June 20, 2016

Creator Spotlight: Christine Jiun Yi

One of my favorite things about designing quilt fabrics for Moda Fabrics is seeing what you all create with the collections. I was so impressed when I saw this "Farmer's Wife" quilt by Christine Jiun Yi -- the second quilt she's ever made. Wow! Thank you Christine for sharing with us your beautiful creation and the entertaining story behind your creative process -- over several years. Inspiring, to say the least. Thanks too to your friend who encouraged you to quilt. Take it away, Christine. 

Creator Spotlight: Christine Jiun Yi
When I sent Kate Spain a picture of the quilt I made using her fabrics, I never expected her to ask me to be a featured quilt creator on her "Drawing Board" blog! Unfortunately, I do not have any in-progress photos of the quilt for I hadn’t planned on sharing it with people. However, I will do my best to explain my background and process in making this quilt. 
My "Portland Summer" quilt, 88" X 92"
Up until a few years ago, I only sewed for practical use, such as, making gifts for my family and friends, costumes, doll dresses for my daughter. I never thought I could do it as a hobby. Once I started quilting, however, I found it to be a good form of meditation for me because I would put all of my focus and concentration on doing a particular thing. It helped me to learn how to be consistently patient, and with every block I finished, it filled me with joy.

The first large quilt I ever made was a "Dear Jane" quilt. A friend of mine was posting progress pictures of her own Dear Jane quilt on her blog, and encouraged me to make some of the easier blocks. So imagine me, a person who didn't know about quilting, buying the infamous Dear Jane quilt book and working on it. If I had known how big of a project the quilt would be beforehand, I probably never would have started it. Through many trials and errors, long nights, and painful fingers, I finished the quilt. 

After completing that, the same friend was posting pictures of a different piece she was working on, and I left her a comment saying that her blocks looked nice. My friend let me know that the name of the quilt was the "Farmer's Wife", and she gave me the pattern book for it, telling me that I should try making it. I thought to myself, "I just finished the Dear Jane quilt, the last thing I'd want to do is make another large, time-consuming piece!" Truthfully, I didn't find the pattern itself that interesting at first because the pictures of it in the book weren't very flattering. I didn't plan on making it. However, my friend kept asking me if I had started yet, so I thought I'd just make a few blocks to show her and then stop. 

I bought 2 Moda Scrap Bags for the fabric to make the blocks. Back then (2013) I wasn't aware of fabric lines or designers, and would just grab bags that had colors that attracted me to them. The ones that I bought really spoke to me, and when I saw them, my first thought was "If I used this to make Farmer's Wife, it would look really nice". The colors worked so well together, that even if it wasn't a quilt that I was initially excited about making, I knew that I would be able to do it. 

I started making a few blocks, and found that the more I made, the more I was enjoying the results. And so, I ended up going back to the store in order to find more of the same fabric. It was then that I learned about different fabric companies and designers. The fabrics that had been in my purchased scrap bags were "Sunnyside" by Kate Spain. I loved all of the different colors and prints so much that it made working on the quilt fun for me.

When I finished the piecing, I didn't know what to do with it so I folded it and left it in my closet for a year. It wasn't until one of my neighbors, who was an experienced quilter, told me that I should get them finished by a professional longarm quilter that I brought it out again. I didn't want to ask just anyone to work on it, so I went to ‘NW Quilter’s Guild Quilt Show’ in Portland (2015), paying close attention to the longarm quilting I saw on them and keeping note of the ones I liked. That's how I found Nancy Stovall, who since then has been the only person I've had long arm my quilts. 

When consulting her for the Farmer's Wife, the only parameters I gave were not use the feather design which I had seen being used so many times. She finished quilting it at the end of November 2015.

While making the blocks for this quilt, I found that there were three types that I was making with the fabric.

1.Big Contrast blocks, where the colors are bold and attention grabbing

2. Medium and Low Contrast blocks, where the colors are more subtle 

3. Scrap blocks, which are the final blocks that I made because I was running out of fabric 

In the end, even though I hadn't planned it that way, the combination of those three types of blocks helped to balance the overall visual weight of the quilt. If all the blocks had been big contrast blocks, the eyes wouldn't know where to look and it would appear too busy. If all the blocks had been low contrast blocks, the eye would have passed over it completely. Even if it was one that didn't I particularly like on its own, every piece of fabric and every block had their own place within the quilt. 
Fun fact: by the last blocks, I was so low on fabric that I ended up using some of Denyse Schmidt's fabrics for one of the blocks. Later, I found out that she and Kate Spain are friends and live not far from each other in Bridgeport, Connecticut! No wonder the fabrics worked so well together! 
This is my favorite block.
Though my quilting journey has been short so far, I have been able to learn so many important things that help me push forward when I am struggling. When experienced quilters believe in you, it is because they see something in you. Listen to what they say and their advice, and you may find yourself creating things you never dreamed of! I also learned that slow going is better than not going. Even if you are only doing .01% of a piece every day, when you consistently work on a project, those small percentages will add up.

Through quilting I've been able to meet so many wonderful, talented people. The quilting community has been so welcoming and encouraging towards me, I never imagined that this could happen. Me? Writing a guest blog for one of my favorite fabric designers? No. way.
 Christine Jiun Yi  http://sewnata.blogspot.com/