Friday, January 18, 2019

Dr. Raymond G. Dobard (1947-2019)

Dr. Raymond G. Dobard, quilter, historian, Howard University professor and co-author of the best selling and influential book Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, has passed. Dr. Dobard was a professor of art at Howard University for 35 years and retired in 2010.  I remember his kindness when I visited his office at the School of Fine Arts there with notes I was gathering for what would become my book, Black Threads. Later we spoke on a panel in DC for a National Parks Service event. I marveled at his beautiful quilting. We've lost an important quilting soul.

You can read more about Dr. Dobard at Hear him speak about Hidden in Plain View on these C-span videosEnjoy.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

A Christmas Carol with all new illustrations by Quilter Francine Haskins

Excited to share a new project! Washington DC artist and quilter Francine Haskins has illustrated the holiday classic "A Christmas Carol" with your favorite characters, Scrooge, Jacob Marley, Tiny Tim and the Christmas Ghosts as Black Victorians! I've written an Afterword that showcases nearly 150 Black American, Canadian, and British actors, actresses, directors and playwrights who have shined in this production.

Hope you have a look and ENJOY!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dr. Gladys-Marie Fry - In Memory

Dr. Gladys-Marie Fry
I remember the first time I read Dr. Gladys-Marie Fry's book, Stitched from the Soul: Slave Quilts from the Antebellum South, and marveling about the amount a old fashion, pre-Internet research work that went into this book. In the preface to this groundbreaking catalog, she wrote:

"To date, no formal study has been undertaken to determine the extent of the involvement of slave women in the design or craftsmanship of mid-nineteenth-century quilts, or to determine the influence of African culture on African-American quilting styles. Thus, for too long fave slave women been denied recognition or acknowledgement - or even a history... That history, however, has been inscribed in the quilts that survive.... Denied the opportunity to read or write, slave women quilted their diaries, creating permanent but unwritten records of events large and small, of pain and loss, of triumph and tragedy in their lives. And each piece of cloth became the focal point of a remembered past."

Dr. Fry's research forced us to remember by offering documented insights into slaves as seamstresses, quilting during slave times in America, and more. It takes courage and leadership to be the first. And, she was.

In 1976, Dr. Fry's landmark essay profiling the life of former slave and quilter Harriet Powers was published. This was the first large-scale effort to recreate Mrs. Powers' life story... and place the Bible Quilt (now at the Smithsonian Museum of American History) and the Pictorial Quilt (at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts) into context.

When I started researching Harriet Powers' life myself, I called Dr. Fry, since she was one of the leading authorities in this area. I had this idea about tracing the people who touched Mrs. Powers quilts and understanding how the quilts actually got into the collections of two major US museums. Oh, and I wanted to self-publish the research. Dr. Fry really lit into me on that point. And, if you've ever met Dr. Fry, you know she's rather feisty. She thought the work deserved to be published more traditionally. When we hung up, I cried because someone I so looked up to seemed so disappointed in me. Once I sent her the (self) published book, she apologized and said the equivalent of "well done," which I cherished! We laughed about that phone call when I visited her last month.

A major force in documenting African American quilt history has left us. I'm saddened to share that Dr. Gladys-Marie Fry passed away November 7, 2015. Her memorial will be Saturday, Nov. 28 at McGuire Funeral Service, Inc., 7400 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20012, (202) 882-6600.

You can sign the online guestbook for Dr. Fry at - click here.  Best, Kyra

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Meet Quilter Grace Howes in interview with Kiala Givehand

I've been interested in artists books of late and amazed by Kiala Givehand's Book in A Day video series.  On her YouTube channel is a 40-minute interview with sistah quilter and art journal maker Grace Howes of Red Barn Studios.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Not Fade Away - Sharing Quilt Stories in the Digital Age - July 18

 Not Fade Away: Sharing Quilt Stories in the Digital Age is a biennial conference presented by the nonprofit Quilt Alliance. The conference is for all who care about documenting, preserving and sharing the stories of quilts and their makers. It will be held on Saturday, July 18, 2015 in Herndon, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. The conference, sponsored by, Sacred Threads and the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, will feature lectures, workshops, networking opportunities and more! 

Conference attendees can choose two workshops from the following topics:
  • Self-Publishing for Quilters with Kyra Hicks.
  • Label It. Today! with Leslie Tucker Jenison and Michele Muska.
  • Create Your Own Adventure: Using the Q.S.O.S. Project Database with Christine Humphrey
  • How to Conduct Q.S.O.S. Interviews with Pauline Macaulay and Emma Parker 
  • Untapping the records and resources of the Quilt Index with Mary Worrall
Online registration available on the Quilt Alliance website here:! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Empire's Cookie Lyon - Quilt Block Pattern

Raise your hand if you're a fan of Empire!?  Who is your favorite character?
  • Lucious Lyon, former drug dealer and CEO of Empire Entertainment
  • Cookie Lyon, Lucious' ex-wife and mother of 3 sons
  • Andre Lyon, first-born and CFO of Empire
  • Jamal Lyon, the middle son
  • Hakeen Lyon, the hip-hop youngest son, OR
  • Anika Calhoun, Lucious's ex-fiancĂ©e
Taraji P. Henson absolutely works it as Cookie Lyon!  Could you see Cookie at a local quilt guild meeting?  Maybe not - but you can download this free Cookie Lyon Quilt Block Pattern. Who would you like to see as the next block?  Enjoy!

Meet Latoya Thompson, SC Quilter

Are you familiar with the hand-stitched quilts of South Carolina sistah quilter Latoya Thompson?

Ms. Thompson, an educator, recently exhibited her quilts at local libraries in Hemingway, SC, according to a Weekly Observer article by Dianne Owens.  This was just one of several exhibits her quilts have been featured in. Congrats Latoya Thompson!

African American Quilt Conference of Appalachia, April 2015

Mark your calendar and attend the African American Quilt Conference of Appalachia, April 10 - 122, 2015 in Morristown, Tennessee.

This 2-day conference features a keynote presentation by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, quilting workshops by Marquetta Johnson and Aisha Lumumba of Atlanta, and Aundra McCoy of Memphis.

There is also a quilt exhibit curated by Sammie Nicely and Bob Spirko.

The conference is sponsored by the African American Heritage Alliance and the From Africa to Appalachia Foundation.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New book! Quilters Questions: A Book of Curious Queries. What's YOUR favorite question?

Quilters Questions: A Book of Curious Queries
What's YOUR favorite question?
How about a different kind of quilting fun? Just published is Quilters Questions: A Book of Curious Queries.

I hope you enjoy this newest book!  Quilters Questions is perfect for quilters of any age or skill level.  You can explore topics ranging from quilter identity, creative inspiration, collaboration, exhibiting, fabrics, your quilting legacy, sex and quilts (yes :>) and more!

Quilters Questions includes 300+ open-ended questions. This engaging read provides hours of fun and conversation. And is great for you to answer on your own - or as a guild activity. With the holidays approaching, it's a great gift idea or stocking stuff for any quilter.

What kind of curious questions can you expect?
  • Would you accept $25,000 to stop quilting forever? What if the offer was only $2,000?
  • Would you consider sewing a hidden mini camera into a quilt to monitor someone? Why or why not?
I had a BALL working on this book and hope you enjoy it and share with a quilting friend!    Best, Kyra

Quilters Questions: A Book of Curious Queries
Black Threads Press
126 pages, $9.95
ISBN: 0-9824796-4-6

Call for Entries - 9th Annual African American Fiber Arts Juried Exhibition

9th year of the African American Fiber Arts Juried Exhibition curated by Torreah "Cookie" Washington will honor the late Maya Angelou and focus on “How Maya Angelou made your artist’s journey more meaningful? What were her words that inspired you to keep keeping? How did she help you to RISE?," according the call for entry information.

You might remember that Ms. Washington curated the fantastic 2012 exhibit Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore: A Fiber Arts Exhibition. See this video of the Mermaids exhibit.

This juried exhibit will be installed as part of the North Charleston Arts Festival and on display at the North Charleston City Hall, April 30 - June 15, 2015. Several pieces will be selected for a traveling exhibit that will tour the lower Southern US states for one year. Quilts, wearable arts and dolls may be submitted for this juries show. Here are a few considerations, but contact Ms. Washington for a complete list.
  1.  All works must be made by the entrant but can be quilted by someone else.
  2.  Quilts must be at least 30” x 30” and not more than 60” x 60”. Group Quilts assembled or quilted by 3 or more people, such as row robin quilts, block exchange quilts, group hand quilted quilts are open for consideration.
  3. Dolls may be no taller than 18 inches.
  4. There is a non-refundable entry fee for each entry.
If you want to submit an entry for consideration, contact Ms. Washington at   Enjoy!

Friday, October 17, 2014

San Diego People of Color Quilt Guild Opportunity Quilt 2014

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California - and when I was on the San Diego People of Color Quilt Guild website - I recognized that this was a California quilt!

This gorgeous 2014 Opportunity Quilt was hand pieced by Norma Jones and machined quilted by Vivian Townes.

Visit the guild's website to see this and other guild quilt photos. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Have you met Roy Mitchell Jr., the Watermelun Babies quilter?

Roy Mitchell Jr. - Photo Q.S.O.S.

Roy Mitchell, Jr. is a Virginia quilter, who recently presented at the Flint (MI) African American Quilters Guild celebration in September 2014.

Mitchell, a collector of African American memorabilia, is pictured here with his Watermelun Babies quilt he stitched.

In 2008, the Quilt Alliance's Save Our Stories project interviewed him. It's a fascinating read - including how his father and teenage son now also quilt!

Mitchell teaches a popular course in quiltmaking at the Culpeper (VA) Juvenile Correctional Center - and ensures another generation learns the joy of quilting!  Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Join the African American Quilt and Doll Guild Oct 17-18

African American Quilt and Doll Guild - Ohio

Mark your calendar and make plans to attend the African American Quilt and Doll Guild's  Inspirations & Visions fiber art, fashions and doll show on October 17-18, 2014 at the Randallwood Center, Warrensville Heights, Ohio.  Quilter Juanita Yeager is the featured artist. Mary Pinckney will conduct a doll making workshop.  Enjoy!

Gwen Magee’s Quilts on Exhibit at UNCG

Gwen Magee, quilter
Quilts by the late Gwen Magee are on exhibit until November 8 at University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Visit the Gatewood Gallery, Gatewood Studio Arts Building, 527 Highland Ave., to view 18 quilts in “Lift Every Voice and Sing: The Quilts of Gwendolyn Ann Magee.”

Magee graduated from the campus in 1963, when it was called Women's College. According to an article in the New & Record, the idea for the exhibit came during a 50th reunion of Magee's former classmates. One classmate, Dot Moye, an art consultant, helped spearhead the effort to recognize Magee as an important artist on the campus.

Selected quilts from the exhibit will also travel to the High Point Museum in High Port, NC. The exhibit, “Pieces of the Past: The Art of Gwendolyn Magee,” will be on display from December 5, 2014 - February 21, 2015.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Award-winning playwright Katoni Hall's Blood Quilt Comes to DC's Arena Stage April 2015

DC's Arena Stage will host award-winning Katoni Hall's new play, The Blood Quilt, April to June 2015. This world premiere of this comedy-drama focuses on four sisters who gather back at their childhood home,off the coast of Georgia, to sew a quilt in honor of their late mother.

According to the show's promotional material, when the sisters' "reunion turns into a reading of their mother’s will, everyone must grapple with a troubling inheritance. Stitched with history and ritual, laughter and tears, will their “blood quilt” bind the family together or tear them apart forever?" 

You may already be familiar with Ms. Hall's play The Mountaintop, about Dr. Marin Luther King on the night before his assassination. In New York, the play starred Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.

I can't wait to see The Blood Quilt - and to also see what the actual quilt will look like! No word yet on which actresses will play the sisters. I'm sure, though, that many of quilting guild will take in this new work!  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lolita Newman's Freedom Gone: Embroidered Quilts of Slave Life in the Civil War

Have you incorporated black work stitching into your quilt making?  Consider Southern California artist Lolita Newman's publication Freedom Gone: Embroidered Quilts of Slave Life in the Civil War.

The 96-page book includes instructions for seven quilts and six projects illustrating daily chores, family life and "the quest for freedom" experienced by enslaved African Americans during the 19th century.

You can also purchase individual block patterns from Ms. Newman's etsy store, Stitchin' by the River. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Quilter Cassandra Stancil Gunkel to Speak at Drake Well Museum

Quilter and historian Cassandra Stancil Gunkel will speak on Friday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m., at Drake Well Museum in Titusville, PA on the topic “The Underground Railroad in Quilts?” Professor Gunkel will examine the controversial questions  - did quilts guide escapes? She's also have historical and reproduction quilts to showcase. The talk is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Carolyn Mazloomi - 2014 NEA National Heritage Fellow

Congratulations to Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, a force in American quilting!

Dr. Mazloomi has been named a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow for her lifetime contribution to African American Quilt preservation, documentation, exhibition and advocacy. The honor comes with a $25,000 prize, according to the Cincinnati

Mark your calendars if you can get to Washington, DC.... the NEA invites the public to attend the National Heritage Fellowship Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 5 p.m. in Room 119 of the Library of Congress's Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street SE in Washington, DC. Come cheer on Dr. Mazloomi and other 2014 Fellows. No tickets are required.

On a personal note, I read about Dr. Mazloomi in a quilting magazine back in 1990ish. I mailed her a photograph of my first quilted wallhanging - along with a self-addressed, stamped envelop. She graciously sent me back a letter encouraging me to continue to quilt - and to send her a photo of my next piece. Over the next few years, she prodded me to "quilt bigger" and have the courage to stitch a full-size bed quilt. Her early, early support made a significant difference in my life.  The Lord knows my quilts would never have received the exposure they have without Dr. Mazloomi - and I'm sure many Black Threads Blog readers feel the same.  Feel free to leave a message below on how Dr. Mazloomi has influenced your quilting.  Thanks!

Congratulations Dr. Mazloomi! 

the National Heritage Fellowship Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 5 p.m. in Room 119 of the Library of Congress's Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street SE in Washington, DC. NEA Chairman Jane Chu and members of Congress will present the awards to the recipients. - See more at:
National Heritage Fellowship Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 5 p.m. in Room 119 of the Library of Congress's Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street SE in Washington, DC. NEA Chairman Jane Chu and members of Congress will present the awards to the recipients. This event is open to the public and no tickets are required. - See more at:
National Heritage Fellowship Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 5 p.m. in Room 119 of the Library of Congress's Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street SE in Washington, DC. NEA Chairman Jane Chu and members of Congress will present the awards to the recipients. This event is open to the public and no tickets are required. - See more at:

Monday, September 01, 2014

Hear Comedian Katsy Chappell at The Gold Bug Quilt Guild

Want a good belly laugh? Take a moment to hear comedian and quilter Katsy Chappell. She shares a couple hilarious crafting projects using Capri Sun juice drinks.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Are You Addicted to Pinterest?

I confess. I'm addicted to Pinterest! I love the ability to see new quilts, fabrics, other textiles and just anything! What's your favorite topic? Here are links to a couple of my boards:
Sistah Quilters on Pinterest
Visit this Sistah Quilters Pinterest board
Are you on Pinterest? What's your favorite board? Feel free to share!  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Marion Coleman Quilting Wichita Falls Together - 300 Quilt Block Project

Marion Coleman quilt
Photo by Lana Sweeten-Shults
California quilter Marion Coleman is a native of Wichita Falls, Texas. And now the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University is presenting a project based on Marion's art.

Quilting Wichita Falls Together: A Community Art Experience is seeking 300 quilt squares from the community that feature personal stories. Can you imagine how wonder that cloth narrative will be?! A shout out to the Priddy Foundation for funding this project. The finished quilt, pieced  together  and  quilted by  the  members  of  the  Red  River  Quilters, will be unveiled in the fall. There will also be an exhibit titled Story Quilts: Exploring African American Cultural and Personal History in  the Art of Marion Coleman featuring 15 original fiber artworks on display October  17,  2014  until  February  2, 2015. 

Contact the Wichita Falls Museum of Art if you'd like to participate in the community quilt square project.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sisters Quilting Collective exhibits at the Crocker Art Museum

Congratulations to the Sisters Quilting Collective in sunny Sacramento, California, for the recent exhibit of quilts at the Crocker Art Museum as part of its Black History Month Festival. More than 2,000 were expected to the celebrations. The hand-pieced quilt featuring Harriet Tubman is designed by Debbra Murphy.
Sisters Quilting Collective, CA
Photo by Jose Villegas
To learn more about the Sisters Quilting Collective - and see more than 60 the fantastic guild photos, visit their blog at

Read more here:

Color Quilt by LeVerne Holbdy-Little

I was recently on quilter Julia Wood's blog and came across a 2010 post featuring a photo of Alabama quilter LeVerne Holbdy-Little. She was conducting a workshop titled the "Colors of Love" - and what a LOVELY quilt her husband is holding!  Mrs. Holbdy-Little spoke about African American quilt history earlier this month at the Birmingham Public Library-East Lake Branch.  Enjoy! 
Quilter LeVerne Holbdy-Little

Black History Artists Books at NY's Printed Matter, Quilt on Display

Printed Matter, the famed artists books non-profit bookstore in New York City, has a table featuring African American book artists for Black History month. Curated by Theresa Chromati, the display features more than a dozen books, including ones by Shellyne Rodriguez, Jayson Musson and Ellen Gallagher.

See the quilted wallhanging in the photo? It's created by California quilter Denise M. Campbell as a gift to me when my book, Black Threads, was published.

If you're in NYC this month, do stop by Printed Matter!  Enjoy!

Printed Matter, NYC

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Afro Modern: A Twist on Tradition

Look what I got in the mail!  The program guide and postcard for the African American Quilters of Los Angeles' 2013 quilt show - Afro Modern: A Twist on Tradition.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see the show in person, which took place in Carson, California in November. I've been in previous years and the quilts are FANTASTIC! I counted 85 or so exhibiting quilters in this 2013 exhibit checklist! Congratulations to AAQLA and president Linda County.

Here's a link to the AAQLA website - - jazz music plays when you visit, so be careful if you are web surfing from work!  Enjoy!

Looking for Quilters who Make Artists' Books

Hello!  One of my new found loves is the area of Artists' Books - books that are the art. I've been collecting interesting examples of Pop-ups & Book Art on Pinterest for a few months.

I recall once seeing Faith Ringgold's 1995 Seven Passages to a Flight, limited edition art book, in person and being amazed. There were only 30 copies made, and they all sold out.

I recently started looking for Black artists who are making Artists' Books and came across Tracy Dietzel's 27-page African American Artists' Books: A Resource, published in 1992.

Now I'm curious - who are today's Black artists or quilters making artists books?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sewing With Nancy Interviews Dr. Michele David

Are you familiar with the colorful story quilts by Haitian quilter Dr. Michele David? Treat your eyes and be inspired by this Sewing with Nancy interview, first aired in December 2012.  What do you think of these quilts?  Do share your thoughts!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hear an Interview about the African-American Quilt Guild of Baltimore, Maryland

If you have a moment, have a listen to this 6 minute podcast interview with Sistah Quilter Barbara Pietila. The podcast is on the Black Art Depot Today website. And, I have to say, it's WONDERFUL to hear Barbara's warm, inviting voice as she speaks about the African American Quilters of Baltimore, AAQB.

Quick personal story. When I moved to Virginia, I met a couple of local quilters. Barbara was among the first. What fun to visit her home and studio. We sat and talked in her back yard garden, where she was growing COTTON and sipped iced tea. I grew up in Los Angeles and had not ever seen real, raw cotton before Barbara placed a fully boll in my hand. Enjoy the podcast!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Valerie Goodwin - Art Quilt Maps - new book!

Congratulation and a huge shout-out to award-winning Florida quilter Valerie Goodwin on the publication of Art Quilt Maps: Capture a Sense of Place with Fiber Collage - A Visual Guide. This 96 page book gives step-by-step instructions on how to create your own fiber collage map of your own real or imaged place!  Can't wait to get my copy!  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Julius Bremer - Cleveland Quilter

I was so excited to learn about the quilts of Cleveland, Ohio quilter Julius Bremer, a retired librarian who started quilting in 2002. Thanks to Allison Carey of the Cleveland Plain Dealer for the fabulous photo essay featuring half-dozen of Mr. Bremer's quilts!

Check them out by clicking here before the Home Hobbyist article goes away.  Enjoy!