Discovering The Path to Quilt Making

charity art quilt
Quilt by David Charity

pokey boltonI'm always intrigued to learn what started people on the path to quilt making. Did they stumble into it in mid-life or did they grow up among quilters, stitchers, and textile artists? Did they choose quilting when a life-event like a move or an illness presented a fork in the road of life? Or were they just looking for a pleasant diversionand got bitten by the fabric-and-stitch bug?

In the December/January issue of Quilting Arts, you'll meet three artists who discovered how to quilt (and eventually discovered art quilting) by chance and by association.

Three years ago, Sheila Frampton Cooper didn't own a sewing machine and had no interest in sewing. But she was interested in contributing to her community, so she searched an online resource for volunteer opportunities. At the top of the list was Project Linus, an organization of volunteers who make blankets and quilts for children in need.

quilt artist sheila frampton cooper
Sheila Frampton Cooper

Sheila planned to drop off some fabric and leave, but the volunteers were so friendly and welcoming, she decided to show up at their next gathering. Next thing she knew, Sheila had turned her breakfast nook into a studio. A year later she started making art quilts, and now her entries to International Quilt Festival are garnering recognition.

"I like hard lines with curved shapes, which is representative of my personality. There is a part of me that loves to drive fast and is very intense, and that definitely comes through in my work," says Sheila, who continues to make quilts for charity.

And speaking of charity, we'll also have a feature on the husband-and-wife quilting team of David and Patricia Charity. David's quilts feature graphic, cartoon-influenced design elements, while Patricia's work is reflective of her interest in, and experimentation with, various surface design methods.

quilt making fabric design
One of Sheila's fabric designs.

Patricia took up quilting in the '80s when a girlfriend of hers didn't want to go to a quilting class alone. At the second class, Patricia showed up with an unusual mix of fabric colors and prints that raised eyebrows. She knew then that she was probably not going to be one of the "calico girls," and soon turned to art quilting.

David, who has always wanted to be a cartoonist, started quilting five years ago when his wife came home with a quilt of hand-dyed sunflowers that she created in a Phil Beaver class. Now he's starting to fuse his cartoon dream with his fabric creations.

The stories and art of these fascinating artists are just part of what we have planned for you in the December/January issue of Quilting Arts and into 2012. Subscribe to Quilting Arts now, and you'll have no trouble following the path to quilting creativity.

P.S. How did you find the path to quilt making and art quilting? Share your story below.

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19 thoughts on “Discovering The Path to Quilt Making

  1. I started dabbling in quilting during the late 80s, but found I didn’t have a lot of time for it, especially during the 90s. But at some point I decided I needed to take a beginner class just to see what I could learn. When I showed the teacher a quilt top that I had made and told her that I actually liked the BACK as much or more than the front, she suggested that I might enjoy art quilting. Funny… I’d never even heard of the term before then and I thought she was insulting me!!! LOL. Little did I know that she was RIGHT and just nudged me in a direction I was destined to go.

  2. Learn something new everyday. These 3 amazing artists are all from Southern California. All unique in their approach to quilt making. I look forward to reading more about them in the upcoming Quilting Arts Dec/Jan 2012 issue. So great!

    I got my start in art quilting, because I was frustrated with the confines of striving for perfection in piecing. Learning how to fuse, changed my life as an artist. Started a subscription to Quilting Arts, joined the Quiltart group, made journal quilts. There is no going back. Onward and upward.

  3. When growing up, I learned from my mother who did a lot of quilting, so I have been quilting most of my life. I have learned to paint flowers on fabric, so have started making quilts with my art. I am in the process of finishing a “flag and eagle” quilt right now. I am quilting it by hand.

  4. It was at Christmas luncheon with my golfing friends and I spotted a wonderful octagon shaped table topper…. asked my friend, who made it, if she would make one for me for next year and she said she’d be happy to show me how ….. I told her that wasn’t what I had in mind !!! but she was hard to resist so with very little sewing experience I joined their quilting group and had a ball. My passion is watercolor so soon I incorporated painting, fabric and mixed media and have a greater passon now!

  5. I learned to quilt in graduate school at the MD Institute in Baltimore in 1977. (that was when they stll had a textile daprtment.) I made one traditional pieced quilt, “Crosses and Crowns”, and decided I wanted to make my own images. I’ve been a porfessional art quilter since 1981. Some of my quilts are here on the “share your quilts” gallery here on this site….

  6. I watched Alex Anderson and had to do that. It was around christmas. All those wonderful quilts got me hooked. Took every class our local quilt shop had. Love hand quilting the best.

  7. At age 16 I wanted to replicate a family heirloom quilt that was deteriorating. I used a Kleenex box to make one of the templates. Made a second quilt that same year for my boyfriend of the moment. Not another quilt appeared until 20 years later when I took my Camp Fire girls to a shop to learn to make quilts. My first thought was, “I can do this!” Within a year I was working at that shop as clerk, long armer and instructor. I ‘graduated’ to art quilter only about 2 years ago, thanks to QA!

  8. I was an art teacher for 32 years, and, although I love everything art-related, I have always especially loved working with fabric so when I retired, I got into my local guild and began quilting! Then my husband and I discovered Arrowmont…an Arts and Crafts School in Gatlinburg, TN. It was there that I first got into creating “art quilts”…We have been there four times now and I have had marvelous teachers….learning about painting on fabric, silk screening, beading, working with mixed media, etc. I also love Quilting Arts and avidly follow the very wonderful blogs of several fabric artists..Judy Perez is one of my favorites. Through my local guild, I have found others with the same interests as mine and we have formed our own little “mini” guild. We get together once a month and do demos of different subjects each has read about or taken a workshop on…a wonderful, creative bunch of ladies who continually encourage each other to push the envelope!

  9. One day at my job in a hospital, a group of happy people approached me about buying a raffle ticket for the quilt they’d made to raise money for their department. I WANTED that quilt. It was beautiful and the makers were bursting with pride. After failing to win that quilt, it occurred to me that I might actually make my own someday, but it wasn’t until I’d had two little boys and become deeply involved in their co-op elementary school that I got my chance, when I was asked to join the “Sewing Committee”. I pointed out that I knew nothing about sewing but the parent co-chair – somewhat desperately – told me it didn’t matter. One of my jobs was to coordinate the making of the quilt for my oldest son’s kindergarten class – a medieval themed quilt which depicted in each block the coat of arms each child had created for her or himself. The quilt was to be raffled at the annual auction, and the boys were so excited – they were sure I would win the quilt. I feverishly tried to let them down gently – I’m not a lucky person, generally. To my amazement, I did win that funny little quilt and after retroactively taking a beginner’s quilting class, realized that part of what made me love that first project was the capacity for self-expression that an art quilt offers. I love traditional quilts, but didn’t want to make the same block over again and again – or perhaps even make a block. Now I paint, dye, draw, and stamp on quilts with abandon.

  10. Some months ago my little sister reminded me that I once was a creative soul, creating costumes and games for her when she was a little lass. This made me think. I had been searching for a better work/life balance and needed a hobbie. On a whim, I thought about trying my hand at quilting, went to my local fabric and quilting store and bought my first fat quarters and scap fabric. From there I quickly developed an obsession with quilting and fabric. My stash is growing, I ogle over my favourite fat quarters when I need cheering up, I have numerous quilts on the go and a million ideas for future projects. Frustratingly, I’m still just a beginner in my skills but to my great pleasure that many of my work collegues also share my passion and we can share in our journey too. Now I am working on my quilting/life balance, and happily doing so.

  11. I was working on making a winter coat when I had a brush with breast cancer. After my surgery I couldn’t manage a large heavy project but needed some sewing to keep me distracted while I was not working. I did have some Christmas cotton fabrics so started piecing a table runner. Took me 2 more years to finish my coat and 7 years latter my wardrobe still suffers as I would rather quilt.

  12. i went from sewing clothes in the 60’s to the needle arts in the 70’s, always knowing that i was heading to quilting. i have always done crafts of all kinds, so art quilts fit in nicely.

  13. I’ve always been drawn to quilts. A few years ago, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue finally got the best of me and I had to quit working. I used that opportunity to take a sewing class and then a quilting class through adult education. I was immediately addicted!

  14. I long ago discovered that I loved to felt, and work with tactile materials for my artistic expression, I also enjoyed different fabrics but really had to outlet for them. I used them as back grounds or with Paverpol or PowerTex (liquid acrylics) to complete a sculpture, but my mantra was i don’t sew. then I started to see the work of artist who worked outside the box, and didn’t do traditional quilting. I was hooked into wanting to see more. A recent visit to Dreamcrafters Quilt Shop in Hogonsburg NY (an accidental discovery) reeled me in. I walked into the shop and was speechless at the eye candy in that shop. I now have a stash of fabric .. and the desire to play. I’m looking to marry it with fleece and and and

  15. I transitioned to art quilting because I was interested in making unique work, but I have never lost my love of the heritage of quilt making. I love all the steps in the creation of a quilt with hand-dyed, screenprinted cloth: each part of the process has its own rewards (and frustrations!). I always enjoy reading about the paths of other artists, and I am acquainted with the three that are featured in your article. I feel as though I have more insight into who they are as artists after reading your post.

  16. I started quilting about a year ago I had been doing little quilts for my grandchildren while I was on a semi driving. Then when I got off the truck I needed something to do so I did hand applications but never anything real and it was a thing of I will work on it whenever. I watched PBS and Quilting Arts was on it seemed so interesting I have been doing it more including other ways too. I am enjoying it so much I have to make myself quit. Nancy Cedarvale, KS

  17. I’d sewn for years and dabbled in many other crafts. Quilting just intimidated me. When I married my second husband, I was thrilled to find my mother-in-law was an avid quilter. Although she had 2 daughters and several daughters-in-law, none of them shared her passion for fabric. She took me under her wing and shared her passion with me. I remember calling her when I couldn’t figure something out, or when something would go wrong. Ever patient, she’d gently remind me that only God creates perfection and help me move forward. Although we shared in many ways, I never quilt without thanking God for putting Angie in my life.

  18. I’d always loved quilts, but signed up impulsively when a local fabric shop offered a quilt class 22 years ago. No one mentioned that a Lone Star might be pretty challenging for a first quilt! It didn’t matter. I had found what I hadn’t known I was looking for, and actually finished that first quilt in less than a year. Now I love all things quilterly – history, traditional, hand, machine, art.

    Brett in Wyoming

  19. My interest in quilting, especially fiber art, began while glancing through the magazine rack at a local store. It was there that I noticed a magazine cover that caught my eye. Never heard of it before and had no interest to look for it. However, the cover was so beautiful. It turned out to be a Quilting Arts magazine. I thumbed through it to find the article/quilt that was on the front of the magazine. I fell in love with fiber art from that moment on and never looked back. I tried the techniques for “that quilt” and a fiber artist was born. In fact, my pen name has become ‘the barefoot sower.” Fiber art is my passion.