Announcing a New Membership Benefit

Announcing a New Membership Benefit from Aurifil! Last year QA board co-president, quilter, curator and writer Laura Hopper created a Birthday Block of the Month featuring blocks by nine incredible designers to celebrate our 30th anniversary. It was a huge hit and helped us grow our membership by 32%. This year, co-president Bradley Mitchell and his generous and creative colleagues at Aurifil are gifting our members another Block of the Month! Starting in May we will begin sharing the Aurifil Flora Block of the Month with our members. The blocks, instructions and any supplemental resources will be shared via this newsletter and your membership portal. So if you haven’t yet logged in to your portal, give it a try soon. There are twelve months/blocks in the Flora series and we will keep the BOM archived in your membership portal for at least six months after the last block is released in April 2025.  Not a member yet? Join today! The last few years have been a wild ride. We’ve had to stop, adjust, reimagine, reroute, redo.  It’s been a challenge, but in some ways, all of the changes have helped us to slow down, to appreciate the beauty that lives right in front of us, and to experience the small things with a more grateful heart. Perhaps it manifests as an unexpected cool breeze on a hot summer day or the sound of a bird chirping outside your window. Maybe it’s a favorite hike just outside the city or maybe it’s a burst of color that provides the perfect distraction on your Sunday morning stroll. A tree, a flower, a bloom, a petal… the sense of calm and renewal that nature provides is often overlooked, but this year, we are choosing to bring that natural beauty to the forefront.  Introducing Flora, a 12 month Botanical Appliqué BOM designed by Aurifil’s Kate Brennan in partnership with graphic designer Christina Weisbard. The colors and design of Flora were drawn from 12 breathtaking rainforest plants from the Amazon Water Lily and the Bird of Paradise to the Jade Vine and the Spider Lily. The monthly blocks,  allow each of the 12 featured plants to take center stage.  While instructions are given for fusible appliqué, a variety of methods of appliqué and finishing will be highlighted. Depending on the month, raw blocks are 12-1/2″ x 12-1/2” or 12-1/2” x 24-1/2”. They can be finished into individual minis or collected to create a finished 48” x 48” quilt.
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Block #9 – Georgia Bonesteel

Birthday Block of the Month #9: Georgia Bonesteel
It’s here! It’s here! The final block of the Quilt Alliance Birthday Block of the Month! After nine fun months, we are nearing the end of our quilt. After making the ninth block, all you’ll need to do is assemble the quilt top and you’re done! Quilting icon Georgia Bonesteel designed this month’s block, which we saved for last because it will utilize some new techniques like piecing with templates, floating seams, piecing triangles, and working from the outside in. While it looks complex, Georgia’s designs have a way of being simple and enjoyable. The block is as charming as she is! 
Meet Georgia Since 1978 when her television program, Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel, debuted on North Carolina Public Television, Georgia has been one of the most watched and notable teachers in quilting.  Her methods and designs respect traditions and push quilters to explore creativity. Georgia’s most recent book, Scrap Happy Quilts is both a memoir of her life in quilts and new projects and patterns for quilters of all skills. Today, Georgia lives a busy semi-retired life volunteering her master gardening skills to the community and her own garden, while continuing to create quilt projects on a daily basis. You can visit her wonderful website or follow her on Facebook.  Georgia recorded a fabulous video talking about her connection to this particular quilt block and even showing a way that you can self-draft the templates for the block yourself. Watch the video below — you’ll love it! Quilters today (like myself) may not be accustomed to quilting this way. It’s wonderful and fascinating to watch!
Georgia’s Top BOM Tips Georgia is a quilting trailblazer and full of piecing wisdom, including techniques that were completely new to me! Here are her best tips for making this block.
Georgia’s Tip 1: Use Freezer Paper  To get accurate templates for the central octagon and star unit triangles, freezer paper is the way to go. Cut the freezer paper templates out with a generous amount of space around them as shown above. Press them to the fabric. Using a ruler and rotary cutter, cut along the solid outer lines of the templates. The dashed inner lines show the seam allowance. An added tip is to use a rotary cutter with a dull blade that you plan to replace, or a rotary cutter dedicated to paper so you don’t dull the blade quickly.
Georgia’s Tip 2: Learn to Draft a Block You can use the templates and measurements in this month’s PDF to complete the block, but as Georgia says, you’re not a real quilter until you can make a block from scratch. Learn her block drafting method in her video included in this blog post!
Georgia’s Tip 3: Create 90 degree angles  When creating the star units, always match up the 45°angles to create 90° angles. This allows you to sew the triangle units to the corner squares. Pretty clever!
Quilt Alliance BOM Tips Each month, we share our best tips for making the Birthday Block of the Month as well. These tips come to you from our Birthday Block of the Month host, Quilt Alliance co-president Laura Hopper!
Play With Color Did you notice that I used a different color for my center octagon than appears in the PDF pattern? Instead of Color 3, the neutral color, I used Color 2. That’s because during a previous month of the BOM, I made a cutting error and ran out of Color 3 fabric. Oops! It happens to the best of us.  Luckily with this block, you have the opportunity to play with color. Use Color 3, or pull in your favorite color from the quilt. Or you could use the fabric you’ll use for the backing or binding! How about using a special fabric that you fussy cut, just like Georgia did in her version of the block shown below? There are so many options! Don’t let the color guide limit you — it’s your quilt so have fun!
Align Star Units Correctly! Speaking of oops, notice something wrong with the star unit above? Yep, I made a mistake. Did I mention that it happens to the best of us?  As Georgia said in her tips, the 45° angles of these triangles should be aligned. However, when I picked up my green fabric, I didn’t do that. I accidentally sewed the 45° angle to the center of the pink fabric, instead of to the 45° angle of the pink fabric. That doesn’t look like a 90° angle!   Thank goodness for seam rippers because if you make the same mistake I did, all you need to do is rip that seam out and sew the triangle on the other way. Easy breezy!
Manipulate Fabric for the Octagon Have you ever made a block from the outside in? I haven’t! This was a completely new technique for me. And I learned a few things while doing it.  One useful tip is that to avoid puckers, make sure that the fabric is completely flat. This is a bit hard to do at first! I found that I needed to manipulate the fabric to get the octagon to lay flat on the outer star ring. Here are some pictures that might help! It’s very hard to explain but trust me when I say it’s something that you will get once you get to this step.
Accept Mistakes… or Redo Them It’s possible that with all the fabric manipulation in the world, you may still get puckers in your block. It happened to me!  When I saw my pucker, I had a choice to make. I could either rip out the seam and redo it to try and avoid the pucker. Or I could accept that I was learning a new technique and the results were imperfect. If you’ve been following this BOM for all nine months, you’ve probably noticed that I consider myself a precision quilter. I love when points line up perfectly. Making a perfect block is a wonderful feeling…but so is learning a new technique. If there’s one lesson I can leave you with at the end of this BOM, it’s that the only thing you should compare your latest quilt to is the last quilt you made. I help beginner quilters learn new techniques every day, and it’s very easy for a new quilter to compare themselves to someone who has been quilting for decades. You know what happens next? The new quilter gets discouraged. They think their quilts will never look that good. And they give up. For me, quilting is about seeing my personal growth. The points on my early quilts don’t match well, but now I know so many of the tricks that I’ve shared with you along this journey! And that’s how I approached this block. I learned new techniques from Georgia, who has been quilting since before I was born, and this is the first time I ever did them. I left my puckers in as a reminder that I’m always growing. And so that in ten more years, once I’ve practiced her techniques even more, I can see how much I’ve grown. I hope you all share the same outlook on quilting, growth, and learning!
Quilt Documentation Tip Follow Georgia’s lead as one of the most important figures in recent quilting history and document what you do! As a television personality, lots of Georgia’s quilting has been documented on film. Making a video about your blocks or finished quilts is a great way to preserve your story! Learn more about how in the next blog post, focused on documenting your completed quilt.
Thank You For Sewing Along! In the next blog post, you’ll learn how to document your quilt, get links to simple Quilt Alliance documentation steps, and get a preview of the exciting programming we have planned for 2024. It’s been a delight to create these blocks with you all — now let’s finish this quilt!  Be sure to tag @quiltalliance on Instagram with your block photos this month, and use the hashtag #QuiltAllianceBOM. And leave any questions about this month’s block in the comments…

Block #8 – Carole Lyles Shaw

Birthday Block of the Month #8: Carole Lyles Shaw
Only one month to go! For Month 8 of the Quilt Alliance’s Birthday Block of the Month, we have a delightfully simple block that creates an illusion of complexity. That’s just one of the many things that I admire about Carole Lyles Shaw’s designs. As a modern quilter, Carole Lyles Shaw beautifully explores movement in quilts. For her Quilt Alliance design, she created a block that uses only squares and rectangles but gives the illusion of complex shapes. And best of all, it only takes about a half hour to make!
Meet Carole Carole Lyles Shaw is an award-winning modern quilter, fiber artist, and workshop teacher. Her passion is to inspire quilters to explore the fun and creative freedom in making modern quilts. Carole taught herself to quilt so that she could make quilts for her wonderful nieces and nephews. She is drawn to modern quilting because it focuses on bringing individualism and free expression to the quilts made today. Carole teaches workshops to help quilters confidently and joyfully dive into modern quilting. Her students say that her workshops inspire them to let their creative voices shine. You can follow her on Instagram or on her website.
Carole’s Top BOM Tips Each month, our Birthday Block of the Month Designers share their top tips for making the block they designed. Here are three great tips for making this block straight from Carole herself. 
Carole’s Tip 1: Sew With an Accurate Quarter Inch Seam Accuracy is important in this month’s quilt block to maintain the illusion of complex shapes. Also, because the block is made of four distinct units (described in the PDF pattern), if your seam allowance is too wide or thin, the units may not line up. If you’re concerned about the accuracy of your seam allowance, use scrap fabric to test and measure a few seams before beginning.
Carole’s Tip 2: Press With a Dry Iron By now, you know that I (Laura) recommend a tailor’s clapper basically every month. I love tailor’s clappers! They work so wonderfully to keep seams flat. However, using a tailor’s clapper requires using steam and there’s a possibility that steam can distort fabric. If that happens, the illusion of this block may also be distorted. Instead of using steam and a tailor’s clapper this month, use a dry iron.
Quilt Alliance BOM Tips Each month, we share our best tips for making the Birthday Block of the Month as well. These tips come to you from our Birthday Block of the Month host, Quilt Alliance co-president Laura Hopper!  Here are some reasons I love this block: it only takes about a half an hour to make, the only cutting you’ll do is when you follow the initial cutting instructions, and it looks much harder than it is. That’s the beauty of Carole’s design — a beginner can make it, but it looks advanced.
Stay Organized The hardest part of this block is keeping all of the differently-sized pieces organized. The PDF pattern will be a big help, but it’s not the only thing you should do, I recommend using sticky notes or scraps of paper to label each cut piece of fabric to keep track of them. Also important — keep those sticky notes on the cut fabric pieces until they are sewn together, not just while they are in a pile waiting to be put together. 
Check the PDF diagrams often! I’m sure you check the PDFs often each month, but for this one, it’s extra important. It can be easy to accidentally piece fabric together in the wrong order. Or when you complete the four units, you may sew a unit upside down. Oops! Avoid having to use that trusty seam ripper and make sure you’re checking the PDF diagrams at every step.
Let Loose and Have Fun You don’t have to overthink with this block. You don’t have any complicated techniques to worry about. This is truly an excuse to sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself. Have a blast!
See You in December for Month Nine! Thank you so much to everyone who has participated in the Quilt Alliance’s Birthday Block of the Month so far! Our designer for next month, the last block we’re making together, is the iconic Georgia Bonesteel! Next month, we will also share a blog post and PDF about how to finish the full Block of the Month lap quilt.  Be sure to tag @quiltalliance and @carole_lylesshaw on Instagram with your block photos this month, and use the hashtag #QuiltAllianceBOM. And leave any questions about this month’s block in the comments…

Getting ready for the Birthday Block of the Month!

QA Birthday Block of the Month: Introduction
Happy birthday to us! Here at the Quilt Alliance, we love birthdays. And what better way to celebrate our own 30th anniversary than with a huge quilt party? The best part is — you’re invited! And so are nine of your very favorite quilt designers who each designed a block for our first-ever block of the month quilt as a birthday gift to the Quilt Alliance.    What is the Quilt Alliance Block of the Month?  For the rest of our anniversary year, all Quilt Alliance members at any level or donors who have contributed $30 or more will receive a new block pattern each month. You’ll get a reminder of when each block is released in our member newsletter so you’ll never have to worry about missing one.  At the end of our Block of the Month celebration, you’ll have nine fun blocks. Put them together with sashing and you’ll have a cozy 52” square lap quilt!  Each of the blocks, designed specifically for the Quilt Alliance’s Block of the Month, is inspired by some aspect of the designer’s quilt story, and we’ll provide guidance and tips as you work through the blocks for documenting and reflecting on YOUR quilt story!   Who Are the Block of the Month Designers?  Here is the schedule for our 30th anniversary Block of the Month!  April: Ricky Tims May: Zak Foster June: Pat Sloan July: Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill August: Suzy Williams September: Andrea Tsang Jackson October: Bonnie Hunter November: Carol Lyles Shaw December: Georgia Bonesteel No doubt that if you’re a quilter, you recognize some of those names! We are so fortunate to have so many influential and talented designers participating in our Birthday Block of the Month. We can’t wait to share their stories with you through Go Tell It Videos as we quilt together!   Getting Started with Your Own Birthday Block of the Month Like any fun block of the month, your first step for ours is picking your fabrics! You can either choose your own fabrics or use the same fabrics we are using for the cover version of the quilt. If you’re an adventurous quilter, you can even consider using scraps!  The fabrics used for the cover version of our Birthday Block of the Month are Art Gallery Fabrics PURE Solids in the following colors:  Evergreen Swimming Pool Creme de la Creme Sweet Fig Cabernet For our backing fabric, we added a beautiful Ruby Star Society print for a pop of excitement on the back! The print is from the Darlings 2 fabric line and is called Wildflowers in black. It complements the neutral Creme de la Creme so nicely!  The Quilt Alliance Birthday Block of the Month uses 5 colors. Feel free to choose your own fabrics, but if you’d like tips, we have examples of 7 color palettes that can help inspire you!  Here is the color palette we are using to make our quilt: Here is the easy three-step formula we used to come up with this color palette, which you can use to create your own!  Choose two colors or color families. Ours are deep green/blue and red/purple. Pick one dark and one light color from each.  Choose a neutral color that will be used in both the blocks and the sashing.  It’s that easy! This simple light and dark formula will help ensure that your quilt has enough color contrast while keeping the look cohesive and fresh. Let’s break that formula down using our cover quilt colors before diving into other color palette examples.  Evergreen — dark green/blue Swimming Pool — light green/blue Creme de la Creme — neutral Sweet Fig — light red/purple Cabernet — dark red/purple Here’s an example that uses the same formula. We have a dark yellow, light yellow, neutral, light blue, and dark blue.  This rose garden-inspired palette uses the same light and dark formula, but instead of a traditional neutral like white or cream, we’ve used a soft pink to connect the greens and reds.  This palette uses the same formula, but like the rose garden palette, these tropical sunset colors are connected with a soft color from the same family. We have a dark and light orange, dark and light pink, and a peach that connects all the colors.  You can build on the light and dark formula to make a monochromatic palette! On the left, you can see that we have a dark and light blue. On the right, we also have a dark and light blue. The connecting neutral that will appear in both the blocks and sashing is the lightest color blue, creating a cool-themed monochromatic palette!  Here’s a warm monochromatic color palette that was made the same way as the cool palette above. We have a dark and light yellow, a dark and light pink, and a peach neutral that connects them all! If you like vibrant colors, you can even consider using black as your neutral color! It helps bright colors jump off a quilt and glow almost like neon. Just like the palettes above, this one is made using the same formula — dark and light green, dark and light purple, and black as the neutral. There are so many ways to choose your own fabrics, but using our dark and light formula will help make sure that you have enough contrast in your colors as you make blocks each month!
Quilt Documentation Tip! Once you’ve selected your own color palette, write down the fabrics you used and the company that manufactured them. If you journal or record your thoughts about your quilting, you could also write down the inspiration behind your color palette. Share that inspiration with us on social media using #QuiltAllianceBOM! We can’t wait to see what colors you’re going to use in your Quilt Alliance Birthday Block of the Month quilt! If you use Instagram, be sure to post your fabric pull using the hashtag #QuiltAllianceBOM and tag @quiltalliance so we can see your beautiful creations!…

We Are Our Stories

We Are Our Stories By Karen S. Musgrave   We are our stories and this one is mine. How do I reach you and make you care about the stories behind quilts?  By you I mean the public, researchers/academia, people I wanted to interview, workshop attendees, lecture attendees, readers of the articles I wrote and the manual that I edited for Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories and the Alliance—so everyone. Even now after being away from interviewing for years, I want you to care. Though we have come a long way, women and quilts still face inequality. We can learn a lot about a quilt by looking at it, but that does not tell us the whole story. Listening to the quiltmaker does.  A little bit about me. I made my first quilt, for a baby, in 1974 after seeing an article in a magazine. Quilts were not a part of my life growing up. It wasn’t until I started doing genealogy that I learned that there were quiltmakers in my family. I, like many people interviewed, came to quiltmaking through sewing my own clothes. I didn’t know the “rules,” so the quilt was made with my drawings, rendered with fabric crayons using polyester/cotton blend fabric. From there, like many others, I created traditional quilts before moving on to create my own designs. I came to Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories (Q.S.O.S.) via Boxes Under the Bed™, the Alliance’s first project that dealt with quilt ephemera in 1996. I volunteered to go to the Boxes training as my guild’s representative. The guild’s board decided to hold an essay contest to determine who would attend. I spent weeks on my essay to end up being the only one to write one. I attended both training sessions that were offered at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. And while I felt it was important work, it did not excite me. I never imagined that attending the first Q.S.O.S. training would change my life in the ways that it did. After attending the training, I volunteered to put together a manual and worked for a year with the project’s volunteer task force members—Bernie Herman, Patricia Keller, Marcie Cohen Ferris and Pat Crews – and the manual was born.  Q.S.O.S. started by interviewing prize winners and people with quilts at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. Therese May’s interview from 2000 has stayed with me through all these years. It is not one that I conducted but was fortunate to sit in on. Therese’s honesty and openness left me in tears.  It was the first time I cried during an interview, and it would not be my last. I think one of the most powerful questions ever asked is, “Have you used quilts to get through a difficult time?” Shortly after Therese’s interview, I was sent to the exhibition floor to interview Marion Mackey and to discover the story behind her quilt depicting baseball player Mark McGwire setting a home-run record. I was trying to remember everything I could about baseball. But it turned out the quilt had nothing to do with baseball. Her husband needed a liver transplant. He almost died twice while waiting. They were hoping and praying for a donor. Well, McGwire breaks the home-run record while they are watching it on TV, and then the phone rings and they get a liver. She started crying and I started crying. They travel with the quilt and talk to children’s groups about the importance of being an organ donor. This was another defining moment for me about why oral histories are so important.  Quilt Festival made conducting interviews easy, but I felt the interviews did not reflect the diversity of quiltmakers and their stories that were out in the world beyond Quilt Festival. So, my personal mission began. In the end, I conducted nearly 300 interviews, transcribed nearly 75 (not all mine) and read every interview posted online. For 10 years, I never went anywhere without my trusty $35 tape recorder and paperwork.  The interviews cover all sorts of territory, and often dispel common myths. There are traditional quiltmakers who think that art quiltmakers don’t do handwork. There is a notion that hand quilting is dying out—I don’t think that is the case. There’s the notion that you cannot be artful with a long arm machine. Reading the interviews and seeing the quilts helps set the record straight and eliminates these misunderstandings.   Here are a few things that I learned. Regardless of the skill level, creating something means that a part of us will still be around after we are gone. Quilts heal. Quilts can cause change. Quilts can create awareness. Quilts can be a source of much needed income. Some people are more open to sharing than others. Some people regret how much they shared. Interviewing Latina quiltmakers and their children, especially those in northern California, gave these makers a way to share their stories about the impact in their lives from the income they made from selling their quilts. I will be eternally grateful to the Salser Foundation for supporting me and Molly Johnson Martinez who was the organizing force behind the group. Los hilos de la vida (The Threads of Life),a mostly Latina cooperative quilt group, was quietly making pictorial quilts for years before I arrived. Their quilts depict scenes of family life, border crossings, life in Mexico, dreams, and reverence for the natural and spiritual worlds. Vibrant with color, the quilts make an immediate impression on the viewer as they unselfconsciously capture the pure essence of the women’s stories. Even more impressive, the women had little or no previous experience creating art or quilts.  Angeles Segura’s quilt shows her asleep on her GED diploma surrounded by the things she loves—her books and her guitar. The mother of four, she worked in the vineyards while studying for her diploma.  Some of the most compelling quilts are those that depict scenes about crossing the border into the United States. Carmela Valdivia has created many border crossing quilts, which always have the figure of death somewhere in them.  After returning from California, my mission became to help the group gain more recognition. I immediately made the first of many attempts to get the attention of the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) in Chicago. Success was achieved when two of the group’s quilts hung in the museum’s exhibition Declaration of Immigration. I also curated an exhibition at the Pacific International Quilt Festival XVII, in Santa Clara, California. Unfortunately, funding ended for the program that supported the group which means the interviews I was able to conduct now provide a glimpse of something that no longer exists. My involvement with Hilos led me to start a quilting group at the NMMA. Again, the participants had never made quilts before, and many had never used a sewing machine. However, unlike the women of Hilos, many of the women had immigrated to the United States when they were young, and all had legally immigrated. The quilts are no less powerful. Maria Tortolero’s detailed quilt is split in two—one side depicts her life in Mexico and the other side her life in Chicago. Maria Herrera’s quilt honors her father and the stories of his immigration adventures and traveling around the United States to find work.  “My quilt is …based on my dad/s journey from Mexico to the United States…I started recording my dad’s stories because I wanted my son to grow up hearing my dad’s stories…the stories I grew up hearing…I know that when my dad seed this quilt and a bit of his life in this quilt…he is going to start crying…My dad’s journey is being told through this quilt.” By the way, he did cry. The group at NMMA also created quilts that dealt with the torture, rape and murder of young women and children in Juarez, Mexico. The difficult subject matter produced incredibly thought-provoking quilts. Christina Carlos’ message, “al fub…en paz/ Finally at Peace,” is typical in that it expresses young girls no longer suffering and in a better place. I think Luz Maria Carillo expresses something universal when she said, “Each one of us leaves a piece of our hearts in each quilt that we make.” A handful of people that I interviewed (who did not know me) asked about me personally. One of them was the writer Spike Gillespie, who had begun writing about quilts at the time of her interview. After our conversation, she invited me to write essays for her book Quilts Around the World about my involvement with Q.S.O.S., Latina quiltmakers and my work with connecting American quilts with quilts or patchwork in the countries of Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. My connections to the Alliance through one of the founders and then president, Shelly Zegart, provided me with the connection to take an exhibition of quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama to Georgia, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. These quilt exhibitions provided a link in a global movement to revive interest in traditional culture and crafts. They illustrate the shared common threads in our arts and cultures—highlighting what makes us unique and embracing our commonalities.  Interviews with some of the members of the Georgian Quilt Group can be found in the Q.S.O.S. project. My writing for Spike’s book led to an invitation to author my book – Quilts in the Attic –  Uncovering the Hidden Stories of the Quilts We Love. I was also interested in gathering interviews of how quiltmaking can make a difference for incarcerated people. I found a quilting program in a Minnesota detention center for men. After months of answering questions and even signing papers stating I did not expect to be rescued if taken hostage, the warden decided without any explanation to pass on the project. I was devastated. Fortunately, in 2009, I was able to interview women who had participated in a quilt project featured in an exhibit called “Sacred Threads” in Columbus, Ohio.  The Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW) is just outside of Columbus in Marion, Ohio. Driving down the long road to the prison passing fields filled with wildflowers, it was such a shock to see buildings surrounded by a tall wire fence with razor wire on top. The warden required the women to state the reason that they were incarcerated at the beginning of each interview. It was explained to me that this requirement was to get the women to realize they were accountable and become more comfortable talking to strangers about why they were there. I made it clear before the tape recorder was turned on that I did not care why they were there.  I cared about their experience making a quilt. None of them had made one before.  The assistant to the warden was also present in the room during the interviews. She worked quietly a few tables away and I made sure to sit so that the women would have their back to her. I continued my relationship with these women after their interviews and with a few even until today.  Rhonda Edwards was the most intense interview and one that I wished we had videotaped. Her quilt shows her split in two- her life before and her life after. Rhonda is a talented artist, so her quilt is full of her drawings. It also expresses her journey from a violent person to one who has found God, from a person who was deeply grieving her father’s death to someone who feels joy. Rhonda sent her quilt to her mom. The women were not allowed to have the quilts in their possession. Rosa Angulo’s quilt is called “Hope.” Her artist statement says so much about her quilt, “I want to give my first quilt the name of hope–Because I’m trying to express it somehow. My life in this place is the patches and the stitches are the different stages I’ve been going through. The ribbons are the razor wire that surrounds this prison. And the eagle is me, who with the help I’ve been getting from recovery and religious services, and some of the staff members, I feel I will have the tools to fly when my time gets here. Like it says in Isaiah 40:31 ‘They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.’“  And she added as a personal note: “I am 48 years old and the mother of three beautiful daughters and the grandmother of an eight-year-old girl. I work as a porter in my cottage, and love to do community service through the Stitching Post (a place to gain skills and employment sewing items for nonprofit organizations, many dealing with children). I’ve never made a quilt before, but I really enjoyed working on this one.” Rosa was deported to Mexico upon her release. She had sent her quilt to her eldest daughter. I never heard from Rosa after her release. I do hope that the skills she learned while at ORW continue to help her and that her desire to make more quilts continues. Once the interviews were posted and several articles about them were written, I received threats from some of the women’s victims’ families. Nothing came of them, and I certainly understand their anger and pain, yet I still feel the interviews should be included in the Q.S.O.S. collection..  I was not as successful in getting Native American quiltmakers into the project. It was only by chance that I interviewed Lois Beardslee. We met while I was working in northern Michigan. Her interview was conducted in her bedroom while sitting on her quilt. “I started piecing our old clothing and old blue jeans, everything…old handkerchiefs, old pillowcases, everything…this is {a piece from] my wedding dress…It was my son who one day took the sleeves off, and my husband said, “’Oh, no.’ I told him, ‘See, it is not about the dress. It is about the being married to you and growing old with you.’…It is a great quilt because it is our lives all wrapped up into one package.” Interviews with people included in exhibitions truly capture a moment in time and continue the historical use of quilts to communicate social or political messages. The exhibition-based projects include interviewing people who made quilts to celebrate the election of Barack Obama as president and the Ancestor Project that took place at the American Indian Center in Chicago where women from the senior lunch program stayed to appliqué designs of ancestral portraits, animal spirits and plants. Other exhibition-based projects include  the Alzheimer’s Forgetting Piece by Piece and Priority Alzheimer’s Quilt projects led by Ami Simms, that helped raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and funds for research, and Healing Quilts in Medicine project to name a few. There are so many times that I wish I could have left the recorder going because far too often that is when amazing things were shared. They weren’t always about the quilt or quilts in general, but they provided intimate details or funny stories that I wish everyone knew.  Interviewees were given the transcription of their interview to review before it was published  online and archived. One interviewer called me quite upset stating that she did not talk the way the transcription portrayed her. She “most certainly did not have a potty mouth.” I tried explaining that transcribers do not add or subtract from the interviews. Still not satisfied, I played the tape for her. In another interview, the person shared details about other quiltmakers that they regretted and so the comments were removed. After one Houston interview, I encouraged editing because I thought it would hurt the interviewee’s reputation, but she stood by her words.   I was pleasantly surprised by the deep friendships that happened because of interviewing people. I am so thankful that I was able to interview Yvonne Porcella, Merry Silber, Gwen Marston, Elizabeth Cherry Owen, Maxine Groves and Lisa Quintana, who are no longer with us.  I think my proudest moment was after we lost our original archives at the University of Delaware. As the chair of the task force, I had to find a new archival home for the collection. Board members volunteered their universities as potential partners, but I set my goal higher. With the help of David Taylor, I wrote a successful proposal to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.  Repeatedly, historians often run into the same obstacle when working to identify information about a historic quilt: a dearth of clues as to the origin, maker, and story. That means a lot of mystery remains. And while Q.S.O.S. might not help today’s historians solve certain mysteries of the past, the interviews will leave behind a legacy for historians of the future.    While interviewers probably did not set out to touch another’s feelings and longings, words and images emerge in interviews that are just as universal as they are personal. Q.S.O.S. has provided a place where quiltmakers’ stories are accessible, where others can draw on them for strength and make a connection. This is the gift that volunteer interviewers will continue to give for years to come.  I will close with my favorite quote by Betty Reese and one I use at the end of my lecture, “If you think you are too small to be effective, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito.”   About Karen Karen S. Musgrave is an interdisciplinary, multihyphenate artist whose recent body of work deals with loss, memory, and identity. She feels passionately about connecting cultures with quilts. Her projects include curating a traveling exhibition of the African American quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, alongside quilts in Georgia, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. In Kyrgyzstan, she organized, curated, and wrote the catalogue for an exhibition of American art quilts and Kyrgyz patchwork. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards. She was a consultant on the 9-part documentary Why Quits Matter. As a writer, she contributed to Spike Gillespie’s book quilts Around the World, wrote the book Quilts in the Attic: Uncovering the Hidden Stories of the Quilts We Love and has written numerous articles for magazines. She has exhibited internationally, and her work is in many different private collections. She lives in the far west suburbs of Chicago. Visit Karen on Instagram                            …

Why QSOS is Special

Three Interviews That Show Us Why QSOS is So Special By Emma Parker, Quilt Alliance Project Manager In our last newsletter, I shared a little bit about the early history of our Quilters’ Save Our Stories (QSOS) project, and our future plans for it, including a forthcoming update to the QSOS guide and a new platform that allows us to pair interview audio with descriptive text. If you missed that “Looking Back” column, you can check it out here. It’s now been 24 years since the project was founded. Now there are more ways than ever to hear quilters talk about their work, from podcast interviews to magazine features, Instagram accounts, Facebook groups, online classes and guild visits. Quilters are sharing more about themselves and their quilts than ever before. But despite this amazing ocean of information, I still think the QSOS project is a little different. An oral history interview invites a different way of talking about your life and your work than a magazine interview – there’s nothing to sell or promote, so there’s plenty of space to tell your story. And usually, the intimacy of just two people in conversation leads to more in-depth stories from a wide range of quilters. We’re giving this project a new coat of paint this year in celebration of the QA’s 30th anniversary, so this month, I want to share three QSOS interviews that I think perfectly illustrate why this project is so valuable, for quilters and for anyone who is curious about quilting, making, and a creative life. The first reason I think these interviews are so powerful is that they capture a very specific moment in time. Take for example our 2011 interview with quiltmaker Victoria Findlay Wolfe. This was one of Victoria’s very first interviews about her work. In it, she talks about a project called 15 Minutes of Play, which would eventually become the title of her 2012 book. Since this interview, she has published several other books, created multiple fabric lines and quilt templates, won national and international awards for her work, including 2013 Best in Show at QuiltCon, and lectured and taught across the country and online. In her interview, Victoria says that she has only just started teaching, and is beginning to expand her work: I take it as it comes. I don’t obsess on making a perfect quilt. I’m not sure I can do that, I’m not sure I want to do that. I prefer to learn from each quilt that I do and move onto the next and see what happens. I have felt recently that my work is sort of changing, or perhaps I’m just growing. But I think it’s just being more open to more possibilities and going back and learning and trying other things that I haven’t done before. Building my tool set of quilter skills. I let it happen and see where it will lead me. The second reason I love this project is that we hear from all different kinds of quilters, including quilters who make quilts in non-traditional ways or settings. One of my favorite examples of this is Jeanne Wright’s interview with Dave White, a quilter and long-haul trucker. Here’s Dave talking about his mobile sewing studio in the back of his truck cab: The biggest challenge to doing it and not getting frustrated is organization. I’ve got a–I think it’s a 48 or 42-quart tub with a closing top on it that I keep my notions and my projects in. When I’m going down the road they’ll sit on my bunk. But when I’m quilting or getting prepared to quilt, it goes into one of the overhead areas so that I’ll have enough work space. […] What I found best, is to keep things in Tupperware or plastic containers to a point where I can stay organized and I know where my threads are at and where my needles are and where my machine feet are. Of course the little sewing machine that I’ve got is a Brother sewing machine. It’s a nice little computerized machine. It sits on the floor during transport and it comes up on a platform that I built. It’s basically just a sheet of plywood that I set on one of the cabinets with two little steel legs, I call them pogo legs that I can detach and put in the overhead storage areas. So it’s very confined, but once you get in there and you get involved with the machine and the piecing and the enjoyment, you can lose all track of time. Even if you’ve never been behind the wheel of a big rig, you might identify with that feeling – of starting to quilt and losing track of time. The QSOS collection contains interviews with quilters around the world, an astronaut who quilted in space, and even a few quilters under the age of 10! But I’d bet that every interview has something that might remind you of your own quiltmaking, or your community. Finally, the last interview shows how a QSOS interview can help capture a lifelong legacy. In 2008, Karen Musgrave interviewed Donna Sue Groves of Adams County, Ohio. Donna Sue helped create the barn quilt movement starting in 2001, and supported the development of grassroots community quilt trails across the county. She explains the inspiration for the project and the impact it had on her community in her QSOS interview, such as in this excerpt.  Donna Sue Groves passed away in November of 2021, but we are so grateful to have her story documented, in her own words, for her family, her local community, and countless others to enjoy. Recording her story in a QSOS interview helps document the history of the barn quilt movement, as well as Donna Sue’s amazing life. https://youtu.be/HUbdPEMLLuw There are more than 1,200 other interviews that are each as special as these three, and at least that many reasons to support the project. Participate in a QSOS interview, explore our archive of stories, listen and read the interviews, and tune in to Running Stitch, our QSOS podcast. This grassroots project isn’t possible without your support, so consider making a donation to the Quilt Alliance today to help sustain this important collection.          …

Quilt Puzzle: The Darwin Quilt

Your Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle for November is below!   Do you love the monthly Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle? We’d love to have you as a member if you’re not already on the team!   We rely on the generous support of donors and members to sustain our projects. If you support our mission of documenting, preserving, and sharing the stories of quilts and quiltmakers, join us by starting and maintaining an annual membership, making a donation, or learning how your business or corporation can become a supporter of the Quilt Alliance. We thank our members regularly with special content like QSOS interviews and other community oral history events.   Tip: for best results, solve puzzle on this page on a desktop computer or laptop. If you are solving on a mobile device, click on the puzzle piece icon in the lower righthand corner to solve on the Jigsaw Planet website.   Welcome to another quilt jigsaw puzzle from Quilt Alliance! The beautiful quilts in our puzzles have all been entries in past Quilt Alliance quilt contests.     The Darwin Quilt by Jean Van Bockel   This month’s puzzle spotlights a quilt titled The Darwin Quilt made by Jean Van Bockel of Boise, Idaho for the 2014 Quilt Alliance contest and auction, Inspired By     Materials   Cotton fabric, hand appliqued and embroidered, machine quilted Artist’s Statement   Honorable Mention: Members’ Choice Awards From the DAR collection there is a beautiful appliqued quilt made by Josephine Miller Adkins in 1874. Her family called it the Biblical Stories Quilt. It was made right after Darwin’s theory of evolution was published, This shocking new concept stirred up controversy around the world and is still debated 140 years later. I took design ideas from Josephine’s quilt but used bright colors, added a Darwin fish and put a monkey on the tree of knowledge.  …

Quilt Puzzle: Bat Love

Your Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle for October is below! Do you love the monthly Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle? We’d love to have you as a member if you’re not already on the team! We rely on the generous support of donors and members to sustain our projects. If you support our mission of documenting, preserving, and sharing the stories of quilts and quiltmakers, join us by starting and maintaining an annual membership, making a donation, or learning how your business or corporation can become a supporter of the Quilt Alliance. We thank our members regularly with special content like QSOS interviews and other community oral history events. Tip: for best results, solve puzzle on this page on a desktop computer or laptop. If you are solving on a mobile device, click on the puzzle piece icon in the lower righthand corner to solve on the Jigsaw Planet website. Welcome to another quilt jigsaw puzzle from Quilt Alliance! The beautiful quilts in our puzzles have all been entries in past Quilt Alliance quilt contests. Bat Love by Elizabeth Ferry Pekins This month’s puzzle spotlights a quilt titled Bat Love made by Elizabeth Ferry Pekins of Lampasas, Texas for the 2015 Quilt Alliance contest and auction, Animals We Love Materials Double sided art quilt with integrated hanging sleeve. Artist’s Statement We love bats! Bats are cute,furry,loveable,sensitive and often misunderstood. They are endangered and threatened world wide. Our family loves bats and our life revolves around their nocturnal world. Vacations and outings involve visiting bat caves and urban colonies. My doubled sided art quilt features a colorful bat hanging around with bat friends flying in the distance. Many of my pieces are donated to bat and cave conservation charities. We love bats!…

Do you love Baltimore Album Quilts?

If you love Baltimore Album Quilts, then don’t miss the recording of “The Mysteries of Baltimore Album Quilts: 4 panelists = 100 Years of Obsession,” originally presented by the Quilt Alliance in partnership with Quiltfolk magazine for Textile Talks on Wednesday, February 16, 2022. View the recording below. Presenters: Meg Cox, moderator Panelists: Deborah Cooney, Mimi Dietrich, Nancy Kerns, and Ronda Harrell McAllen. Download the Baltimore Album Quilt Resource document prepared by our panelists. If you enjoy this content, please help us continue documenting quilt mysteries like these. Don’t let the stories of these important historic cloth documents fade away. Join or make a donation to the Quilt Alliance today. SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER Thanks to Quiltfolk magazine for their support on this episode, and we thank all of the Textile Talks sponsors for underwriting this free series. To see a schedule, register for talks and find a link to all recordings, visit our Textile Talks page….

Quilt Puzzle: If the Baltimore Ladies Had Batiks

Your Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle for February is below! Do you love the monthly Quilt Jigsaw Puzzle? We’d love to have you as a member if you’re not already on the team! We rely on the generous support of donors and members to sustain our projects. If you support our mission of documenting, preserving, and sharing the stories of quilts and quiltmakers, join us by starting and maintaining an annual membership, making a donation, or learning how your business or corporation can become a supporter of the Quilt Alliance. We thank our members regularly with special content like QSOS interviews and other community oral history events. Tip: for best results, solve puzzle on this page on a desktop computer or laptop. If you are solving on a mobile device, click on the puzzle piece icon in the lower righthand corner to solve on the Jigsaw Planet website. Welcome to another quilt jigsaw puzzle from Quilt Alliance! The beautiful quilts in our puzzles have all been entries in past Quilt Alliance quilt contests. If the Baltimore Ladies Had Batiks by Marie Johansen This month’s puzzle spotlights a quilt titled If the Baltimore Ladies Had Batiks made by Marie Johansen of Friday Harbor, Washington for the 2010 Quilt Alliance contest and auction, New From Old. Original based on a Baltimore block pattern. Batiks – 20/80 batting – hand applique – hand quilting – ink (adding dimension to flowers). Artist’s Statement I love vintage quilts but I always like adding an updated twist to traditional patterns. Baltimore Beauty quilts have fascinated me for many years but I really wanted to add a modern element to this traditional design. I challenged myself to pair one of my favorite fabric types (batiks) with a typical Baltimore Beauty style block. Voila! My answer to the 2010 theme “New from Old” became “What if the Baltimore Ladies Had Batiks?”