Collaboration produces slices-of-life quilts

Six quilters from the Asheville, N.C., area stitched “Time for Tea” in four panels to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Quilt Alliance. They won grand prize in the contest, which had a “Twenty” theme. The group chose china as their subject, because it’s the traditional 20th anniversary gift, and wrote in icing the Roman numerals XX on the hot cross buns.

The third-place winner in the Quilt Alliance’s annual contest was this rendition of a 20-dollar bill, titled “A.J.” for Andrew Jackson, whose face is immortalized on it. This quilt, too, was stitched in segments by members of the Broadway Gentlemen’s Quilting Auxiliary of New York, N.Y.

“The Jennings Homestead” is the prize-winning creation of 27 members of the Milwaukee Art Quilters, 24 of whom made a fabric rectangle of one section of this 1884 Victorian farmhouse from an original photograph. One woman assembled and aligned the separate blocks into a final composition, and another member quilted it on a long-arm machine. It measures 69.5 inches by 45 inches.



A photographic image is greatly enlarged, often manipulated and simplified through a computer photo-editing process, then divided into segments that become individual patterns, or slices, for multiple quilters.

Each of the quilters makes a single slice, and then the disparate portions are sewn together and quilted as a cohesive whole.




■ Linda Chang Teufel, founder of DragonThreads, has published a book on the technique. It’s titled “Quilting Party! Group Quilting for Celebration, Commemoration and Charity. “

■ It shows step-by-step how to select the photo, enlarge it and divide it, and gives methods for how to finish the quilt.

■ For information, go to

You can slice pizza, you can slice watermelon, you can slice and dice tomatoes. Now, you can even slice quilts.

It’s a new technique that’s definitely cutting edge, and groups of quilters all over the United States are trying their hands at this innovative, collaborative style.

First, let’s establish what a “slice quilt” is: a photographic image, greatly enlarged, then divided into segments that become individual patterns for multiple quilters.

Each of the quilters makes a single slice, then the various segments are sewn together as a whole.

Most recently, a group of six from the Asheville, N.C., area won grand prize in the Quilt Alliance’s 20th anniversary contest with a four-slice quilt titled “Time for Tea.” The contest theme was “Twenty,” with a size requirement of 20 inches square.

One member, Dorry Emmer of Virginia, came up with a suitable design and snapped the photo. Cheryl Kotecki printed the photo and divided it on paper, then gave four other members their patterns in sealed envelopes.

After Ann Bordeau, Alice Helms, Susan Mimken and Christina Strickland completed their 5-inch by 20-inch portions, Kotecki joined the slices together and quilted them.

The group had wanted to make a slice quilt, and the contest seemed like the perfect opportunity.

It was a first for Helms, who said, “I completely enjoyed doing it and love the effect of the four different interpretations blended together.”

As their subject matter, the women payed homage to the alliance’s anniversary by depicting china, the traditional gift for such 20th commemorations, and a plate of hot cross buns with the Roman numeral XX written on them in icing. Fabric paint and appliqué by hand, machine and fusing were among their methods.

The annual contest is a fund-raiser for Quilt Alliance programs, and this particular quilt will be auctioned online from Dec. 2-9. Visit for information.

To further establish that slice quilts are gaining admiration, the alliance’s third-place award went to a cooperative effort by members of the Broadway Gentlemen’s Quilting Auxiliary of New York, N.Y.

The subject was “a brilliant rendering of a twenty dollar bill,” says Amy Milne, executive director of the Quilt Alliance.

It was titled “A.J.” for Andrew Jackson’s visage on the front.

The eight quliters used commercial cotton, decorator fabrics, yarn and embroidery thread. Techniques were machine and hand piecing and applique, and inkjet printing.

According to the artists’ statement, “Like a quilt, American currency wears its tradition proudly. It is useful yet also decorative, full of symbols harkening back to an earlier time. While often overlooked as just a part of everyday life, careful study shows the handiwork of many artisans.”

“A.J.” also will be sold during an online auction Nov. 18-25.

A much larger slice quilt, measuring 69.5 inches by 45 inches, was inspired by an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in Wauwatosa, Wis., and made by 27 members of the Milwaukee Art Quilters (MarQ).

Titled “The Jennings Homestead,” it was made as a thank-you gift for one member’s daughter and son-in-law for providing space for MarQ to meet regularly over a 10-year period.

Judy Zoelzer Levine was the only member who had experience with slice quilts, so she was named designer and orchestrator of the project.

Levine used a computer photo-editing program to manipulate a picture of the home, portion it into 24 rectangles and turn each into a simplified image.

With a wide-bed printer, a full-size, gray-scale paper pattern was produced and given to each quilter.

Any technique was allowed; included are batting for clouds, markers, painting, bleach discharging and three-dimensional leaves.

After Levine pieced all the finished blocks together and aligned them carefully following a pre-printed grid, Terri Sankovitz quilted their masterpiece on a long-arm machine.

The group presented it to the homeowners, but asked their permission to enter “The Jennings Homestead” in several national shows before it was permanently displayed.

Since then, the quilt has appeared in multiple magazines and won Best Group Quilt in the Road to California Quilt Show, Best of Show at the West Virginia Quilt Show and two first-place and viewers’ choice awards at other venues.

According to MarQ member Susan Mouton Riggio, who wrote an article about the quilt in Quilting Arts magazine’s June/July issue, “The Jennings Homestead” was a particularly ambitious project because it contained so many linear elements that needed to work together to make a cohesive quilt.

The imagination — and collaborative creativity — of quilters never ceases to amaze me. Maybe there is something better than sliced bread after all.

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