Monday, September 13, 2021

Kelly Young - Interview with a Scrap Quilter

Today marks the start of a six week blog hop of scrappy mini quilts from Kelly Young's new book, Scrappy Improv Quilting (affiliate link). And I'm very excited to be included in the hop and sharing Kelly's new book! 

quilt book

Through blog-land, with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation, we've known each other for at least five years, and even met at Quilt Market Portland a few years ago when she gave a presentation on scrap quilts. 

When Kelly contacted me again about participating in the Scrappy Improv blog hop, my quick response was heck yeah! Seriously, who could resist these designs, created with scraps??? 

6 different seasonal quilts

I also thought it would be great to share with my readers 
a peek into the world of this creative scrap quilter. Though quilting, designing, and writing are big commitments, Kelly graciously took some time to answer a few quilt-related questions. 

And I was surprised at how very much alike we are, from when we started quilting, blogging, fabric procurement, fabric choices, and where we quilt. Keep reading below to learn more about Kelly Young, author of Scrappy Improv Quilting and Stash Statement.

What started you on your quilting journey?  I grew up watching my grandmother make quilts, and always loved helping her choose fabrics and designs, and I made my first quilt all the way back in 1999!  But I really found my own quilting voice when I started reading quilt blogs around 2010, and then started my own blog in 2013.  As with most things in life, my own style is ever-evolving.

What’s your favorite part of quilting?  I get asked this quite a bit, and I always joke and say "the finish!"  It does feel great to finish a quilt, but what makes it the best is seeing a design, which was once only a vision in my head, or a sketch come to life before my eyes.

How did piecing with scraps evolve? I have always loved scrappy quilts, and if you can believe it, I started trying to piece scraps this way almost 20 years ago!  I had the idea of making a quilt where it looked like scraps were just tossed like confetti and sewn willy-nilly.  My first attempt in the year 2000 wasn't successful- the piece I played with had some serious construction problems and wouldn't lay flat at all, and I ended up throwing it away (a big regret, since I'm sure I could fix it now).  Since nobody really sewed that way at the time, and because the internet wasn't what it is today, there wasn't any real guidance available, so I put the idea aside.  Once I got a little more practice quilting in general, I learned how to construct the scrappy improv units properly, where they lay nice and flat and are usable, my ideas really started spinning.  My particular style of scrappy improv doesn't require any special sizes of scraps.  I can use whatever size pieces I have on hand, which really keeps it fun and manageable.

Where do you get your fabrics? I have a few local quilt shops that I love to visit.  So many are closing these days, and they need our support.  But I also have some favorite online shops that support my blog.  The great thing is, we live in a time when almost anything can be ordered, so if I have my eye on a particular fabric collection and I can't find it in one of my favorite shops, I look on Etsy, which is filled with small shop owners.  And I will say that I love quality fabric, but I'm not a fabric snob.  My JoAnn Fabrics has a pretty extensive selection of Kona Cotton Solids, and a section of designer quilt fabric, and if I see a fabric I love, I will get it anywhere I can! 

Is there a particular fabric manufacturer that you love? Yes and no.  I always use high-quality quilting cotton for my quilts, but beyond that, I just choose colors and prints I like.  For solid fabrics, I do love Kona Solids though.  I'm actually much more particular about my thread.  I exclusively use Aurifil for piecing and quilting.

Tell us about your quilting space – location, size, number of machines, etc. My studio is in an extra bedroom in my home.  It is actually downstairs and faces right out of the front of the house, which I particularly love.  I am happy that I have a dedicated space, but I'm not secluded.  It's not a huge room, but it is big enough and has a good sized closet.  As for my machines, I am a BERNINA girl through and through.  My workhorse is a BERNINA 550 QE, named Regina, which is a regular domestic machine.  Some people are surprised to learn that I don't own a longarm and quilt all of my quilts on a regular machine.  My backup machine is a vintage BERNINA 830 Record named Bettina.  She's a 46 year-old, all metal, mechanical machine, and she still sews beautifully.

What other types of quilts have you made?  I've made all kinds of quilts!  I don't like to put a label on my style because I don't want to be limited, but I tend to walk the line between modern and traditional.  Above all, I love saturated color! I get asked a lot whether I make other types of quilts besides the scrappy improv quilts you see in Scrappy Improv Quilting and Stash Statement, particularly when I am presenting a trunk show full of quilts in this style.  I always answer- YES!  I do make lots of other quilts with "regular" fabric, and I even design patterns that use "regular" fabric (rather than scrappy improv pieces).  This is just what I love to do with my scraps!

Do you keep all of your quilts? How do you use them in your home? I don't keep all of them, but I do keep quite a few.  Since I travel to present trunk shows and workshops to guilds, I have kept all of the quilts from my two books, plus several others that are made in this style.  And sometimes I make quilts that I love so much and are so personal, I just can't part with them (like my recent Improv Houses quilt).  Quilts I've made cover every bed in our home, and they're folded on couches and chairs.  I do have one quilt hanging on a wall, but only one.  Most of the walls in my house get direct sunlight at least part of the day, so I worry that they would fade over time.

6 different mini quilts based on one quilt block

Thank you, Kelly, for a wonderful interview - as quilters, it's nice to know we have so much in common! For this week's quilt show from Scrappy Improv Quilts, visit 

9/13- Summer Blossom- Lori @ Crossquilt
         Up, Up, and Away- Sandra @ mmm...quilts!

9/15- Flutter- Rose @ Something Rosemade
         Botanics- Diann @ Little Penguin Quilts

and for the whole schedule and my review of the Scrappy Improv Quilting book, see the Scrappy Improv Quilting post.

Happy Quilting!

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