You are currently browsing agmiller2’s articles.

As the Handmade Meaning exhibition comes to a close this weekend, I would like to highlight my experience working with Sharon Leurning, the owner of Stitcher’s Crossing.  Special thanks to her for all of her advice and promotion of the Community Embroidery Project.  Sharon was instrumental in the planning of the exhibition – her extensive experience with the needs of stitchers and quilters was crucial for determining the materials, supplies, and timeline of the project.

Sharon has fostered the opportunity for crafters of all skill levels and material needs to have a well-informed and easily accessible community.  I have spoken with several people who frequent the store and every person begins with something like this:

“Do you know Sharon?!  Isn’t she great?” then, “their selection of fabrics are my favorite,” or “I really love shopping at that store.”

Stitcher’s Crossing is located on Mineral Point Road just east of the West Towne Mall.  Click here to view the location on a map.

A second business I would like to thank for their participation in this project is Sublime Stitching.  The illustrations of the stitches included on the instruction sheet of the HM kit are by Jenny Hart.  Jenny is the founder of Sublime Stitching located in Austin, Texas.  Launched in 2001, the aim of the business has been to rejuvenate the craft of embroidery.  It is a privilege to be given permission to use the illustrations from this company, as the company provides invaluable resources and inspires younger generations to stitch.

Lastly, working on this project has been very exciting.  My sincerest thanks to all who have picked up a kit and stitched a square (or two!)  If you have not submitted your completed square to the Watrous Gallery or Stitcher’s Crossing, please do so as soon as possible.  We have extended the deadline by a week for participants.  Assembly of the quilt is scheduled and our volunteers are in place, we just need as many completed squares as possible.

Thanks, again, Andrea


As the opening of the exhibition approaches, I am finalizing the Community Embroidery Project kits.  You can view the custom designs for the project below.

Click on the image to access a larger version to use as a template for the project

Tonight I visited with the Madison Area Chapter of the Embroidery Guild of America (EGA)
(you can visit their website here ) to help promote the project.  The guild has graciously offered their help to anyone needing assistance on their HM square.  Stitchers are invited to their January meetings if in need of assistance.  More information about when & where will be provided in the project kits.

The members at the meeting were excited to hear about the exhibition and the project, because of their combination of historical and contemporary crafts. It is really exciting to see people of all ages, skill levels, & taste in crafting styles willing to get involved with this project.  Hopefully the excitement will result in many embroidered squares!

Another guest of Madison’s EGA was Kim Caisse.  Kim was representing a group of people who are currently working on a community fibers project that will be on display during the Handmade Meaning Exhibit.  The project is called Our Tiny Friends & Foes and will be showcased on the lower level of the Overture Center for the Arts’ Playhouse Gallery.  For more information about this community project, visit their Facebook page here and Overture Gallery’s info page here.

As we count down the the opening of the exhibition & kick of the this community project I will continue to post information about the process of coordinating this project, the people, organizations, and businesses who are getting involved, as well as example squares that are completed by some of the organizers of the exhibition.

A component of the Handmade Meaning exhibition will be a community embroidery project.

This project is inspired by the quilts women often made for various community fundraisers during the late 1800s and early 1900s. During the Victorian era community members and/or local businesses would sponsor a square, purchase a square, and/or embroider a square to be included in a simple patchwork quilt.  Often the quilt was then auctioned or raffled off and the funds were donated to a local cause.  Depending on the guidelines of a particular fundraiser, participants had select designs to use for their square.  Examples of themes or imagery used include: business logos, floral motifs, embroidered signatures of supporters, stock imagery found in magazines and catalogs, etc.

Redwork Quilt

Many of these fund-raising quilts, which can be found in the collections of historical societies and museums throughout Wisconsin, were made in the style of redwork, a style of embroidering that utilizes only red thread to outline the images depicted on white fabric. One redwork quilt dating back to 1900 from the Milwaukee County Historical Society will be featured in this exhibit.

The Handmade Meaning embroidery project is an opportunity for avid DIY-crafters and those with limited crafting experience to come together for a contemporary community effort.  What better way to gain understanding of what a hands-on craft activity has to offer!  Visitors to the exhibit, as well as followers of this blog, will get to follow the progress of the squares come together to make a quilt.  Once the quilt is finished, we will present it to the Wisconsin Historical Society for consideration for their collection.

We are encouraging anyone from the community, no matter what their skill level, to participate by picking up a packet from the Watrous Gallery or Stitcher’s Crossing, stitching a design, and returning it to the gallery during the exhibition.

More details about the packets, images of the custom Handmade Meaning designs, and guidelines for the squares will be posted over the next month.  The designs for this exhibit merge together styles of contemporary DIY imagery, crafting materials, and Victorian motifs.  A sneak peek of two of the designs can be seen in my sample squares below.  Be sure to check back soon for more information.

We are also seeking people with sewing/quilting experience to help assemble the quilts (all fabric, batting, etc. would be provided – we even have space for you to work!)  If you are interested in helping with this task, please keep an eye out for how/where/when to sign up.  Assembly will need to happen in February 2011.

–Posted by Andrea Miller

Handmade Meaning

Handmade Meaning


Handmade Meaning

An exhibition investigating the connections between Victorian women's fancywork and contemporary Wisconsin craft. At the James Watrous Gallery, Madison, Wisconsin, December 17, 2010-February 6, 2011.