In each edition of Friends@Festival, we give you an opportunity to get better acquainted with the talented and fascinating members of the Quilt Festival faculty. For this issue, we asked teachers (all of whom will be presenting classes at the upcoming Festival in Cincinnati) to share their funniest or
most amusing quilt-related story. See their rib-tickling responses below…


“My fabric stash is ‘hidden’ in a closet with many shelves in my sewing room. I love my sewing room! It has large windows, even though it is located in our walk-out basement.

"One day, I was working on a project and had my fabric closet open. Since I was searching for just the right piece of fabric in my stash, I had fabric everywhere. In fact, it looked like a fabric explosion!

"My husband just happened to walk into my sewing room as the fabric search frenzy was at its peak. He came down to ask when we were having dinner, but stopped as he looked at the piles of fabric. I’m standing in the middle of it and wondered just what he might be thinking. As he looked around, he said ‘Wow…you have a lot of fabric! Does that cost much?’

"First of all, I don’t have a clue how much all of this fabric costs, and, even if I did, I didn’t believe I would share that number. So, I quickly answered, ‘It’s fabric. How much can it cost?’ and quickly added, ‘Pork chops for dinner in about an hour!’

"He smiled at he idea of dinner soon and wandered off.”


“Grandkids say the darndest things. This story was told in one of my classes in Grand Junction, Colorado a few years ago.

"A grandmother in my class had a four-year-old granddaughter who lived in Arizona. She had seen that granddaughter at least every few months since
her birth.

"On one visit to Colorado, the granddaughter asked grandma to make her another quilt. Grandma asked what colors, to which the girl replied ‘Pink and puh-ple.’ Grandma said she would make her one.

"After thinking about the new quilt, grandma realized that she had some UFO blocks that were mostly pink and purple, so she pulled them out and showed them to her granddaughter. The granddaughter was very happy with them,
and agreed they would make a perfect quilt. The granddaughter picked up
the blocks and began to walk out of the studio.

"Grandma said, ‘Wait! Don’t you want me to finish the quilt first?’ The granddaughter looked at the treasured stack of blocks in her hands, and
then back at grandma. She replied ‘No, I may never see you again,' and
then wheeled around and marched out of the studio to pack her blocks."


“Early on in my career, one of my quilts was accepted into the IQA Judged Show. I was teaching at Festival that year, and loved standing near my quilt
at lunchtime to answer questions and listen to comments from the quilters at
the show. Now as much as I would love to say there was a ribbon hanging
from my quilt, sadly, there was not. However, not only is it exciting to see the quilt hanging in Houston, but it is also fun to listen to the comments from
quilters when they do not know who you are.

"For those of us that have been to Festival, or any national or local show, there is written information nearby the quilt with pertinent information about the quilt. For this particular quilt, one of the notations was that there were approximately two million stitches used to complete the quilt. Now, that would seem like a lot for most quilts, but since mine was all about thread painting, that seemed like a normal amount to me.

"On one particular day, I was standing nearby, and there were two quilters in front of me reading the description. Suddenly, one looked at the other and said, ‘How in the world did she count those two million stitches?’ Now, she did not know I was standing behind her, so I tapped her on the shoulder and kiddingly said ‘Why that was easy! I just counted every stitch as it went into each thread-painted design.’

"She looked at me like I was nuts and replied in amazement, ‘You counted every one of those stitches?’ At that point I had to fess up and explain that there is a counter in my Bernina and the machine did the counting for me. She told me she was relieved, as she was ready to have me committed! Being a fly on
the wall around one’s quilt is always interesting!”


“Crazy quilting requires a lot of threads and ribbons. During one particular class, I had a student whose supplies kept disappearing! I inquired as to where the threads and ribbons were going—it certainly wasn’t on her work. This customer was rather buxom and wearing a sweater. We had a great laugh when we realized that they were winding up under her arms every time she moved. These are known as built-in thread winders!”


“Years ago, as a brand new stepmother, I ‘lost’ my nine-year-old son. I went to his school to pick him up at the normal time only to find no children anywhere. Turned out that school was let out early, but I hadn’t received notice. I was in a panic—you know the ‘white fear’ type of panic. I had ‘lost’ my new son.

“I went to the front office to see if he was there; they hadn’t seen him. My cell phone was dead, so I asked if I could use their phone. It was an open-style office with desks scattered around and about 10 administrative ladies who could hear every word. I tried to maintain my cool and keep the panic out of my voice, but inside, I was scared to death. After a few minutes on hold, my darling new husband tracked our son down, and the situation was solved.

"Whew! Relieved,' I told the ladies. ‘Don’t worry, he’s safe.’ I smiled and started to leave. After all, I’d never stated my name (and his is so different), so I was thankfully anonymous to the ladies and safe from anyone knowing I had ‘lost’ my new stepson.

“Bursting with joy that he was safe and that I hadn’t given myself away in this embarrassing situation, I waved and said ‘goodbye and thank you’ as I headed for the door. One of the women in the back of the room spoke up in a loud voice, ‘By the way, Cindy!’ (‘Cindy?’ I mentally groaned). All the ladies were smiling at me. ‘We have all of your books; we are quilters, and just love you!’”


“For a few years, I have been lucky enough to teach my ‘Let Me Surprise You!’ class at the Houston Quilt Festival. One year, a while back, I had a huge quilt that was revealed to the class. This was a quilt that I had pieced and quilted, and I had taught the same mystery class twice already, and, yet, never noticed that one part was completely wrong. No one said anything in the other classes, but in this one class, I walked away from the quilt and saw this huge area of upside down pieces!

“As I looked at the faces of the class, one of the students was crying. I just knew she had seen my awful mistake as well. I went over to her and asked what was wrong, thinking I could act shocked when she told me I had made a mistake. She said, ‘That is the most beautiful quilt…I could never make that!’ At the same time, it dawned on me that she didn’t see the mistake, it also became clear that she had been working on that very quilt all day.

"I laughed and said, ‘You are making it right here, with all these pieces and I just know you will make it even better!'"


“My dad, George D. Butler, spent much of his life as an entomologist—up
close and personal with insects, both teaching at the university level and in research. One of the many things he ventured into following retirement was quilting. He inspired me with my life-long connection to insects, and one will
see that influence often when viewing my work. I, in turn, inspired him to start quilting, utilizing the sewing skills he had learned when making bug nets! I commemorated his start in quilting by creating a pictorial quilt of him inspired
by a photo I had taken of him with his first quilt blocks.

"Early in my quilting life, I was a member of the Salt Creek Quilt Guild, located
in the western suburbs of Chicago. Each time the group would have their quilt show, George would travel from Arizona to help us hang quilts, take tickets,
and act as a white-glove volunteer. He was most excited the year when the
quilt I had made in honor of him, George the Entomologist Catches the
Quilting Bug
, was included in the show.

"For eight hours on each day of the show, George would stand as a white-glove volunteer right next to his quilt. He had such fun surprising attendees as they realized he was the one in the quilt. In his gregarious and engaging nature, he would entertain those around him with the story of how he started quilting and the inspirations he and I shared in our quilting.

"About two hours before the show was to close, the guild member assigning
white-glove volunteers said ‘George…I’m sure you want to go stand by your quilt again!’ But George’s reply was a slow, exhausted ‘noooo….I think I’ve
had all the excitement and attention I can handle for one weekend.’ We all
got a great chuckle out of this."


“Years ago, before my first book, I set my girlfriend Ellen up in my sewing room to practice piecing at my sewing machine. I made her comfortable and turned on the VCR for her to watch 'The Great American Quilt Show' as she sewed. ‘You’ll love this,’ I said.

"I turned my attention to Diana McClun and Laura Nownes on the screen. They seduced me when they spoke of their bed quilts. I was focused on them as was, I thought, Ellen.

"Ellen peeped up and asked, ‘Does it go in reverse?’ Sure I said, here is the remote, and this is the button to press.

‘No,’ she said, ‘backwards. Does the sewing machine go backwards?!’”

Class project photos:

Photo 201—"Patchwork Illusions" with Karen Combs

Photo 207—"Thread Sketching—What’s All the Buzz About?" with Nancy Prince

Photo 213—"The No-Waste Windmill" with Anita Grossman Solomon

Photo 301—"Delectably Simple Mountains" with Debbie Caffrey

Photo 320—"Terrific Texture with Collaging and Quilting" with Wendy Butler Berns

Photo 413—"Wholecloth Abstraction" with Cindy Walter








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