Quilting can be intimidating. It takes a leap of faith to mix fabrics, to sandwich it all together in your own style and to find just the right balance of pattern and improvisation. Once you make the jump, patchwork and quilting can easily take over your sewing life. At the very least a love of quilting can imbue your sewing with warmth, unique visual texture and give you new way to look at your sewing process. Kathy Mack’s work embodies this magical mixture and so we were eager to learn more about her shift from sewing to quilting. These three hot pads below are quilted and hang as art between uses on Kathy’s kitchen wall; they illustrate her unique and beautiful approach to mixing quilting and sewing. Don’t miss Kathy’s introduction, and enjoy her Sewist Meets Quilter article below.

My love affair with sewing began at the age of 6, my grandmother’s patient heart and talented hands always at the ready. The passion developed and matured as my sewing life evolved: Barbie doll clothes, hip college fashions, pillows, slipcovers, curtains, purses, maternity clothes, baby blankets, and Halloween costumes.

Fast forward to 2005, I attend my first quilting class. I had a single goal: make a quilt from a set of unfinished blocks left by Grandma. Nothing more, nothing less. I had no interest in making quilts. Grandma’s passion was embroidery and appliqué, it didn’t surprise me that she’d never finished those pieced blocks! I considered myself a sewist, not a quilter. The plan was to learn just enough to do something with the blocks. I had no time or desire to learn a new language, buy a whole set of tools and, for goodness sakes, absolutely no interest in joining any clubs.

Much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the class. Like ‘head over heels in love’ enjoyed the class. A glimpse into the land of piecing, color, and endless design combinations was downright thrilling. I was giddy with the possibilities.

I obsessed over arranging and re-arranging the blocks on that first quilt. Amazed at how each setting revealed a wonderfully unique color personality. Amazed at how the 3” and 4 ½” border blocks surrounded the 9” center blocks, mathematical beauty at its finest. Amazed at how FUN it was. Amazed that I was enjoying something I had discounted as being ‘not my thing’ for so many years. How could I have so severely misjudged this thing they called quilting?

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Table Runner for Marci by Kathy, inspired by a 1920’s table, Brooklyn
and Jay’s Chrysler Building dress from Project Runway.
Learn more about the piece at Pink Chalk Studio.

I no longer see quilting as separate from the world of sewing. It has happily overlapped and become part of my textile universe. Each skill has made the other blossom in magical ways. Patchwork seems to make its way into just about everything I make. Mixing textures, colors, and fabrics have given my projects an artful twist, a creative boost that I thank the art of quilting for giving me.

And no, I still haven’t pieced together those blocks. I no longer see them as a bed quilt though. I’m thinking pillows, one for each of my sisters and my mom. I think Grandma would be proud.