have tried every fiber-related craft at least once. In addition to sewing, quilting, and embroidering, I love to knit because, if the pattern is simple enough, I can do it while watching TV or in the car when my husband is driving.

Heirloom Quilt featuring traditional quilt blocks owned by Vivika Hansen DeNegre

My parent’s received this Jacob’s Ladder quilt as a wedding quilt from my great grandmother. My mother gave it to me for my 40th birthday.

What I’m making now: I have a split personality when it comes to quilting. My art quilts are either abstract wall pieces that reflect the Connecticut landscape, or intricate collages of birds in either natural or imagined settings. Go figure!

On the one hand, I love traditional quilts with a modern twist. Traditional patterns speak to me; however, I also love modern art and have a preference for bold patterns and abstract design.

I think it is pretty cool that inspiration for my art quilts can also be found from so many different contributors to Quilting Arts. Our June/July 2018 issue featured the studios and techniques from a handful of artists I truly admire. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about the science of color, dyeing fabric, and applying paint and patterns from artists Candy Glendening and Lynn Krawczyk. I’m inspired to stop saving my fabric and to cut it up and use it after reading articles from Lisa Chin, Deborah Boschert, and Lisa Thorpe. And I can’t wait to take the plunge and really learn what a longarm machine can do for me after visiting Timna Tarr’s studio in Hadley, MA.

With my visit to Timna’s studio fresh on my mind, I signed up for classes at a local library that has a longarm for rent. Yes – a machine for rent – but I have to learn the ins and outs of their particular machine before I’m allowed to book time on it… and I have a quilt I want to finish sooner rather than later.

This small wall quilt is ready to be basted and quilted, but I still need to choose the quilting design.

My current project pieced almost entirely with half-square and quarter-square triangles from my stash of hand dyed fabrics. (I’ve heard it said that building your stash and using your stash are two entirely different hobbies. I have to agree.) Now that the top is done, I need to plan the quilting design and get to work: this will be quilted on my domestic machine.

Before I start, I’ll be reviewing three very useful videos: Susan Brubaker Knapp’s 52 Free-Motion Quilting Motifs and Fillers, and Catherine Redford’s Modern Machine Quilting videos for free-motion and walking foot quilting. I can’t say enough about how much I have learned about machine quilting from these two instructors! If I’ve had a long hiatus between quilting projects, watching these videos always makes me more aware and precise with my stitching.

The next quilt I finish will be quilted on a longarm… It won’t be an art quilt and probably nothing I’ll be willing to show, but a learning experience. I just can’t wait to try something new and add “longarm quilting” to the ever-growing list of techniques I’ve tried, all inspired by Quilting Arts!

Explore more inspiration!


Comments (3)

  • Libby W

    A library with a Long Arm Machine!!!!
    I would LOVE that! What a great way to experiment with the process.

    June 12, 2018 at 5:14 pm
  • LynnAnn W

    Hello Vivika your hand dyed fabric is beautiful What kind of dye do you use?

    June 13, 2018 at 11:33 am
    • Brenna Riley Gates

      Hi LynnAnn,
      I wish I could say that I had dyed those lovely fabrics, but they were all purchased… from Laura Wasilowski. Her website is

      June 20, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Leave a Reply