I want to be a Diva!
Sunflowers and Flying Geese by Arlene Heintz – Machine pieced and quilted.
Being a diva used to mean that you were a distinguished female singer – usually operatic. Then somewhere along the line, it came to mean a “prima donna”… high maintenance.
Betsy Chutchian, Carol Staehle and a few of their friends have made being a “Diva” something special – it now means you are a distinguished quilter – one who loves quilts with many, many pieces.
Cabin Trees by Ramona Williams. Machine pieced and quilted.
I’ve written about the new book 19th Century Patchwork Divas’ Treasury of Quilts by Betsy Chutchian and Carol Staehle before but after seeing many of the quilts in Houston during Quilt Market and Quilt Festival, I really want to share more about it. While the book showcases the spectacular quilts included here, my favorite thing about it is that it is also a testament to the extraordinary friendships among a group of women who share a love of making quilts and Reproduction fabrics.
Carol and Betsy – at a book-signing at Quilt Market.
Almost 20 years ago – 1997 – Carol and Betsy talked about getting a few of their quilting friends together to exchange blocks based on their common interests in 19th-century quilts, blocks and fabrics. They began with a small group of twelve members and one rule – the blocks could only be made using 1800s Reproduction fabrics, which were just beginning to appear in the marketplace. They drew inspiration from member-owned antique quilts and tops, from single antique blocks and from information and photos of 19th-century quilts found in published books.
In the early years, they managed as many as four block exchanges a year even though the purpose of the group wasn’t just to exchange blocks, members actually wanted to use their blocks to design and make quilts. The group grew to include twenty-four members and while they don’t do as many exchanges as they used to, they don’t mind as the blocks they exchange now are more complex.
Over the years, the Divas were fortunate to see a dramatic increase in the number of Reproduction fabrics available, and in the amount of information about 19th-century quilts, including many from state quilt-documentation books. They are not lacking for inspiration!
Stacked Baskets by Betsy Chutchian. Machine pieced and quilted.
The quilts shown here were all part of a Special Exhibit at Quilt Market and Quilt Festival sponsored by Martingale/That Patchwork Place and Moda Fabrics – and they are included in the Treasury of Quilts. What makes the book so special is that there are ten different block patterns and thirty different setting options – examples of what the Divas did with their blocks. There is also advice and suggestions for establishing your own block exchange group.
Delectable Feathered Star by Sue Troyan. Quilted by Sylvia Thompson. Machine pieced and quilted.
The extraordinary quilters and friends who comprise the 19th Century Patchwork Divas are:
- Betsy Chutchian
- Carol Staehle
- Stacey Barrington
- Julia Berggren
- Betty Edgell
- Mary Freeman
- Alice Harvey
- Arlene Heintz
- Janet Henderson
- Wanda Hetrick
- Karen Hodges
- Ann Jernigan
- Jean Johnson
- Sonja Kraus
- Peggy Morton
- Marilyn Mowry
- Deb Otto
- Diana Petterson
- Annette Plog
- Karen Roxburgh
- Charlene Seifert
- Sue Troyan
- Ramona Williams
Many were in Houston for Quilt Market and/or Quilt Festival, and a few managed to get a little stitching-time together on the day after Quilt Market.
Annette Plog – Betsy – Julia Berggren.
As much as I like this picture… this one is my favorite. Is it just me or do these sweet ladies look like they’re trying not to laugh?
This is one of Annette’s quilts – Arlington Albums. Machine pieced and quilted.
Those album blocks measure 5″ across. The design inspiration was an antique quilt owned by another Patchwork Diva.
Album Baskets by Mary Freeman. Machine pieced, appliquéd and quilted.
The border of this stunning quilt is appliquéd baskets – and for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the photographer, this is a better picture of the quilt. To see a gorgeous picture of this spectacular quilt… you’ll need the book.
Somerset Baskets by Marilyn Mowry. Machine pieced and quilted.
The 19th-Century Patchwork Divas’ Treasury of Quilts book is available now – it was officially published November 1st.
So if you love Reproduction quilts and fabrics, you need this book. But even if you don’t, this is still a terrific book that every “quilt library” should have. There are great blocks, innovative and unique settings and best of all, it celebrates the friendships and connections that bind quilters together.
To that end, I have two copies of the book to share. And there might be a little bit of Betsy’s Lizzie’s Legacy collection included. After all, Betsy’s fabric is designed to reproduce the fabric she loves so much.
Just leave a comment by Midnight on Thursday, November 10th to be entered to win.
Be sure to tell me if you’ve ever participated in a block exchange – and if you’ve ever thought of establishing a group like the Divas.
(And if you live in the US… don’t forget to vote!)