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A Sewing Sunday

By Loretta Starkey



If you are going to play hooky from church on a Sunday, internationally known quilter designer and teacher Vikki Pignatelliis the person to spend the day with while learning about quilting with curves. Not only does she have a fascinating story behind her quilting career, but she provides an easy way to make curves in quilts and design your own quilts with few or no straight lines.Vikki came to Abilene on October 12-13 and shared her techniques and story with members of the Abilene Quilters Guild on Sunday in a class and on Monday at the monthly guild meeting held at St Paul’s United Methodist Church. Speaker – Vikki Pignatelli. On Sunday, as we clustered around the front of the room she starts her class telling you that she barely made it through Home Economics in 7th grade because of the sewing requirement. As a result, she never learned any of the rules about sewing such as cutting on the straight of the grain. It turns out straight isn’t really in her vocabulary. Using freezer paper, pellon stabilizer fabric, and beautiful batik fabric, she showed Guild members how to create very unique and interestingly quilts using curves.The unexpected part of the class was when she told us the history of how she started quilting. As a homemaker, she was also a self taught oil painter. She enjoyed painting on canvas until her mother died of cancer in 1981. At that point Vikki says she lost all her creativity and never painted again. Her sister invited her to attend a quilting class and Vikki shares her first quilt which had triangular trees and all straight lines. No other quilts she showed us had much in the way of straight lines. With her curves she captures the beauty of nature which is often her inspiration for her many designs. About 15 years ago, her husband also got cancer and she was afraid that she would again lose her creativity, but the opposite happened when her creativity seemed to take a quantum leap being fed from her heart and soul.Circle quilt – one of Mrs. Pigatell’s non-linear designsFor seven hours on Sunday we shared learning her technique and listening to the history of many of her quilts. Her “Breaking Point” quilt of a tree bending in the wind of a storm with shallow roots came out of the time of her husband’s illness. The colors were very dark and you could feel the turmoil she felt in her life. Later she recreated the quilt after her husband was in remission and the colors were much brighter and the roots were much deeper with flowers surrounding the trunk. Throughout the class it was very clear that her spiritual life fed into her quilts.Each student got to pick one of three patterns and using their own fabric to create their own unique quilt. Not only was it a time to learn about Vikki, but guild members got to learn more about each other as they constructed their quilts. Naturally there was some fabric swapping going on to get just the right effect in the quilts. As is always great fun in a quilt class, it was interesting to see how the three patterns could manifest in different ways with different fabric and each person adding their own unique twist.On Monday night at Guild meeting, Vikki told us about one quilt that she had created from the heart which got a scathing review at a quilt show. At first she got very upset about it, because she knew that the inspiration was very spiritually based. Then this thought came that she should start a show where spiritually inspired quilts could be displayed with their story without fear of judges’ comments. She said the thought told her what to do, how to do it and who was to help her. So, not wanting to do it because of her busy schedule, she called the people in her thought, and all but one say sure, they would do it. She had been so sure they would all say no. The other called her back 45 minutes later and said that though she wanted to say no, the idea would not leave her mind, so she said yes. As a result “Sacred Threads” was born. This is a biannual quilt show held in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. The next show will be in Jun 2009. More information is available at you are a quilter, or are just interested in more information about Vikki’s story, she has two books published with excellent directions. The first is Quilting Curves and the second is Quilting by Improvisation. Several of the Guild members had made some of her quilt patterns just by using her book. I personally read the Quilting Curves book before attending class and her instruction followed the book closely and was very easy to understand. She also has a website at with pictures of many of her beautiful quilts.Life quilt – second rendition showing joy and deeper roots in life after her husband’s recovery form cancer.So, even if we all missed church on Sunday, we certainly knew that there was a power bigger than all of us at work in the beautiful works of Vikki Pignatelli and we got to share in a little piece of that as we made our own quilt creations.

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