Guest Blog: John Adams, London fields
John Adams is a quilter from Holly Springs, United States and writes his own blog called Quilt Dad, which is filled with modern quilts, giveaways and the must haves in the world of quilting books. John’s good eye for colour makes his blog pleasing to the eye and an inspiring visit. He is also a guest blogger for Feeling Stitchy which has embroidery tutorials and is run by a group of volunteer craft bloggers. He is a founder and one quarter of Fat Quarterly, an online magazine for sewing enthusiasts, which features an abundant range of projects and information which is released four times a year.
John’s day job is working for a corporate company and during the evenings and weekends he is busy sewing. His work has a contemporary feel, and patchwork blocks which are often simplistic in design are created into stunning original quilts.
We spoke to John to find out more about his quilting style, passion for crafting and alleviating the stigma surrounding male quilters and sewers. Plus we’re shown how to make a simple square patch quilt from the Bloomsbury Lifestyle collection
Tell us a little about yourself and what it is that makes you tick?
Between my three children (eight-year-old twin girls and six-year-old son), my full-time corporate job, and my passion for my creative pursuits, I’m always on the go. Most of all, I think staying busy makes me tick! But beyond that, I am definitely fueled by inspiration. My left brain gets a full-time workout during the work day, so I really need to seek balance by feeding my right brain … which is what led me to learn how to sew and quilt. When I need some inspiration I love to peruse Flickr, Pinterest, and creative blogs, and one of my favorite ways to pass some time is to browse all of the original artwork being sold by independent artists on Etsy. I have “favourites,” about 100 prints that I would love to buy someday!
Have you always sewn and what do you enjoy the most about it?
No, I am a self-taught sewer that only learned how to sew about 5 years ago. In retrospect, I think I was yearning for a creative outlet when I stumbled upon the (then still new) world of quilting blogs. Drawn in by the sense of community and the growing selection of amazing modern fabrics, I was hooked. I learnt how to sew and quilt via free online tutorials and a lot of trial and error! My favorite element of sewing is the aforementioned sense of community. I have met some of the most amazing, talented, and generous people through my quilting adventures – people that will be friends for life. I love to collaborate with others, because I think it yields greater products than any of us could ever produce alone. This is why I love participating in things like swaps, quilt-alongs, and other collaborative ventures.
There are not many male quilters out there, what would you say to encourage more men to try quilting.
I’m not quite sure why there is still a stigma about male quilters. After all, as I always say, a sewing machine is just another power tool! I think it’s great to see more and more men emerging as talents and leading voices in the modern quilting community. I think it can only help elevate textile arts to the level of other mediums (which don’t seem to draw the same stigmas as sewing and quilting.) I would tell others to just pursue their passions and find their creative voice – the medium that they choose really is not that important. Whether it’s woodworking, gardening, painting, photography, or sewing and quilting, the process and the commitment is what is important.
Do you have a project on the go at the moment or do you tend to have several?
Your style is very contemporary, how do you keep your work fresh and new?
Thank you for the compliment! I am always hesitant to classify my work in a particular style, since I like to draw my inspiration from everywhere. I can be just as inspired by a very traditional quilt as I am by ones that are more modern and graphic. I like to look to sources outside of the quilting world for inspiration. As I mentioned earlier, I love to browse what other artists are producing via Etsy – whether it’s illustration, design, photography, or typography – to stimulate new ideas.
The first Fat Quarterly book ‘Shape Workshop for Quilters’ was published last year, with a great response. Do you plan to make your own book?
Actually, I’m excited to share that my first solo book was recently released by Lark Crafts! The book is entitled Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays, and it features over 30 sewing and quilting projects that bring some handmade charm to your holiday decorating and celebrations. Working on two books simultaneously was kind of crazy, but seeing all of the hard work pay off is both amazing and gratifying!
When I first began to ideate on what to make with my beautiful bundle of Liberty prints, all from the Bloomsbury collection, I had no shortage of ideas. I tossed around all sorts of block ideas, from stars to log cabins to pinwheels. Yet, in the end, I felt the pull of a simple idea: classic, timeless patchwork. You see, I’ve always wanted a Liberty patchwork quilt. There’s something about the feel and vibe of Liberty prints that I’ve always felt make them the perfect choice for patchwork.
From the Bloomsbury collection, I deliberately selected prints in tones of brown, blue, and red. I paired the prints with a solid linen to serve as the backdrop for their vibrant colors and classic patterns. To give the patchwork some visual interest and a bit more of a modern feel, I added some linen squares into the patchwork design and added asymmetrical borders.
Although I originally designed London fields to be a wall hanging, its size ended up being equally suitable as a baby quilt, so classic and timeless in its design that it’s sure to become a family heirloom. Mine is going to some family members expecting their first baby in the spring.
⅓ yard (30.48cm) cuts of 4 different Liberty prints. I carefully selected 4 prints that worked together to create an autumnal feel for the quilt.
¾ yard (68.58cm) of a background fabric. I chose to use Essex Yarn Died Linen in Flax, which looks beautiful with the Liberty prints.
Quilt batting to size.
½ (45.72cm) yard of a binding fabric.
1 ⅔ yard (1.52m) of a backing fabric.
From each of your ⅓ yard (30.48cm) cuts of Liberty prints, cut 2 strips measuring 4 ½” (11.43cm) x 44” (111.76). This will yield 8 strips.
From each strip, cut 8 x 4 ½” (11.43cm) squares. This will yield 64 x 4 ½” (11.43cm) squares (16 from each print.) Note: you’ll use 62 squares in the quilt.
From your background fabric, cut:
1 strip measuring 4 ½” (11.43cm) x 44” (111.76cm). From this strip, cut 8 x 4 ½” (11.43cm) squares.
3 strips measuring 5” (12.70cm) x 44” (111.76cm). Trim 2 of these strips down to 5” (12.70cm) x 40 ½” (102.87cm)
1 strip measuring 6 ½” (16.51cm) x 44” (111.76cm).
Quilt top assembly
This quilt top is constructed in columns. Each column comprises 10 x 4 ½” (11.43cm) squares.
Columns 1, 3, 5, and 7 are made from 2 background squares and 8 Liberty print squares.
Start with a background square, add your 8 print squares in an eye-pleasing arrangement, and finish with another background square.
Columns 2, 4, and 6 are made from 10 Liberty print squares. Sew together 10 squares into a long strip measuring 4 ½” (11.43cm) x 40 ½” (102.87cm).
Press your seams open or in alternating directions, e.g. press seams towards the top of columns 1, 3, 5, and 7, and towards the bottom of columns 2, 4, and 6.
Sew columns together, one by one.
Attach a 5” (12.70cm) x 40 ½” (102.87cm) border to the right and left sides of your quilt top. Press seams toward the borders.
Attach the remaining 5” (12.70cm) x 44” (111.76cm) border to the top of your quilt top and the 6.5” x 44” border to the bottom. Trim both to the width of your quilt top. Press seams towards the top and bottom borders.
Quilt and bind as desired. I quilted mine in an all-over meandering stipple.
I hope you enjoy this quick yet classic pattern. If you make London fields, I’d love to see it! Be sure to add it to the Quilt Dad is My Homeboy Flickr group.