Out of the Box - Unleash Your Creativity through Quilts

by Mary Lou Weidman
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Once upon a time, there was a quiltmaker whose quilts told wonderful stories. News of her talents spread far and wide, and she began sharing her secrets with others. Soon people asked her to write down her quiltmaking secrets, so she wrote books for all to enjoy. With this one in your hands, now you hold the secrets to making story quilts!

You'll discover a treasure trove of ideas, exercises, tips, and techniques for unlocking your creativity. You'll also learn the importance of mood, composition, and drama in story quilts. So start making quilts that tell your own colorful stories--and live happily ever after!

by Mary Lou Weidman
8.5" x 11" printed on your home computer
Format Description:
full color, PDF digital download
Product Code:
Publication Date:
November 10th, 2009

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From Kay MacKenzie, allaboutapplique.net

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, but I can peep over the lid.

This book holds quite a bit of wisdom, more reading and thoughtiness that your average quilting book. It's a process book rather than a product book. I really appreciate that approach. Mary Lou emphasizes the need to think and daydream, and this struck a chord with me as well. She says we need to set aside time for this every day to doodle, think, and imagine.

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. 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!

From Cheryl Lynch, Quilt Designer

Mary Lou Weidman has distilled her creative process and has articulately included it in Out of the Box. This is truly fabric folk art with all of the how to's. Mary Lou offers extensive tips on how to come up with a theme, how to put together fabrics, put words on your quilts, and find inspiration.

You can't help but smile as you leaf through this book. The fabric color choices—plaids and polka dots and stripes—and the people depicted as caricatures, are bright and cheerful. These are combined to enable you to make a quilt that tells a story. Also included are lots of quilts created by her students. An added bonus is directions for preparing these wild scrappy borders, which she calls “hoochy mama” borders. But be warned, this book assumes prior knowledge and gives little instruction on appliqué, the predominant technique used for putting together the quilts.

Although you may be attracted to this book by the colorful quilts, all of Mary Lou's tips and techniques can be added to your quilt design toolbox, no matter what your color palette.

From Midwest Book Review

Mary Lou Weidman's Out of the Box tells of a quiltmaker whose quilts tell lovely stories—and shows how to achieve similar success and designs. From harvesting unusual fabric from thrift shop finds to creating themes from fabrics or using novelty fabrics to spark a theme, this is packed with creative ideas and different approaches.

Mary Lou Weidman

Mary Lou Weidman is an artist, quilter, painter, writer, lecturer, and workshop teacher. She started quilting with her grandmother when she was in grade school, and she started painting with her father when she was seven years old. Her interest in all mediums of art keeps her busy as she explores what her inner artist will develop next. Encouraging and teaching art concepts to others with humor and sentiment is her passion as she travels the world and meets new quilting and art friends.

Mary Lou has made a lifetime of friends while teaching on the road, and it's the people and their stories that keep her traveling and teaching. Gardening, cooking, decorating, reading, and crafting with her grandchildren are all passions that she tries to fit into the time she has at home when she is not traveling.

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