Judy Pacanowski's retirement gave her the opportunity to pursue a skill she always admired.
In college administration for 31 years, the long-time Lisle resident never dabbled in quilting when she worked full time. The extent of her use of a sewing machine was to whip up a pair of valances or pillowcases.
If you goWhat: Faithful Circle Quilters' Seasons of Color quilt show
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15
Where: Jefferson Junior High School, 7200 Janes Ave., Woodridge
Cost: $6, free for children younger than 12
Details: Quilt appraisals available, call (630) 323-5008 for an appointment
So it is amazing that Pacanowski designed the quilt that headlines this year's Faithful Circle Quilters Quilt Show. "The Autumn Wind" is an intricate queen-sized quilt that incorporates the talents of 40 guild members.
"After I retired in 2006, I taught myself to quilt," Pacanowski said.
Intimidated to take quilting lessons, Pacanowski first watched videos and TV quilting shows, and read about quilting to pick up the terminology and basic skills she thought she should have.
"I found out things about my portable sewing machine I never knew before," she said.
Three years later, Pacanowski felt ready to join a quilting guild. To date, she has made 120 quilts of all sizes and considers herself a machine quilter. She keeps learning at the monthly meetings, classes and featured speaker events the guild offers.
Another member, Kathy Nybo of Downers Grove, started quilting when she wanted to create a baby-sized quilt personalized with Care Bears. She describes quilts as a forever hug and estimates she has made more than 100 quilts.
Karla Anderson is a long-time Lisle quilter who began by finishing a quilt in memory of her mother, Mabel, who started the piece. Today, the Faithful Circle member of 27 years has created countless quilts. Each takes from a few weeks to months to complete. She enjoys personalizing her quilts for babies, newlyweds and graduation gifts.
"I strongly encourage the recipients to use (the quilt), love it and wash it," said Anderson.
Like the hundreds of geometric fabric pieces that go into assembling a large quilt, the Faithful Circle Quilters pull the talents of its 170 diverse members to produce their biennial Quilt Show.
Two years in the making, the Seasons of Color show will display 350 quilts, offer quilt appraisals and feature a silent auction. There will be demonstrations, a bake sale, raffle baskets, merchant mall, a trading post, scissor sharpening and opportunities to win prizes. It is an event that draws quilters and quilt admirers from near and far.
Since its first quilt show in 1979, the Faithful Circle Quilters have showcased a raffle quilt that one lucky winner will take home. The quilting art form opens limitless design and size possibilities. Pacanowski incorporates her eye-catching elements into this year's raffle quilt, also called an "opportunity quilt," with the use of computer software, Electric Quilts 7.
"The photo of the completed quilt is exactly what I saw on my computer screen when I created the design," Pacanowski said. "You even scan in your own fabrics."
Partnering with guild member Jodi York-Caraballo, a professional machine quilter from Bloomingdale, Pacanowski knew she wanted to feature the exceptional feathering technique her friend achieves. Four large triangular sections near the quilt's center, in addition to the borders, are feathered.
The project's initial phase took 50 hours from concept to the final design, Pacanowski said. She and York-Caraballo made 36 individual packets containing the fabric each quilter would need. The four Celtic blocks represent the four winds: Boreus, the north wind; Notus, the south wind; Eurus, the east wind; and Zephyrus, the west wind. Each was completed by a different guild member in appliqué style.
Using warm autumn colors, the designer chose rust, green, gold and browns with a touch of marigold yellow within the 88-by-96-inch quilt. Her goal was to design a gender-neutral quilt by avoiding lavish pastel flowers.
The quilt's centered medallion was created by Downers Grove quilter Annabelle Jankowiak. All 16 of the corner squares were completed by Faithful Circle quilters using Pacanowski's designs.
"To assemble the quilt, we stopped counting the hours it took," explained Pacanowski.
There are 12 sampler blocks, four appliqué ones, 16 small ships-at-sea blocks, the large centerpiece and an intertwined border that contains eight pieces in each 4-inch square border block. Each was completed by a club member.
Pacanowski says the accuracy in piecing an individual square is key to creating a lovely quilt. Today's quilting tools, such as rotary cutters, cutting mats and quilting cards, all facilitate the process.
The quilt "The Autumn Wind" was shown at the National Quilt Show of the American Quilter's society in April in Paducah, Ky.
From traditional to contemporary art quilts, more than 350 quilts will be on display at the 2013 Seasons of Color Quilt Show. It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, at Jefferson Junior High School, 7200 Janes Ave., Woodridge.
Admission is $6; free to children younger than 12. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Sharing Connections Furniture Bank, which helps people in need.
At the show, certified quilt appraisals require an appointment. Call to schedule at (630) 323-5008. The raffle of an American Girl doll includes outfits, a bed and, of course, a doll-sized quilt.
The Faithful Circle Quilt Guild meets monthly in Downers Grove. Details are at fcquilters.com or email email@example.com. The group welcomes new members and guests to their meetings. The group is dedicated to quilting and sharing their talents with the community.