City Quilts - Welcome to the Blog Tour

Welcome to the first stop on the City Quilts Blog Tour! And welcome to Naptime Quilter for all you new visitors. I am extremely pleased to be joining the rest of the blog tour crew. And I am very excited to share this book with you.

If you haven't had a chance to pick up City Quilts yet, make sure you enter here and everywhere else on the tour for your chance to win a copy. One copy at every stop, courtesy of C&T Publishing! And fabric too, courtesy of Robert Kauffman!

City Quilts is a really interesting book. Cherri House takes her hometown, Houston, as the main inspiration for the projects in the book. But with her work being exclusively in solid fabrics, there is a distinct Amish/Gees Bend influence. City Quilts is a fantastic example of modern quilting with a very strong grounding in tradition.

To be honest, I expected it to be a book of patterns only, but I was more than pleasantly surpised to read so much more. Incredible discussions on inspiration, colour, process, and the melding of traditional and modern/contemporary. I found these discussions detailed and informative. And when it came to the patterns, I loved reading about Cherri's original inspiration and how she translated it into the pattern. Finally, Cherri encourages her readers to play, to try new things and adapt her patterns into their own ideas. As someone who doesn't follow patterns (much) I appreciated this encouragement. And now I have more than a few ideas percolating based on Cherri and her inspiration.

Cherri and I had the opportunity for a little interview. I'd love to share that with you.

What marked the transition for you from a hobby quilter to a professional quilter?
It wasn't a particular accomplishment, it was my work, City News to be exact. It was hanging in Robert Kaufman's booth at Portland Spring Market 2008, and I knew I had done it, I knew the quality of my work surpassed anything I had done before, and that I was in new territory. It was a game changer for me.

Do you think you would be the quilter you are without the internet and blogging?
Yes, absolutely. I had been quilting since the early 80's, always trying to push myself, and improve my skills. What the internet and blogging has brought to me is the quilting community. I'm a pretty solitary person in terms of my quilt work, the term social butterfly would never apply to me. So, having the internet and blogging has given me a group globally that I haven't cultivated locally.
My LQS carries my patterns, and my book. Plus, I have taught locally for years, mostly privately, but I have started teaching at my LQS, which has been really exciting! Yes, having an online pattern business has been wonderful... the other night I filled orders for customers in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Canada (!), everywhere... Through the internet having a worldwide audience is possible, and attainable for my book and patterns.

City Quilts is great at documenting your inspiration. Once you have your inspiration, what is your process for translating that into a quilt?
After I have the inspiration, it is a matter of finding or creating a quilt pattern that will translate and mesh with the inspiration. the quilt City Circles was inspired by city traffic, but in a quilt book based on squares and rectangles, an actual circular quilt pattern wouldn't do. The Shoo-fly quilt block is made with squares and rectangles but appears circular, so it was the perfect fit. The actual block patterns are the vehicle to translate inspiration into a quilt.

When does the colour scheme/picking fabric come into the process?
There isn't just one answer for me - it's kind of a 'chicken or the egg thing'. Sometimes I want to make a green quilt, so the color/fabric will come first, everything else will follow. Other times I will design what I think is a great quilt, and with EQ6 I'll try different colorways to determine what looks best. If I'm working with a manufacturer or magazine, I may have very little say in the matter, and I create something within the parameters someone else has set.

Have you ever considered sharing that process or profiling it on the blog, a la the Process Pledge?
I've read about the pledge process and I've thought about participating, but then I think, "would someone care, would someone be interested in why I chose orange over red?" I'm happy to share whatever is going on with my work, mistakes and all. Holy crap - as embarrasing as it was, I freely admitted to falling in the lake trying to take a freakin' photo of a quilt. A core belief I've always had, is that I'm not competing with anyone but myself. I'll never be able to knock out as many quilts as ________, my machine quilting with never match ______. All I can do is better than the quilt before, the pattern before, the book before - it is a journey and through blogging I am able to share that journey.

There is a lot of discussion these days online and in print about the modern quilt movement. You are a member of the Modern Quilt Guild and City Quilts is undoubtedly considered a modern book.  Do you make this distinction yourself, between modern and traditional?
This is a touchy subject for me, which seems kind of silly. Yes, I am a member of the Modern Quilt Guild, I started the Houston chapter. Yes, City Quilts is considered a modern book - which is great! But where I get a little iffy is the "modern" thing - what is modern? If I'm asked to identify my quilting self, I say that I create 'contemporary' quilts. I don't say 'modern', and I don't say 'art', I state that I make contemporary quilts based on traditional patterns. Everything about what I do is traditional in the terms of piecing, and technique. Maybe I'm an orphan quilter, I don't belong with the traditional group, and I'm not sure if I belong with the modern group. Seems silly to be at such a loss for a definition but there it is.

As I mention in the book, my first appreciation of solids was through an exhibit of Amish quilts at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. That a solid colored fabric could produce quilts that glowed was mind blowing to me. I also had a huge appreciation for the timelessness of Amish quilts. There are quilts from the 1800 and 1900's that look like contemporary works of art.

In regards to the simple block construction in the book, I have a passion for helping quilters to understand that simple doesn't mean boring. There are many books and patterns for beginning quilters that are a complete snoozefest! There is no need for that - we need to elevate quilting, and elevate our work. 

Thanks Cherri, for a very interesting and inspiring book, and a great interview.

To enter the draw for the prizes - a copy of City Quilts courtesy of C&T Publishing and a Fat Quarter Stack of Kona Solids from Robert Kaufman - please leave a comment on this post. Only comment once please, and make sure you have an email attached to your comment so I have a way to contact you. I'll keep the draw open until the end of the blog tour, that's on July 24, midnight MST.

Don't forget to visit the rest of the hosts for more from Cherri and more chances to win.

July 15  Pat Sloan
July 16  Spool 
July 17  Robert Kaufman
July 18  Fat Quarterly
July 20  Sewer/Sewist
July 21   Jaybird Quilts
July 22   Spun Sugar Quilt
July 23  Juicy Bits
July 24  Kim Kight

Enjoy the tour, and City Quilts!