My Story Quilts

I love quilts that tell a story. Mary Lou Weidman, and her books and classes, have dramatically changed the course of my quilting adventure, by exposing me to the art of Story Quilts. 

It's wonderful to celebrate a moment in someone's life. Once you start thinking about people and events you could capture in a story quilt, you'll see inspiration everywhere!

Come My Love - 2005

This quilt began in a two day workshop with Mary Lou Weidman in 2003. Mary Lou has been my inspiration, mentor, and now friend, and I will always be grateful to her for introducing me to story quilts and encouraging my efforts.
     My previous story quilts were small, but Mary Lou wanted us to make larger quilts in her class. So, I decided if it was going to be big it had to be a very special quilt. And what could be more special than the story of my life with my husband?
     We fell in love one fall and got married the following fall, so golden autumn leaves always remind me of love. Our nest in empty now—you can see our birdies on their separate branches now. “Carved” in the tree trunk is a photo from our wedding, and our initials and wedding date below.
     We really enjoy our computers so I found a silver button to put into his pocket to represent a computer CD. One of the hearts in the border shows our networked computers.
     We are vegetarians and the produce basket holds favorite veggies. And, yes, he does make the world’s best guacamole! I actually do have a t-shirt like the one on the quilt (thanks to old friend Jane C). And I do wear high top red shoes.
     In the pocket of my shorts are ticket stubs from some of my favorite concerts. I took the real stubs and had them copied, reduced and laminated. I hope to add others (especially if I ever get to a Tom Waits concert!) For now, they are from Janis Ian, Greg Brown, Jimmy Buffett and Lyle Lovett.
     Thanks to Sue for the computer fabric and thanks to Harriet for the beads for our eyes and the violet centers. And special thanks to Dora for traveling to Columbus with me to take that first class with Mary Lou.
     The quilt won the 2nd place Viewers Choice award at the Country Roads Quilt Guild’s Quilt Show during WVU’s Mountaineer Week, 2005, in Morgantown, WV.
     I finished the quilt in November of 2005, the month after our 30th anniversary. Many hours went into making this quilt — it is heavily quilted and it took forever to stitch around all those letters, but it was a real joy to make. Thanks to my best buddy.  :o)

Hallowedding- 2010

Wedding quilt for Sarah and Joe

Sarah and her family used to live behind us. She and her sister were best friends with my daughters when they were in elementary school. One of her favorite things I made her as a child was a glow-in-the-dark pillowcase, and she loves Halloween, so that was the inspiration for her and Joe's wedding quilt. The little witch trick-or-treater reminds me of Sarah as a child.


The graveyard symbolized the death of loneliness (the stones include the dates them met, got engaged and married). I digitized machine embroidery designs to make the Jack O'Lanterns from pictures of real pumpkins they had carved. I love Sarah's Pumpkin Pi. The white fabrics and threads glow in the dark. Hallowedding won ribbons at the WV Quilt Festival and the Millennium Quilters Show - yay! This is one of my all time favorite quilts!


Thanks to Amberlee Christey for capturing the glow-in-the-dark elements. (See below.)

Today I Will Marry My Friend - 2015

Made to celebrate my sister Jane and her family. Hear the whole story in the video below.

My niece and nephews as flowers.

A stitched Wood Spirit. Story in video above.

Paul & Sade’s Wedding Quilt — 2007

This is the first bed size Story Quilt I’ve made. (It’s huge - approximately 90" x 100"!) Paul and Sade liked the idea of a story quilt, but wanted it in a more traditional setting. Because they were friends for a long time before they started dating, we chose to use Friendship Star blocks between the sashing strips. I asked them for a list of 30 things that are meaningful in their relationship and I think I managed to include them all in the quilt. The blocks represent romance, spirituality, commitment, and just plain fun! Sade’s mother gave me lots of Nigerian fabrics to include in the quilt and they were a joy to work with. They are so rich and soft and wonderful. Kate helped me again, by designing the “fighting crabs” block and by suggesting some designs could span more than one block.

This was the first project where I used my Magic Strip Binding technique. I was determined to not have to stitch binding down by hand on such a big quilt. The bottom corners are rounded, so I used bias binding. Magic Strip and binding are the same fabric. It turned out great!

Friendship Is Always In Season - 2007

My Story Quilting hero, Mary Lou Weidman, asked me to make a small story quilt for her book, Out of the Box. (I said YES!)

This quilt tells the story of my friendship with TyeAnn. We met at our neighborhood's school bus stop on our older children's first day of kindergarten in 1983. We each had a toddler in a stroller. We walked around the block together that day and have been doing it ever since! We have walked through all seasons of the year, and the seasons of our lives.

My black cat Pokey used to walk around with us. My grey cat Ashes stayed closer to home.

I also entered this in my local guild's challenge to make something inspired by seasons.

The movie Knotting Hill inspired me to create the changing background. In the movie, there is a scene where Hugh Grant walks from his flat to work, and you see the seasons change as he walks, showing the passage of time.

Bolivian Jones in Cochabamba - 2002

John spent five months in Bolivia,  learning Spanish and volunteering his time in orphanages. After returning, John created a Top Ten List of favorite places, people, etc. — a perfect beginning place for planning this quilt.


This may have been my first attempt at hand applique. I enjoyed it, but haven't done it since. The palm tree was done on my Bernina embroidery module, and the palm leaves are three dimensional. Thanks to Kate for her help with the original sketch.  

Made to celebrate my friendship with Lori

This was my first real story quilt and was machine pieced, machine appliqued, machine quilted, and embellished with buttons, beads, sequins, hand and machine embroidery and photo transfers. I made this quilt for a good friend and coworker who took care of our office's technical needs. It always made me chuckle to see this beautiful young woman under someone's desk working on a computer. This quilt shows her under her own desk.


Everything in the quilt is meaningful. Her computer screen always shows a photo of her nieces of nephew, she loves black eyed Susans, iced tea and rollerblading. The little chick that sits on her computer was a gift from another coworker and the "SSS" on the soles of her shoes stands for "Sexy Sensible Shoes," (a long story). A photo hangs above her desk of us on a boat in the Seattle harbor on a free day of a business trip we took together. "Cyberqueen" was her nickname at the time and is embroidered on the crown (the crown fabric was left over from my daughter's prom gown!) The star blocks in the top corners are the "Friendship Star" and "Perpetual Motion" (which describes her perfectly!) The bottom border represents her love of the outdoors. The tree blocks are connected by "firefly" quilting. A thought bubble comes from under the desk to a photo of her husband from their wedding day. The wave quilting in the left border is another reminder of our fun in Seattle. This was a gift for her 30th birthday. I used her favorite colors (blue and green) and a little of my favorite (purple) to make a special quilt. I think of this quilt as a snapshot that celebrates this time in her life.

This 12" block was my first attempt at story quilting.

The National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service (CIS) was planning it's 25th anniversary (October 2001) and each of our 14 offices was asked to create a block for an anniversary quilt. Our staff did some brainstorming to think of ways to represent our region.


It took many hours to design and stitch this little block, because I was convinced I couldn't draw. (Thank you, Mary Lou Weidman, for the encouraging books that gave me the courage to try.) Two of my coworkers insisted she wear laced high top boots! The words below are my boss's interpretation of the meaning of the block.


This block, created by the Mid-Atlantic Cancer Information Service, depicts "Sunbonnet Sue" as representing how the strong tradition of the CIS telephone service has embraced the new age of technology. As you can see, CIS Sue sits at a telephone carrel with a computer and her own headset! She is prepared to handle a variety of inquiries, including telephone calls, and instant message requests.


CIS Sue is thoughtful in her attire and her work environment. The hearts to the left of the square and on her pinafore pocket symbolize the love she brings to her job. She provides information to CIS users in a very caring, compassionate way, and is also a real team player as she works with her coworkers to continue to enhance the CIS service. Her bonnet provides appropriate protection from the sun when she takes her lunchtime walk.


The Earth on her computer screen represents the CIS's global perspective. She decorates her carrel with wall hangings that reflect the geographic areas within the region. The tall sailing ship represents Jamestown, Virginia, which was one of the first 13 colonies in the United Sates. The crab represents the Chesapeake Bay, a significant source of industry for both Virginia and Maryland. In addition, the Washington Monument represents the District of Columbia, and a small "Moon Over the Mountain" quilt depicts the mountains throughout our region and the quilting heritage of West Virginia.