In 1999, after her then-teenage daughter suggested that she needed to find her happy place, Diana Richards took her first quilt class from Jan McGrath. She indeed found her happy place and has never looked back. Diana now designs quilts and teaches quilting in her home studio. She is the Indiana state coordinator for the Quilts of Valor Foundation. After more than 35 years, Diana still works as a respiratory therapist. Diana and her husband, Gary, have lived in Northwest Indiana their entire lives. Diana designed Christmas Window Quilt to memorialize the visits she made with her grandmother to Marshall Field’s at Christmas, a tradition that Diana continued with her own daughter.
Jan McGrath grew up in a small farming community in Indiana that was miles from most major retail outlets. It’s no wonder that a cash register was her favorite toy, as most shopping excursions involved the entire family traveling for the whole day.
Sewing was a creative outlet for Jan, her mother, and her grandmother. Every fall involved a trip to the city to buy fabric for new school clothes. After graduating from high school, the drama of college was overshadowed by the opportunity to take classes in sewing, tailoring, pattern drafting, costuming, and upholstery. A marketing degree seemed to round out the picture, and Jan’s career in retail was launched. Managing stores, opening stores, moving stores, and finally designing stores for a variety of companies in the craft and fabric industry covered Jan’s next eighteen years.
The launch of Bits ‘n Pieces quilt shop put an end to the moving lifestyle and allowed Jan the chance to launch programs, classes, and events for quilters in Northwest Indiana. The greatest joys of this adventure were bringing in fun topics from all over the world and seeing quilters form lasting friendships based on their love of the artistry and each other, much like the friendship she developed with Diana, her coauthor and fellow designer and teacher.
By the authors:
Windy City Christmas