As mentioned in my website bio, I never imagined I’d be hanging out with the co-authors of my early favorite quilting book, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! And what’s more, that I’d count the co-author, Diana McClun, as a friend, mentor, and even neighbor. Wow, that’s a mind-boggler!
Diana has kindly taken an interest in my various flights of quilting fancy and has been a support with her acute insights. Actually, it’s like having Julia Child bless my cooking when Diana compliments my quilt-in-the-making. Come to think of it, there’s much those two women have in common: strong characters, unerring taste, sound instincts, and gumption. Yes, serious gumption! There’s the height thing too, although I believe Julia had a slight advantage.
Diana is my blogging sister Laura’s long-time creative partner and, in my view, she is one of the great ladies of our craft. She caught the quilting wave early on and has ridden the trend to great success. Her iconic San Francisco Bay Area quilt shop Empty Spools was a hub of quilting and crafting activity for many years and helped to launch the careers of innumerable textile artists and our own quilting media mogul Alex Anderson.
Diana’s Busy Quilting Life
But the Empty Spools shop was only one aspect of Diana’s quilting mission. This quilting entrepreneur is/was/and will always be a committed educator welcoming all those who want to learn the craft. As Laura’s told me, and it’s a truth to which a legion of global quilt-makers can attest, “Show a glimmer of interest and Diana is your greatest advocate.”
She’ll always tell you that her achievements in the quilting industry result from collaborations with talented partners, but the reality is that Diana is/was/and will always be the galvanizer, the woman with big dreams and the commitment to seeing them realized.
In a storied career, she’s co-founded the Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar (25+ years and still going strong) and teacher-development seminars with C&T Publishing. She’s co-hosted The Great American Quilt, a 13-week PBS series; co-developed the From Me to You quilt pattern line; and co-authored a library of quilting titles from The Quilt Digest Press, C&T Publishing, and Breckling Press.
Even though Diana is, for all intents and purposes, “retired” from her larger quilting enterprises, she still teaches beginning quilters through her church and keeps up her creative partnership with our own Laura Nownes. Look what they just accomplished: a brand-new version of their classic instructional guide and the all-time quilting bestseller Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! (a third edition).
In autumn 2014, Diana and Laura will display +100 quilts from their teaching collection at Alden Lane Nursery’s Quilting in the Garden event in Livermore, California. (We’ll share details as they develop.) Before that, though, they will be the featured artists at the 2014 Road to California show in Ontario, California.
Diana’s Quilting Roots
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Diana several times for feature articles and learning about her quilting roots. It’s within that personal history that Diana’s commitment to excellence in quilting education shines.
Diana is the only daughter of an Idaho farming family. She grew up with a very close relationship to her mother and two grandmothers who were her primary companions. All were skilled in many domestic arts, which they imparted to an eager apprentice. Fabric scraps and notions were her playthings. Even when she was small, they respected her input and incorporated her ideas into their handiwork. The benefit of living close to nature also allowed Diana to share vivid moments with her mother, marveling at a perfect flower in bloom and enjoying a bright shiny afternoon. And, like a proverbial farmer’s daughter, Diana excelled in the local 4-H and won her first recognition for sewing excellence at a local and national exhibitions.
These early experiences and her innate abilities prepared Diana to win a full scholarship to university where she studied clothing and textiles arts. She pursued graduate work and taught tailoring classes at San Francisco State University. Even as Diana deftly handled academic commitments and a growing family, she also zeroed in on creating learning opportunities for those who wanted to learn sewn crafts.
The Empty Spools shop was her most ambitious step into crafting education at that time. (Boy, do I wish I could have seen the store in its heyday!) Laura still gets a little misty when she recalls the bustle and bubbling creativity generated by a crowd of fevered crafters intent on learning the latest techniques. Empty Spools is where Diana and Laura’s epic creative partnership began with the development of the very first edition of Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!! and it is fitting indeed that the duo has come full circle 25 years later to deliver a retooled edition for a new generation of quilt makers.
From all of us with dog-eared copies of the original books, many thanks to you, Diana, for your vision and commitment to us, and to you, Laura, for supplying the means to teach thousands upon thousands of students how to quilt.
Next time at See How We Sew, I have the honor of sharing Diana’s first and latest quilts with all of you–BTW, that’s this Friday. Diana is awe-inspiring to me. After years of designing and making “teaching” quilts, she’s had little time to follow her own quilting muse. Let me tell ya, she’s got an intense and demanding muse to satisfy, and boy does she!
Laura has just told me that she would be happy to giveaway a copy of the BRAND NEW Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!! to a lucky reader. Here’s your question: What’s your favorite quilt or tip from any edition of the book? Leave me a comment by Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 28 and I’ll announce a winner in Friday’s post. Get that turkey in the oven and sent us a comment!
p.s. Just a head’s up: If the pattern goddess is kind, I just might be able to announce the completion of my Christmas Tree skirt pattern on Friday as well. That’s a huge maybe considering it’s Thanksgiving week, but I’m going for optimism. Muses . . . goddesses . . . benign entities . . . please!