Quilt Artistry

At our last quilt guild meeting, a friend did a program of her work for our guild, and I was simply blown away with her creativity and artistry. I haven’t known her long, and although I knew she was a quilter and longarmer, I had not seen her work. Her name is Kathleen Rountree, and she is an award winning quilter, show judge and artist. I took a few photos of her amazing work, and she gave me permission to show you. Kathleen’s special artistry on her program this time was taking vintage linens and quilting them onto fabric bases. The detail on every piece was really impressive. Take a moment to look at this one, notice the planning this must have taken in the border quilting and the corner motifs.

Kathleen takes each piece, planning a beautiful quilted pattern to enhance the delicate embroidery present on the original linen. Here, the beautiful feathers surround a fill of cross hatching with cross hatching around the edge of the linen piece as well.

A ‘border’ is created in quilting of a twisted double ribbon effect, with one being feathered and the other plain.

Kathleen doesn’t trapunto the puffy sections, she stated she uses wool batting, and heavily stipples around the areas that she wants to stand out. Here, matchsticks are quilted around the outer edge, and the inner edge is stippled to make the ribbons stand out.

This pink piece seems simple, but hours and hours of work went into marking precise lines, quilting those lines, quilting the feathers and micro-stippling around the them, then sewing hundreds of seed beads by hand.

Working around her work schedule, these pieces took months and sometimes years to complete. The quilting pattern of the center piece uses stippling around the embroidery, with planned areas unquilted to create the circle in the center and the next one out. Around that, notice the intricate detail of the double stitched row cross hatching, with tiny circles inside each cell.

This piece was deceptively simple until you looked closely. The design of the quilted motif in the center had to be precisely marked and quilted. The original piece already had the embroidery with delicate openings in the stitchery. This photo doesn’t show the quilting in the center very well, but you hopefully can see the main flower motif.

A closer look at a corner, note the heavy micro-stippling around the feathers and the embroidery. The amazing part of this one is Kathleen micro-stippled between all those green thread lattices. It took three years to finish this work.

Here’s another corner, every millimeter is quilted.

Here, Kathleen enhanced the circular design of the original embroidery, incorporating the leaves into the spokes of the wheel quilted in the white space. Note the ‘border’ design is half on the white and half on the background beige.

On the closeup of the corner, look at the pattern in the area around the embroidery. She added lace to this one, too.

Some of her pieces marry modern pieced and quilted designs with vintage elements. She made us laugh here, pointing out where a pearl is missing from the upper doily, stating it isn’t finished until that last pearl is added. So, when she decides to show it, she can add that final pearl and count it finished that year.

She showed us more spectacular pieces, this delicate yellow among the awesome pieces. Her vision and precision makes her an award winning quilt artist. Once again, note the intricate detail in her micro-patterns.

Heavy stippling makes the feathers and ‘borders’ stand up to be noticed.

Here’s a closer view of the center.

I cannot imagine how she ‘sees’ these designs on a blank canvas of a lacy vintage handkerchief or table scarf on a plain background. I would do the stand and stare thing for a long time. But, she takes that blank canvas and turns it into a treasure.

Kathleen is available for speaker programs and show judging, contact her on her website and see more of her amazing artistry at kathleenrountree.com. I am so happy to call her my friend!

Now, I am actively scouring the thrift shops for vintage linens to try this myself. Have you ever done a project with this level of detail?

35 thoughts on “Quilt Artistry

  1. Julie

    Oh my, spectacular work! Way beyond anything I could ever accomplish. I enjoy looking at all the intricate details.

  2. Absolutely phenomenal! I bopped my nose trying to look closer! What an amazing way to use all these treasures and really accent their skills. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Mary Stori

    I too enjoy working with vintage fabrics….these are very beautifully done and the machine quilting is stunning!!

  4. Ann

    While you are shopping around thrift stores for vintage linens, keep your eyes open for those vintage card table cloths. They are printed in beautiful and colorful designs. Once intricately quilted they are absolutely beautiful. I have done a couple and gifted one for a baby quilt. My daughter has the other one and hangs it in her vintage colonial home.

    1. Linda B

      What an interesting idea! I have two or three of those which I love and never use! Thanks for sharing that! Love the vintage cloths and new ways to use them! Such artistry. Wow.

  5. Connie Wolfe

    Each piece that you featured is amazing! I cannot imagine, first, how she “saw” the designs for each antique nor, second, how she completed such precise quilting. Your photos showed her work well. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Ann

    Whelp…I just spent an hour looking for my pictures of these tablecloths. I am sure they are in my archives somewhere, but I give up. However, the search allowed me to look back on 15 years of my Longarming career. So much fun. Oh and my daughter who has one of the quilted tablecloths decided to use it as a tablecloth. In a way I was glad that she actually used it, but it did not survive the test of several washings. That’s what happens when you give a nonquilter a gift of something vintage. Gahhhh!

  7. Brenda @ Songbird Designs

    Beautiful workmanship! I can’t imagine taking three years to finish a project, but it definitely takes patience and perseverance!! Kelly Cline was the first person I ever saw who did work like this with vintage linens. Seeing her work sent me on flea market searches also and I found some great ones when we were in Pigeon Forge one year. They are still in the drawer I safely stored them in! LOL Have fun on your search. I think that’s a really fun part of the process!! My faves are the second one with the feathers and the sixth one with the circular motif and the beautiful embroidery! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Sylvia Anderson

    Thank you for sharing the exquisite works of Kathleen Rountree’s creations. She is a very talented and detailed woman, with the patience of a saint, I might add, as I would never, in a million years, be able to tackle anything close to that. Thank God, we have people like her, who obviously enjoy what she does, or we would never get to view what you have shown us today.

  9. Phyllis Smith

    Hello Carole, There are just NO words that can express the time and talent to do this type of quilting. It is far beyond my talents I think. This is something I have always enjoyed this and admired the technique, think my blood pressure would go up to much if I tried to do this at my age. So beautiful and done by a person who has a lot of talent. Phyllis

  10. Rosemary B

    I am in awe. These are treasures, all of them. I truly admire her dedication and skill.
    These are absolute treasures, heirlooms.
    Thank you for sharing these beautiful works of art. I am thrilled to see them

  11. To all the commenters, you are so kind, and I am so touched that you enjoy my work. These pieces are like family members, so they say “thank you”. Carole wrote so eloquently and generously – thank you, Carole. She left out one interesting detail – we became friends through this blog. I was living in California, reading her blog, and planning a move to the NC mountains. So I wrote and said “hi, can you recommend a realtor?” And she did – a fabulous woman who found a house with a HUGE sewing room for me and a fish pond for the DH. Thank you again, Carole ! I better go sew some more 🙂

  12. manasotavacation

    I really have no words. This is beyond any accolades I could express. I am in awe and I thank you for sharing these photos!

  13. Susan Nixon

    No, and I never will, either. It’s beautiful. Owning a piece of her work would be having an art treasure, but I know my limits are well shy of that work.

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