After you’ve been quilting for a while, there are certain designers whose work you always identify right away. For me, one of those people is Debbie Grifka, owner and designer at Esch House Quilts. I’ve always admired Grifka’s aesthetic: geometric yet simple, her designs tend toward the “less is more” philosophy, yet incorporate techniques that require a bit of work. It takes practice to make quilting look easy.
Her new book Lines by Design Quilts, from Fons & Porter, is really a master class in making lines, either by stitching together thin strips of fabric or by applying bias-tape applique or fusible appliqué. This is the perfect offering from an Esch House book, because these techniques feature prominently in Grifka’s quilts already. There is typically a large amount of negative space, punctuated by clean lines or shapes that pop. Some of her designs have a distinctly Frank-Lloyd-Wright or Mies-van-der-Rohe feel about them, something fabulously architectural and Modern in the artistic sense of the word. I love how Grifka is unafraid to offer up truly minimalist designs, particularly as I’m a quilter who probably adds one too many design elements. Her simplicity is refreshing.
But as I intimated above, these quilts do require learning methods that aren’t necessarily beginner level. (That’s a good thing.) I loved Grifka’s stories of how she had to experiment with her different line-making techniques to find just the right approach (or even mix of approaches). That’s how design works, people! Clerestory, for example, features both pieced and appliqué “lines” to make the mid-century modern houses. There is a healthy collection of templates in the back of the book to make many of the quilted projects, and those needing some skill-building projects for appliqué will find Lines by Design Quilts to be a perfect dose of instruction there.
It was also refreshing to see how a book that is so uniquely reflective of one designer could also be really diverse in terms of the projects that it offers. From Grifka’s super minimalist Slats pillows to her bias-tape take on a Double Wedding Ring to her more graphic designs inspired by fish and coffee cups, there are a lot of opportunities in Lines by Design Quilts to find a project that fits each need. Personally, I gravitated more toward the pieces toward the beginning of the book, which tend to incorporate “pure lines” and “squares and rectangles” with lots of piecing… but I could see someone else loving the challenge of incorporating curved lines and pictorial appliqué just as much.
I’m looking forward to sewing up a bold pillow or quilt from this book. Now I just need an uber-modern penthouse to go with it. Can anyone help me with that?