Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mine, mine, mine.

My mother has made this beautiful and amazing quilt for me! Yes, you heard right and, yes, you should be jealous. She gifted me this quilt Mother's Day, 2009. And, it is still on tour. This past month, it has been competing at the Vermont Quilt Festival. This quilt, In My Garden, earned a Blue Ribbon and a special award, Best Hand Applique. You can view all the award winning quilts from VQF here.

This quilt is hand appliqued and quilted by hand. I am so lucky and so loved. But, something is bugging me and since I am not often afraid to share with you what is bugging me, I feel obligated to share this. This past spring, my mother taught classes at a sewing exposition. Part of the deal was booth space. We all worked together to make things look great.

Her patterns were lined up neatly along with a bowl of candy and a giveaway of a lovely needlepoint box crammed full with antique silk thread and a full set of my mother's Baltimore Album block patterns.

A few of her quilts were hung in the background. The redwork quilt is one of my favorites.

This sweet sunbonnet quilt is one of the classes she taught and one of the patterns she has designed and sells.

We hung her pattern samples.

One of my favorites.

So pretty in wool.

Everything looked beautiful. Mom worked hard to showcase her patterns and her work - which is amazing as I am sure you agree.

But, here is my gripe. Dad and I spent more than a few hours manning her booth while she was teaching. We were excited to do so, because we have never thought that mom has tried hard enough to sell herself. Oh, yes, she is in high demand as a teacher. She taught at Going to Pieces in Pleasanton, California for many years, and here at ThimbleCreek. These are two I remember most, but there were so many others and so many quilds she visited. She was thrilled to be a part of The Applique Academy, until good values and good sense told her it was time to move on to better things when the academy's focus became more about business than about preserving and sharing one of our most important traditions. She was heartbroken that this could happen. That the meaning behind the stitches could be lost to the almighty dollar. She moved on admirably and was invited here to teach with the best teachers from across the nation. I know she feels honored to be a part of Baltimore on the Prairie. I hope some of you can join her there. But, I digress - so often.

This beautiful wall quilt, Return to Baltimore, hand appliqued and hand quilted, hung to the right in Mom's booth. The applique stitches are completely invisible, the quilting stitches perfect, small and even. This small quilt is a hallmark of my mother's perfection in craft and life. It was in the view of most foot traffic at the show and caught many an eye. In fact, nearly everyone stopped to look at it. Wouldn't you?

As passersby slowed, took a piece of candy from the basket, admired the giveaway prize and signed up, they looked at the baskets stuffed with patterns, at her sample blocks and at this quilt. They commented that it was lovely, then looked a little closer. Suddenly, their contenance changed. It happened over and over again, nearly every person had the same reaction to the qult. Their noses lifted a little higher into the air. Their brows furrowed. Their mouths turned down. They uttered questions like: "This is done by hand?" "Is that pre-printed fabric?" "Who does handwork anymore?" "Why would anyone do that?" Then, there were other comments: "You have got to be kidding." "What a waste of time." "I don't have the patience for that." "I would never even think of quilting by hand." Since I am used to people admiring my mother's work, I was surprised, discouraged and overwhelmed by the negativity. The candy flowed out of the basket quickly, but it didn't sweeten up the crowd. Comments were discriminatory and prejudice. There was many a look of disdain. These people spoke of my mother's work as second class, substandard, and not good enough.

My mother is a craftswoman, the work is of her heart and of her hands.

I suppose it is difficult to understand from their point of view. I should be more understanding; after all, they are not quilters, their sewing machines are.


  1. Beautiful quilts!

    It is awful that people acted that way. Hand-quilting is so much more personal than machine quilting.

    That is why I have only hand-quilted up to this point. My husband keeps telling me that I could get done faster if I machine quilt, but that misses the point.

    I showed my mom the quilt your mom gave you and she was amazed by how many hours she must have in the quilt. My mom has always hand-quilted and passed on her love of the art to me.

    Long live hand-quilting!!

  2. Kelly, Thank you for this opportunity to see your mother's work! She is truly an artist! I see where you get your own sense of color and style. Your Mother's Day quilt will be beautiful in your new home. Elizabeth

  3. WOW! Your mother's work is so beautiful. I personally cannot figure out why anyone would have anything negative to say. Thanks for letting us see it.

  4. The quilting world is a wonderful place where so many opportunities exist for for so many people. In my opinion it also is a microcosm of our fast-paced, instant gratification society. There is a time and place for a quilt that had its beginnings as pre-cut strips from a fabric manufacturer, pieced in a matter of hours, sent to a machine quilter for quilting and possibly sent to someone else to apply and finish the binding. But can a person (quilter) claim that as their own? Several years ago I made a quilt that is hand appliqued, machine pieced and due to a deadline, is beautifully machine quilted. It has received several awards at shows, credit of course given to the quilter and is a beautiful quilt. However, I don't feel like it is my quilt. There are stitches that belong to someone else and the way I feel about that quilt is much different from my other quilts where all of the stitches, good, bad or otherwise, are mine.

    To me, quilting is about the journey and the things that happen in my life along the way. There is the block I stitched on while flying to Shreveport when my mother died, the quilt I started when my boys were small, etc. Slowing down my life to hand applique or hand quilt is a tremendous stress reliever - sort of like yoga without stretching - and gives me a sense of calm in this crazy world. It is too bad that a lot of quilters can't appreciate the journey that those of us like Nadine take with our quilting to preserve the legacy of those before us who put so much of themselves in their quilts.

    It is a shame that quilters can't appreciate someone else's talent. Nadine's quilts are absolutely amazing, she has a tremendous sense of color and her skill is outstanding. It is a very good thing for those of us who enjoy our hand work (it really isn't work) that conferences such as the ones mentioned are available and well attended.

    Happy stitching!


  5. I don't know that I've ever seen a quilt more beautiful than your mother's Baltimore. I know just what you mean about the negativity, and I don't understand it. Your mother is an artist. Indelibly. I've been washing and stacking some old quilts from my grandpa's house. Not nearly the works of art you pictured, but lovely just the same, you know? There's just something so lovely (and loving) about quilts...Enjoy yours when it comes home to you.

  6. Well, some moms are wonderfully lucky and I am one of those fortunate ones. Thank you for raising a banner for me and my work. I hope you know how loved and admired you are by me. Love always, Mom

  7. It's sad that you received negative comments on your mom's quilts. There are still strong feelings about handwork and quilting in general - firestorms erupt on bulletin boards when someone gets a comment like "it's not a real quilt if it isn't hand quilted." It's all nonsense, of course, but some quilters get very defensive about their work.

    Your quilt is exquisite!


  8. Your mother's work is incredibly beautiful and deserves our admiration.

  9. Tresa’s comment is right on, and beautifully written. Accomplishment without that sense of ownership seems temporary, fleeting, but as she says, the real and lasting value is the journey, the process, the personal investment of not just skill, but passion and oh so much time by the quilter. I’m reminded of the story often attributed to Norman Vincent Peale about a little boy who walked a long way to get a gift for a teacher. When the teacher commented on it, he explained that the long walk was part of the gift.

    The quilt pictured at the beginning of this post is beyond the power of adjectives to describe. As Kelly’s husband, it will one day soon be on my bed, too. It is a valuable, award-winning work of art, no doubt, but what makes it priceless to me, and I’m sure to Kelly, is the long walk it represents. I admire the craftwork, but what I see is Nadine’s hands. I see her back, bent over the frame hour after lonely hour. It is a work of art, yes, but it is more an act of love, and you can’t get that from a machine.

    Now, some will disagree. My creative outlet is writing. At the moment, rather than using a pencil, or a quill, I am typing on a computer with the very latest operating system, an incredibly fast dual processor, six GB of memory, a hard drive bigger than some countries, and a super fast, super cool graphics accelerator, with dual monitors and a word processor that cost more than my first three cars. So I am writing on a machine. What I write, what I create, is still mine, though. I own it. I invest myself in it, but it’s not the same situation.

    One of my writing teachers in college used to lament that paper drafts were gone, that we no longer had stacks of rewrites with edits and proof marks on them, that some part of the writer’s soul was being lost to the machine. Maybe some part of the quilter’s soul is lost to the machine. I don’t know. All I know is that while the end result may appear the same, the machine produces something less personal, something less significant, a lesser gift.

  10. Oh my golly golly gosh, who are these people. I am dropping in from the UK and want to say that I disagree with every single one of those people. I love machine made quilts, machine quilting, machine piecing - it's so fast and instant. But hand sewing is to me the real heart of crafting - that's where you see the real beauty, time and love someone puts into something. And you can hand sew anywhere - in the garden, in front of the tv, at the football match. I think those people passing the booth didn't realise that the tide is turning against them and they will soon have to play catch up. Looking round the internet today, I see more and more people making their quilts totally by hand or hand piecing or hand quilting or hand embellishing. Look at the huge resurgence of the English paper piecing - all done by hand. OK, I'll shut up now but I'm with you and your mum!

  11. And I should add the most important thing I missed saying which is that I would go nuts if someone (even more so my own mum) made me such an amazing quilt as the one in your latest post or the one in the stand. You can't buy the time, love and skill that goes into those kind of heirlooms.

  12. Wow -- that's amazing. Both the quilts and the comments. How very sad too, in this fast-paced world of ours. For me, a "true" quilt will never be anything but hand quilted. I do lots of machine quilting, and it has it's place, but it's just not the same. I find I'm increasingly disappointed at quilt shows as more and more quilts are machine quilted and there are fewer hand quilted treasures. Your mother's work is gorgeous!

  13. IMHO, ignorance and jealousy cause negativity. Your mother's work is admired by those that appreciate a true art form.

    I am the granddaughter of a long time quilter, and I learned to quilt by hand. To me hand quilting is the only true form of quilting. So I guess I would be guilty of being disdainful of a machine-quilted piece. ;)

  14. Good point. I am guilty of using long arm quilters all the time, but I would never look down upon hand quilting. It is a lost art and a treasure to come upon a quilt that is done that way. I have one of those from my grandmother and I know it is a treasure. I'm hoping to hand quilt my first large quilt in the next few months. I'm working on all of the hand applique for it right now. I'm so excited about it. I think their is a time and place for both kinds of quilting. Different kinds of quilts merit different kinds of quilting.

  15. So sad. But really it is a sign of the way our society has become. Everything must be instant. It is very sad. Even though there were many many negative comments, be sure that there are those of us who truly appreciate such works of art and the time put into them that makes them just that, Works of Art. The quilt is simply stunning and I can't even see the intricacy.

  16. I'm so sorry that people can be so unkind and not really think about what they're saying and how it affects others. I would be very upset too. You mother's work is impressive and undeniably beautiful. You are very blessed to have these two treasures in your life. Your mother and the quilt she made for you. Thanks for sharing the pictures with us. I would love to have seen them in person.

  17. A cake from a bakery is sometimes good, but a homemade one is 10 times more tasty.

    Seems to me the quilt shows need to differentiate--an award for best totally hand made, another award for anything else.

    Your sweet Mother is in a category few achieve: a true Master.

    The rest of us are dilettantes who merely dabble. The respect and admiration I have for true Masters is boundless. I, however, am lazy, and need a nap just from imagining that level of commitment.
    Sweet dreams,
    Cathy M.

  18. As a hand appliquer/quilter myself, I can attest to the wonder, skill and beauty that Nadine's work of art shows. I have had the pleasure of seeing it in person, and it is truly magnificient. That anyone would disparage it is criminal. We are all entitled to our opinions... that said, any that can hurt feelings need to be left unsaid! Insecurity about what they do is what drives those negative comments. If the people who spoke such hurtful words had comments like that towards their own work, they would be devastated. Basic good manners seem to be as scarce as hand quilting and good taste in that crowd!
    Nancy Kerns, Skillman, NJ

  19. Unbelievably. The craftsmanship on these gorgeous quilts is amazing. I am in awe and inspired by your mother's talent. I have always wanted to do a hand appliqued quilt but have been intimidated by the talent and expertise that it takes to make something so beautiful. Now that I have seen some of your mother's work I know that I have to try to learn hand applique. Wish I could take one of your mother's classes. She is a true artist!

  20. What an incredible work of art you have, in your mother, who is graced by being able to produce such exquistie works of art! It truly is mind boggling to be able to see something like your moms applique.

    I read on someones blog awhile back about how their quilts didn't matter anyway...why bother?

    I would wonder about mine like that at times wondering why I did this quilt or that quilt?

    I was working on a quilt for a baby, my first quilt, when my grandmother and aunt stopped by. My grandmother spied my quilt and asked if I were doing it. Yes, my first. She held it up and lovingly touched the patches of hearts and told me her mother, who I had never met, was a quilter and hearts were her favorite medium. That was 30 years ago. My aunt had my great grandmothers last quilt. But everytime I asked to see it, she gave excuses why I couldn't see it. Hmm. Then my oldest brother went to see her a few months ago, asked to see the quilt and she complied. He was always her little favorite and couldn't refuse him, lol. He took pics of it for me and emailed them. I broke down and cried when I saw the pics. Hearts all over it. Not museum worthy. But, that quilt matters so much to me. I would give alot to be able to at least touch it.

    So when I hear of negativity being used towards someone else and their ability, I get very sad for them. It really is a shame that they were not loved enough by someone, like you are by your mother, to have received such a treasure as your quilt.

    I love your mothers quilt very much. You are so lucky to have the quilt and your mother. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Elaine

    Where can I buy those patterns for the baltimore album quilt?

  21. Your Mother's quilts are works of art comparable to the great paintings that hang in art galleries. You are so fortunate to have such a lovely talented Mother. It is a gift that few enjoy. Has she passed her skills on to you?

    To be honored as the recipient of such a beautiful piece must take your breath away. Something so beautiful made by hand is a rare gift indeed. We must all endeavor to promote all types of hand work, or it may become a lost art form.

    No machine can duplicate the love and passion that goes into such a quilt. Congratulations to your Mother, she deserves an honor for her lovely art work.

  22. Wow... your Mom is truly an artist in every sense of the word. It is so sad there was so much negativity... why can't we just enjoy things for what they are, no matter how they were made? As a beginning sewer, and hopefully one day a quilter, I am in total awe of your Mom's talent... keep up the great work Nadine!!

  23. Kelly what a beautiful tribute to your mother and my sister. I have always admired Nadine's work. After going to the Quilt Festival in Houston a few years ago I was over whelmed with the talent and creativity of quilt making. Your mother's work ranks the highest of any quilt I have seen.