Thursday, September 30, 2010

Featured Crafter - Ryan Walsh

Today, we are chatting with Ryan from 'I'm Just A Guy Who Quilts.' Ryan is a prolific quilter and incredibly generous with his time and knowledge.

Ryan's Katie Jump Rope Pillow is a real favourite of mine, which he made as part of a swap (lucky partner!) - you can find a tutorial for it here.

FQ: Tell us a little bit about your creative journey? When did it start? Where you inspired by any particular person? Quilting runs in my family.  I spent hours at my grandmother’s home when I was a young boy because my parents both worked full time.  She always had a project going and I would find myself fascinated by what she made.  I would try and figure out how she pieced the blocks and ask all sorts of questions.  She’s still my “go to” source for information if I’m at a loss for how to proceed on a project.

My artistic talents definitely come from her side of the family.  Several of my aunts and cousins also quilt.  I’m the only male quilter in the family.

I made my first quilt in 2005, right before my first son was due to be born.  My wife and I were having trouble finding curtains we liked for the nursery and we decided to pick out fabric so she could make something.  We found fabric we liked right away and set a weekend to make the curtains at her parents.  That Friday before, my wife got ill from something she ate and was down for the rest of the weekend.  I ended up taking over the project and had a lot of fun using the sewing machine with my mother in laws help.  I was hooked!  I started a baby quilt for our new arrival that next week.  My in laws bought us a sewing machine for Christmas that year and I’ve been quilting ever since!
FQ: Which part of the quilt making process is your favourite and why? Gosh!  That’s a really hard question to answer, going to the quilt shop and buying fabric? LOL  I think everyone likes that part, really.  Honestly, If I had to pick, I would say my favorite part of the whole process would be the design.  You know, that part where the quilt is just an idea in your head.   
I design a lot of my quilts on the computer, but they all start as an idea sketched out on paper.   The whole process of translating a block or quilt from your head to something tangible on paper really excites me.  I love working through all the challenges of design as well because what’s in your head (or on the computer) for that matter can’t always be clearly put together.  I have a few quilts I’ve only made in my head at this point because I can’t begin to figure out how to put them together in fabric.

FQ: Do you have a favourite fabric designer? If I said I have one absolute all time favorite designer I’d be lying through my teeth. There’s way too many I adore to choose from.  Have you seen my fabric stash?  It’s seriously out of control, but don’t tell my wife I admitted that to you, OK?  Ha ha …  I can say that the one designer’s fabrics I’ve been using a lot lately is Monaluna.  Her mingle line is absolutely wonderful.  The bright colors and geometric designs are super cool.  I can’t get enough of that line right now.
FQ: Where do you draw your inspiration from when making quilts? My inspiration comes from all around me.  I carry my camera and notebook everywhere I go.  If something I see inspires me, I’ll stop to jot ideas down.  It could be something as simple as the way a brick wall on the side of a building has colorful graffiti or a color combination I see in a department store window.  I seriously had my sister take a picture of a bathing suit in old navy a few weeks ago because of the neat pattern and color selection the designer used.  The camera on my phone is filled with images of sidewalks, signs, bridges, etc.

FQ: Do you have a favourite quilt or other sewn item that you have made?
The first quilt I ever created is my favorite.  I made the most mistakes on it and also learned a lot about quilting during its construction.  I didn’t have a plan when I started it.  Just cut all the fabric up and pieced it back together.  The block design came to me as I went along.  It warms my heart every time I see my son cuddle up in it on the couch.

FQ: Are there any new creative skills that you would like to try in the future? The one technique that’s always scared me in quilting has been paper piecing.  I’ve forced myself to try it for several quilting bees this year.  Instead of chickening out and returning the fabric with a little surrender note I stuck with it and finished the blocks.  All I have to say after completing a few blocks is that it still scares me.  I always chalk it up to the fact that I’m left handed.  I always try and reverse the entire process for some reason.  It’s something I’d like to work on more.

I also want to learn how to design fabric in photoshop.


  1. Great interview! Do you use EQ to design on the computer? Does it let you import all different fabrics? I've been tempted to try it, but it seems like a very robust program.

  2. I love that blue color on your quilt room walls!

  3. Thanks for featuring me Fat Quarterly. It's truly an honor!

    Elena - I am a big EQ fan. I upgraded to the latest version (7) as soon as it came out. You can import images of fabric from your stash and most manufacturers now have images available for download on their sites. Easy as pie.

    Mama Pea - The shade of aqua I painted the walls in my creative space is really energizing. I feel so inspired when I look at all the different colors in the room. It's a Home Depot Brand Paint by Behr called "Rivers Edge."

  4. Ryan -- great info and tips. Do you have any advice for the best way to learn the ins and outs of EQ? I am fairly computer-savvy, but have found it a bit difficult to sort out all of the various features of the program. Any pointers as to how you got up to speed on it would be appreciated.

  5. Ryan is one of my favorite quilting friends, he's always a great inspiration!

  6. A little off the subject at hand - I am having trouble reading your blog because the grid background pattern is all over the screen, making the posts difficult to read, but when I go into each individual post (say to comment)it is the usual white background. Is anyone else having this problem on their computer screen?