Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Zombie - Featured Crafter

FQ: Tell us a little bit about your creative journey? When did it start? Where you inspired by any particular person? 
'Coming from parents who immigrated to the United States - quilting was not a part of my culture or background.  There are no old quilted treasures to be found in the attic.  In fact... we didn't even have an attic.  I had known about Amish quilts, and quilt blocks used to help enslaved people on a path to freedom (the Underground Railroad), and I've admired quilts - but never imagined making one.  I had been embroidering since Brownies (grade 3?) and sewing since middle school, and to this day love embroidering and red working. 

Roly Poly Circus

 My dad also sews - so I've learned a lot from him over the years.  Then one day in my early 30's, my friend Lisa had introduced me to the Eleanor Burns method of strip piecing.  Deer caught in headlights.  I didn't even know what "piecing" was, let alone this really sharp pizza cutter she was showing me.  And then it began.  One log cabin block at a time.  And the flood gates opened. 

Shortly after, another friend, Nancy... she showed me how to hand quilt.  Not only that, in 1990 Nancy took me to my first quilt shop in San Rafael, California... and my lust for quilting and fine fabrics began when I walk through the door of that quilt shop.  

I also discovered the social aspects associated with quilting - which I loved just as much as the quilts themselves.  Nancy's husband and my husband were stationed aboard the same Coast Guard cutter, and would often deploy for 3 month patrols in the Bering Sea - and that meant lots of get-togethers with Nancy and the other spouses' - and lots of quilting. 
 I associate quilting with friendships and good times.  Even when times are bad.  I think any quilter remembers what he or she was doing on and after 911 - and that would probably be quilting.   In good times and bad - joining little pieces of cloth, especially in the company of friends... is a gift to the hands and the heart.  I'm such a fan of quilt retreats and sewing bees.  Sewing.  Laughing.  Talking.  Sharing.  Inspiring.  Snacking.  Making.  And that is my food that feeds my soul.'

FQ: Which part of the quilt making process is your favourite and why?
'I love planning a quilt.  My colored pencils, crayons and graph-paper are never far.  I even keep a graph-tablet in the glove-box of my car.  I never know when the inspiration will strike me.   One night we were watching Project Runway, and I yelled "PAUSE IT!!!!!" to my husband.  I saw something that sparked my designing firecracker.  My heart rate goes up, my breathing irregular... I sketch my inspiration.  The results of that inspiration in the current issue (Winter 2010) of Quilts & More. 

When I sew something, I feel like I'm grabbing a piece of the world or history - and bringing it into my home.  Sometimes... sewing feels like magic.  Especially around Halloween. 
H'ween '09

I love walking into a quilt shop and picking out fabrics.  Love that.  I imagine people who love to make stuff in That Room with the box-that-gets-hot feel the same way when they go to grocery store.   Sometimes the fabrics dictate what they'll become.  Sometimes I pick fabrics specifically for a project.  I'm also obsessed with charms and jelly rolls.  Lumps of pretty clay waiting to be sculpted.  I heart a challenge.  I thrive on challenge.  
I also love piecing "out of a bag" - when it's time to set some blocks or units - I give no thought or planning to placement of the colors/fabrics.  Kind of 'let the chips fall where they may' approach.  I love the excitement of not knowing what's going to happen... letting the quilt universe to do it's thing.  I love the feeling of liberation it gives me to let go and let it happen.  To borrow from Bravo TV's catch phrase... it's a "Watch What Happens Next" moment.  Good times. 
Two Happy quilt pattern - freebie from meebie

I'm very drawn to 30's quilts, and what I enjoy making most.  Almost all of my quilts (about 200 that I think I've made over the years) have a solid white (Kona Snow) background and in least every quit I throw in a solid color.  I love solids as they help rest the eye and give the printed fabric and extra spoonful of pop - like how I used in my charm quilt that's in Summer '07 Quilts & More.  Solids are like the printed fabric's jewelry.

FQ: Do you have a favourite fabric designer?
'Right now I'm crushing on Melody Miller and her new Ruby Star Rising with Kokka - I'm so smitten with it (and her too!).  I love the fresh moderns... but 30's repo fabric will always be my first love

Course I love my Holiday Happy fabric line with Lecien, too! Right now my favorite quilt is my Glow Happy quilt that I designed to go with my fabric.  I liked that it was easy, but looks like it's a challenge. I'm all about the easy.
Holiday Happy - Lecien booth

 For me the 30's repos take me to the time and place of America that I'm not connected to... and it connects me to it.  Like I'm secretly building my own attic treasures.   And as well - building my own Winchester Mystery House... but with yardage instead of rooms.' 
Christmas dec studio makeover
FQ: Are there any new creative skills that you would like to try in the future? 
I would love to learn how to cook - or rather love to love it.  When I'm grocery shopping I pretend the food is fabric and I'm making a big edible quilt with it.  And then I snap out of it and by a pizza.


  1. Great interview! Love those beautiful, colorful, happy quilts! The fabrics are gorgeous!!! The best part of the interview is the sharing of what the entire quilt process is like for her, what it means to her. I feel like she does when she walks into a quilt shop or when she starts looking through her fabrics thinking about what she might do next. It's such a fun, artsy, happy thing. Thanks for the interesting reading today!

  2. What a great matrioshka costume. The quilts are so beautiful. It's so interesting to learn how quilting came into her life. Eleanor Burns is one of my favorites, too.

  3. Such a great interview! Congratulations, Monica. And I totally want to come live in your sewing room. It's soooo cute!

  4. I love Monica and all her wonderful clever creations. The thirties fabrics are my first love as well. But forget about the handwork.

  5. What a breath of fresh air! You rocked that costume - brilliant idea Monica! Love your lantern quilt & fabrics.

    Keep these features coming, they are so much fun.

  6. Great interview! Monica you are always such an inspiration. I know, doesn't cooking get in the way of quilting? I'd SO rather sew!!

  7. Wonderful interview, we have much in common but I do love to cook too! same kind of creative process but it all ends up on my hips I'm afraid....but then again ordering a pizza would have the same result. Hmm, but I wouldn't have to clean up the kitchen, maybe you have something there.

  8. Such a creative mind. Please keep it up! And I agree with ordering the pizza!

  9. You have such a great way of playing with colors and make happy quilts, Monica! And a great sense of humor, too. Always a fun place to visit!
    ; )

  10. That's my favorite zombie as I know her :)
    Thanks for the interview, I loved it!

  11. Yahoooooooooo Monica !!!! Great interview !!! (and here's a tip .... I think you should ALWAYS wear that Babushka Doll outfit ..... it could be your signature .... kind of like Bono's sunglasses .... AND just think how you'd be the center of attention at the grocery store!)

  12. Such a great interview! It was so informative and helpful for me. Love Happy Zombie, her quilts and colors, her happy charming room. What an inspiration! Thank you.

  13. Every time I read about Happy Zombie I love her more. Monica is such a fresh inspiration. I wish I felt as happy as her sewing room looks.

    Leslie S. in MN
    esclante at comcast dot net

  14. oh monica, there you go again! making me heart you ever more for all the inspiration, humor, talent and passion that you bring to our fabric-ie world. i think i'm turning into one of your happy zombies (that was your plan, right?). And uh, did you make yourself that babushka doll house dress (lol!)? you do wear it around the house, right? you know i love you. great interview and continued success to you! xo

  15. Great interview! I found it so interesting when you talk about the social aspect of quilting. It is very similar to what my grandmother would say about doing embroidery. It is amazing how great it feels to do some creative work while talking to friends.

  16. Monica is amazing! She's inspiring, talented, generous, kind, and SO funny! If you ever get to meet her in real life you run the risk of loving her even more... and of peeing your pants. xo

  17. I've been watching/lurking on Monica's blog for a long time and love her sense of humor. Her blog humor and happy fabrics always make me smile.