Have you seen Reed Johnson’s award-winning quilt, Purple Rose? He was the 2017 grand prize winner of the AccuQuilt Quilt Block Contest and special guest at AccuQuilt's 2017 Quilt Block Unveiling Event where his amazing quilt block design was unveiled as a 17-foot quilt block at AccuQuilt's Omaha headquarters. Take a look!
Reed is no beginner in the award-winning quilt game. He was 2016’s fan favorite in the AccuQuilt Quilt Block Contest. Reed didn’t start quilting until he was in his 40’s and now this lawyer-turned-quilt-designer not only teaches quilting classes, he makes or designs about ten quilts a year.
Reed wishes everyone could visit the AccuQuilt headquarters to, “meet the people, see the attention to detail that goes into the product, see the quilts currently on display in their museum and to spend some time in their design room… to let their imaginations go wild.”
We chatted with Reed about his award-winning Purple Rose quilt and about quilting in general. We love his enthusiasm and craftsman heart. Following is a Q&A with the grand prize winner himself.
AccuQuilt: So, Reed, how does it feel to be the grand prize winner of the 2017 AccuQuilt Quilt Block Contest?
Reed Johnson: It was a fantastic experience! I loved touring the AccuQuilt headquarters and seeing my block unveiled on the large billboard outside their building. The AccuQuilt family treated me like royalty and it was a great validation that a design I found pleasing, was pleasing to others.
AQ: What was your inspiration for your award-winning Purple Rose quilt block?
RJ: I love the Ohio Star block for its simplicity and corresponding opportunities for design modification. Purple is one of my favorite colors and teal is a current favorite.
AQ: Where do you find inspirations for your quilt designs?
RJ: I draw my inspiration from nature, which reveals amazing examples of line and structure. I am inspired by architecture, like geometric designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. Pattern designs found in tiles and art are also an inspiration for me. I am a big fan of the artist M. E. Escher, and did a tumbling blocks quilt that is one of my favorites.
AQ: What are you designing or quilting now?
RJ: I am quilting projects that I will be teaching this summer, a mix of traditional and modern. I always have a bunch of new designs running around in my head that I am working on.
AQ: We would love to hear about who got you into quilting.
RJ: I first started to be interested in quilting when I saw the beautiful quilts displayed at the State Fair. My interest was further peaked by watching Alex Anderson on “Simply Quilts” on PBS. I credit my original learning of how to quilt with Eleanor Burns, from Quilt in a Day, as her strip log cabin was the first quilt I ever made. For 35 years, I was a lawyer. I wanted a creative outlet and found quilting, first as a hobby, and then as a new career. It was a big leap to retire early and start designing quilt patterns as a living, but a decision I am so glad I made.
AQ: Is quilting a social thing for you, more private, or both?
RJ: When I am working on my designs, or making my quilts, it is mainly a solitary event. I enjoy being able to listen to music or podcasts while I work. You never know when inspiration will strike, and you need to act on it! When I am teaching, it is a very social, party-like atmosphere, and I enjoy being around others who enjoy quilting and have a desire to learn as I do.
AQ: Just for fun, please describe for us the space where you do your quilting.
RJ: Pretty much the whole house is consumed with quilting. Designing quilts is done on the computer in one room; cutting with the AccuQuilt cutter is done in another; sewing is done on my Bernina or Janome in my sewing room and fabric is stored in another. So, like I said, the whole house.
AQ: What is your favorite part about quilting?
RJ: I absolutely love designing quilts on the computer, but amazingly, putting on the binding is my favorite part of making the quilt.
AQ: Which AccuQuilt cutter do you use?
RJ: I have several AccuQuilt cutters including the GO! Baby, GO! Big Electric and the Studio 2 Cutter. The GO! Big Electric is my favorite because it cuts out my fabric with ease. I also get a lot of use out of the others; I use the GO! Baby when portability is key and I want to take it to a class, and the Studio to really cut large quantities of fabric.
AQ: Do you have a favorite AccuQuilt block?
RJ: I recently fell in love with the Winding Ways die as it makes curved piecing a breeze. I also really like the GO! Qubes as so many different quilt blocks can be made from them.
AQ: How have AccuQuilt cutters made quilting easier for you or someone you know?
One of my students is 94 years old and she recently discovered AccuQuilt cutting in one of my classes and she absolutely loves it. It takes a part that was very difficult for her to get good results and makes it easy and fun.
We want to congratulate Reed Johnson again on winning the grand prize in the 2017 AccuQuilt Quilt Block Contest. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!
Get ready for the 2018 AccuQuilt Quilt Block Contest. Watch for more details soon!