DIY & Crafts

5 quilting tips from a pro

Getty Images Author: Credits: Getty Images

DIY & Crafts

5 quilting tips from a pro

Over the last 40 years Canadian Living has featured a lot of cozy crafts, from knitted tuques to winter coats you can sew yourself. One of our most popular DIYs is distinctly Canadian—the Provincial Wildflower Quilt. Each block of the quilt features an official flower from a province or territory. We initially sold the quilt pattern in our August 1985 issue because we loved how the design celebrated the beauty of Canada. The quilt was such a showstopper we republished the pattern in 1995 for our 20th birthday and again in 2015 in honour of our 40th anniversary.

Sandra Small Proudfoot, the designer of this remarkable piece, has been quilting for more than 50 years. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to speak with her about her Provincial Wildflower Quilt. We originally sold the pattern for $19.95 and it sold over $100,000 worth of paper patterns! If you're looking to buy this amazing quilt, you can do so from the Dufferin County Museum.

We've gathered Sandra's best tips on how to design a quilt, so that we can all get busy and create a beautiful textile!

1. Colour
Before Sandra began quilting, she spent years as an oil painter. Learning how to mix colours helped her immensely as a quilt designer. "To me, learning colour theory is just another skill that a quilter needs to put in their sewing basket," she says. When Sandra taught a paint class many years ago, her students were amazed at what they learned. "I could hear light bulbs going off all around the room—'oh my heavens, is that how I get that colour,'" she remembers. "If you know the pure hue of a colour then you know how to mix other colour with it." See if you can find a colour theory class at your local community centre or college.

2. Flow
No matter how complex your design, a quilt needs to flow from top to bottom. "Your eye needs to be able to travel around the design," says Sandra. "There are going to be breaks in the design, but they need to be close enough to the next element to take your eye over that bridge." So when you're drawing out your quilt pattern on graph paper or laying out your fabric, think of all the design elements—the colour, the shapes and the negative space around each item—and decide how you're going to create flow. Sandra encourages quilters trust their instincts. "If you have some discomfort, it's important to stop and ask yourself what ideas are bothering you."

3. Rhythm
Every quilt has a visual rhythm. Start by picking the pure hue you want to use, then go to the colour wheel and look at the colours directly to the left and right of that hue—those are the colours you want to use throughout your quilt. "Those tints, tones and shades help move the eye around a design," she says. Colours are also a matter of personal preference, and Sandra says there are no bad colour combinations. "If it's not your favorite colour, it doesn't mean that the quilt is no good. Give the quilter a break—it's her taste in colours, not yours."

4. Fabric

Grey dye is found on most textiles, including your clothing. The almost imperceptible grey wash is intended to soften the original colour. "You wouldn't put a pure-hue piece of clothing on—you'd stand out like a neon sign," Sandra says. The benefit of the grey wash is that it helps your quilt blend in with the other textiles in your home. You just need to be aware that the pure hue you're choosing won't look as vibrant on your quilt as it does on the colour wheel.

5. Heart
There are many technical elements that go into sewing a quilt, but mastering quilting techniques isn't enough. "The most successful quilts catch not only the viewer's eye but their heart as well," Sandra says. "Make sure you have that passion, because other people can feel it."

Slideshow

prev next 1 of 4

The story of the Provincial Wildflower Quilt

How the quilt came to be

The Provincial Wildflower Quilt first appeared in our August 1985 issue. The bright design featured the 12 official flowers for the provinces and territories. Sandra Small Proudfoot came up with the quilt’s design in 1984 after finishing a wallpaper course. She had spent an entire semester drawing flowers. "I said to my husband, 'If I have to draw another flower I'm going to throw up,'" she says. "He said to me, 'I wonder if you might ever consider drawing a provincial flower and putting it in a quilt.’ That's all it took. I went to the library took out a pile of books, took them up to the cottage, and within three weeks, I designed the quilt."

By: Alyssa Ashton Source: Canadian Living Credits: Canadian Living

The story of the Provincial Wildflower Quilt

A Canadian Living tradition

The Provincial Wildflower Quilt was an instant hit and sold over $100,000 in paper patterns. It was so popular we brought it back for our 20th birthday in 1995—as a special gift we offered the pattern for just $19.95. And now 20 years later you can still buy this amazing textile. Purchase your own Canadian Wildflower Quilt from the Dufferin County Museum.

By: Alyssa Ashton Source: Canadian Living Credits: Canadian Living

The story of the Provincial Wildflower Quilt

Meet Sandra Proudfoot

Sandra (far left) has been quilting for over 50 years and has made many a quilt in her time. But there’s one pattern she’s never made. "I have a confession to make," she says. "I've never made the Wildflower quilt." Sandra was at school at the time and didn't have time make the quilt for our August 1985 issue. So a friend whipped up the gorgeous quilt we used in our shoot.

By: Alyssa Ashton Source: Sandra Small Proudfoot Credits: Canadian Living

The story of the Provincial Wildflower Quilt

The flowers

The Wildflower quilt is a timeless pattern, Sandra says. But there’s just one issue—Nunavut didn't became a territory until 1999. So Sandra had to add its official flower to the pattern. Sandra called the government offices and they told her the official flower of Nunavut would be the Arctic poppy. A few years later she found out it was actually the Purple Saxifrage. But Sandra still features the Arctic poppy in the pattern. "It is such a pretty flower," she says. "Quilters don't care necessarily about being totally accurate when they see a pretty flower." Have you made the Provincial Wildflower Quilt? We’d love to see it. Send us a picture at letters@canadianliving.com.

By: Alyssa Ashton Source: Sandra Small Proudfoot Credits: Canadian Living


For more tips and tricks, sign up for our Get Crafty newsletter
Comments
Share X
DIY & Crafts

5 quilting tips from a pro

Login