The more I’m around quilters, the more I notice that we all find our inspiration in different ways. Some people are very improvisational, (maybe) starting with a concept, playing around with fabric and design boards, and having little to no idea where they’re going until they get there. Others (and I consider myself in this group) can’t even cut into their fabric until they have a roadmap at the ready. Sometimes we’re inspired by the recipient of a quilt, sometimes by a piece of art or a pattern on a bathroom floor. Sometimes, as Heather Scrimsher reminds us, we can be inspired by the wall bracket for the garage door opener.
For those of us Type-A quilters, Graphic Quilts from Everyday Images (Martingale) is a tremendous reminder that literally anything can be transformed into a quilt. Scrimsher begins each of her quilts with one of her own photographs, a documentation of some aspect of the world around her. My first thought when looking at all of her inspiration photographs was just how ordinary they all seemed. Plantation shutters, martini glasses, rosebush thorns. Fences. Piles of leaves. Stuff I even have sitting around my house. I mean, architecture is inspiring, or even cool patterns on a bathroom floor… but is it really possible to make interesting quilts from stuff that’s this, well, everyday?
The fact that I even asked this question shows that I need this book. Because the answer is absolutely, positively, a thousand times yes! You guys, these quilts are so fun. They’re bold, graphic, inspired by architecture and nature but not too literal. They’re also fairly simple, each requiring only a few colors of fabric. I especially love “Interlinked,” a colorful reinterpretation of a chain-link fence, and “Inlay,” an ode to the geometric wood inlay of the floor in Scrimsher’s home. Graphic Quilts will end up having broad appeal: beginners will love her very accessible approach to inspiration, but her quilts sometimes involve more intermediate patterns and focus on techniques like pieced circles, hexagons, and prairie points. There’s something for everyone to learn, which to me is the sign of a great quilting book. It’s a great blend.
As I’m sitting here writing this review, I’m looking around my living room. Thanks to this book, I see a thousand possibilities where I hadn’t before. The river rocks in a vase on my mantel. The braids in my daughter’s hair. The abstract pattern on my sofa cushions. Graphic Quilts from Everyday Images is a good reminder that sometimes (in quilting and in life) we try to make things more complicated than they have to be. But Heather Scrimsher suggests this: stuff that’s harder or more abstract isn’t necessarily better; it’s just. . . harder and more abstract. In the end, extraordinary ideas can come from ordinary places, and they can be perfectly beautiful too.
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