Pushing her own buttons easy for fabric artist

Virginia Robertson

“Mint and Mauve” was designed by Virginia Robertson of Dolores from Bali’s Princess Mirah batiks. It measures 80 inches by 97 inches. The quilt is featured in the spring issue of Fabric Trends magazine.



Lives in Dolores

• Has a master’s degree in fine arts

• Quilting and design coordinator for Bali Fabrics

• Publishes books and patterns

• Fabric designer

• Instructor


In celebration of 100 years of naval aviation, a challenge is being issued to quilters across the nation. It’s called Thread Tails & Vapor Trails and will include a traveling display during 2011.

Curator Kelly Gallagher-Abbott of Fort Collins says the main requirement is that the quilts be related to naval aviation. For example, topics might be airplanes, aircraft carriers, space or an honored aviator.

Gallagher-Abbott is the former Hoffman Challenge curator. She says her new venture is an exciting one, with events planned all over the U.S. and quilts traveling to air shows with the Blue Angels in more than 30 states.

No specific fabric is required; each quilt must measure 40 inches square. All rules are available at http://www.navyquilts.com.

Deadline for online quilt submissions is Oct. 1. Winners and quilts selected for travel will debut Nov. 11 and 12 at the Blue Angel Homecoming Event in Pensacola, Fla. Kickoff events for the centennial celebration are planned in January 2011 in San Diego and Washington, D.C.

Quilts that are donated by their makers will be auctioned at the end of 2011 at a black-tie event, and proceeds will benefit the National Flight Academy, a summer camp and online curriculum available to all 7th- through 12-graders. The camp focuses on science, technology, engineering and math while the students learn about aviation. Those who are unable to attend camp can enjoy the experiences online or with gaming devices, and teachers can access the curriculum, all at no cost.

Prizes for the quilts will include best of show; viewer’s choice; first, second and third places; honorable mention; curator’s choice; best hand and best machine workmanship. Categories are pieced, appliqued and mixed technique. Group quilts also may be entered.

For information, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 970-224-9975.

If you think buttons are useless without buttonholes, you’re not thinking the way quilt artist Virginia Robertson does.

She’s worked in the fabric industry for 30 years, and one of her tricks is to stack brightly colored buttons of all shapes and sizes one upon another.

They become projects in themselves, and this businesswoman from Dolores suggests the stacks become fashionable pins or embellishments on bags and purses.

During her career, Robertson has designed thousands of fabrics for different companies, she says. She is the quilting and design coordinator for Bali Fabrics, teaches nationally and internationally, and designs patterns and sells them, as well as fabrics and kits, through her online company, http://www.virginia robertsondesigns.com.

Many of her kits come with another trick Robertson uses to ensure piecing accuracy — Tear-Away Triangle Papers. The idea is to sew through the papers and have points that match every time.

One of her recent quilt designs, made with Bali’s Princess Mirah batiks, is featured in the spring 2010 issue of Fabric Trends magazine. The quilt titled “Mint and Mauve” measures 80 inches by 97 inches.

The Princess Mirah line consists of Indonesian-based handmade fabrics, the latest collection with vibrant names such as Lagoon Life, Botanic Garden and Hollywood & Vine.

Robertson mixed those pieces with other recent favorites —Tasmanian devil and Bali Kue — to piece a complex-looking quilt. These rich colors and textures form a single 12-inch block, repeated 32 times with different shades, and then arranged to form a secondary design.

Robertson also designed a “Lotus Quilt” wall hanging shown in Quiltposium, a free online magazine, in which she writes about her duties for Bali Fabrics.

Because she gets paid to sew with Princess Mirah batiks, Robertson says she has “the best job in the world.”

More than 18 different fabrics went into the 28-inch square “Lotus Quilt.” Also shown is a yoga bag with a large lotus flower on it; the bag contains a rolled-up mat.

This week, Robertson will be bringing many of her quilts to Grand Junction for trunk shows and lectures at local quilt guilds.

Her first presentation, “I Might Not Have Enough Fabric,” is scheduled at 9 a.m. Wednesday at a Sunset Slope Quilters meeting at American Lutheran Church, 631 26 1/2 Road. She’ll illustrate her stories with a variety of quilts and give the audience an easy color class in the process.

That evening at a 7 o’clock meeting of Colorado West Quilters Guild, Robertson will speak on “If Monet Were a Quilter” at First Christian Church, 1326 N. First St. She’ll use examples of the artist’s paintings as a metaphor to show how color changes a quilt design.

Guests are welcome at both meetings; a nominal fee is charged.

On Thursday, Robertson will teach a class on paper-pieced Pickle Dish quilts in Grand Junction.

With a master’s degree in fine arts, she taught at three universities before her career in fabric and sewing. So she has plenty of experience and enthusiasm for the classroom.

Rather than laying down strict rules, Robertson likes to give students “options for individual interpretation,” she says. First they receive inspiration, then information.

“Show-and-tell” samples are an integral part of her seminars.

Because Robertson is so tuned in to the quilting scene on several levels, she gives away some insider information in Quiltposium.

The latest cloth design for Bali Fabrics is a traditional blue collection with geometric textures. Aptly named Mood Indigo, this will be the theme of the company’s booth at the International Quilt Market in May in Minneapolis, she reports.

I always find it exciting to learn what trends and new ideas are waiting for us with each new quilting season.

Thanks for the scoop, Virginia.

E-mail Sherida.Warner@ gjsentinel.com.


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