It’s time for the 100 Day Project again! Originally hosted by Elle Luna and now led by Lindsay Jean Thomson, the 100 Day Project is a global art project. Participants come up with a project or task or challenge and commit to doing it for 100 days.
It sounds a little daunting at first but your task can be as simple as writing a question each day, taking a picture, or taking some time to meditate.
This year I’m going to do 100 Days of Drawing Quilting Motifs. I’ll go deeper into what that means and what I’m envisioning in just a minute. But first I want to address how I am feeling about the project and why I'm doing it this year.
I'll admit that while I’ve had this project in mind for weeks now, when I got up this morning I wasn’t sure if I wanted to actually participate. The world is a strange place right now and, like everyone on the planet, I’m scared and my daily routine has been turned upside down. Some days I’m really productive (usually if the sun is shining, like today) and other days are spent watching YouTube videos and scrolling on my phone way more than I should be doing. Did I want to add a commitment to a 100 Day Project to that? Would it add more stress than joy?
Obviously, because I’m posting this, I’ve decided to try it and I’m giving myself permission to be flexible and fluid with the rules. I'm hoping I'll find that having one task I’m supposed to do every day will help with that lack of regular routine. But it’s also okay if I don’t finish this year. It’s okay if I take a day off and catch up later. It’s okay to have off days and good days.
In fact, while I’ve started the 100 Day Project five times before, I’ve only actually finished a couple of my attempts. You can read more about those projects and last year’s unfinished attempt in this blog post.
What I have discovered is that when I do finish it’s because I’ve given myself a broad task that I can easily fit into my day and when I don’t finish it is usually because I selected something more complex and underestimated the time it would take. In all case I make progress, I learn something, and I find and connect with new people doing interesting things around the world. That’s the important part: the people you meet and what you learn along the way.
My 2020 100 Day Project
So with that in mind I am going forward with my sixth attempt, 100 Days of Drawing Quilting Motifs. This project is inspired by many classes and many quilting teachers over the years. The most recent inspiration came from the three days of classes I took with Jamie Wallen at the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show. Jamie was teaching free motion quilting but we didn’t sew a single stitch. Instead we drew motifs and combined those motifs in different ways in his classes. I came away from the classes feeling like I could finally see the code underlying every quilting design. I’ve studied historic quilts for years and in doing so have drawn hundreds of quilting designs as a means of forcing my eye to see every detail. But Jamie’s class broke those details into their component parts and I had an “Ah-Ha!” moment where I could see how you build those elements together to create larger and more complex designs.
Jamie encouraged drawing quilting designs daily to get the muscle memory, build a repertoire, and improve on the things you like and don’t like about your designs. He indicated you needed to draw for 30-40 minutes a day but I’m not going to place that restriction on myself right now. If I get to 30-40 minutes great, if I only take 5 also great. I did something. I moved forward. I practiced. And that’s what I’m going for!
Here is my drawing for Day 1: Feathers with an alternating swirl that I learned in Jamie’s class. I’m a bit rusty as I haven’t been drawing for about a month and these feathers aren’t as rounded as I would like. The good news is that they will get better as I practice! Because I'm a documenter at heart, you'll see me label each drawing with the date so I can see the progress I have made over time. You'll also see notes on the direction in which I did the drawing. Below I drew the top feather from left to right (my strongest drawing direction) and then the bottom feather from right to left.
Here are some loose rules for my project this year. They are loose because I’m giving myself permission right now to change them if they aren’t working for me:
- Draw a quilting motif each day.
- Practice drawing those motifs from every direction (left to right, right to left, top to bottom, and bottom to top). You need to be able to draw in all directions for long arm quilting since you cannot turn the quilt. I can practice different directions on different days though.
- There is no set amount of time I need to draw. Just get a motif in.
- Post a picture of what I drew to my Instagram Stories.
I’ll be posting my daily drawings in my Instagram Stories this year. I’ll also save those stories in the story highlights of my Instagram profile so you can see them all together. I decided that this year I don’t want to fill my regular Instagram feed with black and white drawings for 100 days so I am going to try this method. It may also change as the projects goes! I’ll also try and post some round-ups of my favorite drawings here as the project moves along, but if you want to keep up with my daily progress please follow me on Instagram and keep an eye on my stories.
My Resources and Inspiration
I find it helps me to finish the 100 Day Project when I start with a set of tools and inspiration. Here are the books and video resources that I have gathered out of my collection far for this year’s project.
Please note that a couple of these resource links are affiliate links from Bookshop.org. This means that I will get a small commission if you click on them and decide to buy the item. Bookshop.org also supports independent bookstores and all of the resources I am listing are by artists with small businesses. Right now it would mean a lot to all of us if you chose to support us (if you have the means to do so) by a purchase through these links. All affiliate links are clearly labeled.
If you want to check out some of the other quilt history and art inspiration books that I recommend you can see and purchase those via my affiliate page on Bookshop.org.
Affiliate Link: Free Motion Quilting from Ordinary and Extraordinary, by Jenny K. Lyon
I took a class on free motion quilting with Jenny at my first Craft Napa and learned a number of new designs from her. She was the first person to show me that feathers weren’t as scary or as difficult as I thought they had to be. Her book is a great resource for getting started with free motion quilting and has lots of wonderful pictures and motifs to practice. I’ll also be using some of my notes from the classes I took with her as she gave great tips on drawing a number of different feather motifs when I asked!
Graffiti Quilting: A Simple Guide to Complex Designs, Volume 2, by Karlee Porter
Karlee Porter has a distinctive quilting style that she calls Graffiti Quilting. I took an online class with Karlee a couple of years ago and learned a lot but haven’t practiced the motifs the way I should. I’ll be using my notes from that class as well as her books for inspiration. Volume 2 is really a reworking of her first book, which is now out of print, so you don't need to worry that you have missed something if you don't also have volume 1.
Making Welsh Quilts by Mary Jenkins and Clare Claridge (This one seems to be out of print but there are a few copies on Amazon)
I love Welsh quilts! It’s partly because I have Welsh heritage, partly because Wales is beautiful and everyone should visit Cardiff when we can all leave our homes again, and partly because the quilts themselves are beautiful! Welsh quilters have distinctive motifs not found in English, Scottish, or Irish quilting and I had the pleasure of drawing a few of these when I was doing research on European influences on early American quilting. This book has lovely pictures of historic Welsh quilts as well as projects to make and clear drawings of the quilting motifs.
As a side note: if you want to learn more about the potential connection between Welsh quilts and Amish quilts you should check out (Affilate Link) Dorothy Osler's book, Amish Quilts and the Welsh Connection.
Affiliate Link: Modern Machine Quilting, by Catherine Redford
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Catherine a few times when she has come to teach at the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show. I’ve also used her walking foot quilting techniques in my quilts before. Her book is a great starting guide for those who are looking to do your own quilting on your domestic home machine and has lots of motifs to practice.
I have all of my handouts from three days of classes with Jamie and I will certainly be using those as I start this project. I’ll also be checking out the videos Jamie has posted that show how he uses some of the rulers he sells as well as how he draws, designs, and quilts some of his projects.
I’ve only seen Judi’s quilts on her Instagram feed but I love the textured look of them and the way she combines motifs to fill areas within quilts. I’ve just picked this DVD up and am looking forward to learning more about her design process and techniques!
Free Motion Fun with Feathers! Volume 1, by Patsy Thompson Designs
As I’m relatively new to feathers I’m looking forward to seeing how different quilters do them. I’ve had this DVD in my collection for a little while and now that I’m feeling more confident about making feathers I’m looking forward to watching it.
Are you doing the 100 Day Project this year? If yes, please tell me about it in the comments so I can check it out!
And a reminder that I am still open for custom quilt orders. Please reach out if you want me to use my quilting skills to make you something special!
Stay safe everyone!