April 3, 2010

whimsiesMary Lou Weidman is one of my most favorite admired quiltmakers and authors. Her Whimsies & Whynots: A Playful Approach to Quiltmaking has been on my bookshelf for years.

And so it was with great pleasure that I received a copy of Mary Lou’s latest book Out of the Box: Unleash Your Creativity Through Quilts from Martingale & Company as our featured appliqué book for this month.


Mary Lou’s quiltmaking style is one of riotous, colorful fun, personal meaning, and brave and fearless fabric choices. (It was through her that I first noticed and learned to appreciate the color “cheddar.”) This book is an inspiration to anyone who is willing to be inspired, and Mary Lou writes at length about the process of discovering your inner artist, inviting play and discovery, and listening to yourself instead of to your friends and/or critics.

Every day you have at your disposal the ability to think big, think colorful, think happy, think with large imaginative images, think clever, think expressive, think funny, think lofty, think about the past, think about the future, and think things that no one but you can think of. You have the ability to think ‘out of the box’ and to share your wonderful thoughts and your imagination with others in the form of art, in this case, quilts.

How different is that from the quilting rut of choosing colors and fabrics that “go” with our living rooms, of fretting over “perfect” precise blocks, of fearing the quilt police so that our childlike creative voices are stifled?

What is out of the box? “Push the lid open and jump out!” says Mary Lou, and she gives us a checklist of 24 sample items to test our position in relation to the box. After administering this self-test I discovered that I am not quite out LOL, but I can peep over the lid.

This book holds quite a bit of wisdom, more reading and thoughtiness that your average quilting book I’d say. It’s a process book rather than a product book. I really appreciate that approach. When I’m in my booth at quilt shows, I’m often asked, “How long did it take you to make that?” or, “How long would it take to learn to do that?” Wow, that’s a really product-oriented type of thinking. I want to reply, “Does it matter, if you’re enjoying yourself?”


Mary Lou emphasizes the need to think and daydream, and this struck a chord with me as well. Often, what happens to me during shows is that when I have some down time… slow periods on the show floor, or upon waking up too early in the morning… I seize a pen and paper and write down long list of thoughts that flood into my brain. The inspiration and energy that comes from being at a quilt show turns on a tap for me and I love it when the daydreaming flow of creativity starts. Mary Lou says we need to set aside time for this every day to doodle, think, and imagine.
(Yes, you really can find a half an hour each day.)


There’s a list of creativity stoppers to watch out for (like, ‘there is only one right answer’), pages and pages of inspiration exercises and sources found in our everyday lives, how the author shops for fabric, a section on words in quilts, and lots of information on color. How about being shown the eight styles of fabric! This was an eye-opener for me and something I especially enjoyed.

Then there’s an extensive gallery of the author’s quilts and short-story quilts made by her friends and students. Martingale has done their usual fantastic job on the photography… kudos Brent Kane!!! The quilts burst from the pages. Mary Lou finishes up the book by talking about the making of short-story quilts and how you can derive them from your own life. She shares “secrets” of scale, theme, focus, design elements, drawing, creating patterns, and also shares her own methods of appliqué. Borders, quilting, finishing, and embellishing (‘the icing on the cake’) are also included.

Out of the Box is quite a pep talk and an energizing boost! If you’d like to win a copy, leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. (U.S. and Canada only.) Tell us why you need this book in your quiltmaking life!

The winner will also receive a copy of my book Easy Appliqué Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes. Thank you Martingale!

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie


18 Responses to “Jump out of your box!”

  1. Erin in MI on April 3rd, 2010 12:04 pm

    I love process books and this one definitely sounds interesting! Thank you for offering it as a give-away.

    Happy Easter!

  2. Lin McQuiston on April 3rd, 2010 6:02 pm

    I really need this book. I’m stuck in the past – the 1800’s to be exact. I’m buried in repo fabric and patterns and I can’t get motivated to do anything with those drab colors. I long for bright and fun and whimsy, but don’t know where or how to start. This book sounds like just what I need. Please bring me back to the future and pick me.

  3. Barb Rohrmayr on April 3rd, 2010 10:59 pm

    I’d love to read this book. I feel that I am at the point where I want to break out of the traditional and move into my own stories. What fun to just let loose. Thanks for the chance to give it a try.

  4. Kris Searle on April 4th, 2010 2:24 am

    I think I was born without a creativity gene. I like to find ways to deviate from patterns, but I’m still very much in the box. This looks like a fun way to break out.

  5. Linda Hall on April 4th, 2010 4:13 am

    This book looks unique in its approach to creativity, and would be a great addition to anyone’s library.

  6. betsy on April 4th, 2010 4:26 am

    Kay I need this book bad. I struggle with getting outside the box and I fear that if I go outside the box my projects will not look right. Thank you so much for the chance to win.

  7. Lei Brown on April 4th, 2010 5:00 am

    What a neat giveaway. I would love to be entered for a chance to win. I think the book would really help me with me fabric choices and would help me break out of the mold I am in where everything I use has to match the other. Thanks

  8. Sharon Metzger on April 4th, 2010 5:29 am

    OMGosh!! Mary Lou Weidman’s books are wonderful for getting you out of ‘Quilters Block’. I love Mary Lou’s book because I am a whimsical quilter. My M.O. is that I quilt to my own music, which fits in perfectly with Mary Lou. How wonderful it would be to win her new book but the added bonus of your book ‘Easy Applique blocks’ would be just as great. I could use those applique templates to make new whimsical quilts that were inspired by Mary Lou’s new book!! Good luck to everyone who enters but I would be really grateful to win. 8-)

  9. Robin Gold on April 4th, 2010 6:04 am

    Ooo, it would be great to win Mary Lou’s book. I’ve heard her talk — she’s quite a character — and everyone I’ve heard who has taken a class from her raves about it! I’d love to win this book!

  10. Marcia Hron on April 4th, 2010 7:14 am

    I need “Out of the Box” by Mary Lou Weidman because, although I am an avid Appliquer (a word???), I look to these incredibly creative people to help me to stimulate my own, somewhat stilted, creativity. I have it, but you help me to discover it! Thanks!

  11. Cory on April 5th, 2010 3:57 am

    This looks like a very fun book. I would love to win it and your book too. Thank yu for offering them. Take care and God bless, Cory

  12. Blogless me on April 5th, 2010 8:15 am

    It seems like a lovely book that I’d most definitely like to read. I live on the other side of the pond, though :-(. Happy Easter!

  13. Debbie St.Germain on April 5th, 2010 11:18 am

    I love Marylou’s quilting style and I am in a creating rut, the book would be perfect for me. Your book would be wonderful too, lots of fun patterns to make potholders and small gifts for my friends.


  14. Sandi M on April 5th, 2010 2:18 pm

    As a relatively new quilter, I find I am leaning toward applique and would love to be as brave as Mary Lou with fabric choices. Plus I would also love another book by Kay McKenzie. :-)

  15. Sue on April 5th, 2010 2:43 pm

    I, too, am stuck in a rut and would love to win a book that might encourage a new direction.

  16. Ruth C on April 6th, 2010 8:01 am

    I’d love to start making up my own quilt designs! I am so in love with the patterns available that I don’t often enlist my own creativity, but I’d like to.

  17. Lesa on April 6th, 2010 12:15 pm

    I already have this book and it is great. It’s one of the few quilt books I own where I have read every. single. word. The pictures of the quilts are worth the price of the book. So if you don’t win this book, go out and buy it! You won’t be sorry.

  18. Kathy Sabel on April 7th, 2010 3:37 am

    April 7th my 68th birthday and I would love your book. I make baby quilts this way but have stayed in the prim and proper with big quilts. I want permision to go way out and with this book I should be able to jump the horizon. Enjoy your website so very much.
    Kathy Sabel