Our Jan/Feb ’10 issue (No. 131) features a gorgeous quilt in QM Spotlight (on the last page) with an interesting story sent by Kathy O’Toole.
It was made from a pattern called Cabin Constellation which first appeared in the May/June ’05 issue (No. 103).
Peggy Stern from Baxter, Minnesota and Kathy O’Toole from Oakland, California are sisters who made the quilt together, in spite of living more than 1500 miles apart. It’s one of many projects they have worked on together through a system of long-distance quilting they have developed over the past 12 years.
Along with a cousin, Marilyn Petersen from Watertown, South Dakota, they sometimes have several projects going at once.
It takes the three women about three years to finish a quilt together. So far they have made about nine quilts and given away three as wedding gifts to young couples in their shared families.
Cabin Constellation became a wedding gift for Kathy’s granddaughter Latice and her new husband.
Both sisters had been saying they wanted to use up some of their scraps. When Peggy saw this pattern in Quiltmaker, she thought it would be more fun than most patterns because it had more than one type of block. She suggested to her sister that they make the quilt. Kathy had already seen Cabin Constellation in Quiltmaker and liked it too.
Kathy picked the colors by looking through many books and narrowing the color scheme to a combination that appeared mostly in antique quilts from the mid- to late-1800s. Both sisters pulled fabrics from their stashes, which differ considerably.
They exchanged enough fabrics so that each had some from both stashes. They made extra blocks so that in the end, some could be eliminated if necessary.
Kathy says their tastes in fabrics and designs are very different but they each admire what the other can do. “It’s nice to bring two totally different sets of eyes to the same project and to use each other’s fabrics. Most importantly, the joint project gave us some alone time during visits when we were surrounded by other family members. These sessions together alone bring back the good old days of playing paper dolls when we were kids.”
The women grew up on a farm near Watertown, South Dakota. Along with Marilyn, they belonged to a girls club organized by their mothers, through which they learned to sew, embroider and bake cakes and cookies. Like many others, they discovered quilting when America celebrated her Bicentennial in 1976.
Peggy’s son Tad was married in September and Marilyn’s son Bruce will be married in January. Each couple will choose a quilt when the family gathers next for the holidays. By that time, another cousin who is Marilyn’s sister, Liz from Dallas, will have been added to the circle. The women are learning to chat online and to hold conference calls for virtual quilt meetings.
“This is about more than quilting. We are trying to keep a family together in an era where we are geographically scattered. I love my local five-member quilt group in the San Francisco Bay area, but I value even more the time with this virtual family group that dates back to childhood,” says Kathy.
What’s your long-distance quilting story? Have you made a quilt for a special occasion? We always love hearing in the comments what our readers are doing.
Cabin Constellation will be available for purchase as a downloadable pdf in the near future. We’ll announce its debut here.