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Issue 17: Connecticut

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Quaint farms dot the countryside; lighthouses stand tall at the coast. Each year, students flood onto the campuses of A-list universities. Every season brings a pageant: The cherry blossoms in spring, that famous fall foliage, fluffy snowdrifts in winter, and endless summer hours at the seashore.

Connecticut is one of the oldest states in America, and this distinction shows up in early quilts made in the region, some dating back to the early days of the Republic. If you’ve pieced Star blocks, strips, Flying Geese, or other traditional patchwork components, Connecticut quiltmakers deserve a debt of gratitude. Their patterns and methods helped shape today’s quilts. 

The mighty Studio Art Quilt Associates, headquartered in Hebron, connect boundary-pushing art quilters in Connecticut and around the world. In Hartford, individuals who have been impacted by substance abuse are healing through a memorial quilt project. And famed quiltmaker Denyse Schmidt will forever be, however reluctantly, one of the foremothers of the modern quilt. Other Connecticut quiltmakers may be less known, but they are all worth knowing.

We suspect that by the time you finish reading Quiltfolk, Issue 17: Connecticut, you’ll feel like you’ve spent a few enjoyable days getting to know some new quilty friends from “The Nutmeg State.”

164 pages, offset printed and perfect bound, full color on uncoated paper. Printed in the USA.

Previews from Issue 17

Ed Johnetta-Miller

As we researched Connecticut quilt stories for the issue, no fewer than four people told us: “You have to do a story on Ed Johnetta-Miller.” This remarkable quiltmaker’s reputation preceded her — for good reason. An experienced weaver, Ed changed her artistic focus some years ago when a mentor encouraged her to experiment with quilts. Today, Ed is an active and passionate art quilter whose love of textiles and understanding of the power of quilts is matched only by her warm personality and nurturing spirit.

Hang-a-Quilt Day

In June of 2019, the Farmington Valley Quilt Guild (FVQG) put on a quilt show — outside. A loosely organized event, the guild spread the word and encouraged anyone who wished to participate to hang a quilt for the first-ever “Hang-a-Quilt Day.” The show was a huge success and brought smiles to faces across the Hartford area. The FVQG couldn’t have known that their outdoor quilt parade would end up being the perfect kind of quilt show for 2020 since the pandemic has affected so many indoor events. This sweet story might inspire your guild to host a similar event.

All About Art Quilts: SAQA Stories

Art quilters out there know that the heartbeat of art quilts around the world has a name: SAQA. The letters stand for the Studio Art Quilt Associates, an organization that connects artists and tirelessly promotes the art of the quilt around the world. SAQA is headquartered in Connecticut, so we knew we had to investigate. We speak to Executive Director Martha Sielman and three brilliant SAQA members to learn, through their work and experience, what SAQA means to them and their quilts.

Denyse Schmidt + Richard Killeaney

In the modern quilt world, there are a few figures who need no introduction, and Denyse Schmidt is one of them. She’s been called the mother of the early 2000s modern quilt style for her fresh, iconic quilt and fabric designs. Denyse has inspired a generation of quiltmakers for more than 20 years, but she’s the first to tell you she hasn’t done it alone. In this “double feature,” writer Meg Cox profiles Denyse and her former assistant and right-hand man Richard Killeaney from their studio building in beautiful Bridgeport.

Sue Reich

Quilts made by Americans during WWII are special quilts, indeed: colorful, emotional, and extraordinary in so many ways. It makes sense that the country’s preeminent expert on WWII quilts — and across many other areas of American quilt history — would be an extraordinary person. In Issue 17, author, scholar, appraiser, and lifelong quilt ambassador Sue Reich details pieces from her famous collection of WWII quilts and shares her vast knowledge of America’s greatest textile legacy.

Students & Seniors Sew Together: “Peace By Piece”

In a humble community center not far from the Long Island Sound, seniors and high school students are sewing. For the past 12 years, organizer Lizzy Rockwell has facilitated Peace By Piece, an activity group that aims to unite old and young in the love of creating quilts. The group meets every Friday, rain, shine, or, as we learned, during a pandemic (while following CDC guidelines, of course). Get the story — and see some of the most touching photographs we’ve ever published — in Quiltfolk Issue 17: Connecticut.

The Remembrance Quilt

Substance abuse disorders bring pain to thousands of American families every year, and families in Connecticut are certainly not spared. In 2017, the state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services launched the Remembrance Quilt project, which aims to make space and provide solace to those whose lives have been touched by the devastation of opioid addiction. In Issue 17, a few of the Remembrance Quilt’s organizers and participants generously share their stories.

Mary Juillet-Paonessa

Many quiltmakers will identify with this scenario: You mention to someone that you make quilts and they ask you, “Oh! I have a quilt that needs repairing. Do you do that?” Unfortunately, there aren’t too many of us trained in textile conservation or restoration — but Mary Juillet-Paonessa has made a career of it. Mary shows us some of the pieces she’s currently saving in her workshop in idyllic Mystic and shares vintage quilts from her colorful personal collection. 

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