We're so excited to share an exclusive interview with Donna di Natale, the author of many popular Kansas City Star Quilts books, including Anna's Quilt, Prized Quilts, and Stitches in Rhyme. Read on to learn all about her quilting inspiration and philosophy!
Where do you find your quilting or sewing inspiration?
Magazines from the early 1900s. I
love to find an interesting quilt or block from the '20s or '30s and redesign it
using modern techniques. I am in awe of women who made beautiful quilts using
(sometimes) inaccurate patterns with no instructions, homemade cardboard templates,
pencils, and scissors. We are truly spoiled by rotary cutters, rulers, accurate
templates, and clear instructions that have been tested and deemed clear and
Who has inspired your creativity?
My friends: some are famous
designers and some are everyday quilters. They all inspire me and encourage me.
It was a quilting friend who introduced me to the world of quilt book editing
What is something we might not know about you?
That I learned English paper
piecing (EPP) from a lady in Colorado and made my first EPP project that same
week while camping at an elevation of over 10,000 feet in Rocky Mountain National
What projects are you working on right now?
I’m designing a quilt to enter in
a contest in my home state of Nebraska. It has been a fun, and sometimes
frustrating, challenge. I don’t expect to win anything, but you never know
unless you enter. Some people are afraid to enter contests because they feel
they aren’t “good enough” or their work won’t meet the high standards of judges.
But if it is something you enjoy doing, and YOU like the project, it is a good
way to find out how you measure up against other quilters. By entering shows or
contests I challenge myself to do a good job and improve my quilting skills.
What’s your favorite project that you’ve made?
I made a feathered-star sampler
quilt from the book
A Flock of Feathered Stars by Carolyn Cullinan McCormick.
It was a huge challenge, but I enjoyed making the quilt, and I was proud of it once
it was finished. The quilt won Best of Show at a local quilt show (see the photo at the top of this post!) and was
selected for the Heart of America exhibit at The National Quilt Museum in
Where do you shop for fabric?
I mostly buy at my local quilt
shops (I’m lucky to have more than eight shops nearby) but will give in and order
online if I can’t find something locally.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
A quilt that my aunt made in 1936
inspired my first book,
Anna’s Quilt. That quilt won a blue ribbon (and an
overstuffed chair) in a contest sponsored by the
Omaha World Herald. Anna’s
original quilt is now part of the collection at the International Quilt Study
Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.
My research of the World Herald
contests led to my second book, Prized
, which tells the story of those contests and lists all the winners. The
book contains a quilt for each of the years that the contest was held, 1931
I also discovered a series of
embroidered quilt blocks designed by Lavern Bartos that people still request
copies of today—75+ years later. I was intrigued by the fact that Lavern
designed only two quilts in her lifetime, both published only in the
. Thanks to social media I found Lavern’s daughter and was able to tell Lavern’s
story and reproduce her Nursery Rhyme series in my book,
Stitches in Rhyme.
Thank you, Donna!
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