Member spotlight: Flaun

Flaun is the current Secretary of the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild.

Tell us about yourself.
By day, I'm an executive assistant at a PR firm, by night I am the frequently confused and/or exasperated mother of a teen-aged girl and partner to a scientist. Our two cats keep us heavily supplied in fur, tracked litter, and love.
I grew up in Central Washington with horses, scads of outdoor cats, a couple of dogs at a time, and the occasional hand-caught horned toad. (I would always release them when they got too skinny.) Until about 11 years old, our closest neighbors were 5 miles away. That made for a lot of imaginative play time, which my 5 1/2-year-younger brother didn't necessarily appreciate. My teens were spent in Eastern Washington, but Western Washington always felt like home to me. As an expecting mother, I moved to be closer to my own mother, who had a year previously gotten a new job and relocated to Vancouver, WA (basically a Portland, OR suburb, though most residents wouldn't thank me for saying so). I've also lived in Texas and the DC area.
Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business? If so, please include a link.
My blog can be found at http://ipleadquilty.blogspot.com/ (that just rolled over 10,000 hits!!!) and I have a Flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ipleadquilty/. My honey keeps telling me I should set up an Etsy account, but it's so hard to make a living with finished quilts. Maybe some day, I'll publish a pattern or two. I have created a few commission pieces for clients who sought me out, specifically.
Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
On a ninth birthday trip to the "big city," my mother and I visited the Flour Mill (think Pike's Place Market on a much smaller scale), where a woman with a cart was selling counted cross stitch kits. I may even still have my first project in my mementos - a cute little owl perched on a branch. I've completed several other projects throughout the years, but most things seemed just too cutesy country for me...until I found Subversive Cross Stitch. I was inspired to create this piece for my sweetie's Christmas present last year:
Subversive Cross Stitch for my honey
How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
My grandmother started teaching me how to sew when I was around 10. The first thing I made was a shirt for my little brother, though I think Grandma may have really done the bulk of the work. My mom frequently sewed garments while I was growing up, because, as I'm sure you know, quality clothing is either hard to find or really expensive. She helped me with a few bits of clothes here and there, when I got the urge to stitch for myself, and I even made my own prom dresses. It sounds impressive, but I really wasn't that great at it.
I first began quilting back in 1997, but running after a little girl was too exhausting and I put it on hold, for the most part, until September 2009. Since then, I've been going like gang busters! With basic garment sewing under my belt, I've mostly taught myself how to quilt, though I have taken a couple of FMQ classes.
This was my first quilt back in the game, before I really found my style:
Dragonflies in the Marsh

How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
Isn't asking about UFOs kind of like a woman's age or her weight?! Yes, I have the dreaded UFO or two in my closet. There are just so many ideas in my head, I have to jump to the next, but I keep thinking about the flimsies and half-finished quilts, coming back to them to finish one, occasionally. In fact, just a couple of months ago, I completed a hand-quilted Around the World quilt started about seven years ago. Interestingly enough, the top only took one day to put together. This was the first one I tried to machine quilt, but even using a walking foot, I had a LOT of wrinkles, so I tore out all the stitches and began hand quilting.
Around the World in a Day


I've made somewhere close to 40 quilts of varying sizes, with at least 3/4 complete. That's not too bad! Right?
How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
That's so hard to gauge! Some weeks, I'm too exhausted to do anything other than fall asleep on the couch after dinner, others, I'm completely obsessed and work myself into the ground on something that has lit a bonfire under my behind. I guess if I'm forced to average, it works out to about 15 hours a week. Yes, that's a lot - and only an average! There's a reason my house is a little grubby. I'm just not Wonder Woman.
Describe your first quilt.
My first quilt was a beautiful Around the World in muted oranges, reds, and greenish-blues for my mom. I picked all her favorite colors and knew it was for her the whole time. I hand quilted it because I thought that was what "real quilters" do. It really was lovely, though traditional, when done. I don't have a picture, unfortunately, and it wouldn't look the same, now, as it has been the dog's blanket for years. I'm a bit outraged, frankly, and tell her all the time, but she loves that stinky dog, so I guess it's not much different than giving a baby a quilt, right?
Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why?
They're my babies! How could you force me to make a choice? (It's totally Mondrian Dream, but don't tell the other quilts, okay?)
Mondrian Dream WIP front
Mondrian Dream has been very challenging for me, interestingly enough. It isn't about construction or technique, since that's all very straight-forward. I mentioned once or twice on my blog that it took me a long time to wrap my head around the design so that I felt I wasn't doing Piet Mondrian's art a dis-service. I'm really proud of the result. It looks just like tiled Mondrian pieces, to me. I hope you think so, too. I'm taking my time quilting this beauty.
Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments.
I am lucky enough to have my very own studio. The windows face south, so I get a lot of light when the sun is shining. Unfortunately, when it's not, I turn on 4 lamps, a ceiling light, the regular sewing machine lights, and an extra LED stuck on my sewing machine just so I can see what I'm doing. It makes for a hot room. I've been known to open the windows during a snow storm to cool off.
On one wall, I have a gorgeous pickle dish/double wedding ring that I visited three times in a Stillwater antique shop before deciding it was worth every penny of the asking price and talking my pocket book into coughing up the scratch. Under/in front of that sits a dining room table, for which we do not have any proper room, covered by a large cutting mat. On the other side is my heavily-used design wall with the ironing board and prized Rowenta sitting close at hand. I have an entire book case full of fabric, which I am currently re-folding and re-organizing, plus a chair full of the recent additions and fabrics I've pulled for various projects. (Look for it soon on the MMQG blog!) There's plenty of room for friends to come play with me and I promise to straighten up if you come over.


(Photos of my slightly messy sewing space. Just keepin' it real!)
I like to "watch" movies or TV shows (either streaming or DVD, no cable) while I sew. If I can't find anything I'd like to watch, though, I'll turn on The Current or play music from my iPod - silence is not good for my creative activities. When I'm doing free motion, I find a good drink - wine, beer, or mixed - helps loosen me up. Of course, I don't advocate drunken quilting, unless you're into the uber wonky look.
Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
As of the beginning of 2010, I had no stash. It built rather quickly (with visits to S.R. Harris, various online shops, and LQSs) and I've now attempted to put on the brakes. My resolution this year was to only buy solids or fabric necessary for finishing a project, in the off chance I didn't have the right type of print in my stash, already. I have faltered, but only for prints I absolutely love and cannot live without. I don't tend to buy less than a half yard of fabric and, for those that I really love, I have been known to buy 2-3 yards. I also buy bolts of the solids I go through the most (Kona Medium Grey and White). I guess what I'm saying is that my stash "management" has mixed results. I'm going through it right now, re-folding, taking out prints I don't love any more, and reorganizing everything.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
Let's see... My favorite thing about quilting is that at the end of a really satisfying creative process, there's this functional piece of art sitting on my couch or bed. I really love the process of designing the quilt, seeing it take shape and morph while piecing, and the first pull out of a fresh dryer is sublime.
My least favorite part is definitely basting. It hurts to crawl all over my hardwood floor pinning quilts. I can't do it well on my table, as most quilts I make are a functional size and not wall hangings, so floor it is. After hours of smoothing, layering, and pinning, my back, knees, shoulders, and head ache. I've tried to enlist basting help from my daughter and partner, but my partner usually has better things to do and it takes more energy to convince my daughter to help me for 1/4 of the quilt than it does to pin baste it myself.
What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
If only I could get through every quilt I have in process today, I would be a happy woman! Other than that (which is completely unachievable), my only goal is to have fun and try to learn a little more every year.
What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
I would love to be better at Y seams. I've done them a few times with less than stellar results. Any tips for me?
Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
Architecture really inspires me, though I rarely get around to finishing a quilt that was inspired by it, strangely enough.
What advice do you have for new quilters?
Don't dwell on every little thing you see as "wrong" in your work. It is a process. You will improve and chances are, unless they are a jurist for quilt shows, the people you share your quilts with won't notice where you went wrong unless you tell them. Don't tell them. Take all advice with a grain of salt, whether quilting or life. Don't worry about the quilt police or what "they" say. Enjoy every little bump and mistake that leads to something beautiful. And remember, if you're not having fun, you're not doing it right.
Anything else you would like to share?
I am not perfect, no matter how it may seem on my blog. My studio is usually messy (see me keepin' it real above) and I still make lots of mistakes while sewing, but tend to roll with the punches. Sometimes, a misplaced bit of fabric really makes a modern design pop. Embrace the unexpected in your work. You never know when it may take a piece to the next level!

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