My Mom the Quilter

I am a crafty girl who came from a crafty home. Growing up, my mom taught me any craft I wanted to learn: cross-stitch, embroidery, needlepoint, sewing. Even as an adult when I needed to know how to crochet for work, I turned to my mom to teach me the basics. Somehow, she knew all these crafts and was happy to teach me.

My mom is also my crafty inspiration. I truly admire her creativity, her sense of artistic adventure, her use of color. A trip home simply isn’t complete until she shows me her latest projects and tells me her ideas for the next ones.

I was home again just last week, and I asked Mom if I could share some of her creations with you. She agreed, so now, I share with you some of the amazing quilts by my mom, Rose Doyle.

While she knows a wide variety of crafts, Mom has considered herself a quilter since 1980. Since then she’s made approximately 100 quilts of varying sizes. She’s won ribbons for many and has even judged a few quilt shows herself.

The quilt above is one of her favorites, titled Hutchison County Crossroads (made in 2006). Striped fabrics often find their way into her quilts (see the latest one at the top of this post), but in Hutchison County Crossroads, she made her own stripes using scrap fabrics cut into varying widths. Below is the back of this quilt.

Black and white fabrics have also been inspiration for Mom in recent years. In this one, titled Wild Hair (2010), she used the blacks and whites to set off the colorful blocks filled with florals and wild prints.

Given the size of her stash and the number of quilts she’s made, it’s not too surprising that scrappy quilts are some of her favorites to make. This one, titled Totally Scraps (2009), was inspired by the quilts of Gees Bend.

One of my personal favorites is this monochromatic sampler made in 2003. When I first looked at the quilt, I didn’t even see it was a sampler quilt. (Aren’t those supposed to be kind of boring?) But here, her use of color and the fabulous vintage fabric that makes the border, give these traditional quilt blocks new life.

I love that anything can inspire Mom to start thinking of a possible new quilt design. During one of my first trips to the Cincinnati zoo, the family was ready to move on after visiting the reptile house, but Mom was nowhere in sight. No fan of reptiles, she still couldn’t help but take a few minutes to sketch the pattern on a python for possible use somewhere down the line.

One of Mom’s most challenging projects was inspired by the linoleum design on the kitchen floor in her family’s farmhouse. She decided to create a wall hanging that replicated that design at full size, using the exact colors of the flooring.

First she drew the design on graph paper. Then she drew a grid on her background fabric and started fusing on the shapes. Some of the pieces are only a quarter inch square, so it was delicate work. And keeping the design aligned and on track wasn’t easy either. The project took years to complete. In fact, she said, “If it wasn’t something I really wanted to do, because it had sentimental value, I would have rolled it up and thrown it away.”

She did finish it though, fusing the pieces in place, and placing fusible webbing over the top to keep the pieces from peeling up. A bit of quilting and the binding were all the sewing she did.

Just recently, Mom did a trunk show for her quilt guild. There she found out that one active member remembered going to a guild workshop day to see if this was a guild she wanted to join. There she saw Mom working on the linoleum quilt, and the woman decided to join the group. It seemed like these people had some interesting things going on.

Not everyone in her guild “gets” Mom’s quilts. Bright colors, wild prints, crazy designs. I attended one of her guild meetings a few years ago, and brought my t-shirt quilt to show. One woman, who was familiar with another quilt of mine said, “Those colors. Again?” She didn’t care for my style, and I felt like my mother’s daughter. I couldn’t have been more proud.

Over the years, my mom’s style has changed. She started out making darker, more traditional quilts, with more definite patterns. Now she uses brighter colors and tries to be a little more creative. “I’m still not where I want to be,” she said, “I’m not sure I’ll get there.” But I know I, for one, will enjoy, admire, and be inspired by her artistic journey, wherever it leads.

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  1. Christine, you Mother’s quilts are fabulous! What a treasure.

  2. Gina Rath

     /  June 28, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your mom’s unique and beautiful quilts. I see how you get inspired by her design and color choices. I’m reading this as I sit with my aunt Janie while she receives chemo and I’m in tears knowing that her time of creating more quilts is over. I have to get busy documenting her quilts as well as the quilts passed down from her, my great, grandmother.

    • I’m so glad that you and now your granddaughter are people who will treasure the quilts and other wonderful creations that have been made by your family throughout the years. Hugs to both you and Janie, Gina.

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  12. Wisconsin Fabric Fun | Christine Doyle

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