| 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
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
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
If you are planning a
party quilt for your special event, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I enjoy helping
people brainstorm party quilts ( free!), and I do make custom quilts (
Thanks to my
wonderful, resourceful and courageous husband, Alan, who wrestled long
and hard with Frontpage to create this site.