Joyce Skokut, Director Collection Development
If your library hasn’t tapped into the quilters in your community in some way, you’re missing the boat. There is so much passion for quilting that a discussion group session held in the library is an easy way to attract and engage patrons who visit your library, and there is a wealth of titles to be checked out! A quick Google search shows that many public libraries do just this, but so many have yet to tap into the rich quilting culture.
Not knowing anything about quilts, other than that they’re unique, beautiful, intricate, warm, and often displayed at state fairs, of course, I volunteered to write this month’s article about quilting! Seriously, the things that pushed me over the edge were learning that there are cruises for quilting aficionados, and that there are fiction titles where quilting plays a key role. Having discovered that there is a whole world that revolves around this craft, I wondered what else is happening in the world that I am oblivious to. But I digress. Today’s quilts are not just your grandmother’s quilts—nor are they only for people who like to decorate with pastel florals. Those with more modern taste can even buy quilts at Pottery Barn and West Elm. And there are quilting mystery and quilting romance fiction titles, not to mention book-themed quilts—I’ve seen photos of Aladdin’s Lamp, Cat in the Hat, and many with images of books on bookshelves. Since I’ve now exhausted what I can say about quilting, I’m tapping an expert, Ingram’s own Director of Trade Shows & Events, Judy Allen. I hope you’re as intrigued about this as I am—enjoy the Q&A:
Q: How was your interest in quilting born?
A: I have always had quilts around me, as both of my grandmothers quilted. In 1986, I took a hand-quilting class to learn how to piece and quilt. What a process! It takes time and patience; two things I do not have in vast supply. Textile arts have always been my solace. In 1996, shortly after my oldest son was born, I really started focusing on quilting projects using the sewing machine for piecing and quilting.
Q: Quilting looks hard. Are you still learning, and did it take you a long time to achieve basic proficiency?
A: I have sewn since elementary school, making many of my clothes through high school and beyond. But quilting requires a different proficiency. Quilting is basically sewing in a straight line with a ¼” seam allowance. I consider myself to be an intermediate-level quilter at this point. I enjoy trying new techniques and reading tips from other quilters.
Q: Do you have a personal style in quilt design, or do you like to mix it up, and why?
A: I like so many different types of quilts. Due to time constraints, I make a lot of wall hangings, since they are usually smaller. I like scrappy quilts, which use lots of different fabrics, but find myself creating more applique pieces. I love to decorate for the various holidays by using different quilts and quilted pieces, such as pillows around my home.
Q: What is the most enjoyable aspect of quilting for you? Can you talk a little bit about planning vs. process vs. finished product?
A: For me, quilting is all about the process. I love every aspect of it, from finding a pattern, to selecting the fabrics (or shopping for the fabrics), to cutting out the pieces, to laying out the blocks, to sewing the seams, to quilting, to binding. While I enjoy finishing a project and using it to decorate my home or to give as a gift, the process is what makes quilting so enjoyable to me. Sometimes if I’m having a hard day or find myself a little down, I’ll stop by the Local Quilt Shop (LQS) and visit the fabric. Just seeing the patterned fabric and feeling the textures can get my creative juices flowing. Of course, sometimes that fabric must come home with me too! I view it as my civic duty to keep these local, independent fabric stores in business by buying fabric from them.
Q: Quilting was once a very social endeavor, with groups assembling to work together on various pieces of a single quilt. How has the social aspect of quilting evolved, and what’s it like now?
A: While we work less on a single-group project these days, many quilters still get together on a regular basis. There are numerous quilt guilds throughout the country, with some quilters belonging to more than one. Quilters get together to go shopping, take a class, or go to various shows and fairs. We go on retreats together where we laugh, eat, share, and (maybe) make progress on a quilt or two.
There is a “Row by Row Experience” shop hop where shops from all over the United States participate to provide patterns and prizes for the quilters who visit. Paducah, Kentucky, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Hamilton, Missouri are other quilting destinations. Quilters make trips out of these stops. The internet has numerous blogs and shops for all types of quilters and all skill levels.
Quilters have big hearts. Whenever there is a disaster like a hurricane or tornado, quilters often jump into action providing quilts for those affected. My guild makes charity quilts for a children’s home and for the fire department. The firemen carry the quilts on their trucks to help comfort those affected by fires or accidents. The Quilts of Valor program unites quilters from around the country to provide quilts for our service men and women.
Q: Have you read a quilting-themed fiction book yet? If so, how much did quilting add to the story for you?
A: Ann Hazelwood has written a couple of series fiction books that I enjoy. There is always a quilt involved somehow, but not a step-by-step how-to on making the pattern.
Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilts novels are standards for quilters. I have Earlene Fowler’s Benni Harper Mysteries on my list of books to read.
In addition to numerous technique and pattern books, I have Red & White Quilts: Infinite Variety and Minick and Simpson Blue & White: Living with Textiles You Love on my coffee table. These are beautiful books full of quilts.
Q: What would non-quilters be surprised to know about quilting or quilters?
A: Watch for quilts in everyday life. Quilts are used in movies, television shows, and advertising. They turn up at ballgames, in offices and libraries, and, of course, in state and county fairs. Quilts are everywhere!
Thank you, Judy! Ingram Customers, we've created a list of the hottest quilting titles that your patrons will want to check out. You may also want to check out the list of Craft and Hobby Titles in ipage.
Interested in a list of quilting titles that will have your patrons ready to make something beautiful?
Perhaps a craft and hobby display is more your thing.
Looking for other suggested titles for your library collection?
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