Debra Gehlbach Rowden was raised in Lawrence and Shawnee, Kansas. Growing up, she liked to play with paper dolls, read and sew. In high school, she dreamed of becoming an artist. In college, she studied to become a journalist. Ever since, she’s worked with words and fabric. She earned a BS from Kansas State University in Clothing & Textiles/Mass Communications in 1977. She took her first quilt class the following year and hasn’t stopped quilting since. She confesses to starting more quilts than she finishes. Deb collects improvisational quilts and meets weekly with a small, but raucous quilt group in Lawrence, Kansas where she lives with her husband, two daughters, two dogs and Oreo the cat. She considers Lawrence to be the hotbed of quilting and quite possibly the center of the universe.
She wrote Quilting a Poem: Designs Inspired by America’s Poets with Francis Kite and Quilter’s Stories: Collecting History from the Heart of America for Kansas City Star Books. She has edited a number of other quilt books and considers this to be her dream job. She enjoys speaking to local groups acbout collecting one’s own history.