July 24, 2014

The Art of the Quilt Kit

By Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

A quick visit to Lincoln, Nebraska, over the weekend to see family included a visit to the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. I’ve been there several times, and each time I marvel at the exhibitions and displays.

Native Nebraskans Ardis and Robert James founded the museum in 1997, when they donated nearly 1,000 quilts and an endowment to maintain the collection. The physical structure, built with private funds, opened in 2008, and the collection has grown to more than 4,000 quilts. IQSCM



This is not your typical quilt museum. Yes, there are quilt exhibitions, but the main focus is on education and textile conservation. It is an academic program of the Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The master’s degree in textile history with a quilt studies emphasis is the only program of its kind in the world, according to the university. Research, studies and training are continuously taking place at the center. You can plan your visit to include a public lecture, workshop or a Quilt Identification Day.

Modern Marvels
I went to see one of the current exhibitions, “Modern Marvels: Quilts Made From Kits, 1915-1950.” Marin Hanson, the museum’s curator of exhibitions, and graduate student Deborah Rake curated the exhibit. They have done a fine job of explaining quilts from kits and selecting quilts representative of the various manufacturers and designers.

Before I go any further, let me apologize for the poor quality of the photos. No flash is allowed inside the museum, and the only camera I had with me was the one on my phone. These photos will give you some idea of the exhibit, but you really need to see it in person or view the quilts on the museum’s website. display 1
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In the center of the exhibit, displays explain kit quilts from 1915 to 1950. From the early years, there were boxes and packets of squares and diamonds all cut and ready to be sewn into a quilt. Later, toward the ’50s, kits started moving away from precut shapes, instead containing fabric and instructions for cutting the fabric, much like quilt kits today.

May Tulips


Pink Dogwood
The exhibit includes well-known quilts, such as Marie Webster’s May Tulips; Poppy; and Pink Dogwood.

Dresden 1

Royal Aster
Anne Orr is represented by her Dresden I kit quilt, taken from a crochet pattern she designed. The Royal Aster Quilt by Home Art Studio, a Hubert ver Mehren design, is front and center as you walk into the room.

Daisy Chain

Blue Baskets

Snow Flake
Also included are a Daisy Chain quilt designed by Mary McElwain and two kit quilts from Paragon Needlecraft Co. – a Blue Basket quilt and a Snowflake quilt. The Snowflake is one I hadn’t seen before. I would love to find an original kit for this beautiful quilt, with all its unique appliquéd shapes.

Trip Around the World

Broken Star

Floral Basket

Other quilts displayed from unknown designers are pieced quilts Trip Around the World, Double Wedding Ring (not shown) and Broken Star, and a lovely appliquéd quilt called Floral Basket.

If you have made a quilt from a kit – whether vintage or modern-day – the museum encourages you to share it on its Pinterest board.

I am a member of the museum and encourage others to become members. It is a marvelous place, and we as quilters are fortunate to have such a center. “Modern Marvels: Quilts Made From Kits, 1915-1950” continues through Feb. 28.

Donna di Natale is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Wednesday.


July 22, 2014

Texas Quilt Shop Owner Q&A: Suzanne Weberand and Lori LaParche, Quilt Country

WarehouseOnWheels-page-0To celebrate the second week of our Warehouse on Wheels sale in Texas, we’re  talking with two sisters who own a shop in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Our special sale at seven quilt shops in the Houston, Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth areas — with books as much as 75 percent off! — continues through July 26.

Suzanne Weber and Lori LaParche own Quilt Country in Lewisville Texas.

What made you decide to open a shop?

Our motivation for buying this existing shop was love for quilting and the opportunity to keep our favorite shop open and expanding.

What trends do you see in quilting today? Have tastes changed since you opened your shop?Quilt Country1

We see the demand for more and more brights and batiks, which is what our customers have come to love, anticipate and expect from Quilt Country. We don’t see a lot of demand in our shop for the more traditional fabrics, but there are several other great shops nearby which feature these other styles.

Quilt Country, 701 Stemmons Freeway, Lewisville, Texas (972) 436-7022

July 21, 2014

Mrs. Bobbins


For more quilty laughter from Mrs. Bobbins, get The Big Book of Bobbins by clicking here! Just $16.95!

July 20, 2014

Block 7 on store site

Here is the seventh block in Kansas City Star Quilts’ 2014 block-of-the-month project, a tribute to those who served in World War I. This block is called French Star.


Where Poppies Grow … Remembering Almo commemorates the Great War, which started a century ago, in July 1914. Denniele O’Kell Bohannon of Louanna Mary Quilt Design in Harrisonville, Missouri, and Janice Britz of Bee Merry Farms in Peculiar, Missouri, designed this year’s quilt as a remembrance of Almo Ebenezer O’Kell, Bohannon’s great-grandfather.

Angela Walters of Quilting Is My Therapy in Kearney, Missouri, did the free-motion quilting.

The finished quilt is 72 inches by 83 inches.

The pattern for this block appeared in the July 20 Kansas City Star. The Star will publish a new block on the third Sunday of every month. The pattern for this block appeared in the July 20 Kansas City Star. The Star will publish a new block on the third Sunday of every month. Go to the Living tab, then House & Home. To read the story about the quilt and this month’s block in the online version of The Star, click here.

Every month, we will offer the current block on this site as a free download for one week. The blocks then will be available for $3.95 at the Kansas City Star Quilt Store. To order Block 7, click here.


July 19, 2014

Texas Quilt Shop Owner Q&A: Dianne Ferguson, Honey Bee Quilt Store

WarehouseOnWheels-page-0Our celebration of our Warehouse-on-Wheels sale in Texas continues with a visit with an Austin shop owner.

Our special sale at seven quilt shops in the Houston, Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas — with books as much as 75 percent off! — continues through July 26.

Dianne Ferguson owns the Honey Bee Quilt Store in Austin.

What made you decide to open a shop?

My sisters and I had always planned on opening a shop when we were old and gray. A successful quilt store closed very close to my house. We moved up our plans, and opened our store 13 years ago. My sisters are no longer officially part of the business (Mary Ann moved to California and is a teacher. Carolyn is a nurse in Victoria, Texas), although they do models and offer ideas and opinions all the time!

What are you most proud of about your shop?Honey Bee Quilt Store Texas

I am most proud of the culture of my store. We love hearing the stories, pulling fabrics, discussing ideas for the quilts that our customers make. It has been so much fun being a part of the strong quilting community in Central Texas. There has never been a day that I dreaded coming to work.

What trends do you see in quilting today? Have tastes changed since you opened your shop?

The trend that I am most aware of is the movement away from fabric collections. Our color wall is shopped significantly heavier than in the past. Tastes have changed a bit – we are selling a lot of solids. There are a lot of quilts that come through with larger pieces. But we still see traditional quilts, as well – our Stack and Whack and Nine Patch block workshop filled multiple times. I find the modern twist on traditional quilts, such as Sew Kind of Wonderful’s Metro Rings, to be very exciting.

Honey Bee Quilt Store, 9308 Anderson Mill Road #300, Austin, Texas (512) 257-1269