Guest Blogger Month at the Quilting Gallery

Kathleen Murphy

I started quilting in 1993 as a way to get out of the house :) I had two little kids and was living in a new town. The guild was newly formed and had just 20 or so members. I knew nothing about quilting but I had always enjoyed sewing. I had learned to sew in middle school and continued on my own in high school. I think it’s sad that this generation won’t learn to sew (or cook) in Home Economics.

My first quilts are horrible. I made every mistake possible; my first block had drapery fabric in it (I didn’t know ~ it matched the other fabrics), my first baby quilt had double batting to be really warm and it was peach and mint all the same value so if you stepped away from it looked like one color!

My first real quilt was a radiant star I made during my first quilting vacation. Louisa Smith was my teacher that weekend; she is a great lady, quilter and teacher. This was also the first quilt I machine quilted (queen size) on my domestic sewing machine. Louisa encouraged me to enter it into the Images quilt show and it was accepted, I was so surprised.

I have a BA in Art at Framingham State College. My design classes often had us replicating well-known art using magazine paper. I apply this technique to many of my quilts. The challenge of finding the right fabric is what I love best. I love using photographs as inspiration and have been made several pieces using photos I have taken.

I took a break from quilting after my third and fourth children were born. From 1999-2004 I only sewed occasionally. The first quilt I completed after my hiatus was from a pattern by Maggie Walker "The Blue Collection". It was the perfect quilt to practice applique techniques and quilting patterns.

In 2004 a good friend and fellow quilt guild member, Sharon Thornton, moved to North Carolina. She lived in a 150-year-old house in Mendon, MA and she was heartbroken to leave her home and her friends. We were sad to see her go and wanted to give her something to remember us by. I thought making a slice quilt of her home made by her closest friends in the guild would be something she could cherish.

A slice quilt is one that the original picture/painting is sliced into sections and given to the participating artists. All techniques can be used to replicate the original. Sharon’s quilt won a blue ribbon at our local show and several of our members wanted to make one. Our program chair, Kathy Sperino organized the group of 16 interested participants and drafted the basic rules for us to follow. The project took 18 months and the results were outstanding. The quilts are amazing and best of all everyone has a their own quilt. The quilts will be on display at Images 2009 at the Lowell Quilt Festival in Lowell, MA.

During this project I joined QuiltArt, an online email list for quilt artists to discuss any and all aspects of quilting. Frequently on the list there are call for entries. I decided to enter my slice house in the group category at the 2008 International Quilt Festival in Houston. To my great surprise it was accepted! A month or so after getting the letter it was accepted, I got a phone call telling me it had won a cash prize! I was lucky enough to go to the IQF to receive the prize. It was an unbelievable experience. I felt, for the first time in my life, that I was an artist. The nod from the judges had given me the affirmation I needed. Some would say they don’t need that affirmation but I did. I was recently notified that my quilt was chosen for the Martingale Press Award Winning Quilts calendar for 2010. They look at the 400 finalists and choose 13 for the calendar.

I am currently working on three quilts (with hundreds of ideas in my sketch book); I am piecing an abstract quilt using my hand dyed fabrics, I am working on a series quilt based on the story of "The Blue Willow" and I am working on a landscape. I try to sew everyday. Not to advance my skills but because I want to. I cherish the time in my studio. I think of it as therapy for my soul. I am a better mother, wife, friend and neighbor because of the time I spend there.

Twelve of my quilts are currently on display at the Charlton Sewing Center in Charlton, MA. There is a reception on 2/22/09 from 1-3 if you live in the area come to this great quilt shop and say Hi.


I also make quilted one-of-a-kind handbags called Murphy bags. I was making bags for myself and kept getting requests to make bags for friends. The bags are fun to make – I am using my stash, I am practicing my quilting and every bag has Swarovski crystals (I have a slight addiction to them)! I am not going to get rich making them but it is nice to see ladies around town with a Murphy Bag.

I will be giving away a Murphy Bag on my blog. Leave a comment anytime between now and February 20th, and I’ll randomly choose a winner.

Thanks for reading,
Kathleen Murphy

Kathleen Murphy

3 thoughts on “Kathleen Murphy

  • February 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Very exciting Kathleen. Congratulations!

  • February 19, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    I did not realize that the post would be on the site, so let me say more. Kathleen is a gifted artist in so many ways, but I have to say that I think her brilliant eye for color is one of the things that sets her apart. As good as all your work looks online, Kathleen, seeing the pieces in person is even more amazing. Hope you have a great show! Julie

  • February 21, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Thanks to everyone who posted on my blog with their nice comments and their most recent Random Act of Kindness. The winner of the Murphy Bag is Shannon Menninger! Congratulations!

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