If you think that foundation paper piecing patterns are predictable, you have not met Ingrid Alteneder. From her third-floor studio in Frankfurt, Germany, Ingrid breaks images down into basic geometric elements, juxtaposing whimsical fabric choices with a level of detail that adds a touch of realism to the whimsy.
How did you get started designing quilt blocks? Always an artist, or was there a “moment”?
Technically I designed quilt blocks right from the start, when I started quilting, which was just after high school.
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And of course I evolved from basic squares and triangles to more complex blocks. But I did not design quilt blocks professionally until January, 2019.
Did you have a “gateway craft” as a kid? Which creative projects led you to the work you do today?
Crafts were part of our childhood; my mum was a craft-teacher, and my dad an artist, so I guess crafts have been part of my life for as long as I can think.
I learned to knit and crochet when I was really young, and I was sewing my first blouse when I was 10.
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people, or do you think creativity is a skill that people can learn?
I think you can definitely learn to be creative, and, as with most things, if you’re exposed to a creative environment it becomes natural.
But I guess it helps if you love doing it, and that’s something you inherit rather than learn.
What is it like being a quilter in Frankfurt? Is there a large fiber arts community there?
No there isn’t. The whole quilting community in Germany is pretty small. The crafting community in general isn’t huge, but growing.
Which I find wonderful, since I love connecting with likeminded people. So social media helps tremendously. But our quilting community is nothing compared to the US.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
I think my designs are pretty detailed as opposed to the more simpler quilt block designs that are traditionally pieced.
But I try to keep as much detail as necessary without making the pattern too difficult or complicated and that it takes forever to make.
Most of my patterns can easily be finished in an hour or two. Which makes them the perfect go-to sewing project, for a stunning handmade item, without having to sew an entire quilt.
And I think my fabric choices are unique and sometimes a little bit ‘over’, but I’m not a minimalist.
Why does foundation paper piecing hold your interest?
Because of it’s accuracy I guess. I love the ability to draw with fabric and the ‘easyness’ to be able to put it together quickly.
If that makes sense? In my view it’s easier than appliqué to get an accurate quilt block with a stunning design.
And a traditionally pieced block is most often very geometric.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your new book, Adorable Animal Quilting?
That there’s absolutely no reason to be apprehensive or daunted by foundation paper piecing. Once you get the basic principle, it’s actually really easy.
And of course I hope the reader will fall in love with my animals, so they cannot resist, and have to start sewing …..
In addition to your book, where can people purchase your designs?
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Ohh goodness, the question should be, where don’t I find inspiration. 🙂 I don’t know, everywhere, really.
But I was always like that. When I was working as a fashion buyer or designer, it was the same. I see things everywhere.
How do you make the leap from the idea in your head to the work you create? Do you design on paper or on the computer?
I do design on paper and on my computer. If I have a piece of paper on hand I draw a quick sketch. The final pattern will be drawn on my computer though.
When you design, is there room for both planning and improvisation?
When I design, there’s barely any planning. I come up with an idea and then everything flows… so to speak.
I’m not a big planner.
How many projects do you have going at once? Or do you focus on one creative project at a time?
Too many projects. 🙂 No I don’t focus too much and I have several projects going at once.
What does your studio look like? Where does the magic happen?
The magic happens in our house. I converted the whole top floor (of 3) into my studio. It’s one larger room where I build my photo studio/booth, several cutting tables, etc. This is also where my kids do their crafts and sewing.
And one smaller room where I have my computer and sewing machine.
What is your favorite storage tip for your fabric and creative supplies?
For fabrics its clear CD boxes, so you can see all the fabrics. Those go into drawers. So drawers are definitely a must. Also for all my supplies, I prefer drawers to cupboards.
But I do store rulers and stuff on my walls as well, so they are in sight.
What are the indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
- Several cutting tables (since my stuff is always all over the place, or I’m working on several projects.)
- Cutting mats and rotary cutters (also several)
- Good fabric scissors (there’s nothing worse than dull scissors)
- My Photo-Studio/booth, so it’s easy to take photos and edit them right away; it just makes my life so much easier.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
I’m a big fan of silence. I need it for my thoughts to grow. But if I’m editing photos or cutting and sorting fabric and other monotonous work like that, I watch series on Netflix. 🙂
Tell us about your blog and website. What do you hope people will gain by visiting?
I hope people will get excited about wanting to sew/craft/create.
If they’re sewing and quilting already, I hope they will like my tips/ideas/tutorials and, most of all, my patterns.
I love seeing what people create with my patterns.
What was the biggest challenge that you encountered on your creative journey? What did you learn from it?
I guess the whole social media/blogging world was my biggest challenge. Since it’s not just about putting up some cute photos and a fun text and hope people will find you. It’s an entire full time job that takes up more of my time than I would like. 🙂
Interview posted September 2020
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