We're excited to host the second stop of Erin Gilday's Stripped Down Patchwork blog tour. Erin is a frequent contributor to Stitch magazine and owner of the Patchwork Underground blog, and her first book features twelve modern projects using Seminole Patchwork. We have two copies of Stripped Down Patchwork to give away, but first, let's get to know Erin!
Sew Daily: What is it that you like about the Seminole Patchwork technique?
Erin Gilday: Well it's basically the niftiest thing to hit patchwork since the rotary cutter. I LOVE to be creative and I love to sew but a lot of patchwork projects are just too complicated for me to complete happily. I know some people really enjoy hours and hours and hours of tiny, minute work but where I'm from, there's one word for that—tedious. I'm not about 100% instant gratification but, at the same time, I don't like to feel too overwhelmed by a project. Like a lot of crafters today, I'm a busy girl! I want to get the most out of my sewing time.
Projects from Stripped Down Patchwork. Top: Portland Tank Dress; bottom: Toe Zone Ballet Slippers.
That's what drew me to the Seminole patchwork technique. I wanted to write a patchwork book full of projects that are totally doable for busy sewers and/or folks who might not have a ton of experience with sewing patchwork. The secret to this do-ability is all in the Seminole technique! Rather than sewing every tiny square together one-by-one, you sew long strips of fabric together lengthwise (not end-to-end, but on top of each other, like pancakes) and then cut across those strips of fabric to create strips of squares. Then, you sew those blocks together in a different order or orientation to create the illusion of complexity. The finished product looks like it forever to make but in reality, it only takes a couple hours!
SD: Tell us about the process of making a book. How do you decide what projects to make?
EG: Well, it all starts with a general feeling. With this book, I wanted to take this little-known technique and update it with modern colors, proportions and applications. So it started with that idea, rather than a particular design or set of projects. From there, I started sketching out different projects and choosing different patterns I wanted to play with. The thing about a book is all of the projects have to speak to one another—you can't have too many similar projects, too many similar colors or too many similar patterns—but you still want it to feel cohesive. So in that way, it's like a puzzle.
Once I have sketches, I scan them into my computer and start coloring them in with photoshop. That way I can play around with different colorways easily without owning a million colored pencils. Once I know what my plan is, I just start making stuff!
SD: Do you have to think about projects differently when you're making them for a book rather than just for yourself?
EG: Yeah, it's totally different. When I make things for myself, I just go at it whole hog. In truth, planning is not natural to me. I hardy even use a measuring tape when I make things for myself…I just eyeball it or use my arm to measure things. Half the time I totally fail because of this lack of planning and I have to change course mid-stream and decide that those palazzo pants were actually destined to become a teddy bear. Or, I just end up making things backwards and it takes four times longer than it needs to take. But, when you are writing a pattern, you are totally responsible for the details and the planning. Your project has to be re-creatable in every respect and every design element and construction detail needs to make total sense. It's difficult, I think, for a lot of designers—writing sewing patterns works every part of your brain, not just the part that we traditionally think of as the "creative" department. So, when you are writing a sewing pattern you are not just thinking of yourself or your design or your finished project—you are thinking of all of the people who will use your pattern. Most of your focus is on writing the most coherent, useful message-in-a-bottle to them that you possibly can. It's like they are all standing around you, watching you, wondering: Are you sure it makes sense to put that zipper in now? Isn't it easier if you just hem it first? It's a lot of pressure!!
SD: What is your favorite project from the book?
EG: I think it's a tie between the Toe Zone Slippers and the Portland Tank Dress. I love those projects but I'm a sucker for patchwork wearables. There is something about wearing patchwork and seeing other people wear patchwork that makes me happy. I still have no idea why!
We have two copies of Stripped Down Patchwork to give away! Simply leave a comment below before the end of the day on Friday. We'll pick two random winners from the comments!
And don't forget to check out the rest of the stops on Erin's blog tour:
Leisure Arts Blog – Monday, May 16
Sew Daily – Tuesday, May 17
Craftzine – Wednesday, May 18
Craftypod – Thursday, May 19
Whipup.net – Friday, May 20
Burdastyle – Saturday, May 21
Pink Pinguin – Sunday, May 22
A Green Banana – Monday, May 23
I Think Sew – Tuesday, May 24
Happy Zombie – Wednesday, May 25
A Mountain Hearth – Thursday, May 26
Sew News – Friday, May 27
Pat Sloan's Blog – Saturday, May 28