You won’t find a happier quilter in all of Eastern Jackson County these days than Joann Webb of Grain Valley.

You won’t find a happier quilter in all of Eastern Jackson County these days than Joann Webb of Grain Valley.

Joann is ecstatic that her king-sized appliqué quilt, Morning Glory Madness, was selected for inclusion at this year’s 26th annual American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show and Contest, April 21-24, in Paducah, Ky.

“It was my goal to make a quilt that was good enough to be in this show,” says the former Blue Springs resident, who took up quilting 14 years ago while recuperating from a serious back injury.

Joann feels “lucky” her prize-winning quilt was chosen as one of 387 semifinalists in the prestigious contest that drew entries from 10 countries and 47 states. All contest entries will be displayed at the show.

“Lucky,” she says, because unlike her entry that was rejected in the 2005 AQS contest, this year’s entry wasn’t.

Oh, yes! Joann remembers the disappointment of that defeat. But, nevertheless, she was determined   to taste the sweet victory of success at another the international quilt show.

So, five years later and with another quilt to show, Joann’s competitiveness won out. She tried again,  motivated by her desire is to improve on her quilting skills and talents.

“I just want to get better at quilting and quilt contests, because it’s a gauge of where I’m at,” she says, noting quilting contests motivate her to get to the next level. “That’s really why I like competing, because it tells me where I stand (with) my sewing skills.”

Competing in the Appliqué Handquilting Bed Quilt category, Joann knows winning a  monetary award for a first-, second- or third-place finish won’t be easy.

“I’ve  seen the competition and I am happy that my quilt is hanging (in Paducah).”

Should Joann win in her category – one of 15  in the  show – look for her to purchase her “dream sewing machine,” buy more fabric and travel to more quilting shows across the country.

“It would all go back into quilting,” she says of the prize money.

And if she doesn’t win. That’s OK, too.

“I really don’t have any allusions of winning,” says the great-grandmother. “Just (for her quilt) to hang (in Paducah) is a highlight.”

Joann probably wouldn’t be going  to this year’s  show  with her two sisters and a sister-in-law had she not fallen and injured her back while exercising outdoors.

Confined to her bed after the 1996 spill, Joann needed something to do to keep her hands busy.

So  she hand-quilted a small black and white bow-tie quilt for her grandson, Philip Best, while flat on her back in bed.

This was her first-ever quilt. But not her last.

After making this simple quilt, Joann lost interest in sewing, which she took up as an 8-year-old. She fell in love with quilting, which she learned first-hand from her mother late in life.  Soon she was hooked. Then obsessed by quilting.

What is it about quilting that captivates Joann, who retired in 2006 from the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City after a 27-year career?

“I guess it is the detail that keeps my hands busy,” she says of quilting. But that’s not the only reason. “It makes me feel productive” ... and “like I have (accomplished) something when I am done.”

Like her Morning Glory Madness quilt,  started in 2007; completed in 2008.

“I spent a year working on it, but I was doing other projects at the same time,” she recalls.

The appliqué quilt, which has won numerous awards since its 2008 debut at the AQS show in Des Moines,  Iowa, features four blocks using the needle-turn appliqué, which Joann says is an appliqué process.

The blocks are set in an ironwork grove, which is “more or less like a trellis,” she explains.  Climbing up the ironwork are morning glory vines, which Joann always wanted to feature on one of her quilts.

“So I started with those blocks and designed the setting to put them in ... without the border or sashing,” says Joann, who wants to become a quilt designer.

Calling herself a “pattern tweaker,” Joann says the  borders underwent a dramatic change when she  altered them so much that the designer hardly recognized them.

Joann, who pieces by machines and does appliqué and quilting by hand, isn’t exactly sure how many quilts she has designed and made in her 14 years of quilting.

Joann says that’s because she does appliqué and does not measure herself by the number of quilts. Instead, she measures herself block by block.

“When I finish a block, that’s like finishing a quilt. And when I get all the blocks together, the quilt is actually finished,” she explains, adding:

“But it does take me longer than most (quilters), because I can probably spend two weeks on one block. I like detail.”

For the most part, Joann is regimented in her quilting.

“I would say I quilt eight hours a day,” she says chuckling. “That’s a lot of time.”

Joann retreats to her sewing room in the morning,  where she designs. Then, in the evening, she  retires to the living room to do her handwork and watch TV with husband Tom.

Joann admits to being one of those persons who cannot just sit down and watch TV at night unless she is doing something with her hands.

She also admits to having more than one project going on at the same time. But, as a “finisher” of things,  she sometimes hones in on a project and follows it through to completion.

Is Morning Glory Madness her quilting “gem?”

“So far,” she quips. “But I am working on another one that I really like.”

Joann hopes her Not So Far East quilt will be finished by the end of the year so she can submit it to the 2011 AQS Paducah contest.

That’s a goal. But not her top goal.

“Actually, my top goal is to have my next quilt hang at the International Quilt Show in Houston in 2011.”

With your competitiveness, Joann, you can turn that dream into a reality. Best wishes, and keep on believing in yourself and  dreaming big. Go for it!