I sat down with Eliane Bergmann from Patchwork and Poodles (electronically–I would have loved to have her over!) this month and asked her question about her creative journey, hand quilting, design inspiration, and more. I’m so happy to share part 1 of the interview with you today. Part 2 is available here, and it’s all about hand quilting!
We featured her Modern Crossing Pattern this month, and I just love it, in all of its variations. Check out #moderncrossingquilt hashtag on Instagram to see some really beautiful quilts!
Tell me a little about your creative journey.
I was always a creative child, sometimes too much so. I remember many nights before school projects were due where I would be frantically trying to finish something elaborate, with my mom sitting nearby, exasperated, saying “why do you always have to overcomplicate things?!”. The smart lady that my mom is, she put me and my sister into 4-H, which was one of the best parts of my childhood. I laugh and tell people we were in “city folk” 4-H (we didn’t raise cows or pigs) but instead, through a network of volunteers, we learned to knit, crochet, sew, woodwork, speak in public, train dogs (my favorite!) and horticulture. That last one didn’t stick too well. I’m still terrible at keeping plants alive. Through 4-H, I made my first quilt at the age of 12 as part of a spring break curriculum. Yeah, I really was that cool. I made two other quilts that year and moved on to other crafts. I knitted my way through grad school lectures, making more wool socks than I’ll ever wear in my lifetime, and during that time I was still sewing a little bit, making my nieces doll clothes and other small items.
In June 2016 I was browsing Pinterest and found a ton of modern quilt inspiration. Up to this point, I didn’t know modern quilts existed and had mostly shied away from quilting because I wasn’t inspired by the traditional style. It came at a good time, because I was experiencing a lot of wrist pain from knitting and needed a new creative outlet. I did what I normally do when I get inspired and I jumped in headfirst. I bought some fabric, found a free tutorial, and started cutting up fabric with my 16 year old rotary cutter and mat. You know, the one from that first quilt when I was 12! You can only imagine how dull that blade was! Ha! I found quilting came back naturally to me, I mostly remembered what I was supposed to do. It only took one quilt to get me hooked, and one look at modern fabrics to know I was going to be a lifer.
The past two years have been an exploration for me. I’ve tried every technique and style I can get my hands on. You name it, I’ve probably tried it! I’ve made over 50 quilts in that time, I wanted to form a solid base of knowledge to support me in my quilting journey. I’ve also played a lot with colors and values, prints and solids. For a while I was envious of other quilters who had a clearly defined style, because I was definitely all over the place. But all that exploration led me to hone my skills and discover what colors and patterns I am drawn to, so I feel like now my aesthetic finally evolving
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I find inspiration is all around us. Modern Crossing was inspired by WWI nurse uniforms, and Misty Mountains, my latest pattern is inspired by mountain ranges, which will always remind me of Switzerland. When I was 18 my mom and I went on an epic 6-week vacation to Switzerland to connect to our roots and heritage. I remember waking up, walking outside, and seeing the mountains and feeling my ties to the land. I’m also always frequently snapping pictures of floor tiles and murals with interesting color combinations!
Do you have a go to color combo, or colors that always seem to work for you?
Half square triangles for Eliane’s Vintage Lace quilt
Right now I’m crushing extremely hard on Kona Avocado and all the various shades of olive and avocado green. It is a color that, when paired correctly, can be distinctively modern, but also has a nod to 1960’s mid-century modern furniture and décor that I love.
What does your workspace look like?
I wish I could tell you that I’m a spotlessly clean person! My workspace always looks like a tornado has just run through it. It gets to a point where it is too overwhelmingly messy for me, usually that’s when I can’t effectively go from the sewing machine to the ironing board without stepping on something, so I’ll spend an evening taming it back, only to have it spiral out of control again way too soon. As soon as the floor is picked up you’ll find my husband in there with the vacuum and lint roller in an attempt to catch all the threads before they make their way to the other rooms in the house. I’m always working on at least 5 projects at once, so those are always all over the room in various stages. I’m lucky enough to have a whole bedroom in our house to myself for my quilting studio, and it is something I never take for granted! It has a ton of storage and natural light.
Do you have a creative project that has been most fulfilling? Or that you most enjoyed working on?
I have a personal project that has been really meaningful to me. Back in December my husband’s brother passed away from colon cancer after a very hard 3-year fight. Paul was only 43, and his cancer journey and death affected our whole family deeply. I felt so useless at the time of his death, I really wanted to find a way to help but I didn’t know how. So I decided to make a quilt in his honor, which I think is a way a lot of us turn when we don’t know what to do. Once I get it quilted up, I’m going to raffle it off and all the money it raises will go into an education fund for Paul’s two young children. I think the best way to honor Paul’s life and continue his legacy is to make sure his children have the means for a solid education and future. I documented my progress on this quilt on Instagram with the hashtag #inmemoryofpaulb
What is your favorite part of the creative process.
By FAR, when I turn a quilt sketch into a quilt top. I’m very much old-school, I do all my math by hand on graph paper, so a lot of times I’m not sure if the crazy idea I have in my head is going to look good in fabric from until I actually make it. Sometimes I don’t like the results, but more often than not I’m doing a literal happy dance.
Thanks so much, Eliane, for sharing your quilts and your stories. You can find part 2 here.