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Diana McClun: Her First Quilts and Her Latest Quilts

Quilts-J:  Diana McClun's first quilt experiments

1930’s 9-Patch by Diana McClun

Diana McClun’s quilting story starts in her childhood with doll quilts made from fabric scraps. She attributes some of the visible wear to her precocious love of laundering her doll clothes–you’ve got to love a child who enjoys cleaning!

Quilts-J:  Detail of Diana McClun's first quilt experiments

Detail of a well-loved and laundered doll’s quilt.

Here’s what Diana had to say about her very first quilt project:  I made my first quilt when I was seven from my mother and grandmothers’ house-dress scraps.  I also did my first machine quilting for this project on my mother’s new Singer sewing machine.

Quilts-J:  Detail Diana McClun's first quilt experiments

Embroidered detail from Diana McClun’s second doll quilt.

In her second quilt Diana experimented with embellishment. The tiny blue bird in the photo was her very first experience with embroidery.

Quilts-J:  Diana McClun's first quilt experiments

The yellow bird shows her growing expertise with needle and embroidery thread.

There’s a lot of family history in Diana’s second quilt:  I made my second quilt when I was nine. My brother Don drew the birds on squares of sugar sacking material. I learned to embroider while making this quilt and the progression of skill is amazing. These doll quilts were washed frequently. During The Depression and World War II we used every scrap and bleached all food sacks for cloth.

Quilt-J: Diana McClun's first quilt experiments

Diana’s first mixed-technique quilt.

Diana McClun Reconnects With Her Quilting Muse

Diana and my blogging sister Laura have spent most of the 25 years of their collaboration making teaching quilts. While those quilts showed their combined tastes, they had fewer opportunities to make their own quilts following their personal aesthetics.  Diana’s version of “retirement” has allowed her to reconnect with her quilting voice and the results have been fantastic due, in no small part, to her deep familiarity with an abundance of quilting techniques, styles, and design aesthetics. She was, after all, the co-founder of the Empty Spools Seminars and the chief talent finder for those sessions. And now, rather than serving as a seminar host and facilitator, she’s a frequent student at Empty Spools. Here’s a peek at her latest handiwork:

Lilac Rose by Diana McClun 2013

Lilac Rose by Diana McClun 2013

Lilac Rose was designed and made by Diana and machine quilted by Beth Hummel. This quilt is her post-book therapy quilt.  As she says:  After all the photographs and quilts were completed for the new edition of Quilts!Quilts!! Quilts!!!, I needed to unwind and do my own art. I’d purchased Kerby Smith’s lilac rose fabric (he was the chief photographer for our book) to feature in a quilt. Initially, I cut up the fabric in big sections, but I used too many different fabrics and the image was overwhelming. I called my dear friend Dale Fleming to the rescue for a critique and now the roses are the main interest.

Diana McClun Does Silk . . . Twice

Quilts-J:  Diana McClun's Silk Quilt I

Silk Quilt I by Diana McClun 2013

Silk Quilt I is designed and made by Diana McClun and machine quilted by Kris Spray. Diana made this quilt as a birthday present for our own Laura Nownes. She says this about the birthday quilt: I was gifted with a big box of vintage Thai silk from my friend Carol Van Zandt which inspired a number of other friends to bestow stacks of silk in all varieties as well. I thought Laura’s quilt would be a perfect opportunity to do an interpretation of the Somersault pattern (one block up/one block down) we feature in our new book.  I knew the pattern’s simplicity would allow me to concentrate on developing an interesting color story with that of inventory silk fabrics.  

Quilts-J:  Diana McClun's Silk Quilt I detail

Detail view of Silk Quilt I and the color value changes progressing across the quilt’s surface.

Quilts-J:  Diana McClun's Silk Quilt I--quilting detail

The reverse side of Silk Quilt I by Diana McClun–highlighting the gorgeous machine quilting by Kris Spray.

What does a quilter do with the remnants of her silk-fabric experiment? Well, she makes another extraordinary quilt for herself: Since I’d prepared and backed so many pieces of silk fabric for the big birthday quilt I needed to make a scrap quilt. I enrolled in Gwen Marston’s session at Empty Spools and made seven pods in different sizes, one being a Log Cabin, following her design process. I put them on my design wall and, like the Lilac Rose, there was too much visual confusion. I called on Dale Fleming again for her insight. She took one look and and said I should repeat the Log Cabin blocks many times so the viewer could follow the path throughout the quilt.

Quilt-J:  Diana McClun's Silk Quilt II

Silk Quilts II by Diana McClun approaching completion.

Silk Quilts II by Diana McClun and machine quilted by Kris Spray displayed on Diana’s design wall.

Quilts-J:  Diana McClun's Silk Quilt II detail

Detail of Diana’s Silk Quilts II and featuring stellar machine quilting by Kris Spray.

And the Winner of the Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! Giveaway Is . . . 

Congratulations Mary Rubino, you’ve won the latest edition of Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!

Jennifer’s Holiday Matters:  The Quilt Life and New Christmas Patterns 

For those of you who enjoyed my holiday series last year–if the activity on our Free Pattern page and holiday Pinterest boards is any indication of your enthusiasm, you’ve have downloaded the Santa and Christmas tree patterns thousands of times! I’ve got good news twice over:  The December issue of The Quilt Life features a pattern for the table runner I featured last year + an online pattern for a larger quilt. Check it out on newsstands and at The Quilt Life. And, . . . see below.

Santa Smiles Tree Skirt & Table Topper Available Now

It’s been a long haul, but I’m ready to debut my Santa Smiles pattern which is available for purchase at my Rosie Quilters website. So, if you’re a last-minute Lulu and love the challenge of making a tree skirt before Christmas Eve 2013 (or 2014 when you’ll be waaay ahead of the game) . . . click the image below:

I hope you’ve had a lovely Thanksgiving and a chance to share a meal with those near and dear to  you.  We’re now, officially, amidst the holiday season:  stay sane and make something “quilty” that makes you happy!

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