Quality, not quantity, is quilter’s credo

Photo by Dean—Sent as Sherida Warner mug File 3-5-6 38x

Much like a windmill in her native Holland, master quilter Ted Storm-van Weelden moves in a wide circle.

Her journey in stitches has taken her from her home near the sea in the Netherlands and around Europe to the United States, where Storm’s visits include Ohio, Colorado and Texas.

Her expertise as a teacher in the art of hand applique and hand quilting places her high on the list of sought-after instructors.

Amazingly, Storm has sewn only about a half-dozen quilts in her career. But the few she has created are described as “the best of the best.”

The quilt causing the most recent stir is titled “Spring of Desire,” which won the Robert S. Cohan Master Award for Traditional Artistry at the 2007 International Quilt Festival in Houston. It went on to win other top awards in Paducah, Ky., and Birmingham, England.

Storm flew to Houston this month to teach her coveted techniques at the 2009 festival. Her stateside trip included a detour to Colorado, where she lectured here in Grand Junction. Bringing the prized quilt with her to share with quilters on the Western Slope, Storm also taught four days of classes at Hi Fashion Fabrics.

“Hand Applique in a Perfect Way” and tufted and stuffed work were her subjects.

“I believe in quality, not quantity,” she says. That motto emanates from her quilt, in which she devoted 2,500 hours of stitching time (she kept track with a stopwatch).

“Spring of Desire” originated from an intricate design on a handkerchief carried by Storm’s great-great-great-grandmother on her wedding day in 1829. The heirloom handkerchief still hangs in a frame on Storm’s living room wall, she says.

The quilt is primarily black and white with a light center that appears to radiate. When others see her quilt, they often ask if the center fabric is dyed. It is not, Storm says.

Rather, she purchased the ombre fabric (shaded or gradated in tone). Some might also think she appliqu&233;s with an exacting needleturn technique, but that’s not the case either.

Storm lined all of the white pieces in the floral areas so the darker background wouldn’t show through, assembling each quarter of the design first, then stitching it down.

Extra work? You bet, but none of her seam allowances are visible, and that’s what’s important to her. That and small-scale crosshatching she stitched in the quilt’s center, where Storm says it was difficult to work out the grid and keep her lines straight.

She added small shisha mirrors to the flowers for a final bit of sparkle. (The round mirrors are a type of glass embellishment, usually attached with embroidery stitches.)

“I believe in workmanship” with fingers, needle and thread, Storm says, eschewing the need for starch or other aids.

She likes to work with Mettler silk finish thread and prefers Roxanne betweens needles, size 11.

“I just love the job of hand quilting,” Storm says.

During her many patient hours of stitching, she has developed a special thimble to be worn on the thumb. Two patents are pending on it, Storm says. You can learn more about her thumb quilting technique on her Web site, http://www.tedstorm.nl.

Reveling in the relaxing rhythm of hand quilting, she’s not surprised that studies have shown quilting is a healthy pursuit.

“It actually reduces your blood pressure,” Storm says.

When she doesn’t have needle and thread in hand, this quilt “purist” stays in shape physically as a bicycle road racer. She and her husband have raised a son and now have two grandchildren.

Storm taught textile art in a Holland high school for 22 years, making wall hangings as a hobby.

No equivalent word for quilt exists in the Dutch language, she says.

But after she attended a patchwork guild show, Storm realized she could make bed-size pieces.

Then came her longing to learn applique methods. In Salzburg, Austria, she met a woman from Ohio who encouraged Storm and invited her to the United States. That invitation came in 1988, and Storm says she had never flown in a plane before.

Finally, she made the trip and studied with the woman who became her mentor.

Storm says she is impressed with the spacious homes in this country.

“Homes in Holland are much smaller,” she says. “Women have to fight for quilting space.”

Perhaps fewer quilts are created because the Dutch have no room to display a large number of them nor do they have places in their homes to store a large stash of fabric. Material tends to be more expensive in Holland as well.

“I am happy that I have my own sewing room,” Storm says.

It is in that room where she works at her talent like a sculptor works at stone, chiseling, plotting, rounding, edging and making perfect.

As a quilter who is proud of my own Dutch heritage, I will always think of Storm shoving her finger not in a dike, but thrusting her thumb in that special thimble.


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