Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Member Spotlight: Suzanne Paquette

We are back with another member spotlight!  This month, we are happy to present Suzanne Paquette who is a new"ish" member of the Guild.

Photograph by Vivian Doan Photography

Your social media coordinates (blog/website, Facebook, Instagram, etc):

You can find me online at:

What did you study in school and/or what do you do for a day job?

In university, I studied fashion design and earned my BAA (Bachelor of Applied Arts) from Ryerson University in Toronto. Pretty In Pink was one of my favourite movies as a teenager and my plan at that point was to become a fashion designer. One thing led to another and I went from designing clothing to costume design, then to millinery (hats). I opened a retail store in Toronto on Queen St. West called Six Degrees and eventually moved to Montreal to work for Cirque du Soleil. Over my 13
years at Cirque, my roles within the merchandising department varied from buyer and product
developer to creative direction and project management.

In 2013, when I left Cirque, I took some much needed time off, and then decided to start my
second business – Atelier Six. In addition to doing design and business consulting work, I design
quilt patterns, and make modern memory quilts for clients.

How long have you been quilting?

I have been quilting for 3 years. Though I have sewn for most of my life (and still have and sew
with my very first portable sewing machine – a Kenmore – that I got for my birthday when I was
14), I just started quilting in 2013. Learning proper garment construction techniques, pattern
drafting and design fundamentals in university, as well as experience in costume construction has
really served me well in my quilting projects. There is still so much to learn for quilting specific
techniques and I’m always interested to see how different quilters approach their projects.

What first got you interested in modern quilting?

When my son was born in 2008 I knew I wanted to save his baby clothes to make a quilt. Up until
then, I had only seen traditional t-shirt quilts, which were not aligned at all to my personal
aesthetic or design style. I wanted to make a quilt that not only had great personal meaning for
me and my family but that also had a modern aesthetic that worked with our home. Around the
same time that I was thinking that modern memory quilts could be the focus of my new business,
a friend gave me one of Denyse Schmidt’s books for my birthday. Once I saw her designs, I knew
there was a place for me in the quilting world. Modern quilting was exactly what I wanted to do.

Photograph by Vivian Doan Photography

How did you find the MMQG and why did you decide to join?

I don’t remember exactly how I found the MMQG, but I think it might have been after I found the
MQG, and realized there were local modern quilt guilds. I looked up Montreal and found the
MMQG. I wanted to join to meet other local modern quilters.

Whose techniques/style/philosophy do you most admire in the modern quilting community?

I greatly admire Carolyn Friedlander’s architectural influence in her work – both her quilt designs
and fabric. I also admire all of her needle-turn appliqué, which is the polar opposite of my own
personal approach of sticking more to machine work.

Luke Hayne’s figural work on traditional quilt block backgrounds is very impressive. His work
really shows off his artist sensibility in the choices he makes, and it’s what I appreciate most
about his work.

Valerie Goodwin and Leah Evans both make stunning map quilts, something I would like to
explore more myself.

Yoshiko Jinzenji has a unique approach to quilting that I am drawn to. The second quilting book I
bought was her book ‘Quilting Line + Colour’. I love her technique of using organza as the top
layer of a quilt. It brings such dimension to her work and I was lucky to hear her speak and see
her work up close at QuiltCon in 2015.

Photograph by Vivian Doan Photography

Do you have any favorite quilting related social media accounts that you follow?

I follow a whole bunch of quilting related Instagram accounts. Some of my favourites are:

Where do you look for inspiration or ideas for your quilting projects?

Inspiration for quilts for me comes from everywhere. It’s easy for me to get caught up in a theme
and once I have an idea for a quilt, I research ideas obsessively. With Pinterest so accessible
and easy, I do tend to start there and I will generally search for references outside of the quilting
world. In the ‘old days’ I used to build inspiration boards from magazine tear sheets, then that
moved to saving files in a folder on my computer. Pinterest facilitates a lot. I take a lot of photos
as well and use things I see out and about as inspiration. There always comes a point though in
the design process when I stop looking at my references and let the design go where it needs to

What is your favorite project that you have completed? Why is it your favorite?

My favourite project that I have completed is the first quilt I ever made with my husband’s clothing
and my son’s baby clothes. The pattern is called “Modern Arrow”. I love seeing all of my son’s
little baby clothes everyday. So many great memories. I can tell you that it was very hard to cut
into that first piece of baby clothing. Measure twice, cut once never felt so important as in that
moment! It’s much easier to cut into someone else’s baby clothes. ☺

There is a video about the making of that quilt here:

What would you consider to be your quilting ‘superpower’?

I would say that my quilting ‘superpower’ is composition. Though I love asymmetrical quilts (and
asymmetrical design in general), it has to be balanced. Tension and balance go a long way to
making design successful I think.

Pattern called "Pique Nique" designed for Robert Kaufman.  You can download
it for free on the Robert Kaufman website.

What is your favorite part of the quilt making process? Why?

Piecing is my favourite, probably because it is a continuation of the design process. I generally
design my quilts in Illustrator before cutting anything out…especially since many of the quilts I
make are with other people’s clothing (which can’t be replaced). With my clients I want to avoid
major surprises with the finished quilt. But even once the design has been set on paper, there is
still some designing that happens during cutting and piecing. Seeing it life size calls for some
adjustment to the original plan.

Though I have a tendency to plan first, I also like improv quilting. I’m always looking for more time
to play with improv. Some really great things can happen spontaneously.

Photograph by Vivian Doan Photography

What project or technique is next on your “to try” list?

I’d like to play around with the ‘flowering snowball’ block and the ‘orange peel’ block. I haven’t
done a lot of quilting with curves, but I feel like it would be a lot of fun for me. Hat patterns are all
about sewing curves, so I feel like this is something that would feel familiar. The challenge of
using colour in an interesting way is also something that is appealing.

What is the best quilting tip or technique you’ve discovered?

Generally, I do all my binding by machine, and my favourite technique for getting perfect mitered
corners is this one:  I use this technique along with sewing the binding to the back first and then top-stitching the binding on the front of the quilt.

What is the best bit of quilting advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice was from Gwen Marston, which was basically “Make quilts your own way.”
When I saw her speak, she talked a lot about her own experiences of learning from more
experienced quilters, and then throwing caution to the wind and making quilts in the way that felt
right to her. It’s a good reminder to have faith in your own abilities and that you can carve your
own path, while still learning from other quilters around you.

Describe your creative process in three words:

Inspiration. Ideation. Edit + Refine. (OK, I cheated…4 words).

Describe/share pictures of your creative space:

We moved last August and my new (bigger!) workspace is still in the process of being set up.
These are photos of my previous workspace, which was part of our guest bedroom. It was small,
but effective. Large quilts were basted on the living room floor. And I really loved having a
mezzanine with 17’ ceilings in the living room – a great place to take quilt photos!

Photograph by Vivian Doan Photography

Thank you so much for playing along Suzanne!  I just loved getting to know you a little bit more.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Quilt blocks for Fort McMurray

The Ottawa MQG is organizing a collection of Maple Leaf quilt blocks to be put together into quilts and donated to those affected by the Fort McMurray fires.

Photo credit:

The blocks should be made using blue, yellow, green, and/or red (the colors of the Alberta flag) on a light neutral/low-volume background. You can use solids or patterns, whatever you prefer, but please make sure the finished block is 12.5 inches square - it is important that all blocks are a uniform size so they can be put together easily. If you'd like a tutorial, SLO Studio from the OMQG has put one together here:

I would like to call on everyone in the Montreal MQG to make one block to donate. If you wish to make more, or if you have quilt-y friends outside the guild who would like to donate, please feel free to do so! We will be collecting blocks at the May and June meetings.

Let's make this happen!!