Not only does Road to California represent the best of American quilting, it also connects with an international audience. France to be exact. Catherine Bonte, president of France Patchwork, the largest member organization of the European Quilt Association, came to Road last January to experience the show and even took a class!
Catherine began quilting in 1992 when her husband took a job in northern France. They had been living in southern France and she was looking for a way to meet people in her new home. She heard about a local quilt class being started and decided to join it. It ended up being a great way to meet new friends.
Catherine said that quilting is a popular hobby in France. French quilters tend to sew more by hand, even if they own the latest sewing machines. They are always interested in learning the newest techniques and are fond of taking classes. While many French quilters travel to the United States to purchase new products and fabrics, they also like to support French industry merchants like Bohin, the last needle maker in Europe. (Bohin was a vendor at this year’s show. More about them next week on the blog).
“a Flor de pie!” made with Cotton organza and french lace by Catherine Bonte
For the past four years, Catherine has been the president of France Patchwork, a non-profit, volunteer run, national quilt guild with over 12,500 members. It promotes quilting and art textile in France by publishing a quarterly magazine, Les Nouvelles (The News) and hosting a web site that keeps members up to date with all that is happening with patchwork in France. Within the guild are local clubs where women meet together to share their passion for quilting. Most of the clubs organize a “journèe de l’amitiè,” or day of friendship. According to Catherine, the members meet “To make a quilt for a special event or for a gift, share a delicious buffet, and drink some wine. Don’t forget, we are French!!!”
Quilter Isabelle Étienne
Catherine came to Road after receiving an invitation from Stevii Graves at the Fall 2012 International Quilt Market where Catherine was curating France Patchwork’s exhibit, Quilts de Lègende. A biannual exhibit, Quilts de Lègende features 30 quilts inspired by the history, materials, and quilting techniques of the American frontier and Civil War periods. Catherine hopes to bring one of France Patchwork’s collection of quilts to Road one day because “I do love to share this textile link between our two countries and I think it is a good opportunity to know us much better.”
A copy of an American antique quilt made by Anne Marie Uguen for Quilts de Lègende
We would have to agree. Quilting unifies different people and cultures on so many levels.
Have you met a quilter from another country?