Quilt Design A Day Interview: Amy Gunson of Badskirt

on July 19 | in Featured Creativity, Quilting, Sewing Inspiration | by | with 30 Comments

We love following the Quilt Design A Day group, a talented community of designers who consistently create ongoing, never-ending beauty! The idea was first proposed by Anne of Play Crafts, and lots of people have jumped into the fun. It’s completely inspiring. There’s a Facebook page for the group and you can find tons of designs from the group on Instagram (#qdad). People can join anytime, and you can choose how often you create a design. (It doesn’t really have to be every day.) We asked a few of the participants to share a little more about their process in hopes that it will inspire you too!

Our first interviewee is Amy Gunson of Badskirt. We’ve loved Amy’s work for years, and have even managed to get her to stop by Sew Mama Sew before. Remember this gorgeous Super-Size Castle Block? All of the images in this post are from Amy’s Quilt Design A Day practice; you’ll love this new look at some of Amy’s latest work…

Have you ever had a daily creative practice? Is it something you’re interested in? Comment for a chance to win one of three copies of Amy’s Woven Slashes pattern (shown above), then jump over to BadSkirt for another chance to win!


How did you find out about the group?
I am friends with Anne on Facebook and saw the first post she did about the Quilt Design A Day project. After a couple of days, I noticed two of her friends decided to give it a try. I raised my hand to participate, but was unwilling to commit to a daily design. I committed to three designs a week.

Why did you join?
Before Quilt Design A Day, I’d been exploring sign painting. I’d been feeling a bit flat about sewing and wanted to try something new. I had made a daily habit of painting letters, but realized my heart wasn’t in it. I’d moved on to studying digital typography in the 1940s and 1950s building catalogs in the Building Technology and Heritage Library. I had fun with my daily digital studies of fonts, layout and color; but I also wanted a daily habit where I could engage with others. In part I joined to push myself creatively and reinvigorate my love of sewing, but I also joined with the hope of landing in a supportive and encouraging community.

Tell me about your process.
My daily inspiration is primarily fueled by the two daily posts on Design Seeds. I tend to be inspired more by color than shape, so palette plays a large role in the design seed that I choose to work with. I work in Inkscape which is a freeware vector-based drawing program similar to Adobe Illustrator. I’ve been using the tool for a number of years, so I’m comfortable with it’s functionality for design and I’ve done my part to share Inkscape tips with other members in the group. Recently, I’ve been exploring Android-based drawing tools on my phone. I think it will be interesting to see how a change in tools will changes my design.

Most days, I begin in the same way. I usually draw six rough boxes and load them with the palette, then I cycle through them until I settle on which foreground and background colors that I want to use. Color balance and placement tends to drive my designs. My Quilt Design A Day style is clean and minimal. I look for simple shapes in the seed for inspiration like an arc in a door frame or a keyhole on a door. Geometrically, I often stray from the original seed. Some weeks, I choose a theme to explore. One week I looked at asterisks and one week, I played with transparent slashes. I draw inspiration from things I’ve come across that day: vintage quilts, tiled floors, phrases that resonated with me… I like to keep the inspiration loose to avoid directly copying the work of others.

I used to be more rigid in my daily habit and worked on my design at the same time each day, always the first thing in the morning before my first coffee. One day I realized the Design Seeds inspiration images become available at 9 p.m., Sydney time. Now I’m a bit more relaxed in my habit and work on them when I feel like I’m in a good head space. Some designs come together in a matter of a few minutes while other days I cheat a bit and run over time. On average, I spend 15-20 minutes on the designs. When I really love a design, I give myself extra time with it that day or revisit later in the week.

How many designs have you come up with?
My numbering scheme is a bit nebulous, and I admit that I’ve lost count. My first design was February 20th. In the early days, I committed to doing three designs a week. Now I typically do a design each day, but I try not to put too much pressure on myself. If a design isn’t working, I try not to force it.

Do you have plans for your designs?
I’ve sewn a few of my designs up as blocks, cushions, potholders and even a quilt. I get a bit giddy seeing my daily habit translated into cloth. I think that’s one of the most exciting things about the group, seeing the digital designs turn into something tangible. I’m still working out what do to with my designs. I’ve dipped my toe into online patterns this month with my first online pattern up on Craftsy. I’ve sold another design to a patchwork publication, but have a rapidly growing body of work and I need to work out what to do them!

In general, how do you feel about this experience of having a daily creative practice? Any advice for others?
Although I was reluctant to commit to more than a few days a week in the beginning, I’ve come to fully embrace my daily quilt design habit. It’s changed my entire creative focus for the better. For the first time in years, I’m happy with what I’m making and how I’m utilizing my stash. Speaking of which, even my fabric shopping habits have changed. I’m buying a lot more solids, shot cottons and basics to use as I make my Quilt Design A Day projects. In the online community it’s easy to fall into the rut of making the exact same projects in the exact same prints like everyone else. I feel like Quilt Design A Day has reminded me to embrace my own style and pursue shapes, palettes and layouts in my own style.

The best advice I can offer to someone wanting to start a daily creative habit is to just go for it. Don’t set the bar too high for yourself in the beginning. Give yourself time to learn the tools and embrace the process. Set mini-goals for yourself to get started. Although it’s tempting, don’t compare your work to others and embrace your own style. That said, don’t neglect other people’s work if they are doing a similar task. Learning to give constructive feedback on other people’s projects will help you learn more about your style and interests. Find a supportive community for your daily habit. You’ll have off days. You might even have off weeks. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself and your results every once in a while.

If you are interested in joining our Quilt Design A Day community, we’d love to have you and are happy to share software tips and give you encouragement.

Don’t forget!: Comment for a chance to win one of three copies of Amy’s Woven Slashes pattern, then jump over to BadSkirt for another chance to win! We want to know if you’ve ever had a daily creative practice? Is it something you’re interested in?

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30 Responses to Quilt Design A Day Interview: Amy Gunson of Badskirt

  1. Octavia says:

    I try to do something creative daily. Sometimes it is wrapping a long overdue WIP or a quick impulse project.

  2. Juliet Wood says:

    I love these designs, they are very modern and clean looking. Making the pillow would be fun!

  3. D Herrmann says:

    Wow! What an inspiration. I have a vector based program that I already use for something else. Why didn’t I think of using it for quilting? That what is so great about the quilting community. Sharing ideas and helping those of us who don’t think out of the box to find new skills! Thanks so much.

  4. I don’t have any sort of daily creative practice but I do try to practice being creative daily. Without a creative outlet I tend to feel lost and overwhelmed.

  5. Love so many of these designs, great work!!

  6. Emma says:

    Wow, this group sounds amazing and your designs are wonderful, Amy, keep up the good work!

  7. kate C. says:

    Wow, I love your designs! I’m going to have to try a paint/drawing program and try something like this.

  8. I haven’t had a daily creative practice but I think I’d definitely benefit from it. Finding the right spot in the day to do it is my biggest challenge.

  9. LeAnn says:

    Great article Amy.

  10. Patti says:

    I’ve never had a daily creative practice unless you count reading all of the blogs that I follow! But that is only for inspiration, not to improve my creativity. It is something I’d ideally like to do but it would need to be something I could do in short blocks of time.

  11. Sandy Burnette says:

    I’ve never had a creative daily practice, but after seeing these designs, I think I have to start! I especially liked woven slashes and the half-circle block. I’ve got ideas but they don’t get down on paper. Great idea to do this!

  12. Catriona says:

    Love these, especially the green design with the crosses!

  13. Rachael Letham says:

    I’m so happy to see Qdad get a mention on Sew Mama Sew! I’ve been a long time Facebook watcher of the Qdad group, but was recently encouraged to jump in and have a go. I’m so glad I did! I’m far from happy with my designs, but am slowly gaining confidence using the inkpad app on my iPad. Everyone has to start somewhere right? It’s a great group of people to share the journey with, and I have Amy to thank for roping me in:)

  14. Jill says:

    No, I haven’t but I love he idea! Great quilt designs!

  15. Nurdan says:

    I love this! I never set myself such a challenge/practice before. This post and the websites I visited got me really interested in it! Thanks for the chance to win a pattern!

  16. Lynda H says:

    When I was doing watercolor painting, I tried to paint if even for a short time every day. I once took a class on Chinese brush painting and that is an art that MUST be practiced every day just to get the right feel for the brush and ink. I don’t try to sew every day, with age has come joint pain and I have to give the joints a rest every other day….just getting old….

  17. Cindy Pilkington says:

    These are very striking patterns and the color combinations are powerful! I just the modern look! I would love to try them! Thanks for the giveaway!

  18. Peg G says:

    I am very intrigued by the daily practice session. I have recently retired and I ramble jumping from this to that and then never really accomplish anything for the day just starts that might get finished or may go in that huge box labeled what was I going to do with this!
    Love the designs you featured. Thanks for the information!

  19. Beth T. says:

    I don’t have a daily creative practice, but I would like to establish one. Despite my hopeful intentions, I can’t seem to establish a compelling routine, so I get jostled out of it by calls for my attention, or by illness, or laziness.

  20. Amy S says:

    These are gorgeous. I love the notion of a daily design practice. I polish my FMQ skills with my toddlers whilst we are drawing all day, every day. :)

  21. Nancy says:

    I think the Woven Slashes is my fav. I can see me trying that. The other patterns look challenging! I could always work up to them.

  22. Susan says:

    I LOVE this pillow! The design is so simple but striking, the block almost looks transparent. Great job!

  23. Anne Dawson says:

    What a great pattern. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. I already know what fabric I want to use!

  24. Kriss says:

    Oh.My.Stars! How incredibly modern, unique & totally fabulous! Very inspiring!

  25. Elli Molstad says:

    I also design 2 designs a day on Qdad. I am thrilled because the daily commitment and the encouragement which I have received have allowed me to ‘exercise my creative muscle’. I appreciate all of my other Qdad-ers so much. It is truly a wonderful online community.

  26. Cindy says:

    Love these patterns!!

  27. Ali M says:

    Ooh thank you so much for the giveaway and an amazing new blog to follow. I havent had a daily or even weekly creative process, but I love how she talks about what its done for her creativity so I am considering making a schedule of some sort for myself!

  28. Bekki says:

    I used to design and produce work daily, but I lost the habit. Im trying to start up again so this post is really useful and inspiring. Thank you.

  29. Jenn R says:

    I love this! In the last 6 months I’ve discovered GenQ’s block builder and have been playing around with those design challenges once every two months. But maybe I need to do this more often.

  30. Jessie Hansen says:

    I really like that last one with the orange and grey. Now that I’ve dabbled in quilting I can see the individual blocks in it and that makes it even neater to me.

    I’ve never done one thing every day, but I did have a goal each day for a while to just do SOMETHING creative each day, whether sewing or spinning or whatever, and not even to a finish. Spinning 2 yards of yarn in one day would have counted! Now I don’t think I even do that. Need to figure out how to tap into that again while including my kids.

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