Less is More in Sewing Spaces & Modern Quilts

“Halfspots” by Daisy Aschehoug

One of my favorite weekend things to do in early summer is to lie on a macramé hammock strung between two trees at the edge of my flower garden and ponder the day’s possibilities. Eyes closed, I meditate with my other senses. The perfume of freshly cut grass—so pungent I can almost taste it—provides the backdrop for my thoughts. I hear the staccato buzz of tiny insects as they join the drumming of my own heartbeat. Distant trumpet music echoes through the woods from a budding musician whose mother has sent him outside to practice. And the warm sun that seemed so distant and cold just a few short months ago settles on my cheeks and arms, leaving them slightly pink after a few short minutes.

Eventually, I’ll open my eyes to the dappled sunshine as it filters through a canopy of green. For a brief moment, all of the colors, sounds, and smells of the garden dance together and everything feels right in the world. I’m ready to start my weekend, and whether I work in the garden or make a new quilt in the studio, the few moments of meditation and contemplation always set me up for creativity.

Recently, one of those meditative moments led me to revisit my fabric stash. After a long winter of devil-may-care neglect, it was a mess and in need of a good culling. Just as the perennials in my garden had been pruned and divided weeks before, the plaids, prints, and solids needed their own reorganization. What started as a rainy day distraction that I thought would be finished in a few short hours became a full day of reevaluating my studio and simplifying my workspace. Fabrics, notions, and books I’d owned for years—and know I will never use—were donated to charities. I painted over the scuffs on the walls, dusted and washed under the cutting table and sewing machine, and did a thorough clearing out. The result is a fresh and organized workspace, no longer cluttered and much more inspiring.

“Red Herring Pillow” by Vivika Hansen DeNegre

There is something cathartic about a well-organized studio. Removing the extra “stuff” allows the utilitarian aesthetic of the space to shine through. We’ve all heard it before: Less is More. That type of simplicity is also important in modern art and design. The spare beauty of clean design is a unifying factor in many of the quilts in this issue. Notice the simplicity of Daisy Aschehoug’s traditional made- modern “Halfspots” quilt, and the soothing appliquéd fish on my “Red Herring” pillow. In both of these pieces, what is removed from the design is just as important as what remains. As Thomas Knauer notes in his new series “Made Modern: On Beauty”, beginning in this issue “What is often mistaken as the simplicity of a beginner is in many cases the pursuit of a more essential beauty.”

I hope you take time this summer to lie on a hammock and enjoy thinking about what makes your own quilts beautiful and how, amid the busyness of modern life, you can make time and space for creativity.


Don’t miss this issue of Modern Patchwork with these two great patterns and ten more!

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