|Sunburst, c. 1840-1850. Courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art|
Quilting is not your grandmother’s hobby anymore.
You wouldn’t think that two layers of fabric with some stuffing in between would cause such fervent devotion. But the crafting of quilts, in their traditional coverlet form or modern incarnation as art pieces, is riding a crest of popularity beyond a stitcher’s dream. “It was something your Grandma did. Now, quilt-making is accepted in the general art world,” says Barbara Hartman, who left her job in real estate 15 years ago to show and sell her quilts. “And you know, even Grandmas are doing some exciting things.” Hartman, along with more than 800 other artists, schoolteachers, attorneys, accountants, and even an FBI agent, is a member of the Quilter’s Guild of Dallas, a flourishing volunteer organization that provides camaraderie and education for women (and even a few men) at all levels of ability. The quilts shown here run the gamut from highly collectible and museum-quality to custom-made and homemade.
|2004 STATE FAIR WINNERS: TOP: Best-in-Show machine patchwork quilt, Renaissance, by Nancy Sloan. MIDDLE: First-place hand patchwork quilt by Joyce Massey.BOTTOM: Honorable-mention hand patchwork quilt by Willene Williams.|
Here are some noteworthy quilt collections:
Through the Needle’s Eye, the Dallas Museum of Art, textile collection
This noteworthy collection of 19th- and 20th-century American quilts represents a geographic and stylistic range of work including Amish, Baltimore Album, and New England pieces. Most significant is the Fanny B. Shaw Prosperity Quilt, a “beautifully refined work that speaks to the issues of the Great Depression in a wonderfully optimistic manner,” says Kevin W. Tucker, curator of Decorative Arts and Design. Of the resurgence in fascination, he adds, “Quilting is still an art form and still a craft, with a connection to history, to the home, to the heart. It is a domestic refuge.”
The State Fair of Texas
“I don’t use my prize winners,” says two-time Best-in-Show recipient Nancy Sloan. Renaissance, the intricate double-stuffed quilt that beat out 134 other entries, will be stacked safely with at least 50 other original pieces in Sloan’s quilt closet in Forney. The cotton-sateen-feather design took three months of sewing, packing, and trimming, for sometimes eight hours a day. The Fair has held quilting competitions since Opening Day in the late 1800s.
Shari Lidji’s Red Llama Studio
What began as a project or two for her kids school auctions has turned into a thriving couture quilt business for Dallas resident Shari Lidji. “People like having their hand in the design, so I create something that is very specialized for their space and their personality,” says Lidji, who tells stories through her craft. She has made a blanket for an adopted Chinese baby out of lush Asian silk, a dog bed for an aging hunter from his owner’s flannels, and even a quilt for a birdwatcher that incorporated state park patches from a lifetime of travel.
Sit & Stitch
More than 92 quilting guilds are up and stitching in the state of Texas. Add to that a multitude of informal groups and it would seem the craft has hit frenzied status. It is not unusual for enthusiasts to meet for 10 hours on a Saturday for a Sit and Sew or to own four different sewing machines.
Quilter’s Guild of Arlington.
Quilter’s Guild of Dallas.
Denton Quilt Guild.
Frisco Quilt Guild.
Trinity Valley Quilters Guild.
McKinney Quilter’s Guild.
Mesquite Quilt Guild.
Quilters Guild of Plano.
Vintage Quilt and Textile Society Guild.