Category: Featured Quilter

February 2018 Featured Quilter: Ella Herrera

Hi, I’m Ella Herrera. *waves hello* I used to have blue hair. I kind of miss it. Might make it blue again.

In my non-quilty life, I’m a teacher in Atlanta. I’ve moved around a lot in my life, but I think Atlanta is home now.  (I do miss the fall in Upstate NY, but I don’t miss the winters.)  I love Atlanta.  My favorite places to hang out here are the Center for Puppetry Arts, the Botanical Gardens, and DragonCon.  Yup, I’m a scifi geek, too.  I have a smooshy senior cocker spaniel (who has ruined me for all other dogs and who I need to clone into an army of lovey dogs) and a slightly evil tuxedo kitty (think Brain from “Pinky and the Brain”).

Obligatory animal pictures:

(Sorry, the tongue is a bit disturbing, but I still find her forcible grooming, usually limited to his floofy hair, HILARIOUS.)

I co-host the Finish-a-Long, but I’ve been a long time participant (and long time overachieving list maker).  I started blogging back in 2011.  A bit of trivia about my blog name.  I’m also a bellydancer (although my knee issue has me a bit sidelined right now), hence the wench part.  I tend to throw myself into things whole-heartedly, but I’m also a klutz…so, um, the wench in the works.  I didn’t think about how often folks would read it as “wrench” and have trouble finding my blog.  Ah well.

I started blogging the summer I decided to officially learn how to quilt.  I’ve been sewing and knitting since I was little.  (My mom taught me how to sew, by hand and by machine.  My aunt taught me to knit when I was in third grade.)  I made a quilt for my dorm room in college, but I don’t count it as a quilt that was completely mine because my mom hand tied it.  It didn’t survive many washings.

I don’t actually have most of my first quilts any more from back in 2011.

When I started sewing again back in 2011, after many years of hiatus, I was initially obsessed with disappearing nine patches.  I gave most of them away.  The one below went to a friend going through chemo.

In my first foray into non disappearing 9 patch quilts, I made a HORRIBLE quilt.  I used crappy fabric that did NOT stand up to being washed, which was probably also a product of my seams being totally inconsistent.  Ahem, I was in a horrible Hawaiian shirt theme for the quilts.

It was part of a Row Robin that was launched online.  I loved the community that I found there. Folks were supportive and kind.  That led to swaps and lots of groups on Flickr.  (Remember when Flickr was awesome?  *Sigh.*)  I did a ton of block swaps, even ran the 4×6 for a while.  I admit, I have not been blogging as much as I did in the past.  Now, I tend to spend time over on Instagram, but the online community is still HUGELY important to me.

I felt like, as I had with the bellydance community, I found a “tribe” to which I belonged.  I had space to learn, people were so generous with their knowledge, and I could let my geek flag fly.  I got to meet folks in real life from my first do.good.stitches group visiting Atlanta, Sewing Summit in Salt Lake City, Sewtopia here in Atlanta, Sisters in Oregon, and many years of The Stash Bash.  I’m kind of a spazz and feel incredibly awkward in big social groups.  Going to new places feels like a big deal.  (If you ever meet me, this won’t necessarily feel true.  I TALK A LOT.  I TALK MORE when I’m nervous.)  I feel lucky to have met so many awesome, amazing women who remain important to me.

Charity is still a fundamental part of my sewing.  I run the Serenity Circle as part of do.good.stitches.  My circle makes quilts for hospice.  I do this to honor my grandmother.  She was a maker her whole life, making dresses for mission work, mittens in the winter, newborn items for hospitals.  When she died, I saw how much the crochet blanket a stranger made impacted my mother.  I’d love to do that for someone I will never meet with my quilts, to give some comfort in a really difficult time.  I try to make as many as I can each year.

I’ve started doing a kindness project this year.  I was feeling overwhelmed by how mean the world was seeming.  I was constantly stressed.  Sewing helped me deal with that.  So far, I made over 40 infinity scarves to give to women I know to let them know they are amazing and loved and seen.  My next project is pincushions.  This lets me do at least something small to impact others, to spread a bit of love.

I am NOT a confident FMQ, though I can do a mean meander.  I’m still addicted to QALs.  I seem to have to have AT LEAST 2 dozen things spinning at a time.  I can’t seem to walk away from a challenge.  I have only put 2 quilts in shows (the poppy below and the hexy garden).  I’m trying to get braver about that.  Quilting is still my least favorite part.  I have learning how to long arm on my list (one of the long ones) this year.

Here are some of my favorite finishes:


This year, I’ll be running a BOM skill builder.  It’s meant to be an intro to some different techniques, very low pressure.  I hope you’ll join me!

January 2018 Featured Quilter: Brian White

Our own Brian White was a featured billboard artist for local company (and our newsletter provider!) MailChimp.

Here’s the content of the Artist Spotlight post from MailChimp’s blog:

Brian White never really thought of himself as a visual artist. But he’s always had a knack for math, which is how he landed in his first quilting class 5 years ago. It was there that he learned a technique that involves cutting a piece of fabric into hexagrams and rearranging them into kaleidoscopic shapes.

“I was hooked,” he says, “and I’ve been quilting ever since.”

We got wind of Brian’s psychedelic designs and asked him if he’d be up for a custom commission. Brian’s creation, which he calls “Groovy Chimp,” is a celebration of his favorite kaleidoscopic technique. We love it so much that we’re not only hanging it in our office—we’re exhibiting it on a 25-foot-wide billboard.



It wasn’t until we had Brian over to MailChimp that we realized how many of our employees—from engineers to customer support folks—moonlight as quilters.

“We’re a clandestine bunch,” Brian explains. “You never know who’s going to show up at the quilting guild.”

I asked Brian whether he considers himself a typical quilter, and he quickly responded, “No way!” In fact, he prides himself on being as atypical as possible. “But that’s the beauty of it,” he says. “I’m a realtor by day, a musical theater performer by night, and a quilter into the wee hours of the morning. Quilters and artists come in all shapes and sizes.”

We sat down with Brian and talked with him about quilting, art, and creative inspiration.

Where do you—and other quilters—usually show your art?

Quilting is a solitary art form. We chain ourselves to our sewing machines for hours on end until that last stitch is complete. Then we crawl out of our studios and head to the first guild meeting we can find for a good old fashioned “show and tell.” There are also quilt shows, locally and nationally, where we can show our work, as well as many Facebook quilter’s groups with thousands of quilters who encourage and educate each other and are always eager to stroke the egos of their fellow fiber artists.

What’s the inspiration for your design?

Five years ago, I took my very first quilting class on a technique by Maxine Rosenthal from her book, One Block Wonder. I became fascinated with kaleidoscopic hexagrams and the countless variations which could be made using only one fabric. I had always wanted to design a quilt with this technique, but utilizing multiple fabrics instead of just one. This idea which had been floating around in my head for years lent itself perfectly to my end product, “Groovy Chimp.”

What’s the best advice you have about how to be more creative?

Let your mind run wild with ideas before you even allow yourself to formulate a plan as to how to execute that idea. If you’re working from a pattern, allow yourself to stray from that pattern. Also, every now and then, just sit down and start creating without a single idea as to where you will end.

You can follow Brian on Instagram at @brian_white_quilts. If you’re in Atlanta, check out Brian’s design on our Krog Street billboard.

This article was originally published on the MailChimp blog, all content is copyright MailChimp.

View the original article:

Billboard Artist Spotlight: Brian White Quilts His Way to New Heights


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