Discover Your Quilting Style: An Exercise from Quilting Happiness (And, a Blog Hop!)

15 Jul 2013


We're just a few weeks from the launch of Quilting Happiness, and so Christina and I thought we'd host a little blog hop to give you a sneak peek at the "Happiness" part of the book.

We invited four other bloggers (and ourselves) to do one of the book's creative exercises, and share what we learned from it. So, before I dive into reporting on my experience, here are the lovely folks to check in with through this week:

Monday, July 15: Me and Christina

Tuesday, July 16: Jennifer Casa, from JCasa

Wednesday, July 17: Krista Withers, from Krista Withers Quilting

Thursday, July 18: Amber Carrillo, from One Shabby Chick

Friday, July 19: Karyn Valina, from Make Something


The Exercise in a Nutshell:

This little exercise is all about learning more about your own unique quilting style. There seem to be some stylistic boxes we like to use when we describe quilters, including ourselves: "Oh, I'm a modern quilter. She quilts in a primitive style. He's a traditional quilter."

...But we each have stylistic stamps that are way more unique, and defy simple categories. Style is a hard thing to describe in words sometimes, because really, it's a feeling, a mood. So this exercise is about playing with pictures, because they speak to us in a much more immediate and emotional way than words do. And they can tell us interesting things.


The process starts with a stack of old magazines – preferably not just quilting or crafty ones, but mags in a variety of subjects. It's a good idea to "prime the pump" a bit by getting yourself a nice beverage and putting on some music that makes you happy. Give yourself an uninterrupted hour, and flip through your mags. What you're looking for are things that make you happy, and that could be pictures, colors, words, little graphic border things, whatever. Just relax, and watch for stuff that makes your eyes perk up. Then, tear it out of the magazine and set it aside.


The most important thing is not to overthink this. You aren't looking for any specific collection of images here. They don't have to go together, and they don't have to make any sense. All they have to do is make you happy.

When you're done with your magazines, you should have a pretty good pile of stuff.


Then, it's time to get a fresh beverage, walk about the room a little, maybe have a bit of that special chocolate bar you have squirreled away for special occasions. Find a piece of blank paper or poster board – preferably a fairly big one. (I have a roll of butcher paper, so I just lopped some off and taped it to my table. There's no need to get fancy here.)

Spend some time playing with your images now. I like to refine mine a bit by cutting away backgrounds, but if you don't want to do that, don't. If you want to discard some of your images, go right ahead. Just relax and move everything around until you get a configuration that makes you happy to look at. And when you have that, go ahead and glue those images down.


In the book, we have a series of interpretive questions to help you get at what your finished collage has to say. Among these are:

  • What colors seem most prevalent in your collage?
  • Are there any symbols that show up again and again?
  • What overall mood or tone does this collage have?

In my collage, you can clearly see the kind of warm, clear, middle-value colors I gravitate toward, with a healthy dose of deep pinks. There are flowers galore here – I am a much girlier quilter than I sometimes give myself credit for. There are also balloon animals and Bob Ross, which have to do with how I like playing and making "happy accidents" more than I like creating perfection.

qh-collage-detail2 qh-collage-detail1

…But you know what really stood out for me? Look how separated everything is here. Layers and complexity aren't my thing at all – I'm sensitive to visual and auditory stim, and am quite soon overwhelmed. I notice that every object I added to my collage has a singled-out organized presentation, where you can appreciate one idea at a time.

In fact, I approach any design project like I approach social time. I'd much rather meet you for a one-on-one lunch or coffee than at a big, noisy party. So perhaps it's fair to say that my quilting style is "warmly, playfully introverted!"


"There are no cats in this collage. I know cats make you happy. I will add one now."

Try this exercise and see if you don't learn some interesting new things about your style. If you'd like to pre-order Quilting Happiness on Amazon, now's a great time to do that – it gives our publisher a better idea of how much interest there is in the book.

…And, would you like to see our new book trailer? Go ahead, it's very cheerful! Also, MORE CATS.

See what the other blog hoppers discovered about their quilting style!