Visit us at our new home

This is our final post to this address. Please bookmark our blog at its new home

The Quilt Alliance is pleased to announce the launch of our new website! Please, take a look around, make yourself at home, and let us know what you think.

I first learned about the Quilt Alliance in 2002 when I was a graduate student in Textile History and Quilt Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While attending the annual American Quilt Study Group seminar, I met a board member of the Alliance for American Quilts, as the organization was then called. She was attending AQSG to train members in how to conduct oral history interviews for the recently launched Quilters S.O.S. – Save Our Stories oral history project. As I soon learned, the Quilt Alliance was a virtual hub for quilts, and its website—one of the first sites dedicated to quilts on the World Wide Web—was known as “The Center for the Quilt Online.”

Much has changed in our digital world since our founders established the Quilt Alliance in 1993. At that point, the World Wide Web was in its infancy. Today, the Quilt Alliance is far from the only website dedicated to quilts. In fact, the World Wide Web has changed quilting as we know it, helping foster communities of quiltmakers; teach new generations of quilters the art; and disseminate quilt knowledge, images, and stories on a scale unanticipated in 1993. Those outside the quilt world may assume quiltmaking is a dying art—just as some have claimed since at least the 1840s! But a mere glimpse at any number of quilt focused communities, organizations, or businesses indicates strongly otherwise! And much of this growth has transpired online.

The Quilt Alliance is now one of many centers for the quilt online, each part of the thriving world quiltmakers and quilt enthusiasts inhabit. We are glad to not be alone in this digital world, and are in fact in very good company. We hope our new website will help us continue to play a vital role in this digital quilt network. We have strived to harness new tools to share our amazing projects with you and hope you’ll be patient with us as we iron out all the kinks (or should I say, press all the seams flat?) of our new platform.

Enjoy, and do come back soon!

SmuckerPosted by Janneken Smucker
President of the Board of Directors, Quilt Alliance

In Memory of YP

Beloved quilt world legend Yvonne Porcella died on Friday. She will be greatly missed by her family and friends and by so many in the quilt world–her fellow artists, her students, her colleagues at SAQA and the Quilt Alliance.

Yvonne (or YP as many called her) was documented by the Quilt Alliance and its partners via projects like Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories (Q.S.O.S.), Go Tell It at the Quilt Show!, Quilt Treasures and The Quilt Index (see excerpts below). The vibrancy of her work and her spirit were exciting and magnetic, and the YP brand was easy to spot–bright red and/or pink and always a black and white element (be it a quilt binding or a pair of socks, pants
or glasses).
YvonnePorcellaMany of our sister organizations have also documented and honored Yvonne. (Find links to these resources at the end of this post.) In 1989, Yvonne founded the Studio Art Quilt Associates organization and remained committed to its mission until her death. In 1998, she was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame in Marion, Indiana. That same year, Yvonne was named the 5th recipient of the Silver Star Award at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas.

Yvonne was very supportive of the Quilt Alliance’s newest project, Go Tell It at the Quilt Show! which debuted in 2012. We recorded two Go Tell It!’s with Yvonne in 2014: the first during SAQA’s 25th anniversary conference in Alexandria, Virginia and the second at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas.

Yvonne’s life and work was documented by the Quilt Treasures project in 2002. Quilt Treasures, a joint project of the Quilt Alliance, Michigan State University Museum and MATRIX Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, documented the stories of a limited number of notable individuals – quiltmakers, designers, business people, collectors, scholars, publishers – who were instrumental in moving the 20th century quilt revival forward in some significant way.

Yvonne’s Quilt Treasures Web Portrait includes a photo gallery, biography and timeline, and features a Mini Documentary video and Interview clips (below):

Yvonne Porcella Mini-Documentary

Interview clips


As a founding board member of the Quilt Alliance, Yvonne contributed to many aspects of the organization’s projects and initiatives, including co-founding the Alliance quilt contest. In 2006, she worked with Karen Musgrave to launch this annual fundraising and documentary effort, and since then, artists from the United States and around the world have created and donated 872 quilts to support the Quilt Alliance. For the past nine  years, Yvonne has made and donated one or more of her own quilts to the contest. Here are those quilts, now documented both on the Quilt Alliance website as well as in The Quilt Index.


Yvonne’s struggle with cancer was long and daunting. As a former nurse, she knew her body and her illness with precision. She managed to stay incredibly positive in the face of her prognosis, and maintained a lightness of being and sense of humor that fueled her fight.

Yvonne explaining Quilt Match Manhattan to the crowd at Quilters Take Manhattan 2013.

Yvonne explaining Quilt Match Manhattan to the crowd at Quilters Take Manhattan 2013. She was one of the judges and dressed appropriately in black and white stripes (part of that spunky YP brand).

When Yvonne had to cancel her presentation at the Quilt Alliance’s 2015 Quilters Take Manhattan event, it was not her battle with cancer that prevented her from attending. She called me, laughing, about a week before the event to explain that she had dropped a giant bottle of ketchup on her foot and her doctor wouldn’t let her fly in that condition. She even texted me the photo of her foot as we talked, so we could mock the situation together with proper visual aides.


Yvonne making me (and anyone within earshot) laugh at Quilters Take Manhattan 2014.

Keeping up with the latest technology, while never losing touch with handwork was a central theme in her optimism and excitement for the future. In this Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories interview conducted on November 29, 1999, Yvonne talks about anticipating the Twentieth Century.


Q.S.O.S. Interview, Nov. 29, 1999. International Quilt Festival, Houston, Texas.

Interviewer, Jeri Baldwin: What have you done with thinking about the Twentieth Century in your work and your teaching? What do you think you’ll change, or will you want to change, or what do you want to leave the same? What are you going to take into the Twenty-first Century as a quilter and as a teacher?

Yvonne Porcella: I’m still going to take the passion I have for doing it by hand. I’m going to take the passion of creating something totally for myself, that pleases myself, that comes from myself. I am not interested in scanning it on the computer. I am not interested in coloring it on the computer. Because to me the reason I am an artist, which was very difficult for me to even reach that point where that I can verbalize it because I was trained as a nurse. I was trained as a mother, as a grandmother and to be an artist was to say to people, ‘Well, I think I am an artist although I am not academically trained.’ But I have a passion and I know that if I don’t do the work that I’d be unhappy. So for me the twenty-first century will be similar to the twentieth century because I will continue to work until I can no longer work. The wonderful part of being an artist is that the wonderful ideas never stop so the concept of the creativity that will be produced in the–however long I am going to live is very exciting to me.

On behalf of the board, staff and membership of the Quilt Alliance, I want to send my condolences to Yvonne’s family.

Rest in peace, dear friend, colleague and treasure. You inspired us to be our Best.

Please leave your own remembrance of Yvonne below in the comments.

"The Best", 2014, "Inspired By" contest.

“The Best”, 2014, “Inspired By” contest.

Those who would like to make a tax-deductible gift to the Quilt Alliance in Yvonne’s honor can make a secure donation online via credit card or PayPal here:

Or mail a check, payable to Quilt Alliance to:
Quilt Alliance
67 Broadway Street, Suite 200
Asheville, NC 28801

Please indicate “In Honor of Yvonne Porcella” in the memo or description line.
You can contact us here: or 828-251-7073

More online resources about Yvonne Porcella:

Studio Art Quilt Associates
Quilters Hall of Fame
The Quilt
Yvonne Porcella’s website
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Twisted Sister (blog of Jamie Fingal)
Pokey’s Ponderings (blog of Pokey Bolton)
Video interview with Yvonne recorded by Lisa Ellis in November 2015
C&T Publishing

Amy Milne headshot

Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance

Meet All of the “Animals We Love” Contest Winners

On Monday, we announced the winners of “Animals We Love,” the Quilt Alliance’s 9th annual quilt contest. We were thrilled to receive so many stunning, well-crafted, and story-rich entries this year. When Alliance board members e-gathered last spring to conceptualize the 2015 theme, we agreed that we wanted to offer a topic that would have broad appeal. We wanted a subject that quilters bond over when they’re not bonding over quilting. I shared with the group that some of our most popular posts on the Quilt Alliance Facebook page have featured my cat, Frazier Duane. Lightbulb: Animals We Love!


Frazier Duane checking messages.

We kept the theme open-ended as we have with all of our contests. The only requirements were size (16″ x 16″) and “quiltiness” (had to be made of 3 layers stitched together). Animal-adoring quilters from 23 U.S. states and 6 countries mailed us their gorgeous artworks. International entries came from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and several entries are the result of a collaboration of two or more quilters.

The Grand Prize for the contest is the highly sought-after HQ Sweet Sixteen sit-down longarm machine package (machine, table and bobbin winder) by Handi Quilter, Inc. Professional judges Marianne Fons, Mark Lipinski and Paula Nadelstern chose the Handi Quilter Grand Prize Winning quilt, “Giraffe Nocturne,” by Nancy S. Brown of Oakland, California. Nancy said about her win: 

Nancy S BrownI first learned about the “Animals We Love” contest through “The Quilt Show” newsletter. I have always loved animals and I thought making a quilt would be a nice way to support an organization that does such great work for the quilting world in preserving the stories of quilts and quilters. I was just hoping that the quilt would raise some money for The Quilt Alliance at auction.

So imagine my absolute surprise and delight when I received the call from Amy Milne informing me that I won the grand prize. Wow!!! What an honor—especially given all of the wonderful and varied quilts in the contest. I had a hard time choosing my own favorite for the member’s vote.

I have always been a hand quilter but have often admired the beautiful machine quilting that is being done now. So with the prize of the Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen I am looking forward to trying my hand at something new. I have heard many great things about this particular machine. I can’t wait to start this new adventure!

Thanks to Handi Quilter for being such a generous sponsor in this contest. Thanks also to all of the quilters who donated their time and talent in a show of love for animals and support for the Quilt Alliance. And a very special thanks to The Quilt Alliance for all of the hard work that you do in promoting quilting and in saving our heritage by preserving our stories.

–Nancy S. Brown 


Watch and listen to a Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories interview with Handi Quilter Grand Prize winner Nancy S. Brown conducted on June 10, 2015 by Quilt Alliance staffer Emma Parker here.


“Giraffe Nocturne” by Nancy S. Brown (Handi Quilter Grand Prize winner)

Here’s the full report from our judges:

Many thanks to all who participated in the “Animals We Love” competition—you charmed, delighted, and intrigued us with your many and varied reflections on the animal kingdom. The three of us were pleased to have the opportunity once again to get on the phone together to “ooh” and “aah” as we clicked back and forth on the various entry images, enjoying them so much, and gradually narrowing down our choices.

This year’s Grand Prize goes to “Giraffe Nocturne.” All three of us had this particular entry squarely among our top saves. We love the maker’s fabric choices and skilled use of needle-turn applique. This is a work where everything—the pieced background with its distant moon, the composition of the giraffe in the foreground, and the many details such as the animal’s expressive eye—works together perfectly. Congratulations to the artist!

We were glad to have the opportunity again this year to each select a personal Judge’s Choice. Here are our picks:

Mark Lipinski’s Judge’s Choice pick: “Bzzzzz”


“Bzzzzzz” by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of Woodbridge, Connecticut

Because the quiltmaker took a creative risk and interpreted the competition’s theme in a totally different way and style than the other entrants, Bzzzzz immediately caught my attention and interest. The pieced work, with its clean and graphic design shapes, was appealing to me. Blending a combination of the modern aesthetic (more than average negative space, solid and contrasting color combos, a sense of minimalism) with traditional piecework (matching points, traditional quilting, a variation on a traditional Lone Star quilt pattern) was both interesting and appealing. The use of the grey and black pieced strips in the bees’ wings adds movement and depth, while the soft hued binding only complements the totality of the piece rather than abruptly stopping the eye with a more predictable choice of bright yellow, black, or grey. Frankly, there was nothing that I didn’t enjoy about this entry.

Paula Nadelstern’s Judge’s Choice pick: “Olive, Olive You <3”


“Olive. Olive you <3” by Lisa B. Filion of Queensbury, New York

Let me set the record straight: I do not love guinea pigs. But I love this whimsical, thoughtful little quilt. I love the furry figure with her moony, mish-mashed eyes. I love the sweet green patchwork ground; I think it would be time well spent to examine the work up close to see if any swatch was used twice. I’m impressed with the carefree, impulsive effect which masks deliberate technical choices. I vicariously share the maker’s fun of slipping something macabre (i.e. the skeleton) into the sweetness, and I’m impressed with the use of pink that doesn’t mar the realism. I exalt in its fabric-ness. Like me, this maker clearly thinks, “When it comes to fabric, more is MORE!”

Marianne Fons’ Judge’s Choice Pick: “Grandpa T and His Salad”

"Grandpa T and His Salad" by Cindy Cooksey of Irvine, California

“Grandpa T and His Salad” by Cindy Cooksey of Irvine, California

A high contrast, hot-pink-and-black plaid fabric as the background for pictorial applique would generally be a disaster, but in this artist’s hands it worked perfectly. That crazy, bold fabric adds whimsy and humor to the drama taking place on this quilt, i.e., the turtle’s laborious journey toward lettuce, broccoli, and tomatoes. I love the way Grandpa T’s little hind foot breaks the edge of the quilt on the left side. The fabrics the maker chose for his shell are perfect, and the quilting on the shell panels add great realism. The shading under Grandpa T’s shell and the luncheon plate, the big-stitch quilting in the background, and the loose-edge applique used for the vegetables all work together beautifully. The big risk this artist took really paid off for me!

As judges, we’d also like to send shout-outs to five other entrants. We spent a lot of time viewing their quilts, enjoying them, making the difficult decisions of just which quilt would be the Grand Prize winner and which three would be our personal choices. We want these makers to know their terrific quilts were in the running!

Judges’ Shout-outs to:

Finally, big thanks to Amy Milne for getting us all organized and together in one (virtual) spot, as well as to Lisa Ellis who designed the fantastic software (ArtCall) we used for the judging process. It was great!

Best regards,
Mark Lipinski, Paula Nadelstern, and Marianne Fons

Members’ Choice Awards

Quilt Alliance members also weighed in on the contest entries, and their votes determined the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Honorable Mention winners. It was a tough choice and even required a run-off election to determine 2nd and 3rd place!

Here are the Members’ Choice winning quilts and their makers:

First Place: “Bzzzzzz” 


“Bzzzzzz” by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of Woodbridge, Connecticut

Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill

I am truly honored to have so many Quilt Alliance Members and Mark Lipinski select my mini quilt, Bzzzzzz, as their favorite. As a member and a quilt donor, I am proud to support the Quilt Alliance and the important work they do.

Second Place: “Eye See My Beloved” 

"Eye See My Beloved" by Maria Ferri Cousins and Syrie Blanco Walsh of Great River, New York

“Eye See My Beloved” by Maria Ferri Cousins and Syrie Blanco Walsh of Great River, New York


Maria Ferri Cousins


Syrie Blanco Walsh






Syrie and I are so privileged and thrilled that our quilt “Eye See My Beloved” came in second place in the Quilt Alliance “The Animals We Love” Quilt Contest.  We love what we do and are happy that we are able to help such a worthy cause.  The Quilt Alliance works hard to have the story of all our quilts remembered and we at Fine Art Quilting make our quilts with a story to tell.”

Your generous award will definitely go a long way.  We can’t wait to see all the wonderful Moda Fabrics, Aurafill thread and Simplicity/EZ Quilting Accessories, with a big expression of our thanks to your sponsors.
We hope your fund raiser brings in the needed funds for you to continue all your hard work in preserving and educating others about quilts and their stories.

Third Place: “Innocence” 

"Innocence" by Kathy York of Austin, Texas

“Innocence” by Kathy York of Austin, Texas

Kathy York

I am so thrilled about winning the 3rd place award and an Honorable Mention for my quilt, Innocence, which features our little mischievous kitten! And, I am grateful for an opportunity to give back to the Quilt Alliance.  I appreciate the work that they do to preserve our stories and our history as quiltmakers.  It is an honor!


Members’ Choice Honorable Mention Awards


You can view all of the “Animals We Love” contest quilts on the Quilt Alliance website here and on The Quilt Index here.

We’d like to thank all of the artists who donated quilts for this year’s contest! After a national exhibition tour that began on June 8 at the Utah headquarters of Handi Quilter, Inc, and includes stops at American Quilter’s Society and Original Sewing & Quilt Expo shows, the quilts will be sold via an online auction in November, 2015.  The auction is one of the Alliance’s most important annual fundraisers and provides crucial funds that support the operation of projects like Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories and Go Tell It at the Quilt Show!

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

We’re back this Sunday with a short excerpt from a fantastic Q.S.O.S. interview from our archives with quiltmaker Adrienne Yorinks. Adrienne was interviewed in New York City in 2002 and her interview covers everything from to animal rights, abstract expressionism, kids and quilts, and gender. In these excerpts, Adrienne shares a bit about her then-latest work, and how men and women alike have reacted to her quilts:

This is called “Tartan Number 3: A Midsummer’s Daydream.” And I’m doing a series of tartans. I’ve found it a fascinating format to use because it allows me to focus on different ways I work and has a built in way of “grounding” the piece. What I mean by this is if you look at the definition of Tartan in the dictionary, basically it is a woolen cloth with a woven pattern of straight lines of different colors and widths crossing at right angles. So it makes a perfect structure to do the kind of piece I want to work on at that time. I’ve been called an abstract expressionist by a few people viewing my work, and I am most moved myself by the abstract expressionist. My favorite artists are Mark Rothko and Robert Rauschenberg; Rothko for his incredible ability to capture mood in color and Rauschenberg for his sense of collage. I have always loved collage. My inspirations when I work are color, fabric, and subject matter. This piece really is about color. And I love summer. So, I just had to do a piece that was exciting, in reds and oranges. It’s to me a very happy piece. I will use cotton, a lot of vintage fabric, and anything else that strikes me. There’s a lot of silks and mixed blends that I’ve used together in this piece…

My work has always been liked by men and women and I have been thrilled. It’s taken seriously. It’s not just looked over. So, I reach both genders which I’m excited about. I’ve reached all age groups and economic groups and I’m really excited about that. I think it’s unfortunate that there is a gender issue still in this country. But, I think there are so many issues in this country. I think women’s work–which sewing always was–even though there are some incredible art quilts even from the 1800’s. It is just not considered true art. I’m not answering this really great. I just want to be seen as an artist and then you can go into that I’m a woman and that I’m Jewish, that I’m brought up in New York. That’s okay, but I would like to be considered an artist first. To go back–the wonderful experience at Citigroup Center was I was seen by everyone that works at Citigroup Center and I had incredible comments, like they didn’t want the Pineapple quilt which was in this exhibit to leave the building. They really wanted color, they loved it. And also I had from my illustration work for Stand for Children, I had the elevator man come up and kiss my hand and say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you for your work. You have made us so happy the last couple weeks.’ And I was touched by that more than most of the other comments that I touched somebody as an artist, and it didn’t matter. He might not have kissed my hand if I was a guy, but he really loved my work and I think that is important.

You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance site.


Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

This Sunday’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight is a few days late, but we have a very special quilt to share in honor of today, Veterans Day in the US.

When Pam Neil’s son Scott was deployed to Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, she decided to make a quilt for him and add one square for every day he was gone. Scott’s children, friends and extended family wrote messages on each block, which grew, square by square, each day Scott was gone. Pam shared the quilt in a 2009 Q.S.O.S. interview:

Well, the name of this quilt is “Scott’s Victory Quilt”and he named it sort of tongue in cheek. When the events of September 11, 2001 occurred, Scott was in the Army Special Forces and he was a first responder to Afghanistan after those attacks in New York. I told him that it was more danger than we knew he had ever been in before knowing that he was going to Afghanistan. I think the country in general was in shock during that time and we just didn’t know what to expect with his going over there. But because of that I said, ‘Scott, I really don’t know what to do to help you, but I’m going to make a quilt while you’re gone. We’ll put a block in it for every day you’re gone so that you will know without a doubt that we thought about you every single day and that we did not just become complacent about your being over there.’ We chose to do this quilt as a memory quilt and we used Pigma markers to actually write messages on the blocks each day.

The pattern is a half square triangle, a very simple quiltmaking pattern. The construction method or technique is called quilt-as-you-go [all three layers are sewn at once.] and while I developed the specific construction plan for this quilt, I’m pretty sure I was influenced at the time by a book written by Georgia Bonesteel. And I forget the name of her book, but it was a book about quilt-as-you-go methods. The blocks I did by machine and we wrote messages on the blocks and then all the quilting was done by hand and then each block was added day by day and row by row.

We chose to start the blocks in the center of the quilt and then we added the rows in a clockwise fashion around to build out from the center and the reason we did that was because we didn’t know how long Scott was going to be deployed. He could have been deployed 2 years. He could have been deployed 2 months or God forbid, he could have been gone 2 weeks and come home in a box. We just really did not know how big this quilt was gonna be so we started in the center.

The quilt is almost a play by play of the war and in many cases it documents things that were going on in the family like his dad’s 60th birthday, his brother being deployed in the Navy reserves and there was even a proposal of marriage documented in this quilt. It was signed by his children, his siblings, his cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and a couple of strangers that he didn’t even know that were friends of the family. There are even some secret messages in this quilt that some people wrote on the seams of the quilt and I’ve never told Scott where they are or what they say. I only told him that someday I might tell him. It just really documents a whole lot that was going on in our lives.

That first deployment Scott was only gone 6½ months and he’s fine. I should say that he did come home and he was gone about 6½ months for that deployment but a couple of weeks before he was due to come home, he was able to let us know that and so we planned the edges of the quilt. The borders we actually sent out to California to his grandmother, who is Lucille, my mother-in-law. She quilted those and sent them back and they became part of the quilt too and then the top and bottom borders that you’ll see were actually signed by people who came to his coming home party when he got home. And because we had done it in a quilt as you go fashion, the quilt was done just a couple of weeks after he came home even though it was all hand quilted. If I had made the quilt top and then quilted it after the fact, he would have had to wait for it probably 6 months or more.

Pam also recorded an audio ‘postscript’, sharing a bit about Scott and the quilt since her interview in 2009, and how this quilt provided comfort in a difficult time:

You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.


Posted by Emma Parker

Project Manager, Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories

Inspired By Matching Game!

The deadline for our annual quilt contest is two weeks away–“Inspired By” entries must be postmarked by June 1, 2014.  Full details including a downloadable entry form can be found on our website and blog.

If your design or execution are still in neutral, here is a little inspiration game to get your motor in gear.

Match the Quilt to the Alliance Board Member
Five Quilt Alliance board members have offered photos of their in-progress or finished Inspired By entries:

Allie Aller
Lisa Ellis
Luke Haynes
Michele Muska
Victoria Findlay Wolfe

See if you can match up the artist with the quilt! In the left hand column below are the Inspiration quilts, selected from The Quilt Index or Q.S.O.S., and on the right are the original contest entries. Post your answers here as comments (A=board member’s name, etc…), and we’ll draw a winner on Monday, May 19 at 5pm Eastern from all those with correct answers.

Full details on the Inspired By contest, including a downloadable entry form, can be found on our website and blog.

Thank you to these generous Quilt Alliance Business Members sponsoring “Inspired By”:

Amy Milne headshot

Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

There are many, many Q.S.O.S. interviews that contain stories of quilts being passed down, through families, and traveling across generations along family lines. But this week’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight features a quilt that traveled around a family in a different way, when it was sold in a family auction and then won again by quiltmaker Judy Baxter-Warrington. Her charming story of a family heirloom and its travels is our Q.S.O.S. spotlight this week:

“This is a quilt that was made by three generations on my mother’s side of the family. Every year for our family reunion, almost every year, I make some form of a quilt to auction off and it helps pay for the reunion expenses, and other things that the family does throughout the year.

This particular one I’d seen in a magazine, and I just fell in love with it, and I decided I would make it for that particular reunion. It was about two thousand and five I believe. I can clarify that when I actually bring the quilt. I worked on it for a long time. It’s got lots of pieces in it. It’s very colorful, but it’s done in eighteen thirties fabrics something that I wanted. I pieced it all and the week before the reunion attempted to quilt it. This quilt is suppose to be queen size but, as most of my projects end up being, it’s closer to a king size. [MM laughs.] So here I am, slinging this big quilt over my shoulder, trying to shove it through the machine, and the machine is giving way to the weight of the quilt. I think I got about six inches attempted to be quilted and decided I was not going to be able to get this one machine quilted. So I said, ‘Okay, I have to come up with another plan here folks.’ I took the quilt with me. I packed it all up and we went to Indiana. On my way there I came up with a plan. I decided rather than just tying the quilt, which is one of the traditional ways of finishing the quilt sandwich, I would tie it with buttons. There are tons of buttons all over this quilt. It’s tied with twill cotton sewn through the buttons. My mother, my daughter, and my granddaughter all helped me work with it. My granddaughter helped pick out the buttons and hand them to us. We were sewing the last buttons on the morning of the reunion.

I had a real trauma because one of my cousins was the successful bidder on the quilt, and I hadn’t even had time to really, as most quilters will know that’s themselves in that quilt, and they need to touch it, and look at it, and show it to other people. I never got that opportunity to do that. We packed it up and drove back to Missouri with it. I didn’t get to see the quilt. It just went bye-bye.

Just to tell a little bit on the side here, he and his then wife, in the following year I believe it was, they divorced. He took custody of the quilt. He brought it back two years ago, 2007, and put it back up for bid. This ornery cousin likes to bid against me at the family reunions. We’re near the same age. Everybody knew that I that I wanted to get my quit back. I had a budget because I didn’t have a lot of money. I had two hundred dollars that I could pay for it, although I knew it was worth a lot more than two hundred dollars. He kept bidding against me, cause he was maybe going to give it to one of his kids who had liked it. I said, ‘No, I wanted to take my quilt home and enjoy it for a little while before,’ maybe, giving it back and into the reunion kitty. At any rate, it hit two hundred and I was gulping, almost in tears. Another cousin, who understands this little game that gets played at the reunions, bid on it for me and bought it for me. [MM gasps.] So, I have it now on my bed at home.  I love the quilt, although I’ve had it now for a while. Maybe not this year, but possibly next, I will take it back to reunion, let it travel on to another family to enjoy, now that I’ve had time to really absorb the quilt.”

You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.







Posted by Emma Parker

Project Manager, Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

Today’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight is shining on Teresa Alvarez of Boonville, California. Teresa was interviewed as part of the Los Hilos de la Vida Q.S.O.S. Project, which interviewed members of the mostly Latina ‘Lost Hilos de la Vida’ (Threads of Life) quilt group in Boonville, California.

In her interview, Teresa explained the significance of her quilt–only the fourth one she’d ever made–and the importance of quilting in her life.

“It is a work. We came to learn to quilt. We learned that we could do a lot of things. We learned how to draw, how to sew better. Learn how to express how one has lived, and what has happened to us and what is past…This quilt represents the border. So when somebody comes over the border they feel like they are in the dark. So, you come here having to better yourself, to get ahead. Tinkerbelle represents the light. The light represents–Tinkerbelle represents light and also the stars represent the light and of the home of the family to get ahead.”



Karen Musgrave, interviewer: So what do you think of the group… Why is quilting important to you?

“It gives us good opportunities. To learn art, to get rid of the stress of being in the house allthe time. To have something to relieve the house and being at work all the time. Talking with people. [It is important]To see what a person can do. What you are capable of.”






You can read more quilt stories from Los Hilos de la Vida and other quilters across the country on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.


Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

Feeling a little sleepy this morning? For many places in the world, last night was the start of Daylight Saving Time as we lose an hour ‘spring forward’ and skip ahead 60 minutes into the future.

With time on our mind, today’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight features a clock quilt created by Barb Vlack as a meditation on slowly losing time.

Barb shared with interviewer Karen Musgrave about the origins of her quilt and the symbolism of the clock it features:

This is a quilt that has a distorted picture of a clock that is a representation of what I understand my mother drew when they gave her the Alzheimer’s diagnostic test that is called the Clox Test. It was developed by Dr. Clox and just by coincidence the whole premise is that you want to see if the patient can draw a clock. Well my mother could not, and you can see from this quilt that the circle that would outline the clock is very distorted, all of the numbers are nowhere near where they are supposed to be, it is very disorganized, and it illustrates how this test has turned out to be a diagnostic tool for determining whether a patient has lost some organizational skills, a symptom that is associated with Alzheimer’s degeneration.

When I put together this quilt, I put the clock drawing on top of some pieced blocks called, “Time and Tide,” and I thought, ‘All right, we are losing time, my mother is losing time, and this was just one way to represent some of that.’ Actually, my father is losing time, too. When I told my dad about what was going on with my mom’s diagnosis (my mom and dad have been divorced for many years), he shook his head and told me he could not draw the clock either when he was given the Alzheimer’s diagnostic test. I am dealing with both my parents going through their Alzheimer’s journey. My mother lives alone, my father has a wife and they are a little bit different as far as their journeys, as far as what is going on. My mother cannot take the medication, my father can. So he is doing better.

It was really an interesting thing to go through and make this quilt, because just the process of making it made me do a lot of thinking. There are memories that go into this. There are tears that go into it. There is symbolism that goes into it. How can I represent a lot of the things that go into our lives right now, or even went into our lives for years previous? It has been a difficult experience to realize that both of my parents are going to be going through this whole thing with Alzheimer’s, because there is nothing we can do about it. They are just going to have to take one day at a time and deal with it. And we’re running out of time…

You can read more about Barb’s quilt, including how she selected the quilting pattern in her interview here. And you always can also read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.


Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

Today’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight features an interview from one of my favorite projects, the Healing Quilts in Medicine Q.S.O.S., which interviewed quilt makers who created art quilts for the oncology waiting areas of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The theme of the quilts was the plants and animals used to make the medicine in chemotherapies. Today we’ll hear from Annabel Ebersole about the quilt she created, and the influence that living abroad had on her quilts–and herself.
First, Annabel shared a bit about the quilt she made for the Healing Quilts in Medicine project:

“Periwinkle Dreams” is a quilt that I made with a group of other quilt artists gathered together by Judy House.  The quilts were destined to be hanging at Walter Reed in the cancer treatment area, and Judy had been ill with cancer and was treated at Walter Reed.  Some of us were students of hers and some were nationally known quilters.  We all chose a theme of plants or underwater sea creatures or some other form of natural substance that was being used for chemotherapy research and periwinkle apparently has been used.  I know someone else made a large quilt with the periwinkle flower, but I was particularly drawn to making the flowers smaller, they are in the forefront of my quilt, and then there is this lovely garden hillside behind it and a blue sky and a tree and a fence and there is a little feeling of the pathway, two pathways running through the garden part.  We met several times at Judy’s friend, Kay Lettau’s, house, and we would go there with different drawings of what we were going to be working on and kind of went around the circle and everyone talked about what they were going to do.  Mine had warped from something else that was bigger into this particular style that just felt really right.”
Annabel also shared some of the ways living abroad has shaped her visual interests, and the rest of her life…
“We had a four-year tour in Portugal from 1980 to ’84 and from there we went to Brazil
from ’84 to ’86, and then we were lucky enough to have four years in London.  Starting with Portugal, the Portuguese have a long history; there are beautiful tile walls and floors that are there; there is lovely silver that is just exquisite; there are beautiful old castles; and there are some private homes and castles that have been made into hotels called Posadas.  We arrived with an eighteen month old daughter and then had our second daughter when we lived in Portugal, so when Bruce and I were able to get away for a weekend we would go to different Posadas and kind of explore that area.  Even having one night away was really golden for us.  [laughs.]  The girls were great travelers, and we would drive regularly up from the Lisbon area up to Sintra, which is a hillside castle with a town at the base of the castle. We went further north toward Porto and outside of Porto there is an incredible Iron Age village called Citania de Briteros that kind of makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  It is just these huts with little kind of walkways with gutters in them and at the time there was a man who lived there who was the caretaker but it didn’t have a lot of protection the way you would think something would that is kind of a national treasure.  They also had Roman ruins in Portugal, and we really enjoyed seeing mosaics and other evidences of the Roman presence, and Coimbra had this beautiful library.  I think I’ve always been fascinated with architectural details.  

I’ll spring forward to London because that is one place where we really visited several stately homes.  I was able to take a survey course of different periods, like the Georgian Period.  We would learn about some of the art, the architecture, the gardens, the silver, everything from that period with just a little short history of who was the king, and  what was going on in terms of political intrigue or whatever. We would visit the Victoria and Albert Museum and I think this class lasted probably three or four months. It was down in Kensington and that was a real highlight for me.  I have always loved the skylines; the rooflines in England are just fascinating and if you go to a castle and you are able to look at some of the chimney pots that are intricately decorated, these brick chimney pots that swirl around or they have a step like effect in them.  Then you think of seeing a roofline and chimneys in Holland and you realize that there are some similarities that cross over and you are reminded of all the explorers.  The Portuguese certainly got around everywhere, and the quality of learning the history and having lived in Europe was fascinating.  When we were posted in Brazil I was involved with the American Women’s Club and we helped to start a nursery school in an orphanage.  There was amazing poverty in Brasilia.  The capitol itself is middle class and then there are some very, very wealthy people there.  In the outlying satellite cities it can be extremely poor. We were invited to visit our, well we went to one wedding of a very working class family and were invited to another one and really got to see how the other half lived and visiting the orphanage was an eye opener. Through the American Women’s Club, we raised money for wheelchairs for people who lived in just poverty stricken areas.  I came back with just a huge awareness of how fortunate Americans are and how much we have. ” 

You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.


Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories