Last week, I had the amazing pleasure to teach at The Quilter’s Affair and attend the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (hosted by Jean and Valori Wells). As if that wasn’t honor enough, they asked me to be the featured quilter for Save It For Sunday. The day after the show, they hung several of my quilts among the trees at a gorgeous resort. As a part of the exhibit, I gave walking tours and discussed the quilts and my journey as a quilter.
(Photos by Julie Herman)
The experience was one that I will never forget as long as I live. It was more emotional than I had thought it would be. Seeing my quilts hung in such a beautiful setting and getting to share the story about Grandpa was such a visual reminder of the huge role he played in my life. I will always miss Grandpa, that’s a given, but that day, I missed him more than ever. If he would have been there, he would have been riding around in his electric scooter and flirting with all the ladies. I would have probably have had to mock-scold him at least twice for distracting people.
But even though he wasn’t there in person, I made sure that I shared his story about how a retired Ford worker became a quilter and changed the life of his granddaughter. (Even though he was my husband’s grandpa, he claimed me as his granddaughter.)
In fact, while preparing for my lecture, I found an amazing quote by Shannon Alder,
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
The stories that my family tells about Grandpa is his legacy. He left more than just the love of quilting, he left a legacy of putting family first and being the best Grandpa I have ever known.
Now, I would love to “walk” you through the exhibit. The best thing? You don’t even have to leave your room….
First up, the quilt that started it all. This is the quilt that Grandpa helped me make over 12 years ago. We still use it every night on our bed!
I didn’t put all the quilts in chronological order, the following quilt was finished several years after I started quilting. Before Grandpa passed away, he pieced this quilt top for my daughter, Cloe, and asked me to quilt it. Years after he passed away, it was finally finished and used in a book. It’s our only published collaboration and is a great example of his love of Amish quilts and my love of quilting things to death.
The next few quilts in the exhibit included my second and third quilt, both of which were hand quilted. Why I went from a 9-patch to a LeMoyne star block with Y seams, I will never know! The last quilt on the right is a portrait quilt I made of Grandpa after he passed away. It hangs in my studio and reminds me of him daily.
From there, I picked quilts that represented high points in my quilting career:
(from left) Falling in love modern quilting, publishing my first book, my first fabric line, and my first booth at Quilt market.
(You may notice that I love to “talk” with my hands!)
Emily Cier’s quilt, Cumulus, and my Legacy quilt, highlighting my second fabric collection.
More quilts showing my love of quilting things to death.
(Textured Panels, Skylights and Field Study Quilt.)
Quilting for customers is one of my favorite things to do! Here I show some of the quilts that I have quilted for Julie Herman.
(from left to right Science Fair, Night Sky, Night Sky, and Day Break.)
I love showing how the quilting can really change the look of the quilt. I also pointed out a mistake on one of the quilts (good thing you can’t see it on the photo!!) and talked about how some mistakes are ok to leave on the quilt.
(from left: Impracticality and Drift Feathers pieced by me, and Dahlia, designed and pieced by Emily Cier)
Emily Cier also let me borrow some of her quilts for the exhibit. The problem with quilting for customers is that you need to send them back! I discussed quilting on solids and using the inspiration of the pattern to help pick designs.
More quilts, more stories…..in the interest of your time, I’ll skip over some of it…..
At the end of the tour, I showed my most recent quilts. (Fractured Squares, Dressy Wholecloth, Coral and Laurel, three of which feature my newest fabric collection, Athena).
Even though they were the last quilts of the exhibit, I told the group that I hoped that one day I would look back and these quilts would represent the middle part of my quilting career. Hopefully, I have many more years ahead….
After the walking tour, I gave a lecture where I shared more of Grandpa’s wisdom. Pearls of advice that he shared with me….such as:
“I match colors by sewing them together. A green, is a green, is a green.”
“There is no such thing as an ugly quilt” (at least that is what he demonstrated any time he bought a quilt top from the thrift store or garage sale. He never passed up a quilt top)
My all-time favorite was, “You don’t have to iron the seams while sewing the quilt top, they are going to be inside the quilt anyways”. (It was a good two years before I realized that you were, in fact, supposed to iron the seams as you go!)
From start to finish, it was a magical day and I can’t thank Jean and Valori enough for selecting me. The whole day was a little funny, a little sad and hopefully a little encouraging to those that walked along with me. I hope that one day the stories that people tell about me will make Grandpa proud.
Thank you for reading this and walking along with me on this amazing, crazy quilting journey.