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Interview with Donna di Natale

Posted by Deirdre Quirk on Feb 17th 2017

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 correct.

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 and design.

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 Park.

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 Paducah, Kentucky.

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 Quilts , 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 through 1940.

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 World Herald . 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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