Italian cathedral’s tile designs floor quilter

A detail of “Cosmati Rings II” by Norah McMeeking of Santa Barbara, Calif.



The event is scheduled June 16-20 with 12 instructors offering classes, as well as a quilt show, a merchants mall and several theme banquets in Estes Park.

The inlaid tile designs in the floors of the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice astonished a quilter from Santa Barbara, Calif.

While tourists around her craned their necks to marvel at the mosaic ceilings, Norah McMeeking couldn’t take her eyes off the colored marble patchwork beneath her feet.

She sketched the patterns and carried them home from Italy, soon turning them into intricate quilt designs and even writing a book about them, “Bella Bella Quilts: Stunning Designs from Italian Mosaics.”

Next month, McMeeking will share her passion for these multifaceted designs and how, with simple techniques, she has put them within reach of most quilters.


One of four featured speakers at Quilt Colorado 2010 in Estes Park, she will present a dinner lecture, “Bella Bella Patchwork,” at 6:30 p.m. on June 17 at the Holiday Inn Rocky Mountain Park.

The event, sponsored every other year by the statewide Colorado Quilting Council, is scheduled June 16-20 with 12 different instructors offering classes, a quilt show, a merchants mall and several theme banquets.

McMeeking’s lecture includes a trunk show, demonstrating secondary patterns in the quilts and giving construction hints.

On June 17 and 18, she’ll teach a class on the St. Mark’s quilt through foundation piecing, curved seam piecing and applique.

“Anyone with basic sewing skills can make this quilt,” McMeeking says. “It looks more difficult than it is.”

During a one-day class on June 19, she’ll teach “Cosmati Rings,” also based on the tile floors of Italy. Her class includes machine applique for the corner sections and “doughnut hole” applique for a solid circle center.

In McMeeking’s research, she discovered that much of the marble used in the original tile floors was scavenged from the ruins of ancient Rome.

One family of tile makers was known as the Cosmati, hence the name of that particular quilt she designed.

“The Victorians, too, appreciated Cosmati work and used many of the patterns to restore churches and cathedrals in Britain in the 19th century,” she says.


Besides McMeeking’s dinner lecture, three other speakers are on the Quilt Colorado agenda this year. They all happen to be men who quilt.

Friday’s 6:30 p.m. dinner lecture features David Taylor of Steamboat Springs with “Quilting By the Numbers.” A dinner lecture and concert, “Music & More” is scheduled June 19 with Ricky Tims of LaVeta. And a Sunday brunch is planned with George Siciliano of Lebanon, Pa., talking about “Log Cabins? Tell me it isn’t so!”

All three guys will teach classes during the conference, along with eight other instructors.

Check out the specifics, including fees, at

If you want to drive up for a day or two during the event and take in the quilt show and merchants mall, the cost is $7 a day for adults, $6 for seniors 62 and over, and free for children under 12.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday.

More than $4,000 in cash prizes will be given to winning quilts for best of show, best hand quilting, best machine quilting, best use of color and design, and viewer’s choice, and for first, second and third places in several categories.

I’ve attended Quilt Colorado fairly regularly since 2000, sometimes taking classes from national teachers and other times browsing the show entries and shopping at the vendors. I’ve never been disappointed.

E-mail Sherida.Warner@


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