For Taylor’s Julie von Hollen, designing and creating quilts has become a big part of her life and through a display this month at Peace Gallery North, she gets to share that passion with others.
“I was actually taking care of grandma [Jean von Hollen] after grandpa died several years ago. I was in the house, not doing anything except staying there. I went to go pick up some yarn, to do a little crochet project, and saw a little bag of blue scraps.”
Those scraps turned out to be quilting patches.
“I didn’t really know how to sew. I hadn’t done it since Grade 8. It was only a sewing class and I didn’t do a lot of learning there,” she laughed.
When she brought the fabric home, Jean offered up her sewing machine.
“It was broken,” said von Hollen and the repair shop told her it would take up to two months to fix.
Enter Plan B.
“So, I started hand-stitching and I hand-stitched an entire table runner [12 inches wide by 36 inches long] in two months, and I learned a lot,” she conceded.
“It was just two-and-a-half-inch squares that I sewed together.”
Once the machine was fixed, von Hollen was able to speed up the process by a bit, and based on her output, really hasn’t let up since.
Fast forward to November 2022 where her craft is now hanging from the walls of a gallery, all kinds of designs, ones to not only be admired but meant to keep family, friends, and clients warm through the long winter.
In fact, all but two are for sale.
The exhibit continues until Nov. 26.
von Hollen was asked how she comes up with a design.
“I look up quilts online. I find something I like and my brain tells me I can do that. You can make that Julie and I say, oh…kay?”
Not a believer in patterns, she formulates a lot of it in her head breaking it all down and building it all back up to make it her own.
“I have to buy all of the back, which is usually one separate whole piece, and then buy each different colour of the cotton fabrics. I cut them up and then sew them all together. It’s a lot work, but I really love it.”
The intricacy and detail are amazing.
Although each quilt is different, the black quilt (see photo) took close to 80 hours, the equivalent of two weeks of full-time work, although von Hollen doesn’t necessarily like to think of it that way.
So, how does an avid quilter become a showcase artist?
“Two years ago, my mom said they were looking for things to put in the art gallery and I’d like to sign you up. I laughed, and said – sure, of course.”
From that - her very first art show.
And, as they say…the rest is stitchery!