I am inspired by so many things, I decided that every Friday, I will highlight a favorite person, thing, or idea. Maybe you will be inspired too! See all past Friday Favorites here.
I met Krista Withers when I joined the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild last year, and I was blown away by her longarm quilting work. What she is doing on quilts is truly inspired! I am looking forward to having her quilt at least one of my quilts this year! I have wanted to interview her for the longest time, and we finally made it happen. Sit back, read, and enjoy all her beautiful work. Happy Friday!
Blair: Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me more about your work Krista! Can you tell me a little about yourself and your family, and how you came to be a longarm quilter?
Krista: My first creative love is drawing and painting. I spent the first part of my college education focusing on figure drawing. I spent a great deal of time playing with the negative space in drawing, I loved the shapes created behind the human form, I drew a lot of straight lines to emphasize this space and found myself more and more drawn to the abstract. I completed my college education after ten years of on and off city college, and finally graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Fine Arts, specifically painting. I was always in awe of the work happening in the other fine arts disciplines. Fiber arts, sculpture and printmaking drew me in, but as it turned out I couldn't afford to stay in college forever. I met my husband in a foundry/welding class, he has gone on to be an amazing craftsman in the woodworking field and continues to inspire me with his talents and eye for beautiful design. We have two children who also inspire and amaze me with their little hearts and souls. Back to how I went from drawing and painting to quilting....... Let's face it painting is messy, messy, smelly and toxic, as much as I love everything about it I found it incredibly hard to maintain a working relationship with it and young children. Sewing on the other hand is soft and warm and not toxic or smelly, and so it began, I started quilting. I took my first quilt to a longarm quilter ten years ago and when I saw her machine I had an itching feeling I could do that. Two years later I bought my Gammill and I have been quilting professionally ever since.
Blair: Longarm quilting machines are large! Where do you work? Do you have a dedicated space just for quilting and creating?
Krista: I work in a 300 sq ft studio space behind our house, it is my space dedicated solely to sewing, I feel very lucky to have such a space to work in.
Blair: You describe yourself as a modern long arm quilter. From my perspective, modern quilts seem very challenging to quilt! So many of them have a lot of negative space and solid areas. How do you approach the task of filling a lot of negative space with quilting?
Krista: I come from a very traditional place in quilting. For years I focused solely on feathers and very traditional heirloom quilting. It was very taxing on my body and I eventually realized I was no longer inspired by the work I was doing. I love the modern aesthetic, I love that there are fewer rules and I love the expression I see coming out of this movement. I love negative space, but yes it can be a challenge to tackle. I spend a lot of time drawing designs on paper as well as a plexi-glass sheet to work out the "whole" composition as opposed to working block by block. I have some great class plans for future teaching ventures to help students deal with this topic. I find that breaking large areas of negative space up into smaller areas to deal with helps my process a great deal. I love using elements from the piecing to inform the quilting. I believe that the quilting should always compliment and not distract from the piecing. Straight lines are almost always your friend.
I love the beautiful designs Krista has done in the beige negative space on this quilt by Lee Heinrich.
quilt by Jednoiglec
Blair: How long does it take you to quilt a custom design all over a quilt?
Krista: Each quilt is different in terms of how long it takes. The density of design usually dictates this as well as how large the quilt is. A very rough estimate for an average bed size quilt would be between 15 and 20 hours.
quilt by Katie Pedersen
Blair: How do you work with someone who brings you a completed quilt top, but has absolutely no idea how to envision the quilting pattern that would be best for it? Like, um, me.
Krista: When a customer brings me a quilt top I always throw the plexi glass on and start drawing. Very quickly I am able to determine what "type" and density of quilting the customer wants. Drawing on the actual quilt on the plexiglass is such a great tool because you are really able to envision the quilting with the quilt as opposed to just drawing a design out on a piece of paper. Working with customers this way allows me to understand my customers aesthetic and allows them to visually understand my working process as well as an idea of what to expect with the finished product. It is also a great way to see the scale of quilting relative to the piecing, which I find extremely important.
quilt by Maggie Downing
Blair: If someone would like to get in touch with you about quilting a quilt, let us know how they do that?
Krista: You can get in touch with me by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
quilt by Kelly Bowser
Blair: What's your favorite way to unwind after a long day of longarm quilting?
Krista: A perfect unwind for me is a quiet evening with my family, a good beer and once the kids go to bed some netflix. ;)
Blair: Any thoughts and goals for your business in the new year?
Krista: My biggest goal for the New Year is to focus my time and energy on teaching. I have been quilting professionally for almost ten years. I would really enjoy getting out of the studio more to share some of my experience with the quilting community.
quilt by Terry Harman
Krista can be found online here.