FriYAY Friends

FriYAY Friends :: An Interview with Bonnie Hunter

All done!! En Provence, Pieced and Quilted by HollyAnne Knight of String and Story, pattern by Bonnie Hunter

All done!! En Provence, Pieced and Quilted by HollyAnne Knight of String and Story, pattern by Bonnie Hunter


Can you hear me screaming with joy? I cannot tell you how glad I am that it's finally Friday. What a long week. Colds are the worst. But we have plans to have hot dogs and a game night with friends tonight, and I'm going to sew, sew, sew all weekend. So, let's kick off our weekend with (drumroll please) Bonnie Hunter!

Bonnie Hunter (left) and her mama

Bonnie Hunter (left) and her mama

I'm sure most if not all of you are familiar with Bonnie's iconic, brilliant quilts, her love of great scraps, and her incredible energy. Not only has she been so encouraging about my (rather unconventional) En Provence, she is joining us today to share some behind the scenes peeks and words of wisdom. 

Bonnie Hunter's Straits of Mackinac Quilt

Bonnie Hunter's Straits of Mackinac Quilt

1) Tell us a little about yourself, your family, your creative background, etc. Thank you for the invite!  I’m thrilled for the opportunity to share a bit of my quilty life with you.

As the first child in my family, and the only girl with two younger brothers until much later on, I always found MAKING things to be the most fun.  I started sewing when I was about 11, and by jr high and high school I was making quite a few of my own clothes.  I loved home ec, and anything that had to do with cutting, stitching, and of course buying fabric.  There was something special about pinning a pattern to fabric and cutting it out and sewing it into something I could wear.

I’ve been quilting since the early 1980s, and as I say that – I realize that it is more than half of my life. I started in a high school home economics course, and fell in love with patchwork and quilting from the get-go.

In the 1990s I applied my love of sewing and quilting into my first pattern business “Needle in a Haystack!!” with more than 70 designs for dolls and stuffed animals wearing country clothing and a primitive feel.  These patterns were featured in magazines and in the Butterick pattern catalogs. But my first love (And a great use of the doll making scraps!) was always quilting.

In 1995 I bought my first longarm machine and have never spent a day without something quilty under my needle!

My first website appeared in 1996, and within a couple of years I moved to my own domain where I advertised my longarm quilting business as well as hosted many free patterns for quilters to use up their stash.  Those patterns are still available today, though links moved to my blog in 2005 because it was easier to host (and edit!) them there, accessible from any computer as I began to travel and teach quilting to others.

For anyone who doesn’t know me – I am a confirmed Scrapaholic.  Scrap quilts are my absolute favorite, and the scrappier the better.  I love making good use of any piece of fabric that comes my way, and I have included scrap management articles on my blog, in magazines, and also in my books.

Bonnie's Blue Skies Quilt

Bonnie's Blue Skies Quilt

2) Your patterns are intricate and amazing-- What does your design process look like? A MESS usually! I'm fairly traditional to start with.  I'm inspired by antique quilts and traditional design elements but not limited by them either. I like to change things up and play with different shapes and colors while mixing and matching fabric genres to get the look I want.

I tend to start with a block idea, make a few blocks to see if I still like them.  If I do I am off and running and deciding how to set them. Straight?  Straight with sashings?  Straight with an alternate block? Or what about on-point?  I love geometric shapes that make secondary designs when you put them together.  The busier the quilt and the more going on within it the more I like it.

I have been working from my Scrap User's System for going on 20 years now.  It's a system of tackling my scraps down as I make them - leftovers from projects and backings, etc - by trimming them into usable strip widths, squares and rectangles that work together in many combinations so I am always ready to go sew without having to stop and iron a stack of fat quarters before cutting.

Bonnie Hunter's View Behind the Needle

3) How do you recharge your creativity? My eyes are always open at whatever is around me, be it tile floors, wall paper designs, greeting cards, antique quilts – studying buildings and side walks and interior decorating in hotels (Ever check out the carpets?!) can really get the juices going.

And graph paper.  Always good old fashioned graph paper and a pencil.

Prepping EPP kits for her upcoming trip to China

Prepping EPP kits for her upcoming trip to China

4) How is creative community important to your work? That's a great question.  I've been married for 36 years. (To the same guy!) and we have two grown sons.  I've got an "almost" empty nest, but being the only female can sometimes have its tough spots.  The creative community GETS ME.  I get them.  I can relate, understand, comment, commiserate, rejoice, laugh, share, learn and most of all connect with others who are just as driven to play with fabric, thread and design as much as I am.  It's hugely important.  I can't imagine going back 30 years and trying all of this without social media or the internet.

Writing patterns 30 years ago?  Or books?  Can you imagine?  "Pass the white out!"

Bonnie Hunter's Original En Provence Quilt

5) What advice do you have for other quilters or makers on their creative journeys? DO.  Make.  Keep at it.  Never stop learning. Lose your fear of making mistakes. And I think the most important thing I can say is GIVE until it hurts.  Give of your time, your talents, your vision.  The more you give, the more comes back.  I know that for a fact.

Because in the end, it's the relationships that matter far more than the quilts we make or the high-end fabric and thread they come from, or the fancy-dancy machines they are made on.

Our community is more about people than it is about quilts.  Our common love of quilting is just what puts us in the same space together.  But our hearts keep us here.

En Provence Quilt, Pieced and Quilted by HollyAnne Knight of String and Story, Pattern by Bonnie Hunter

Thank you, Bonnie! What a treat to hear more from you! The watermarked photos in this post are from Bonnie's Instagram. Be sure to follow her there @quiltville_bonnie and join her Facebook page, Quiltville

As you can see above, I've finished (and even bound!) my En Provence quilt (2016's Quiltville Mystery)! For lots more pictures and videos of it in progress, follow me on Instagram @stringandstory. And if you're interested in my quilting plan or how I chose my fabrics for En Provence, just click here or here

Tomorrow morning my weekly newsletter is heading straight to you in time for your Saturday morning coffee. I have some sneak peeks planned as well as asking for your feedback on a few things. If you haven't already, please sign up! Plus, when you join the newsletter, you get a free copy of 3 Easy Steps to Improve Your Free Motion Quilting!

Happy making and happy weekend!


follow us in feedly

WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday :: Irons in the Fire

Christa Watson's Spools Quilt made from Modern Marks Fabric

Hello, Friends!

Let's take a little stroll around my sewing room, shall we? I technically have a couple of tops waiting to be quilted, but since big important things like my 52 Quilters Takeover and Quilt Market are right around the corner, projects related to that are taking priority. Speaking of which, I'll be taking over 52 Quilters the first week of October, and I have some SUPER FUN things planned! If you haven't already, go follow the account on Instagram so you don't miss out! 

As I previewed Monday, my primary focus this week is piecing Spools for the #PieceAndQuiltHopAlong. The top is all laid out on the design wall (see above), and I'll finish assembling it over the next couple of days while I'm finishing the current quilt on my longarm. 

Speaking of, I'm quilting for my Mama this week! My Aunt Annyce made this quilt in 1980. It was on my bed for most of middle school and high school. Originally it was tied, but 37 years of use caught up to it. Mama wants to put it on her guest bed, so I'm giving it a little makeover! You'll notice that I've split the feather design so I can quilt a word in the "spine." I made a list of family values, and I'm stitching them into the quilt. Then, for contrast, I'm practicing some ruler work in the other half of each block. Everything about this quilt-- from the quintissentially 80s colors to feathers to script to ruler work-- is outside of my usual lane.  I'm comfortable with this quilt that I'm struggling to see how it will be once it is quilted and transformed into something familiar yet new. I think that struggle is healthy, and that this project will help me grow. 

Another project that is challenging me right now is the Grandma's Kitchen QAL with Pat Sloan. I spent several hours on Friday making little "kits" for the blocks I need to catch up on. While doing so, I had an epiphany. Every morning I wake up excited by the idea of doing a block or two during nap time in addition to some time long arming. Then, by the time nap time rolls around, I can never seem to muster the energy to press and cut fabric for even just a block, so I just long arm and don't make progress on my piecing. It finally occurred to me why I am too tired to do that when I have enough energy to stand at the long arm: DECISION FATIGUE. I spend all morning with the boys and making decisions about activities, meals, squabbles, etc, so when I come to the sewing room and face a task that requires me to choose fabric colors and placement, I simply cannot. Long arming feels easier because I always make a quilting plan before I start, so all I have to do is jump in. Amazing-- and so helpful to know about myself! So this week, I spend my weekend sewing time (when I'm less decision fatigued) making block kits so that I'm good to go on piecing for a week or so. Huzzah! (This, by the way, is how the Spools quilt top has been laid out so quickly-- I made final color choices and all major cuts over the weekend, so assembling the units for each block has been a breeze-- and now I just need to chain piece those together!)

North Start Quilt Block by HollyAnne Knight of String and Story

The other block kits I made were for more North Star blocks (watch for a pattern freebie as part of my 52 Quilters week-- hint hint!). I'm using Jennifer Sampou's Shimmer 2 and Shimmer On fabric lines along with some Essex linen. And just LOOK how well it matches with the thread Aurifil sent me to try! Fabulous. I'm loving it!

On that note, I'd best get back to long arming this quilt for Mama before the boys decide nap time is over! For lots of quilty pictures (and ridiculous cat and kiddo stories), please follow me on Instagram! And be sure to come back here on Friday for FriYAY Friends with BONNIE HUNTER as well as the full reveal of my totally done and bound En Provence! 

If you haven't already, please also subscribe to my weekly Newsletter! When you sign up, you get a free PDF of "3 Easy Steps to Improve Your Free Motion Quilting"! Plus, I'm working on some special extras just for newsletter subscribers (think sneak peeks, extra giveaways, etc)!

See you Friday! And, until then, Happy Quilting!


follow us in feedly


#PieceAndQuiltHopAlong :: Getting Started

Piece and Quilts with Precuts Cover Christa Watson

Good morning, my friends!

Today, we interrupt our regular #MachineQuiltingMonday with a 5 week adventure. Kristin Esser, Vicki Holloway, and I are enjoying Christa Watson's new book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts. We are each making a different quilt from the book with Christa's new Modern Marks fabrics, and our quilts get to go on a little field trip afterward to Fall Market! Huzzah! 

Christa's Spools Quilt

Christa's Spools Quilt

When I first read Piece and Quilt with Precuts, several of the patterns grabbed my attention, but Spools stole my heart because it's scrappy, its a quilt I could easily claim as MINE (two little boys means all the quilts get hijacked), and Christa used graffiti quilting on it which is my faaaaavorite! When I found out I would get to work with Christa's fabrics, I had the crazy idea to reverse the colors. The sketches had a couple of iterations until I arrived at this:

HollyAnne Knight Spools Quilt Sketch

This week, I'm focusing on piecing the top, then the next four weeks will be quilting and finishing. I can't wait to make videos of the quilting to share with y'all! In the meanwhile, let's take a look at Christa's GORGEOUS fabrics (coming to stores in November) and how this top is taking shape:

I'm still not sure about the greens in the third block, seen below, and may change that up a bit, but on the whole, I think it's going to be fabulous. 

HollyAnne Knight Spools Quilt in Progress

Would you like to quilt along with us? You can order a copy of the book on Christa's website, and tag your Instagram pictures #PieceAndQuiltHopAlong so we can all encourage each other! Be sure to check out Kristin's Squiggles quilt and Vicki's Gridwork Quilt, too! I'll be back next week ready to get quilting! Until then, I hope to see you on Instagram!

Finally, don't forget to sign up for the weekly String & Story Newsletter! When you do, you'll get a free copy of "3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Free Motion Quilting" as a little extra! 

Happy Quilting!


follow us in feedly