US Trip Coming Up Soon!

I’ll be coming to the US in May!

I will first attend the Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference “Capitolizing on Fiber” in Alexandria, Virginia, where I intend to do some serious sightseeing in addition to meeting my colleagues and peers for some hands-on training about how to succeed as a professional textile artist.  With a limited market for my art quilts in Kenya, I need all the help I can get, and it will be great to meet up with good quilting friends!  If you’re an art quilter and want to come along, registration is still possible.  Find all the details on the SAQA site!




My university flat-mate lives in Virginia, so I plan to spend a few days with her and her husband, possibly visiting Monticello while I’m in that area.  It will be a real treat to step back into history given my long-standing interest in genealogy, as well as having time to catch up with good friends.

From there I’ll go to Las Vegas to visit family.  Vegas is not my idea of a pleasant place to be, but it will be great to see loved ones I have not seen for a year!  I’ll come back, then, to Kentucky for more family/friend visits, a bit of shopping probably and taking care of some personal business there.

Finally, I will travel north to Columbus, Ohio – just in time to catch the National Quilt Association 2014 Show, May 23-25, where I will teach and lecture.




At the NQA Show, I will be teaching Darned Quilts, Goodbye to the Grid, and two sessions of Fuss-Free and Seamless Bindings, my two methods of binding quilts entirely by machine!  My lecture will be the popular and highly instructive “World of Color: A Lay Introduction to Color Physics for Patchwork Quilters.”

As a quilt judge myself, though, I expect to pick up a few pointers from the experience of being at the NQA Show.  Those folks are professional in their approach and they have developed many of the guidelines under which I gained certification from the South African National Quilters’ Guild in 2011.

Everyone will attend the NQA 2014 Show, of course, for the fabulous exhibition, but the workshops are my area of concern.  Instructions for registering for workshops have been given to me by Linda Miller, NQA 2014 Show Director:

The new website and online registration is ready for you. This is how it works –

1) Go to

2) Use the button under Quick Links called ‘Quilt Show’

3) Use the button under Workshop Info called ‘Register Here’

4) Fill out the information, and click on the choices of the classes you are interested in. A full class will be indicated automatically, and the system will prevent you from overbooking (trying to sign up for conflicting times) automatically as well. All of the highlighted fields (teacher names and class names) are links that you can use to get more details, and the supply lists are available through those boxes, too. Have fun, and when you are ready, your registration shows up at the bottom, your total is there, and you choose the ‘register’ button to complete this step and go to the checkout!

5) From the checkout, you can increase the number of dinners if you would like, or cancel your choices all together and start over, or you can even choose ‘modify’ and the system will take you back to the filled out form on the previous page.

6) Use the online payment system through Paypal to pay by credit card securely. 

This year’s show is truly a special milestone in NQA’s history, and you are an important part of making it so!


What a great trip I have planned, and how wonderful it will be to see people I know and love but usually have so little opportunity to visit as well as to meet new quilters at both the SAQA Conference and the NQA Show!

Come and join me at either or both, won’t you?!


Art for Peace Judging Continues

Art for Peace 2012

Well, I did it!  I managed to judge 600 pieces of art work by young people from all over the world and I did it in two days, successfully meeting the deadline of Monday.  This was effectively a preliminary round of judging intended to exclude a large majority of pieces that did not properly address the theme:  Imagine a World Free of Nuclear Weapons.  One piece particularly stuck in my mind.  I will be watching to see how far forward it goes!

This is a challenging theme.  Many of the young people illustrated a peaceful world, mistakenly thinking that having no nuclear weapons would mean the end of war.  Oh, that it would!  It will take more than the destruction of existing nuclear weapons and the prevention of their manufacture in future to give us a peaceful world.

The idea of peace seems so simple, doesn’t it?  So attainable?  What would it take, do you suppose, to get everyone to lay down arms, sit down together and amicably resolve their differences of opinion, rather than taking up arms against one another and hurting so many others as they do so?

Anyway, the second round of judging will be coming up in a few days.  Awards and prizes are to be announced by the end of the month.  We have a long way to go yet and not much time left to do it, but I’m confident we will meet the deadlines given by the organizers, Harmony for Peace and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.

Visit the Gallery Entries page and click on any country to see the works submitted from that country.  Kenya has a couple of entries!!

Judging Art for Peace 2012

My name was put forward by Ms. Nancy Campbell, Executive Director of Wayne Art Center, PA (thank you, Nancy!!) as a prospective judge for the United Nations sponsored Art for Peace 2012 International Art Contest for Young People, and I was invited to participate!

I am now, along with about 100 others, judging my share of some 6700 entries.  The works are not quilts, but they are certainly works of art.  The entries have been received from young people, ages 5-17, all over the world.  The range of talent is remarkable, and it is most interesting to see the commonality of themes expressed by Greek, Russian, African, French and Chinese (just to name a few) children.

The theme for the competition is “Imagine a World Free of Nuclear Weapons.”  This topic engages the young people, their parents and their teachers in a global effort to understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and to work to suppress them.  For most of the children and teenagers, this topic resolves itself into a simple expression of a desire for world peace.  World renowned symbols are common:  the dove, the peace sign, and the symbol for radiation.  Images are full of happy, peaceful people living in green landscapes with clean water.  It’s clear to see what our children want and need–why must it so often be impossible to provide for them?

Learn more about Art for Peace 2012 International Art Contest for Young People.

Whole-Cloth Quilts and Mixed Patchwork Techniques in Quilt Competitions

Friends and readers often email me and sometimes they ask questions relevant to patchwork quilters everywhere.  The discussion below is one such correspondence.  If you are interested in competition quilting and whole-cloth quilts, you may find both the questions and my responses informative:

I am trying to find out a few facts about different aspects of quilt competitions.  Can you please help me as you are a judge and experienced in this field?

I’m happy to help.

"Lamu," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain
"Lamu," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain

For a whole-cloth quilt, can I use a whole fabric which has a theme print on it (flowers, houses, etc.) and quilt it intricately as one piece and enter in this competition?

The beauty of whole-cloth quilts is generally to be found in the quilting design and stitching.  You should consider, as you make this decision, whether your quilting design and beautiful stitching will show up best on a printed fabric or on a solid color fabric.  If you intend merely to outline the shapes that are printed on the quilt top fabric, I fear the element of quilt design will be minimized, and the stitching will disappear into the print.  I would not recommend using a printed fabric as a whole-cloth quilt for competition unless you do something remarkable with it, something that shows you clearly understood the issues at stake and that you are deliberately making a powerful statement with this piece.

"Wanyama," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain
"Wanyama," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain
"Wanyama," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain (detail)
"Wanyama," whole-cloth quilt by Dena Crain (detail)

For the mixed technique category, is there a requirement for minimum number of techniques that have to be used or do any other rules apply to enter the piece in this competition?

I would think this category permits quilt tops that have been executed as both appliqué and piecing, the two forms of patchwork.  A mixed techniques category would be for quilts that go beyond the requirements for either appliqué or piecing by combining elements of both.  It is not a reference to “mixed media,” as defined in the world of fine art, which would permit painting, dyeing, found objects, crayon, pen, etc.

I am flattered that you ask my opinion on these matters.  However, you are well advised to consult with the competition organizers if you have any questions about their requirements, categories or definitions.  They will have specific ideas about what they are looking for, and they will be happy to communicate with you further to help you avoid any misunderstandings.

Thanks in advance.

You’re most welcome.  Good luck, and let’s hope you win!!

If you have questions about patchwork quilting, feel free to email me using the Contact Form.  I will be happy to respond directly to you, and to share our chats here with other quilters around the world.  Thanks!

Change Your Life: Make a Quilt!

As partial requirement for my quilt judge certification through the South African Quilt Guild, I wrote a scholarly paper on “How Patchwork Changes Women’s Lives.”

Download your free copy of How Patchwork Quilting Changes Women’s Lives.  Read it, and then please share your thoughts as comments below.

How Patchwork Quilting Changes Women's Lives by Dena Dale Crain

Hmm, maybe I should write a sequel called “How Women Have Changed Patchwork Quilting?!”