The Harlan United Methodist Church's fourth biennial quilt show was another great success. Once again the church ladies under the leadership of Shirley Spindler and her daughter-in-law Rose served up great quilts and a tasty lunch. The church sanctuary and fellowship hall brimmed with colorful quilts to pay homage to their theme "Blessed are the Piecemakers". It is such a joy to see so many hand-quilted quilts along their contemporary machine-stitched sisters.
I spent a few minutes with Shirley to discover she retired from elementary school teaching in 1992 and soon makes her first quilt. She tells me the past five years have been her most productive. Her entry "Chintz" is based on the traditional snowball quilt pattern and fabric by internationally renowned textile artist Kaffe Fassett. According to his biography, "Kaffe ventured into the world of colourful yarn on a visit to a Scottish wool mill with fashion designer Bill Gibb. Inspired by the colours in the landscape, Kaffe was thrilled to find the same colours in yarns. He bought 20 colours of Shetland wool and some knitting needles, and on the train back to London a fellow passenger taught him how to knit. His first design appeared as a full page spread in Vogue Knitting magazine." Kaffe has inspired people across the world with his designs and patterns for fabric, knitting, needlepoint, patchwork, painting and mosaic.
Shirley had quite a time finding Fassett fabric for her quilt. She laughs as she recounts how she, husband Jerry, son Jerry Lee and his wife Rose were on their way to Chicago when he unexpectedly swerves off the interstate and stops at a shopping center. Shirley asks why he stopped and he tells her they passed a billboard advertising a fabric shop and he knew she would want to stop. The Good Hubby is obviously well trained and his good deed ends up with Shirley finding a variety of Fassett fabrics for her quilt projects and Jerry Lee and Rose purchase them as a birthday gift.
The centerpiece Fassett fabric is a contemporary spin on traditional chintz. Chintz is a cotton fabric that originated in India in the 1600s and features big floral designs often used for draperies and bedspreads. Using the fabric is quite a change for Shirley, who leans toward more traditional patterned fabrics, but when she sees its vivid pinks and purple she knows the future quilt will go perfectly well in her living room. The construction of the quilt is fairly simple and takes three months to complete. Drama in the simple... a great philosophy to use the fabric colors instead of intricate piecing to provide the WOW factor. Lisa Olinger long-arm quilts it in keeping with its contemporary flair.
Kudos to Shirley for venturing out of her "color comfort zone". It will be interesting to see her next entry in the April 2016 show. Hopefully she will continue to take Kaffe's advice, "Don't be afraid of colour."
Lois Levihn Eubank is the owner of Born Again Quilts restoration studio and quilt gallery. She is open T-W-TH from 5:30-7 p.m. and Saturdays 9-2 p.m. It is located at 4005 South Wayne Avenue, Fort Wayne, IN.