May 2014 Designer of the Month

2014 Amy Smart May Aurifil designer button

Hi this is Designer/Radio show host Pat Sloan! The theme for the Aurifil Designer blocks is a ‘woman who has given you inspiration’.  I love learning who inspires our designers.  

Our May Designer is  Amy Smart from Diary of a Quilter. She lives just outside Salt Lake City Utah. I love Amy’s approachable style and the quilts she makes are fun, relaxing and always have me itching to stitch!

I have had the pleasure of having Amy on my All Quilting podcast Feb 18, 2013 and she will be on the show again in this May!. You can CLICK HERE and scroll back on the player to listen

We have a sew along with a MONTHLY thread BOX giveaway (seriously folks… you could win a box of my thread which is over $120.00 value.. for making a quilt block… you have to join in!).

And we have an added feature this year of a machine quilting tip from Natalia Bonner. Look for that at the end of each interview!

EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made a  block from our 2014 designers and that random person receives a FULL BOX of my Aurifil thread as the  prize! Winners are all contacted via Flickr email and posted at our FLICK GROUP HERE

Let’s get to it!


When was your FIRST quilt sighting? Did it inspire you to start quilting? 

My mom was always a sewer and creator. When I was little we had lots of tied blankets and crocheted afghans that my mom had made. I still remember when my mom went to her first quilting class when I was about 10. She didn’t know what the list of supplies meant so she just brought a tourist souvenir ruler with a clear edge for the quilting ruler. We still laugh about that!


Do you still have your first project you ever made? What was it?

At the class my mom learned to hand piece a simple nine-patch variation block. And she came home and taught me how to do it. This is the first quilt block I ever made at age 10 or 11. I’m so amazed and proud that I still have it! Who could have dreamed what quilting would become for me!

quilt from my mom pink

I made a few more quilt blocks using this pattern and later my mom took one of them and designed and made a whole quilt with them and quilted it by hand. This quilt was on my bed for years!

Red 1970s Lattice Quilt-001

When you go to a quilt show, what types of quilts are you drawn to?

That is a tough question for me because I’m really drawn to all kids of quilts. I love fresh, modern quilts with bright colors, but I think my favorite quilts have lots of fabric and are made entirely of scraps on hand. Especially if they’re old and/or have a story. I love pioneer and depression era quilts for that reason. Gee’s Bend quilts too. Even though they’re all different styles, it’s the ‘make-it-do’ part of the quilt that I love most about them.


We all have parts of the process we ‘prefer’ more than others. What part of quilt making do you ‘Prefer’ most and why? And which the least.. and why?

I think my favorite part of the process is designing the quilt and choosing the fabrics. Sometimes it is finding the design and then finding the fabrics I want to work with, but most of the time it’s the other way around. Usually its the pile of fabric that inspires me to create or find just the right design to fit the fabric. I guess fabric just inspires me! Whenever I feel my quilting ‘mo-jo’ start to sag, I go clean out my fabric. I am quickly restored and ready to start a new project.

The part I like the least is the actual quilting part. I know it’s partly because I lack confidence in my machine quilting skills. I find hand quilting really therapeutic and relaxing, but we all know that takes more time, which I don’t seem to have enough of at the moment. So I’m okay with letting someone else do my quilting most of the time. I know I’ll get my quilt done much faster that way with much less frustration.

amy smart quilt

Did you have a career prior to making art, and what was it? 

After graduating from college I worked in the charitable fundraising office at our local hospital and I really loved it! When my first baby was born over 15 years ago, I quit my job to be home with her. And that is when my quilting began to take off. My time to quilt was minimal to none when I was in school and working. As much as I LOVED being home with my baby, I discovered that I needed a creative outlet. And so I made her a quilt. This was the first quilt that I’d ever made and completed by myself from start to finish. And then the bug bit! I started taking quilt classes at a quilt shop and have been gung-ho ever since.


I started working part-time in a local quilt shop in 2003 which I LOVED. I only worked for a few hours on Saturdays. It was my weekly escape where I could talk to other quilters, pet the fabric, design quilt samples, and earn a little bit of cash to support my quilting habit. I started writing a blog, Diary of a Quilter (www.diaryofaquilter) in 2008 and began selling some of my designs online. This venture has become my job and I love it because I can be home with my kids but earn money (and continue to support my fabric addictions) all while doing something I really enjoy.

Temple Square

What is your favorite place to visit in your hometown?

I grew up in Salt Lake City. One of my favorite places there is Temple Square downtown. I got married in the Temple in Salt Lake City and I still love to go back. It’s a must see place if you visit Salt Lake. During spring through fall the gardens and flowers are spectacular and at Christmas time the light display draws huge crowds. It’s definitely one of our Christmas traditions to go there every year.

Utah is also a bit of a quilting mecca. Which is awesome. There are some fantastic quilt shops up and down the Wasatch Front (the mountain range to the east of Salt Lake City.) I feel so lucky to not only have access to some great fabric resources (because, let’s be honest, nothing beats seeing the fabric in person), but also some great shops with classes, inspiring displays, etc.


Do you have a tip or trick to make your quilt making easier?

I finally found my favorite method for squaring up half-square-triangles. Why did this take me so long? It has saved me tons of time!

Aurifil thread

What are your 3 favorite colors of Aurifil thread?

That is like asking what are your three favorite family members. How do you narrow it down? I always buy Aurifil cones of a good neutral like 2000. I’m also loving this shade of gray (2140) and gold (2625).

amy-smart-sewing-studioWhat does your studio look like, and what would you change in it?

I have a spot in my basement where I keep all of my fabric, books, junk, etc. but I rarely sew down there because it’s just too far away from all the “action.” (I have four kids, I just need to know what’s going on…) So for years I sewed at the kitchen table, moving my stuff every night for dinner. And it just looked junky all the time.


Last fall I had an epiphany!! We have a dining room right off the kitchen that we never use. It’s open to the front room – which is the one room I try to keep clean all the time – but realized if we hung doors between the rooms, I could close off the dining room and use it as a sewing space. And that way I could leave my machine and my projects set up. It has been heaven! I try to contain the mess it the basement still, but having a place to leave my sewing set up and still be in the heart of the action has been amazing. And as a bonus, the room has two windows facing south and west for the best light in the whole house!

denyse schmidt fan girl moment

If you could train with, or work with, or follow one person for a day.. who would it be?

Denyse Schmidt. She just absolutely inspires me. I’m a pretty traditional person and always like traditional quilting styles, until I saw Denyse’s work. I’m just inspired by all that she does. I especially love how she recognizes the traditional roots of quilting, but then takes them and makes them fresh and new again, whether it’s her use of color or a fresh pattern design.

(I met her one time and had a fan girl moment that Denyse was so nice about but I’m sure she was a little worried after.)


Anything else you’d like to share?

I had something exciting happen in April. My first book, Fabulously Fast Quilts, came out. Three years ago, was the first time someone asked me if I’d ever thought of writing a book. And I was floored by the idea. It took me another year to think about the idea and decide if I was really confident enough to do it.

Amy Smart book

And then it took another year of hard work to write 12 new patterns and produce the quilts to go with them. Then another year of waiting while the publisher did their magic. April of 2014 seemed so far away. And HERE WE ARE! Wow – it’s still a little bit surreal.

This book is written with the busy quilter in mind. (AKA everyone.) It’s a collection of traditionally-inspired as well as totally new quilt patterns, each with some kind of short-cut to speed up the process. I’m hoping it will be a resource when a quick-project is in need.

amy smart mom

What woman Inspired your Quilt Block? 

I chose my mom because she is the one who taught me to quilt in the first place, who shared her fabric collection with me when our budget was slim, and who watched my baby while I took those first quilt classes. Not only did she teach me how to sew and create but she also exposed me to art and music and history and traveling and different cultures.

She helped me to become a well-rounded person and we continue to enjoy so many of the same things. She has supported me in all of my dreams and plans and has always been my biggest cheerleader! I feel lucky that my block month is May – just in time for Mother’s Day!

amy smart aurifil block of the month


CLICK HERE to download the Smart Aurifil Block of the Month



And a few on the light side… 

• The Book you are currently reading: Call the Midwife (again). I love that series.

• Last Movie you Watched: Catching Fire

• Your current favorite Song: I’m going to go with the pop culture cliche right now and say “Let it Go” from Frozen. I’m an Idina Menzel fan, but I also love hearing my kids walk around the house singing it or playing it on the piano.

• The snack you crave: Anything chocolate works, but my constant favorite is Peanut M&M’s. I tell myself they’re “healthy” because they have protein.

• The Color you have always LOVED….. TOUGH ONE! Today I’ll say Red.

Visit Amy here…


machine quilting tip number five

The very talented Natalia Bonner has a Machine Quilting tip for you each month. Natalia will be quilting the final top for the Aurifil Gallery in Milan Italy!

Visit Natalia at

pat sloan 2014 may aurifil block with thread

my block! Come over to my Blog for some TIPS on how I auditioned and cut my strips.. plus a photo of ALL my blocks together! CLICK HERE

Are you on Facebook? I have a new group with the most incredible show and tell going on! You should see it! CLICK HERE to join me… I’d love to meet you!

1 Watermak-Needle-Black

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This block is by Vicki! She did a group photo, love her blocks all together!

EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made a block.. that person will receive a special Aurifil thread prize! This month our random winning block is from Sheila! Winners are all contacted via Flickr email and posted at our FLICKR PAGE CLICK HERE

amy smart aurifil BOM with variation


  1. Pat!! My first email from you and I’m in love! I am soooooo happy I found your website. You do a fantastic job. Very interested in your new book.

  2. What a great post! Lots of great info and knowledge! Great tip shared too! Loved the quilts shown and blocks! Now I am even more inspired! Spring has sprung!!!

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