Yep, you read it right. Last Saturday Eleanor Burns who revolutionized the technique of strip quilting was inducted into The Quilters Hall of Fame in Marion, Indiana.
Eleanor’s path to stripper glory started over thirty years ago with the self-publication of her first book Make a Quilt in a Day-Log Cabin Pattern and she hasn’t stopped stripping since. Between her easy strip cutting fabric methods and her assembly-line stitching system, El takes the mundane out of constructing quilt tops making it possible to complete a quilt in a day.
Since 1987 El’s PBS show “Quilt in a Day” has taped over 200 episodes. She has published over 120 books and patterns and developed her own specialty lines of fabrics and sewing machines. Whew!
Friend Robin back home to summer in Indiana, and I, once again meet at the Marion Public Library for the annual Celebration festivities. We arrive just in time to join fellow quilt enthusiasts in a walk-thru of El’s quilts. As she explains the quilts tell the story of her quilting career as they are each taken from a different book and there are no repeat pattern blocks in the exhibit.
Her Grandmother’s Garden quilt updates a 1928 Nancy Page quilt design showcasing 20 three-dimensional flower blocks. The Tales of First Ladies quilt honors the lives and contributions of eight of our nation’s First Ladies. Of course what would be more appropriate than to have a small Hole in the Barn door block on the big barn centerpiece of the Quilt Blocks on Barns quilt? The Egg Money quilt pays homage to the traditional quilt blocks of the 1930s.
The quilt that drew the most comment was the one El made in honor of her father and the WW II generation based on Kansas City Star blocks. El’s father was born in Germany and came to the U.S. as a young boy. He struggled to learn English and a little girl in his third grade class helped him conquer it. He promised that little girl that one day he would name a daughter after her. That promise was fulfilled in 1945 when Eleanor Burns was born. The two Eleanors are still in touch to this day.
Along the journey El regales us with son Orion’s dumpster diving quests for fabric, the time her skirt fell down while taping an episode of the TV program leading someone to comment that at least she was wearing “Christian underwear”, her disdain for needle-turn appliqué, and her love affair with the “really cool rulers” she designs to make quilt making easy.
Her throwing her scraps over her shoulder while on TV goes back to the early days of her show. She decides to hang a small bag off the side of the table to place them in. Her camera man setting up for the shoot informs her the bag is distracting and has to go.
Filming begins and scraps are made. Not knowing what else to do she simple throws them over her shoulder. Later another batch goes flying and El smiles (she does that quite a bit!) and to her relief, the cameraman is smiling too.
More than her love of quilting, her love of family and their love for each other was touching. Husband Tom guardian of my purse and everything non-essential noted later how her granddaughters and their mother were playing and at one point all of them fell down laughing and giggling. Way to go mom!
For more information on El, watch her videos, order a ruler or book, download a free quilt pattern, or try making El’s Blackberry Cobbler visit her at www.quiltinaday.com
Keep on Stripping!
ATTENTION: Saturday, July 28 is a “Trolley Shopping Day” in Downtown Fort Wayne.
Born Again Quilts (124 W. Wayne St-Upstairs) is moving soon. Come by and help reduce the inventory. Receive a gift with purchase. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Lois Eubank is the owner of Born Again Quilts a restoration studio and quilt gallery. She may be contacted through The Waynedale News.
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