About the author and this page;


A funny thing happened on the way to my nephew's Bar Mitzvah 

  I was a journalist for most of my adult life. I began quilting in my mid-thirties, a dozen years ago,  in a desperate attempt to rescue my sanity during a long  illness.  Completely unexpectedly, quilting became much more than a distraction.   Some of this journey is shared on my site.

  In the case of a party quilt, it is the powerful connection to other people that took me by surprise.  Not to mention a new-found tolerance for social gatherings. Until I started making party quilts, I really, truly loathed most  parties.  ( Leg-shaving is bloody, pointy shoes hurt,  panty-hose constricts, alcohol = instant sore throat, dresses are freezing,  my mascara expired '92,  my hair is chaotic, strangers scare me, the feeling is mutual.  I'd rather be quilting.  Unless the coffee or the chocolate was divine. In those cases, I ADORED parties).   

  The idea for making a party quilt ---a fully assembled quilt brought to a gathering for signatures---came to me in 1994, when I'd already been quilting for a couple of years. I was walking into my oldest nephew's evening bar mitzvah party in New York. There, sitting on an easel, was a  sheet of black plastic, with the boy's name in large, shiny, mirrored acryclic letters.   Guests were supposed to sign the board with special markers as they entered the room.

  I instantly flashed on a vision of that hideous plastic poster collecting  dust under the bed. Ugh!

  That vision was followed by a better one. A signed quilt could stay on TOP of the bed! Eureka!

  That's when I started making party quilts as presents for friends and family.  The first projects were small---wall hangings and pillows,  usually for teachers as end-of-year presents.  My first big project was for the bar mitzvah of the son of one of my oldest friends. When I started planning Ben's quilt, I  had experienced  him mostly as an infant who howled during car rides. Then  I moved 3,000 miles away.  Short visits over the next couple of years didn't tell me much more.  So  when I proposed this quilt, I was astonished to learn that Ben was a gifted cartoonist, and that his room was strewn with his drawings of Japanese manga (cartoon) characters. I asked his mother to ship me some of his drawings, and I interrogated him about them. Of course, I ended up transferring them to fabric and featuring them prominently on the quilt.. (Ben's quilt is on my Party Quilt Scrapbook page.)

  Working with this great kid  was an extraordinary privilege. I  have always loved this child  just because he was my  friend's son; but I now also love him dearly for who he is.  But, by the way, I am also proud that the quilt, is still on TOP of his bed, bearing the signatures of  so many of his loved ones.

  The signature quilt I made two years later,  for Sarah, was also based on extensive interviews with her and her family. What a delicious  girl!  I could talk about her for about an hour.  I was able to bring this quilt to the party, so I also came to meet many of her tasty friends and family. Especially her cousin Abigail, my flighty little party angel, who I could talk about for two hours. (See my Party Quilt Scrapbook for more details and a picture of the finished quilt.)

  After these and other adventures,  I proposed an article about party quilts to a national quilting magazine. They liked the idea, so I went online to find ask quilters if they'd brought  quilts to social gatherings for signatures and creative contributions. 

  The anecdotes and pictures started pouring in.  I was struck---as much as the wonderful  images---by the stories. Hilarious stories, moving stories, stories of  courage and resourcefulness, well-laid plans (often falling through), creative last-minute  improvisation, and, of course,  extraodinary love and generosity.   In the 'funny' category, there was the story told to me by  Deborah Carye, a quilter who made a signature quilt from baby fabrics, for a baby shower. Then she went ahead and made matching vests, bowties, and pocket handkerchiefs  for the male relatives to wear as they served the guests!  A  story that touched me deeply was Judy Solomont and Miriam Sokoloff's 'Library of Love' quilt, signed at a bone marrow transplant drive for a beloved teacher. (That quilt is shown on the Gallery page. The Carye quilt appears in my December '04 Quilters Newsletter Magazine article). 

  It wasn't long before I started to think I had more than an article. It may yet be a book (if a publisher ever finally says "yes" to my  proposal - Know any publishers?) . In the meantime, I am very proud of my Gallery page, which already has wonderful images sent to me by quiltmakers from around the world.  I'd welcome pictures and stories of your party quilts (or would be happy to add links to your webpage pictures).  

   If you are  planning a party quilt  for your special event, please email me at .  I enjoy helping people brainstorm party quilts  ( free!), and I do make custom quilts ( not free!).

  Thanks to my wonderful,  resourceful and courageous husband, Alan, who wrestled long and hard with Frontpage to create this site.


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(c)Cathy Perlmutter, 1995, 2004 - PartyQuilt -