Keeping Crazy Quilting Alive

Dakotah M. Davis © 2010

   
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Wheat fields.

Blue jays.

Oak trees.

Muddy rivers.

Crazy quilting.

Let’s face it. Not a lot of people associate the glamour of Victorian-era crazy quilting with the rolling plains of the Midwest. But that’s something crazy quilter Valerie Bothell hopes to change.

“(Crazy quilters) have to know things are going on in Kansas,” says Bothell, the enthusiastic and charming founder of The Victorian Stitchery Retreat, a Wichita-based event for fans of crazy quilting held each year.

This year’s event, set for November 8-13, will mark the fifth stitchery retreat, drawing CQ lovers from as far away as Canada. Latecomers to the event know only too well how quickly classes fill up. The reason? Bothell brings in top names in the crazy quilting world. This year the retreat will play host to two well-known returning instructors, Carole Samples (Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches) and Judith Baker Montano (Elegant Stitches). Newcomers include notable authors Candace Kling (The Artful Ribbon) and J. Marsha Michler (The Magic of Crazy Quilting.) Bothell will also teach a class of her own. Fifteen classes will be available and class size is strictly limited to eighteen  to twenty students per class.

Great teachers are a draw, but location is also important. Bothell says Wichita is a good spot because it’s in the center of the country. As a result, many participants find they don’t have to travel so far to enjoy some good fiber arts instruction. The classrooms are also located at the hotel chosen for the retreat, which helps eliminate travel time to an outside venue, something which Bothell says is common at other events.

Bothell has seen the retreat grow in size. She first hosted her friend and mentor, Carole Samples, two years in a row. At Samples’ urging Bothell decided to add more instructors to the mix.

“She encouraged me to have a bigger retreat,” says Bothell.

Along with class size, Bothell thinks interest has grown in the CQ world.

“I see a resurgence (of crazy quilting),” Bothell says. “I see a lot more people interested. I see people admiring (crazy quilting) when they look at it. I do hear people say stuff like ‘that’s too hard’ or ‘I couldn’t do that.’ I just think, ‘yes you could!’ I do see an increased interest in hand work.”

Besides bringing stitchers together, the retreat has one other major goal.

“Hopefully it will help keep crazy quilting alive and keep the interest in crazy quilting going,” says Bothell. “The teachers have a lot to share. We’re never done learning. Even after thirteen years I have a lot I can learn.”

Evenings during the retreat are always fun-filled. So far, plans include a catered meal and an evening of “show and share” where participants can display and talk about items they’ve made. A contest is always a part of the event, says Bothell, and will be announced soon to those who have registered. Bothell, who owns a supply shop for crazy quilters called The Pink Bunny, will have her shop set up on-site.

For more information about the Victorian Stitchery Retreat contact Bothell via email at pinkbunny@valeriebothell.com  or by phone at 316-722-9578. You can also visit her website at www.valeriebothell.com.


Instructors
Shown from left to right are the Victorian Stitchery Retreat’s 2009 instructors: Judith Baker Montano, Betty Pillsbury, Valerie Bothell and Carole Samples.


The Godey Lady Purse
Valerie Bothell will teach a class for this purse which features a Victorian-era fashion, a few seams and some silk ribbon work.


Sea Pouch
A delightful little sea-themed pouch made by the author, Dakotah M. Davis, during the 2008 retreat; designed and taught by Judith Baker Montano.
 

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