We are so thrilled to be a stop along the Modern Appliqué Illusions blog tour! We adore Casey York’s designs, love her use of color and perspective, and of course love how much she loves our Wonder-Under®. We are so thrilled to have a chance to chat with Casey, to learn more about her background, her inspirations behind the book, and some tricks of the trade to help you all in creating your very own illusionistic quilts.
Hi Casey! Thanks so much for joining us today!! To get started, can you give us a little background about yourself?
Thanks, Erin! I’ve been sewing since childhood so, although I focused on making clothing during that period, fabric and thread have always been a creative outlet for me. I even designed stuffed animals and prom dresses as projects for my independent-study art classes in high school.
In college, I fell in love with art history and decided to pursue a career in that field. However, by the time I had almost finished my degree, it had become apparent that searching for a job as a professor might not be feasible–my husband and I had two children and he had settled into a job that wouldn’t permit me to move around the country the way you normally have to when looking for a tenure-track position. Also, I had really missed having a creative outlet while in grad school–I joke that it should have been clear to me that I was meant to be in a design field when I wanted to spend more time designing posters for lectures than I did doing research.
When did you first start quilting and what inspired you to start?
I started quilting when my first son was born. I wanted to make him a crib set, and after I made that first quilt, I was hooked–I couldn’t wait to make another one. Quilting really shifted from a hobby to a career pursuit about three years ago however. Interestingly enough, that transition was also spurred by designing and making quilts for my sons, which led to publishing stand-alone patterns. I feel so lucky to be working at something that I love so much.
[Grand Canal, from Modern Appliqué Illusions by Casey York]
When did you first start working with appliqué in your designs?
From the very beginning–that very first quilt I made when Julian was a baby was an appliqué quilt. I love the design freedom that appliqué offers–if you can draw a shape or silhouette, you can appliqué it! I’m also a bit impatient, and fusible raw-edge appliqué satisfies my need to see a project come together quickly. The stitching and embroidery still take time, but I can get a sense of how the finished product will look fairly early in the process, which I love.
What led you to Wonder-Under® and why is it your top choice for appliqué?
I like to experiment, and I tried many of the products on the market. In my opinion, Wonder-Under® offers the best combination of short fusing time and little to no added stiffness in the appliqué. I also love that the paper backing can be used to transfer my appliqué patterns directly to my fabrics.
River Bend from Modern Appliqué Illusions by Casey York
Do you have any handy tips or tricks that you could share with readers?
I love the process and flexibility of creating with raw-edge appliqué but I don’t like the fraying that can occur to the fabric edges. I figured out a way to protect them beneath a hand-embroidered outline so that fraying is minimized and less noticeable when it does occur. (More information about this can be found in my book!)
It’s also handy to have tools dedicated to the materials you are using. I have a pair of scissors that I use for cutting the fusible web by itself, and another that is just for cutting fabric and fusible web together. That way, I don’t have to worry that the paper backing is dulling the blades of my fabric-only scissors.
We adore your use of white or dark space in contrast with the appliqués in your quilts. Can you tell us a little more about how a design comes together?
I start my designs at my computer. I use Adobe Illustrator to hand trace the silhouettes that will become the appliqués, and then I can lay them out on a background that is the size I want the finished quilt to be. This allows me to scale everything so that it fills the space just right. Then, I can simply print the silhouettes at that scale and they are ready for me to trace and transfer to my appliqué fabric. I also use my Illustrator drawing to guide the placement of the appliqués on the background fabric. The most exciting step in any project, in my opinion, is laying out and fusing the appliqués to the background–that moment when the idea moves from a sketch to an actual quilt top is magical.
Chicken Scratch, from Modern Appliqué Illusions by Casey York
What role does the quilting play in the design of the quilt? Does it always play a role, or is it only with particular designs, like with ‘Tunnel Vision’?
I love to incorporate the quilting into the overall design of the quilt, and the quilting is integral to many of the projects in the book. For example, in Ripples, the quilting forms concentric circles that look as if they are on the surface of water, with the koi swimming beneath them. In many of the quilts, I use a technique I call “Receding Quilting”–spacing horizontal lines of quilting progressively farther apart as they approach the lower edge of the quilt. This enhances the three-dimensional effect of the quilt, because our brains interpret the spacing of the lines as an indication that they are moving farther away.
[Ripples, from Modern Appliqué Illusions by Casey York]
Quilting doesn’t always play such an important role in my quilts, although I do like to match the concept of the quilting to the underlying concept of the quilt. For example, I quilted my son’s bumble bee quilt with a hexagon pattern to match the honeycomb/beehive theme of the quilt, and I quilted my other son’s shark quilt with an ocean wave pattern.
Any final words of encouragement to our readers?
Go slowly, and don’t be afraid to experiment!
As I mentioned, I tend to be impatient, so I always try to remind myself that quilting is an activity that is meant to be enjoyable. Slowing down and enjoying the process always yields better results, and helps me avoid frustration and burnout.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to try new things and break some rules if you have to. You might end up discovering a new technique or process that improves upon how we do things now! Some of my best work has stemmed from the question “what if?” Yes you run the risk of a project not turning out the way you want, but if it *does* turn out the way you envision, that’s a wonderful thing, and you learn something either way!
Tunnel Vision, from Modern Appliqué Illusions by Casey York
Casey has been kind enough to offer a copy of one of her books to one lucky reader! We’ll through in a package of Wonder-Under® and a crib-sized packaged batting to help get you started on one of the patterns in Modern Appliqué Illusions:).
To enter-to-win, simple leave a comment and let us know what interests you most about creating an appliquéd quilt.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.
Congratulations to our winner, selected with the help of random.org:
Don’t miss the rest of the stops along the Modern Appliqué Blog Tour! See below for the schedule and don’t forget to stop by Casey’s blog daily to learn more about the inspiration behind each quilt and enter-to-win a package of Wonder-Under®. For many of them she’ll also be giving away a package of scraps from the making of that particular quilt.
11/10: C&T Publishing
11/11: Jenifer Dick/42 Quilts
11/12: Debbie Grifka/Esch House Quilts
11/13: Pink Chalk Studio
11/14: Shannon Brinkley/Bottle Tree
11/16: Kevin Kosbab/Feed Dog Designs
11/17: Generation Q Magazine
11/18: Krista Robbins/Sew What’s Cooking?
11/19: Violet Craft
11/20: Fat Quarter Shop/Jolly Jabber
11/21: Kristy Daum/St. Louis Folk Victorian
11/22: Cindy Lammon/Hyacinth Quilt Designs
11/23: Modern Quilts Unlimited