Karen Streiff, who learned to quilt under the tutelage of world renowned quilter and author Eleanor Burns, will show off her skills Feb. 8 and 9 as the featured quilter at the Calico Cut-ups annual quilt show in Independence.
Among the 10 quilts Karen will display is “76 Clambones,” which the Independence resident calls her favorite entry, not only because the fabric forms the shape of a clam shell, but it also was a challenge, she says, explaining the quilt had to be built from one corner to the end of it.
“I just built each clam, and then that would lead into the next one,” she explains. “It was a challenge, but something that kept me interested every time I went to the assignment. I could not wait to get back to it. I enjoy the challenge of new techniques and new patterns. That just keeps me interested all the time.”
Involved in quilting and sewing most of her life, Karen recalls her mother taught her how to use a sewing machine as soon as her feet could reach the pedal. However, while living in San Diego in 1990 and searching for friends and something to do, Karen was introduced to Eleanor Burns' “Quilt in a Day” program at St. Michael's Church. She enrolled, completed a log-cabin lap quilt and remained with the program until she and her husband moved away.
“It was something I fell in love with and have been hooked on,” she says.
In a recent interview with Karen, Calico members Rosemary Garten, Carol Marcks and Carolyn Morrison applaud the honoree for her quilting expertise.
“Karen is a wonderful quilter, and her corners come together right,” Carol says, explaining, “Every corner is always perfect. There is never a miss. She is very precise and makes a beautiful product.”
Says Rosemary, “Karen is not afraid to try anything. If something new comes up, she will give it a shot. She will work on it, and it will be beautiful. And then she will be able to try to teach what she has learned to somebody else. That's what makes Karen so special: her willingness to help others by opening the door to her home and inviting people to come and share activities.”
Karen says there is nothing she would rather do than to sit down at her sewing machine, cut fabric and begin sewing on the PAFF machine she dearly loves.
In examining her life once filled with strengths, Karen concedes she is not as precise as she once was, noting, “As I grow older, I guess I want to do more and find myself saying that is good enough. I probably have too many projects on the horizon of things I want to do. We all have a large number of UFOs (unfinished objects) on the shelf because we are enticing bookstores to buy these patterns and fabric lines and we can hardly wait to start on a new quilt.”
As for her legacy, “Probably my take-along projects,” she says. “I have been doing fusible applique objects on quilts that glues a shape onto a fabric background. You fuse them. I have been doing this for years. It's my take-along project, because it has always been a buttonhole stitch around an applique object.
How does quilting fit into a busy schedule?
“I could probably say that quilting is my life. I have been a widow for 15 years, and quilting is my passion. I think I have probably organized my entire life around the time I can go downstairs and sew. I try to hit the sewing room every day.”
Of all the quilts in Karen's special exhibit, her favorite is a “sweet small one” covered with small elephants, and the one she did the buttonhole stitch around reproduction fabric from the 1930s.
The free show features two large giveaway “opportunity baskets” filled with quilting supplies. One will be given away at the end of each day. The value of each basket filled with fabric, patterns, batting, thread, notions and more is worth $150 to $200.
Another give-away on Saturday is the queen-size “Under the Stars” Opportunity Quilt designed by Sharon Ladenburger and quilted by club member. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5. Quilting vendors will be selling their wares.
WHEN AND WHERE: The 31st Annual Calico-Cutups Quilt Show is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday Feb. 8 and Saturday Feb. 9 at the Salvation Army Community Center, 14700 E. Truman Road in Independence. The club will have demonstrations of dimensional strip piecing, border finishing, various methods of applique, and multiple uses of hexagon-based designs. Admission and parking are free. The Salvation Army’s concession kitchen will be open. For more information call 816-461-1778, send an email to Calico_cut_ups@yahoo.com or go to the group’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/371560550329152/.
Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.