This Cover Has A Story: An Artist and Her Quilts

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Quilts are so are beautiful, a way to showcase an incredible talent. While I do sew, I haven’t mastered true quilting skills yet. The closest I’ve come so far are a few small quilted table runners. I’m in awe of anyone who can craft quilts, but was truly amazed after seeing the inspiring work of one very passionate quilter. Her pieces aren’t just cozy covers – they are pieces of art with stories to tell.

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I first met Stefanie Palermo Lagana at a local art festival, where I admired her stunning quilts so worthy of admiration, just like paintings. Stefanie, who studied art in college and is a former art director for Mademoiselle magazine, was a weaver when she moved from New York City to the Connecticut suburbs over twenty years ago.

One of Stefanie's woven creations.

One of Stefanie’s woven creations.

Realizing that weaving wasn’t a portable hobby, she decided to try quilting. Looking to also meet new people (she had small children at home and a husband who traveled), Stefanie signed up for a quilting class through her local Parks and Recreation. She quickly became friends with her classmates. Soon the ladies were a weekly Thursday “quilting bee”. After their children were in bed, the group would get together on Thursday nights to quilt, often until the wee hours. “We all learned from each other”, Stefanie says.

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Stefanie has an eye for color and loves fabrics. She especially loves working with “watercolor” fabrics. Her favorite quilt, “Nantucket Quilt”, is a beautiful example; a stunning all-handmade work of art. “This one I’d never sell,” Stefanie says.

Stefanie's personal favorite, "Nantucket Quilt".

Stefanie’s personal favorite, “Nantucket Quilt”.

This particular one took my breath away. Stefanie says it is special because she created it during a stressful time in her life.

This particular one is so beautiful, it took my breath away. Stefanie says it’s special because she created it during a stressful time in her life.

Stefanie's special quilt for Newtown. There are twenty six stars in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary.

Stefanie’s special quilt for Newtown. There are twenty six stars in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary.

Stefanie’s very first quilt was a “sampler” quilt. From there, she decided to try doing a “Fairy Tale” quilt. Her first example was a Cinderella quilt- not her own pattern design, but she found great enjoyment in the embellishing process.

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IMG_6397“Cinderella” is all hand quilted, with metallic thread and fabric that looks like hair, and  “diamond” buttons for the carriage wheels. The quilt, once in her daughter’s room, now graces the wall of her sweet little granddaughter’s room.

From there, Stefanie was inspired to create her own patterns, and the rest is history. For her son, she made a Jack-N-The-Beanstalk quilt, which hangs floor to ceiling. The details on this piece are breathtaking. Using the “Trapunto” style (“stuffed” fabric to create a 3D effect) and embellishments like beads and fancy buttons, a  fairy tale story unfolds as soon as the eye hits the colorful images crafted from fabric and thread.

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Each quilt has a story or special meaning on the back.

Each quilt has a story or special meaning on the back.

When her son was older, before he left for college, Stefanie created a t-shirt quilt using t-shirts from all aspects of his life, from age eight to eighteen years (a tricky process, since the shirts ranged in so many varying sizes) “It was a mathematical nightmare”, she laughs. The result is a beautiful, personal keepsake.

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The backing of her son's t-shirt quilt is a perfect nod to the teenage years.

The backing of her son’s t-shirt quilt is a perfect nod to the teenage years.

Stefanie’s quilts have been displayed in schools, and she likes getting kids involved. One quilt very dear to Stefanie’s heart is the “Character Counts” quilt, made with her daughter’s second grade class.

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Students were divided into groups, and each group was given a character trait – respect, responsibility, caring, fairness, and trustworthiness. The children picked their fabrics, drew pictures, and took photos illustrating the trait. The process taught the children many things- from using a new art medium, to math, measuring and critical thinking, as well as working in a group and the elements of how to be a good person. At the end of the year, the teacher gave Stefanie the quilt as a keepsake (Stefanie in turn made the teacher a smaller version).

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The children acted out the character trait and then took photos of the action for the quilt. This is Stefanie's daughter when she was little.

The children acted out the character trait and took photos of the action for the quilt. This is Stefanie’s daughter when she was little.

 

Stefanie's quilt for her late father is very dear to her heart.

Stefanie’s quilt for her late father is very dear to her heart.

Stefanie creates heirloom keepsakes. Pillows are a great way to display old photos.

Stefanie creates heirloom keepsakes. Pillows are a great way to display cherished family photos.

Stefanie is so talented. i thought this framed piece on the wall was a painting, but it is actually made from fabric!

Stefanie is so talented. I thought this framed piece on the wall was a painting, but it is actually made from fabric with wax release.

Quilting as “Acolorsplash Designs” Stefanie’s work has includes commissioned quilts, photo quilts, beach scenes, and t-shirt quilts. Each quilt has a special story or meaning on the back, as well as her signature butterfly hidden on the front of each one. The time and detail involved in each piece is jaw-dropping. All her letters are hand cut, and much of the work is all hand-appliqued. Stefanie’s truly passionate about her art. “I could sew all day long,” she laughs. She finds inspiration everywhere, from her hometown and in everyday life.

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Stefanie’s advice for other quilters, or those that want to quilt? “No fear. Fear blocks you from so many things you want to do. Just do it.”  

Until Next Time… Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 27 Comments

  1. Dori Troutman says:

    Hi Nicole,

    It is amazing the work of art that quilting is. I do love to quilt, but not at all to this degree! Someone used a photo that my daughter took of our flower cart and made a quilt from the photo. She sent us pictures of it and we were just blown away at the detail. It was incredible. The talent that people have just blows me away.

    I’d sure love to meet Stephanie in person… but thank you for introducing her and sharing her work. Loved it!

    Dori

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Dori, Stefanie showed me a quilt she is starting. It’s from a photo of the entrance to someone’s home, complete with plants, hanging baskets of flowers, and a stone walkway. Amazing talent. I bet the quilt of your flower cart is amazing, too. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Beverly Battaglia says:

    Nicole, I am so impressed with the beauty of these quilts! Absolutely gorgeous! I love the rooster, and the Cinderella. The 26 stars on the Newtown quilt made me cry. But this is a great story with so many beautiful pictures of Stephanie’s talent. The pillow is a good idea and the one made of her son’s T-shirts through the years is amazing. Love,
    Mother

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mom! I thought of you when Stefanie said she could spend all day sewing. I remember how you once said you “hoped there were sewing machines in Heaven”. I love how timeless and sentimental her quilts are – true heirlooms. Love you! Nicole

  3. Rebecca says:

    Wow! These quilts are incredible and such true works of art. I love that each one tells a story.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rebecca, Isn’t that cool? I love the stories of each one, too. Such a wonderful added detail. Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Carol says:

    I would love to be able to quilt. I am thinking of attempting to find a class that I might be able to get into to learn some basics.

  5. denise says:

    enjoyed seeing her talent!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise! You should see her work in person…it’s breathtaking!Thanks for stopping by the blog! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Denise Ross says:

    Wow, Stefanie is so talented! These quilts are simply stunning and full of meaning with each story. How wonderful that she chooses to exercise her talent so well. What an honour to meet Stefanie. Thank you for sharing, Nicole. I loved all the quilts – I’m always drawn to things that have meaning or tell a story. We all have different ways to tell stories, be it our own, or others.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise! True words…everyone has a story, and it was an honor to share Stefanie’s. Thanks for commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Nancy Wright says:

    I loved this article about quilting! Her quilts are beautiful! After I retired from teaching preschool I joined a quilt group at my church. These senior ladies are teaching me the art of hand quilting. Each year they make several handmade quilts to be auctioned and all the proceeds go to IDES, a disaster relief organization that feeds hungry children around the world.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Nancy, what a great group to be a part of. I bet you all have a grand time, and I’m sure there are some stunning quilts as a result, too! Thanks so much for visiting and sharing. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. CJ Armstrong says:

    STUNNING! Thank you for sharing Nicole! I have made a few wall quilts that were “pictures” but not many and I certainly don’t have that kind of skill/talent! In the 70s I made a lot of crazy quilt style quilts, even clothing . . . crazy patchwork was popular then!
    Those are ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!
    CJ

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      CJ- Stunning they are. I love that each has so much meaning behind them, as well. (I also bet your quilts are beautiful, too, because I know what kind of amazing talent you are, too)! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Randy says:

    This is a fantastic article about a truly talented artist. Stefanie’s quilts are breathtaking and a treasure to own. I have a wedding quilt she made for me that hangs over my bed. I also give them as gifts!
    Thank you for shinning a spotlight on Stefanie!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Randy, thank you! I bet your wedding ring quilt is stunning! It was hard for me to say which was my favorite…they were all so amazing. Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Krista says:

    Wow, these are so amazing. She is very talented. I like that one that was created by the children. What a great way to teach them character traits and social skills. If I ever learn how to quilt, I would love to make one like the t-shirt quilt she made for her son. I would really enjoy making one out of my son’s shirts. This would give me plenty of time to collect the perfect shirts as he grows. Such a great story.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Krista, Isn’t that a neat idea? I love how the quilts Stefanie makes are timeless. She certainly inspires me. I would love to learn to quilt, too. Someday! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Elizabeth Galle says:

    Stefanie has a wonderful eye for color and design . It is so nice to see her beautiful work .
    Thank you

  12. Stefanie says:

    Nicole, thank you for writing such a beautiful article on my quilts! I truly feel honored. Your readers have been very kind with their words of praise. I never collectively looked at my work over the years until this article. Thank you all for making me so proud of my accomplishments.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Stefanie, Thank you so very much for allowing me to come into your home and interview you. Your work is truly inspirational…you have a gift! I hope to see you again soon! I will let you know when my farmgirl chapter is getting together again. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Rosemarie says:

    Beautiful quilts by a talented artist! I love the personalized quilts about the town of Newtown. I would love to make a Bernese Mountain Dog quilt. I know I can probably buy a mass produced one but a handmade personalized on would be some much nicer.

    Thanks for sharing the blog about the art of quilting and the social aspect of it!
    Nicole – start quilting! There is always a quilting class to be found at a local community class or church!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      What a great idea – a quilt with a beloved pet (or in my case, pets…I could fill up a whole quilt)! I’ve made dozens of quilted table runners, but I do want to make a quilt for the bed. There is a new quilt shop near me…oh the temptation! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

    • Stefanie says:

      Rosemary, just do it! I’d be happy to walk you through designing it. Or if you don’t want to do it I’d be happy to make it for you, sounds like an exciting project!

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