Quilts for the International Quilt Museum (part 1)

Quilts for the International Quilt Museum (part 1)

I had the pleasure of meeting Carolyn Ducey from the International Quilt Museum (IQM) at QuiltCon 2023, and was thrilled and honored to learn they wanted to add some of my work to their permanent collection! Since I rarely keep any of the quilts I make, I pitched a group of four designs I felt would show/tell the story of the many facets of my career, so far.

The most obvious choice was Drunk Love in a Log Cabin (DLLC) – one of the first quilts I designed and exhibited in 1996. DLLC quite literally became the "poster child" of my business – the backdrop for a full page in the NY Times Home Design Magazine in the fall of 1996, and appearances in many magazines and shop windows over the years.

The original palette, inspired by a Maira Kalman illustration, became a signature combination over the years. The mix of peach and orangey-red, turquoise, brown and citrus yellow was the starting point for Flea Market Fancy, my first licensed fabric collection in 2006, and I used a similar palette for a 2001 project with Aid to Artisans in Honduras, designing new products with local artisans for export to western markets (below).


I pieced this rendition for the museum, and reached out to Julie Tebay to see if she would hand-quilt it for me, though she had officially retired a few years ago. I've worked with Julie since day one of my business. In pre-internet days, I found Julie's advertisement for Amish hand quilting services in the back of a quilting magazine, and her "girls" quilted my work for two decades, with the tiny, meticulous stitches the Amish are renowned for. It felt important that Julie be a part of the quilts representing my career in the museum's collection, so I'm delighted she said yes!

I had Miles and Miles photograph the DLLC for the IQM for the "hero" image of my new website earlier this year, before we shipped it to the museum. I think it looks as good as it did 28 years ago!


I knew I wanted to include a quilt that featured needle-turn applique too, since I love the technique. I considered designs from my (out of print) books or patterns, or creating a new Knot Quilt design, but in the end it became clear that a personal project I had started a few years prior was the way to go. It's rare that I get to make work that doesn't have a deadline or client! I decided to keep to the spirit of how I began this quilt – not worrying about the final layout, but rather indulging in the joyful immediacy of drawing these seaweed-like shapes on fabric, and then hand-appliqueing them in the evenings. I love the rhythm of hand-stitching and keeping my hands busy and productive (while streaming movies and TV series, of course). The combination of drawing and hand-stitching feels like the sweet spot for me, and I am working toward the day when I can mostly do that, all the time!

For the machine-quilting on this one, I collaborated with textile artist Carson Converse, whose exquisite minimalist work resonates with me (she also quilted my Knot Quilt). Her work is impeccable and the pattern she came up with for the quilt perfectly complements the design.  Every detail was considered, from thread color and weight, to the distance between the lines of stitching.

Every aspect of making this Appliqué Quilt was a joy, and I think it shows!

PS: The background fabrics for this quilt are a mix of cottons and linens from my archives, including a fabulous Kaffe Fassett stripe (and one of mine), a vintage print or two, and the gorgeous linen with a fern – made and given to me by Joelle Hoverson, who owns Purl Soho.

Part 2 of this story coming soon!

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  • This is so exciting. I love your designs and live in Nebraska. I will definable a trip down to Lincoln to see this.

    Tonya on

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