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Quilt Alliance by Amy Milne - 5M ago
The nonprofit Quilt Alliance launched StoryBee, a new interview show created for its members. The twenty-minute web-based program will profile notable people who make, collect, sell, study, exhibit and/or preserve quilts. In keeping with the Quilt Alliance mission to document, preserve and share the history of quilts, StoryBee will record conversations with interesting people from all corners of the quilt world and bring these stories to our members.
The Quilt Alliance is proud to feature Victoria Findlay Wolfe in the debut episode of StoryBee. Victoria is a NYC based International Award Winning Quilter and teacher. She was raised on a farm in central Minnesota, and learned to sew and quilt when she was just four years old. Victoria graduated from the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art in 1993, and a year later moved to New York City. Victoria has an upcoming exhibit at the Iowa Quilt Museum opening April 17th (through July 29): Playing with Purpose: Victoria Findlay Wolfe Retrospective.
Victoria Findlay Wolfe
Frances O’Roark Dowell, the host of StoryBee, is an author and quiltmaker and is best known for her “beloved books for tweens and teenagers” (New York Times Sunday Book Review). Since 2010 she has also hosted a popular podcast about her life as a quilter, The Off-Kilter Quilt, and in 2016 established a small publishing company to bring out a line of stories and novels especially for quiltmakers and quilt lovers. The quilting novel Birds in the Air was followed by the short story collection Margaret Goes Modern in 2017. Stars Upon Stars – a sequel to Birds in the Air – will be published in 2018. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, two sons, and a dog named Travis.
Frances O’Roark Dowell
StoryBee, Episode 1 will be available to the public through the end of February, after which a member’s login will be required to access StoryBee videos.

Upcoming guests include: Alex Anderson, Carolyn Crump, Marin Hanson, Roderick Kiracofe, Carolyn Mazloomi, Luana Rubin, Denyse Schmidt, Julie Silber, Ricky Tims, and Nichole Wilde.

Quilt Alliance members pick the membership fee that suits their budget, starting as low as $25, with the option to receive thank you gifts at each level. New and current Quilt Alliance members are encouraged to begin or renew their memberships by February 28, after which fees will go up 20% (the first increase since 2004, when the QA membership program began).
One lucky QA member will win a special Valentine’s Bundle, sponsored by Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts, to be drawn on March 1. All current members as of February 28 will be eligible to win.
Valentines Bundle Giveaway for QA Members
Member support enables the small nonprofit, with one full time and two part-time staff members, to maintain and grow several important grassroots oral history projects. Projects include Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories (QSOS), archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, Go Tell It at the Quilt Show! a short-format video project presented on YouTube, and the Quilt Story Road Show education and outreach program.
For more information visit our membership page. The Quilt Alliance is proud to be sponsored by these generous companies. View our full sponsor list here.
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New Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle

Welcome to this week’s quilt jigsaw puzzle from Quilt Alliance! The beautiful quilts in the puzzles have all been contestants or quilt donations in current or past Quilt Alliance contests and auctions. Be sure to sign up for our blog notifications, so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming puzzles.

This key fundraiser supports our mission of documenting, preserving and sharing the history of quilts and their makers, and is an important opportunity to showcase and record the work of quilters in the U.S. and all over the world.

You can still bid on this and other 2017 auction quilts through December 4 at 9pm EST here www.QuiltAllanceAuction.org.

Sisterhood of the Pussyhats by Betsy Vinegrad

This week’s puzzle is a photo of the label on the back of a quilt entitled Sisterhood of the Pussyhats made by artist Betsy Vinegrad of Short Hills, New Jersey for the 2017 Quilt Alliance “Voices” contest and auction. The piece is made from fabrics designed by and/or purchased from women. Wool and cotton/polyester batting. Polyester and cotton thread. Pieced, quilted and embroidered on a domestic sewing machine.

Artist’s Statement

“Sisterhood of the Pussypants” by Betsy Vinegrad

The Pussyhat Project, conceived of by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, was launched to make pink hats as a unifying symbol at the 2017 Women’s March. Gatherings took place all over the country to make pussyhats. For centuries, knitting and quilting bees have been safe places for support, sharing of ideas and even political activism. Made at a weekend retreat, inspiration came from many women including fellow quilters, fabric designers, knitters, crocheters and marchers.

About Quilt Alliance

We rely on the generous support of donors and members like you to sustain our projects. If you support our mission of documenting, preserving, and sharing the stories of quilts and quiltmakers, join us by becoming a member or renewing your membership, making a donation, or learning how your business or corporation can become a supporter of the Quilt Alliance.

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Quilt Alliance by Amy Milne - 8M ago

Our good friend Paula Nadelstern has just introduced a new fabric collection, Wonderlust and she’s having an Online Pop-Up Sale on her website through Saturday 11/18.

To celebrate, Paula donated three pieces of fabric from this stunning new line to us for a giveaway!

How to enter:
Subscribe to the Quilt Alliance blog (current subscribers need not subscribe again), and leave a comment that names one of the five fabrics in the Wonderlust collection. Make your comment by Saturday, November 18 to qualify. Easy peasy!

We’ll draw one winner and announce their name on Tuesday, 11/21 on the Quilt Alliance Facebook page.

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New Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle

Welcome to this week’s quilt jigsaw puzzle from Quilt Alliance! We are creating new quilt jigsaw puzzles for you that are both fun to solve and inspirational, too!  The beautiful quilts in the puzzles have all been contestants or quilt donations in current or past Quilt Alliance contests and auctions. Be sure to sign up for our blog notifications, so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming puzzles.

The Quilt Alliance presents a contest, exhibition and auction of small wall quilts every year. This key fundraiser supports our mission of documenting, preserving and sharing the history of quilts and their makers, and is an important opportunity to showcase and record the work of quilters in the U.S. and all over the world.

You can browse the 2017 contest quilts here www.QuiltAllanceAuction.org to start picking out your favorites for our annual online auction that begins on Nov. 13, 2017.

Fight Like a Girl by Anne Garretson

This week’s puzzle quilt is entitled Fight Like a Girl and was made by Anne Garretson of Newfield, New York for the 2017 Quilt Alliance “Voices” contest and auction. The piece is made from cotton commercial fabrics, cotton batting, and fabric paint.

Artist’s Statement

This piece was inspired by the sight of two teenage girls standing on top of a concrete pedestal at the Women’s March on Washington. Of the thousands of signs I saw that day I was struck by the power of theirs. A scrap of cardboard that read ‘fight like a girl’ became a message of our strength and their young confidence gave me hope.

About Quilt Alliance

We rely on the generous support of donors and members like you to sustain our projects. If you support our mission of documenting, preserving, and sharing the stories of quilts and quiltmakers, join us by becoming a member or renewing your membership, making a donation, or learning how your business or corporation can become a supporter of the Quilt Alliance.

The post Saturday’s Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle: Fight Like a Girl appeared first on Quilt Alliance.

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New Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle

Welcome to this week’s quilt jigsaw puzzle from Quilt Alliance! We are creating new quilt jigsaw puzzles for you that are both fun to solve and inspirational, too!  The beautiful quilts in the puzzles have all been contestants or quilt donations in current or past Quilt Alliance contests and auctions. Be sure to sign up for our blog notifications, so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming puzzles.

The Quilt Alliance presents a contest, exhibition and auction of small wall quilts every year. This key fundraiser supports our mission of documenting, preserving and sharing the history of quilts and their makers, and is an important opportunity to showcase and record the work of quilters in the U.S. and all over the world.

You can browse the 2017 contest quilts here www.QuiltAllanceAuction.org to start picking out your favorites for our annual online auction that begins on Nov. 13, 2017.

Endangered by Nancy S. Brown

This week’s puzzle quilt is entitled Endangered and was made by Nancy S. Brown of Oakland, California for the 2017 Quilt Alliance “Voices” contest and auction. Nancy hand appliquéd and quilted her piece using 100% cotton fabric,. It was machine pieced with embroidered whiskers. She used Tsukineko ink in the eye.

Artist’s Statement

“Endangered” by Nancy S. Brown

The quilt was made for all of the endangered species who have no voice. This is an Amur Leopard which is critically endangered. This leopard lives in southeast Russia and northeast China and it is estimated that there are only about 60 of these leopards remaining in the world.

Judge’s Choice

Judge Marlene Ingraham, founder of Original Sewing & Quilt Expo selected Brown’s quilt as her Judge’s Choice Award, saying:

I fall for any quilt that truly captures “cat-itude”, and this one does exactly that.  Spectacularly.  Always quietly observing, this cat and so many of us remain silent in the face of great fear or tragedy.  Someone has to speak for them (us).  I also truly enjoy seeing so many techniques used so artfully by this maker.  The dark colors in the background set the tone …. and we seek out that single, hauntingly beautiful eye, speaking volumes.  Wonderful!!

About Quilt Alliance

We rely on the generous support of donors and members like you to sustain our projects. If you support our mission of documenting, preserving, and sharing the stories of quilts and quiltmakers, join us by becoming a member or renewing your membership, making a donation, or learning how your business or corporation can become a supporter of the Quilt Alliance.

The post Saturday’s Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle: Endangered appeared first on Quilt Alliance.

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New Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle

Welcome to this week’s quilt jigsaw puzzle from Quilt Alliance! We are creating new quilt jigsaw puzzles for you that are both fun to solve and inspirational, too!  The beautiful quilts in the puzzles have all been contestants or quilt donations in past Quilt Alliance contests and auctions. Be sure to sign up for our blog notifications, so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming puzzles.

The Quilt Alliance presents a contest, exhibition and auction of small wall quilts every year. This key fundraiser supports our mission of documenting, preserving and sharing the history of quilts and their makers, and is an important opportunity to showcase and record the work of quilters in the U.S. and all over the world.

You can browse the 2017 contest quilts here www.QuiltAllanceAuction.org to start picking out your favorites for our annual online auction that begins on Nov. 13, 2017.

Good Morning by Nita E. Markos

This week’s puzzle quilt is entitled Good Morning and was made by Nita E Markos of Hillsboro, Illinois for the 2017 Quilt Alliance “Voices” contest and auction. Nita used self-tinted fabric, applique, collage and oil pastel crayons on her piece.

Artist’s Statement

The rooster makes me think of a visit to relations in a small Greek village in the mountians. Each morning we were awakened by a rooster crowing, then a dog barking, then a donkey braying. What a way to wake up.

About Quilt Alliance

We rely on the generous support of donors and members like you to sustain our projects. If you support our mission of documenting, preserving, and sharing the stories of quilts and quiltmakers, join us by becoming a member or renewing your membership, making a donation, or learning how your business or corporation can become a supporter of the Quilt Alliance.

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When Hurricane Harvey brought historic flooding to large areas of Texas and Louisiana earlier this week, quilters all across the world began planning donation quilts. Quilters are among the most generous of artists, who routinely give away their work to comfort, warm and cheer the recipient, often someone they’ve never met. Quilt Alliance Oral History Program Coordinator, Emma Parker, looked into the Quilters’ S.O.S. oral history collection to find three excerpts that speak to this tradition of the generosity and care taking that quilters have provided for centuries.
Irene Fankhauser, interviewed by Sharon Ann Louden in Tecumseh, Nebraska in 2009.

Irene Fankhauser

SL: How do you think quilts are important for American life?

IF: I think that quilts are [clears throat.] important to the history of America because the early settlers had to use pieces of material they had in order to make quilts they were utility quilts they had to make them to keep warm. My grandmother my dad’s mother made a quilt for her mother when their home was destroyed by a tornado and that was about in the late 1890’s or early 1900’s. Evidently the quilt passed on to another daughter who was a sister of my grandmother and a few years ago when she passed away her son gave it to me because she had put a note on there saying what had happened and that the quilt was made by my grandmother and so I got it kind of around the bush so I have that now too.
Mitzi Wiebe Oakes interviewed by Nola Forbes in South Burlington, Vermont in 2009.

Mitzi Wiebe Oakes

MO: I did a lot of small quilts to get through the Katrina hurricane, where my daughter’s house was destroyed. She was in desperate need of having small quilts for the hospital. I made as many as possible. And also did the quilt guild. We sent, I think, over seventy quilts to New Orleans.

MO: I do have trouble letting go of my quilts. They all represent something about my life or me at the time I do them. They really do tell a story about my life.

Donna Sue Groves interviewed by Karen Musgrave in Columbus, Ohio in 2008.

DG: I thought that it would grow, it would probably grow out throughout the Appalachian region, the thirteen states. Really never thought so much about the United States in 2001, and it growing that big, but what’s interesting is now that for the last seven years, and I’ve watched it go into Iowa and Missouri and Kansas and Indiana and Illinois and Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia. As I’ve watched it grow and participated in that growth, I’ve come to realize that what I didn’t realize before, that rural people, in our rural lands, the places that people settled with their families and on small farms, are truly the backbone of America, and that we’re not so different from one another. I never thought about Iowa up until 2002. I never really gave a lot of thought about Illinois or Indiana. Now, when I hear the news of the great flooding that’s happening in Iowa or along the Mississippi, now I reflect and think about those folks. My life always has been, tied to other states, counties, but now I think about how really really flat we are and how we’re intertwined and connected together. You can take one project, Adams County, Ohio for example; you could take our project in 2001, teleport it to Mason County, West Virginia, right now. They’re planning theirs. They have their first quilt square up. You couldn’t tell the difference except the names have changed and maybe the shapes of the barns. We’re all one family, in a sense. We all have similar dreams, hopes, and aspirations.

KM: There’s power in quilting. I believe that.

DG: There is power in quilts. Everybody has a quilt story. Everybody remembers a quilt.

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New Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle


Welcome to this week’s quilt jigsaw puzzle from Quilt Alliance! We are creating new quilt jigsaw puzzles for you that are both fun to solve and inspirational, too!  The beautiful quilts in the puzzles have all been contestants or quilt donations in past Quilt Alliance contests and auctions. Be sure to sign up for our blog notifications, so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming puzzles.

The Quilt Alliance presents a contest, exhibition and auction of small wall quilts every year. This key fundraiser supports our mission of documenting, preserving and sharing the history of quilts and their makers, and is an important opportunity to showcase and record the work of quilters in the U.S. and all over the world.

You can browse the 2017 contest quilts here www.QuiltAllanceAuction.org to start picking out your favorites for our annual online auction that begins on Nov. 13, 2017.

Kumasi Spools

This week’s puzzle quilt is entitled Kumasi Spools and was made by Amy Milne of Cary, NC for the 2008 Quilt Alliance auction.

Amy Milne has been the executive director of the Quilt Alliance since 2006. She has two decades of experience as a nonprofit administrator, educator and artist. Amy has overseen the expansion of the Quilt Alliance’s oral history projects, including the creation of the Go Tell It at the Quilt Show! project, as well as the Quilt Alliance’s biennial Not Fade Away: Sharing Quilt Stories in the Digital Age conference.

Artist’s Statement

This quilt marks my transition from potholder to small quilt. The fabric came from a trip to Ghana – this was the only non-orange fabric I bought. When I went to my stash for this project the fabric reminded me of a red and white spools quilt in the Winedale Historical Center collection I’d seen on the Quilt Index: http://www.quiltindex.org/basicdisplay.php?pbd=TexasWinedale-a0a0c9-a

About Quilt Alliance

We rely on the generous support of donors and members like you to sustain our projects. If you support our mission of documenting, preserving, and sharing the stories of quilts and quiltmakers, join us by becoming a member or renewing your membership, making a donation, or learning how your business or corporation can become a supporter of the Quilt Alliance.

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VOICES – 2017 Quilt Contest

We are so excited to announce the winners of the 2017 Quilt Alliance quilt contest. The theme of the 2017 competition is “Voices”. We invited members to share their opinions, memories, language and truths in the form of a 16″ X 16″ quilt.

After judging, all of the beautiful contest entries were donated to the Quilt Alliance for our annual quilt auction fund-raising event. You can go to the Quilt Alliance auction site to view all of the quilts and can bid on the quilts starting Nov. 13, 2017. It’s a wonderful opportunity to own one or more of the special “Voices” quilts.

The Voices Quilt Contest Winners First Place Award

Carol Poole of Rockledge, Florida, is the winner of this year’s First Place Award selected by Quilt Alliance members. Carol’s prize is an HQ Stitch 710 sewing machine provided by Handi Quilter (retail value: $3,495.00).

Her quilt “My Alzheimer’s Voice,” pictured below, was made with hand dyed batiks and silk batting, using burned fabric and raw edge applique techniques. “I used my seam ripper for something besides unsewing,” says Poole. “I held the metal point over a candle until quite hot, then punched holes, to create the burned holes in my fabric, simulating the small burnt holes in my memories.
In her artist’s statement Poole reveals her experience as an artist in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. “Having been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimers, I wanted to visually depict how my voice is changing. Once my thoughts, ideas and words were bright, quick, well-formed and easily articulated. They are becoming harder to express and even forgotten, at times, singed around the edges. The vortex expresses what my voice is and what my voice is becoming: less busy worked more reflective and thoughtful. I am slower to anger and am grateful of love.”
“My Alzheimer’s Voice” by Carol Poole.
Second Place Award
Quilt Alliance members chose Tim Latimer’s “Quilt Talk,” pictured below, to receive the Second Place Award, an HQ Stitch 510 machine, provided by Handi Quilter (retail value: $1,495.00). Latimer, from Lansing, Michigan, created his piece from quilted leather, using free motion quilting on an antique treadle sewing machine.
Tim described his quilt in his artist’s statement: “This Quilt represents my obsession with quilting. The voices in my head are often about quilting and those voices in my head need to come out. I talk quilts and I make quilts, and the quilts represent my artistic voice.”
“Quilt Talk” by Tim Latimer.
Third Place Award
The Third Place Award, also selected by Quilt Alliance members, goes to Ramona Bates of Little Rock, Arkansas, for her quilt, “On (the Line),” pictured below. Bates wins an HQ Stitch 210 machine, provided by Handi Quilter (retail value: $595.00).
Bates’ artist’s statement shares her remembrance of conversations with her mother and grandmother: “My mother died almost 8 yrs ago. Though I didn’t call often I still miss hearing her voice on the phone (& in person). This piece is a nod to conversations on the phone line and on line (ie Twitter)as we make our voices heard. My mom (& grandmother) would often say “a little bird told me” which I added to the label.”
“On (the Line)” by Ramona Bates
 Honorable Mention Awards

“Sisterhood of the Pussypants” by Betsy Vinegrad

“Quilt Kitty” by Margaret Abramshe

“Meow, Meow, Meow” by Nita E. Markos

“Shhh” by Beth Shibley

“Where Have All the Children Gone?” by Maude Wallace Haeger

“Memories Speak” by Ann M. Bordeau

“Verdant Whispers” by Hope Wilmarth

Judge’s Choice Awards

Judge’s Choice Awards were given to these six artists by quilt world professionals who were invited to participate in choosing their favorite quilts. Our thanks go to each and every one of them.

Judge’s Choice – Meg Cox

“Names – Voices – Memories” by Annedore Neumann

Judge’s Choice – Marianne Fons

“Alternate Facts” by Ellen L. Hernandez

Judge’s Choice – Marlene Ingraham

“Endangered” by Nancy S. Brown

Judge’s Choice – Mark Lipinski

“My Alzheimer’s Voice” by Carol Poole

Judge’s Choice – Paula Nadelstern

“Quilt Talk” by Tim Latimer

Judge’s Choice – Linda Pumphrey

“Discussing the Meaning of Life” by Mary J. Puckett

Honorable Mention and Judge’s Choice Award winners will receive Aurifil Thread Collections. All winners will receive StoryPatches quilt labels. 
  
 
See all of the quilts here: www.QuiltAllianceAuction.org Online auction begins Nov. 13, 2017. 

 

Quilts will be exhibited at Quilters Take Manhattan event on Sept. 16, 2017, and in the Quilt Alliance booth at the International Quilt Festival, Nov. 2-5, 2017.
 
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Merikay Waldvogel is an internationally known quilt historian author, and lecturer. She is widely considered an expert on mid-20th century quilts. Her expertise and tireless research into quilting and the quilters who made them led to her induction into the Quilters Hall of Fame in 2009.

Merikay and the quilt that started it all. (Picture courtesy of Oxmoor House).

We are so honored and excited to have Merikay as a featured speaker at the 2017 Quilter’s Take Manhattan event.  She loves quilts and quilt stories, so her lecture “Making Do: Southern Style” is sure to be both entertaining and educational. We hope you will join us for a fun-filled day of lectures by Merikay and other quilting superstars  on September 16.

Here’s your chance to get to know Merikay a little better. We recently asked Merikay to answer five questions we ask quiltmakers as part of our Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories( QSOS) oral history project. Here are her answers – enjoy!

What is your first quilt memory?

I call it “my quilt epiphany.” I was out shopping one Saturday morning in Evanston, Illinois looking for something to decorate a wall in my new Chicago apartment. One quirky quilt on display in a shop window caught my eye. I was immediately drawn to it. I felt a palpable physical reaction. My heart was racing. I was hooked. I bought it without even considering the age, pattern, or price.  

Detail of the Carolina Lily quilt.

That quilt changed my life. Today nearly 45 years later, when you ask me “what is your first quilt memory” I can honestly say that was it.  

As a little girl growing up in suburban St. Louis, I did not encounter quilts anywhere. I have spent my adult life in the South where it seems like everyone’s grandmother made quilts. Quilting groups at churches are still active. People still lay out their family quilts at concerts in the park. Trunks of quilts still show up in attics. And, I will probably be studying and stroking quilts until my dying day.  

 

Have you ever used quilts to get through a difficult time?

That’s an interesting question. I have to say the most difficult time for me was when my mother died in 1973. She was only 46 and it was breast cancer. Unbeknownst to me, she was making a cross-stitch quilt during the last year or so. Her friend, Mary, had it quilted by a church group and wanted to give it to one of us four kids.

It’s hard for me to fathom this now but no one expressed an interest in the quilt, so Mary offered to make a quilt of our choice for each of us. I asked for a traditional star quilt made from dress fabrics my mother had sewed. I received the quilt in about 1978 and used it on our bed in Tennessee.

Both of my sisters also got quilts, but it was decided that my brother’s quilt would be Mother’s cross-stitch quilt. Being the oldest sister, I decided I would hold on to it until he got “settled.”  I still have it. Unlike 40 some years ago, when I didn’t consider cross-stitch quilts “real” quilts, today I know making a kit quilt is not the easiest thing in the world, and of course, it is special because she made it at a very difficult time of her life and I wonder what she was thinking at the time.

What makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or special collection (including yours)?

Quilts for museums ought to be in excellent condition, have a solid provenance, and most importantly, be worthy of future research and exhibition. These include: quilts with inscribed dates, names, and locations; pictorial and commemorative quilts; quilts with unusual fabrics; quilts made within one family; and quilts made by noted quilt designers and prize winning quiltmakers.   

For my own collection, I chose that first quilt because its quirkiness intrigued me. I still don’t know why the unknown maker finished it the way she did.  Maybe she was going through a difficult time herself. 

I soon became enthralled by the printed fabrics in quilts. I loved Log Cabin quilts, for example.  At first, I only collected 19th century quilts, but as I learned more about quiltmakers of the 1930s, I began collecting patterned quilts and even kit quilts. I used them in books, lectures, and exhibits. Every quilt I personally acquired had to spark my curiosity.

The Bird’s Eye View of the Chicago World’s Fair quilt by Richard Rowley opened up a new level of collecting and in-depth research for me, as did the Chintz Center Medallion quilt (date inscribed 1833) from North Carolina. Both quilts are exceptional quilts with many aspects to explore. I have written about them and displayed them often. I am sure they will both find homes in museums eventually, but for now I enjoy owning a piece of American quilt history.   

What do you think makes a great quilt?

You ask difficult questions!  

That reminds me of the project Karey Bresenhan proposed at the end of the 20th century. She asked representatives from various quilt organizations to choose their top 100 quilts of the 20th century. I was on the panel. We had a short time to make our choices. I remember thinking how the goal seemed impossible.

All kinds of thoughts ran through my head . . . are we talking about old quilts and newly made quilts? Would a Jean Ray Laury or Yvonne Porcella quilt win out over a Bertha Stenge or Grace Snyder quilt? Would an Amish quilt hold its own against a utility quilt? Would kits be excluded? And how would the judges make a comprehensive search?

That question turned out to be the key to choices. Most of us had extensive libraries. Being a part of the state quilt documentation projects, I knew I could find photographs of excellent quilts in the state quilt books. The organizers collected our suggestions and then sent us a final set of photographs to vote for the top 100 quilts. I didn’t agree with all the final choices, but I would say for the most part, the winning quilts were “great” quilts. To me, a great quilt is above all else well-made, has a sensitive design, and makes a strong overall impact. Like a fine piece of art, it draws you in, ignites something within you, and leaves an impression.  

What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life?

Whether we call them blankets, covers, or quilts, quilts have always been there in American life. Providing warmth, comfort and joy, quilts also carry with them memories and mysteries. They are there at life’s special moments.They are gifts of friendship and love. Their making can be soothing and healing. A lot of laughter and story-telling goes on around a quilting frame and among friends sharing old quilts. Quilts bring people together who may never have known each other.  

For my own American life, I can say that quilts were my entrée to the South. Through quilts (by listening to quilters’ stories and researching the times the quilts were made), I came to love this place, Knoxville in East Tennessee, I call home.

Pictures from Merikay’s Album

Friends met through quilting and quilt documentation days. This Sampler includes our favorite Tennessee quilt patterns found during Quilt survey in 1984-85.

At my house with quilt friends from left: Joyce Gross, Linda Claussen, Cuesta Benberry, Eva Earle Kent, Me, and Bets Ramsey in 1993.

Merikay and Bets Ramsey examine a quilt for the Tennessee state survey.

Quilts on a stand in my office–a variety of new and old! I love them all.

Here I talk about a heavy wool quilt made of a cloth called “Linsey.”

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