Exhibiting Tuesday, January 14 through Sunday, March 2, 2014

Meet the Quilters
Quilters will be at the gallery to greet visitors and share their art throughout the duration of the show. Meet quilters Barbara Wise, Betty Sullivan, and Cheryl See on any Wednesday between noon and 2 p.m. Other artists from the show will be at the gallery on Saturday, February 1; Sunday February 9; Friday, February 14, Saturday February 15, Friday February 21; Sunday, February 23; and Sunday, March 2.

It All Starts in the Water The Five Elements in Flowers by Anne Smyers

It All Starts in the Water The Five Elements in Flowers by Anne Smyers

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue…

Fine textile art is showcased in Something Blue, a sampling of blue varietals as used by Northern Virginia Quilters in a stunning array of contemporary and traditional quilts. The show will feature 75 pieces of quilt art.


The exhibit features the art of quilters:

Dena Brannen Carol Campanola Liz Driggers
Annabel Ebersole Dorry Emmer Sarah Entsminger
Janice Feather Cindy Foster Cindy Grisdela
Virginia Hodge Susanne Jones Cheryl Kotecki
Gayle Maisel Rebecca Owen Sally Pincence
Lynn Purple Susan Shaw Jamie Sculley
Cheryl See Ann Smyers Shoshana Spiegel
Betty Sullivan  Prudy Traut  Barbara Wise
78 large

Wedding China by Dorry Emmer

Baskets for the Bridesmaids by Barbara Wise

Baskets for the Bridesmaids by Barbara Wise

Baskets for the Bridesmaids by Prudy Traut

Baskets for the Bridesmaids by Prudy Traut


Inside Something Blue by Dorry Emmer

About The Show

Why is the show called Something Blue?

The idea behind “Something Blue” was to give some small thing in common to all the quilts so the show would look  more cohesive. In 2011 I organized a challenge I named The June Bride and gathered a group of 14 quilters to participate. Part of the description for that challenge was the bridal saying of “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue” and each quilt had to include blue somewhere within it.  The June Bride quilts were the foundation for the 2012 show and this time they will be again – two (maybe three) sets of the quilts will form the nucleus of the show and other quilts (that also have blue in them somewhere) will hang in the balance of  the space.

Something Old referred to the old quilt block I gave each participant to work with. Something New was what they did with it. Something Borrowed was the idea for the challenge as another area quilter, Mary Kerr, had organized a similar challenge although hers did not have a theme. Something Blue was a color that had to appear in the finished piece.

I also thought that blue would be a good color given the show was going to open in January – when people might have the post holiday “blues” or the” winter blues”.

What groups are participating in the show?

I’m a member of the Reston chapter of Quilters Unlimited and have been since 2001 so I know a number of other quilters. In this area there is a major (umbrella) group called Quilters Unlimited and that is broken down into eleven “town based” chapters. You can join any chapter you want and some people belong to more than one group. All of the exhibitors in the show belong to Quilters Unlimited (or have, there are four who have moved away from the area recently because of retirement and the likes). We don’t all get together at one time. Rather, the group is just a collection of quilters I know who I thought would have good quilts to exhibit. Most all of them exhibited in the show in 2012 although there are a few new ladies.

How are quilts selected for the show?

Participation is “by my invitation.” It is important to me that the show looks good and that each piece hangs well with its neighbors. Most all of the quilts on exhibit were made as pieces for display as art; there will be only a small number of quilts for beds included.

Will fine textile art be offered for sale in the Artisans Shoppe?

Intersection by Cindy Grisdela

Intersection by Cindy Grisdela

Art quilter Cindy Grisdela will have some of her gift items (journals, eyeglass holders, coasters) and wall hangings for sale.

About Quilting

What is the current interest in quilting?

I do believe that there is now an increase in interest in learning textile arts as compared to the 1980’s and 90’s. Within quilting a subsection has sprung up called “modern quilting” and this is attracting younger people as they see it being more contemporary. But really, modern quilting has more similarities to traditional quilting than differences.

Many years ago small groups of women got together to sit and work on hand quilting whereby they all worked on portions of the same one quilt at a time and it was almost always a quilt intended to go on a bed. That happens very seldom now. The quilt groups of today see it as a social opportunity and they get together to share ideas while working on their own individual pieces, take classes together or hear presentations from more experienced quiltmakers. Of course they also share personal stories, swap recipes, tips for where to shop, books to read and all the usual things that happen when a group of friends get together.

The internet has opened up the social aspect so now we can make friends from all over the world.  For example: In the past several years I have been working on  projects whereby each Saturday a new quilt block pattern was posted on a blog (written by a noted quilt historian, Barbara Brackman). Each Saturday I would log on, download the block pattern, choose my fabrics and make the block. Then I photograph my block and post that photo in the online discussion group; quilters from all over the USA and indeed from around the world were also participating and we all comment on each other’s blocks. Many quilters have developed lovely friendships from this and some have met each other in person and/or exchanged fabrics and begun other projects together.

In the exhibit I will be showing my quilt “The Blues and The Greys” which I made by following Ms Brackman’s Civil War blog in 2011. Since then I have also participated in Ms Brackman’s Grandmother’s Choice project (exploring the history of the fight for women’s rights), The Dixie Diary (based on the diary of a young Southern girl Sarah Morgan written during the Civil War) and in January I will start “Threads of Memory” also a Civil War era quilt based on the Underground Railroad stories. While the examples I have given are all based on traditional blocks there are many groups working on contemporary and art quilt pieces who have found each other and inspiration using the internet.

For about 18 years I was working with a small international group of quilt friends making round robin quilts. Works in progress were mailed between us in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Canada, Abu Dhabi and the USA. But now it has become much more expensive and difficult to mail internationally and we no longer do this.

With the use of such as google images a quilter can type in a few words and quickly bring up pictures of quilts that can be used for inspiration. Patterns can be accessed, books can be browsed, research on old patterns and styles are all very easy to do right from your home computer. While there are still plenty of Grandmas making quilts for their grandchildren there are a variety of people of all ages and including many men, who are using quilting as a way to unwind from the stresses of modern life. It is great therapy to sit quietly by yourself and create something of beauty or to go out to a quilt group meeting and hear what others are doing and have them comment how much they love your quilt in progress.

How are quilts designed and quilted?

The way I like to work is to take a traditional quilt block pattern (one that might date back to the 1800s or early 1900s) and update it with such as color choices and construction methods. I might take a little of one pattern and mix it with something from several other patterns until I have made something that is different and mine. Sometimes I follow purchased pattern instructions fairly closely and other times I just “wing it” and make it up as I go. Most of what I do now are pieces intended as display pieces rather than a more utilitarian bed quilt.

The word “quilting” can have a couple of slightly different meanings depending on the context. Overall, what we do is referred to as “quilting” but, to be more accurate, “quilting” is the name of the stitching that holds together three layers; the top comprised of the pieced/appliqued/embellished work, the middle layer of batting (filling which can be made of cotton, polyester, wool, silk or now even new things like bamboo or recycled plastic bottles) and the backing fabric. The criteria for entering many quilt shows is that your entry must be comprised of those three layers – if it does not then it does not qualify as a quilt.

A growing number of quilters today like to make the top layer and then have the quilting (together of the three layers) done by another person who often uses what is known as a “longarm machine”. Such machines can more easily handle the bulk of large quilts. When this option has been chosen then the design of the stitched quilting is more likely to have been decided by the longarm quilter although some very successful pieces are being made where the two quilters collaborate on the plan and create work designed to specifically highlight both stitched designs and intricate pieced or appliqued designs. Some quilt patterns come with not only the instructions of how to make the pieced blocks, but also what colors to choose and  suggest a stitch pattern for the quilting. These work very well for beginners or those who do not feel they have the confidence to design their own work but want the satisfaction of making a beautiful and useable quilt So you can see that quilting provides for a wide variety of skill and interest levels.

About Dorry Emmer

How did I get interested in quilting?

I arrived in the USA in 1980 one year after marrying my American husband in England. My mother-in-law made quilts (for the bed) and I decided to take classes to learn how to do this too so I could have something to talk about with her. I took an eight lesson beginner class offered as a continuing education class by the county in NJ where I lived at the time. Since then I have been an active quilter although some years have been less productive than others depending on where I lived at the time and how old my children were.

Since becoming a quilter I have lived in four different countries. Each time my family and I have moved it has been my quilting interest that has found me friends and made me feel at home the quickest.

What is it about quilting that has kept Me interested for so long?

Oh I’m not sure I can even count the reasons!

I like the challenge of choosing a pleasing pattern, doing the math to make it all fit together, putting together colors that might be less frequently used, stitching my pieces with accuracy so they fit precisely, making something that is pleasing to my eye or to the person I intend it for. Sitting quietly and working through a construction problem/challenge can help sort through a problem in my life or help me through a time of grief as I cut those pieces up and put them back together and make them look better than they were before. That time spent at the ironing board flattens out more than the creases in the fabric.

How does My background influence My quilting?

In a time long ago and a land far away I trained and worked as an architectural drafter – this was in the days when we drew everything by hand and CAD was not yet available. This training has been of great help to me in drafting block patterns and giving me an eye for accuracy.

Being born and raised in New Zealand has given me a different eye for color than say, someone who has lived in an area like Virginia where trees change color and lose their leaves, there is snow and ice and it is not unusual to live many miles away from the ocean.

A  quilter friend of  mine went to a class where they discussed how quilters select the colors they most like to work with; the theory was advanced that it goes back to your childhood and surroundings. For example, in New Zealand the air is very clear, the beaches have white sand and inviting turquoise water and the vegetation is a bright clear green because of rainfall and the trees that do not lose their leaves so I tend to favor clear colors like that. Now, had I lived in New England I would be more likely to gravitate towards darker and more muted greens, the oranges and yellows of fall and the dusty blues of distant hills and mountains. This theory makes sense to me.

Within the general heading of quilting there are a wide variety of interest areas. There are people who collect quilts even though they have never made one themselves. There are people who research the history of old quilts and teach us more about life from earlier times. Quilters are becoming fabric designers, color experts, book authors, store owners, teachers and more.

And yes, many are still finding comfort in drifting off to sleep under a quilt that was made with love and care just for them.

-Featured Image: Something Blue by Dorry Emmer