Friends & Favorites by Sally Noland

One of the nicest things about teaching adult art workshops is the wonderful people you meet who participate in them.  People who take art workshops tend to be life-long learners who are engaged in the world and interested in honing their creative abilities and exploring new art processes.  More and more I am meeting individuals who in retirement are creating whole new lives as artists and creative explorers.   It goes without saying that some of them become fast friends that you look forward to seeing regularly.

Sally Noland and her husband Jim Hilger are just such people.  They have taken my Bjorklunden workshop at least eight times as well as attending one in Mineral Points wonderful Shake Rag Alley School of Arts and Crafts.  We are always happy to see each other and often stay in touch between workshops.

Sally is a wonderful painter but her artistic passions really lay in fibers.  The quilt introducing this post is called  Friends & Favorites.   It features  blocks Sally won in her guild block raffle, where quilters make blocks using batik fabrics and then draw for to see who will win sets of the blocks entered.  Sally says, “I really hoped to win and then I DID!!!  I made extra blocks for my quilting friends to sign so I’d have enough to make the outer border, then picked some favorite quilt blocks for the center and made those so they’d fit together using mainly batiks.

The detail photo below shows some of the signatures and quilting.  Sally and Jim split their time between Illinois and Texas.  The quilt includes signatures of friends from both places.

Friends and Favorites detail

In a previous post I mentioned that Sally’s husband Jim loves to do and create crossword puzzles.  He as even has had some of his own making accepted in the New York Times. Her quilt Oldies But Goodies is a tribute to Jim.  He created the music-themed crossword featured in the quilt, which was no surprise since he also collects records.  (He has about 10,000 in his collection.)  Sally is willing to try new technologies in her quilting.  The images of vinyl records she used in the quilt and the giant crossword puzzle were all created on an ink-jet printer.

Oldies But Goodies by Sally Noland

Record fans have fun looking at the labels. They include the Davenport-based Fredlo label, featuring The Sotos Brothers with “Little Lila,” and a rare, Texas-based Bo-Kay label featuring Elroy Dietzel and the Rhythm Bandits with “Teenage Ball.

Oldies but Goodies detail


















I have mentioned before that I have turned a number of my painting and watercolor experiments into fabric designs.  Sally surprised me this year by making me a quilt using two of my fabrics that I had given her last year in a quilt that she gave me,  The fabric patterns are ‘Karners Love Lupine’, and ‘Bee Good.

Karners Love Lupin fabric pattern by Helen Klebesadel

Bee Good fabric design by Helen Klebesadel

Bjorklunden Beauty by Sally Noland

You can see by the look on my face that I am thrilled with the lovely quilt that Sally gave me designed around my fabrics.  My spouse Akeem is equally thrilled to be the recipient of a lovely Sally Noland quilt created using a “Stack-n-Wack” technique.

Stacknwhack Siesta

I asked Sally to share the story of her passion for quilting in her own words, and to mention some of the quilters that have influenced her own creative journey.

Sally Noland:  Artist in Fabric

I started quilting in 1990, attending the local Mississippi Valley Quilter’s Guild monthly meetings, buying a couple of fabrics and a pattern for my first quilt, and taking my first class.  I had been interested in quilts before that, going to quilt shows and museum exhibits, etc., but I just decided, along with a good friend, to get going on quilting as a hobby in 1990.  On our first trip to Door County in the early 1990’s, I remember stopping at quilt shops and fabric stores along the way for the first time and returning home with the beginnings of my now huge collection of fabrics for future projects, known as my “Stash”.  I had heard that you must buy fabrics when you see ones you like, as you may never see them again; that continues to be true, as each quilt shop is different and the growing number of fabric companies and designers ensures that it will always be the case.

Chamelion Camellias

Most of my quilts have been made since I retired in 2001; before that, I could count the number of my quilts on my fingers.  Attending several sit & sew groups in Amarillo and the Quad-Cities has provided me a great deal of support and encouragement in my quilt-making, along with making new friends.

Ill Take You Home Again Kathleen by Sally Noland

(The above quilt is one Sally is most proud of.  It is and original design that she made for her late mother, depicting the four houses her mother had lived in during her life in Amarillo, Texas, and four scenes related to her mother’s life. The quilt was a 90th birthday present.  The image below shows the details of the porch swing, pet dog Cloudy Knight, and several birds in the trees, bush, and air.)

I'll take You Home Again Kathleen detail

I love the fabrics, the endless variety of quilt patterns, the continuing learning of new techniques, the wonderful people you meet, and being able to make and give a unique gift of a quilt to my friends and family.

Quilter Joe Cunningham says “The quilt is the perfect existential object! It soothes the pain of existence by beautifying your surroundings, and you can also wrap up in it against the coldness of the universe.” 

I enjoy the creative process of getting an idea for a quilt, thinking of what fabrics, patterns, concepts to include, and going through the steps to completion: cutting, sewing blocks, appliquéing, using a design wall to try out ideas, final sewing of the whole piece and borders, deciding on quilting patterns, and finally sewing the binding, hanging sleeve, and label.  Most of my quilts are machine quilted by long-arm quilters; I have quilted a few by hand and a few on my home sewing machine.

My Stars by Sally Noland

‘My Stars’ is a quilt I made back in 2005, to test out a new pattern by Sally Schneider of Albuquerque NM.  I had just taken a class with her in IL and she asked if some of us would be willing to try out her pattern and give her feedback before the pattern was published commercially.  I made the quilt and sent her a photo and some feedback.

Our local guild has nationally-known speakers occasionally and I have been privileged to take many classes through the guild over the years from talented local quilters and nationally-known quilt professionals, such as Gwen Marston, Sally Schneider, Sharon Schamber, Suzanne Marshall, John Flynn, Ruth McDowell, Anita Shackelford, Harriett Hargrave, Jeana Kimball, Bettina Havig, Julie Silber, Kim Diehl, Elsie Campbell, and most recently Ricky Tims, Alex Anderson, and Libby Lehman.

Thank you for sharing your passion with us Sally!