Saturday, September 9, 2017

Quilters Through the Generations - Sue Harmon

Today I introduce to you Sue Harmon.  I came upon Sue when Karen over at Tu-Na Quilts was enjoying her 10-day Minnesota Quilt Shop Hop last month. Be sure to jump over there and read of all her adventures as she and her husband, Tu-Na Helper, traveled the state of Minnesota and visited all of the participating 66 local quilt shops.  When I read the story about Sue being at the shop with her grand-children I just knew that Sue needed to be featured here...

Have YOU ever made a quilt?  
I have made many, many quilts.  I first learned to sew when in Jr. High Home Economic classes.  But I got started with quilting in 1975 when a friend decided that we needed to take a quilting class.  The instructor rode the train from Chicago to the northern suburb where we were taking the class through community ed.  She gave us card board templates from cereal boxes and told us to mark the fabric, cut ¼” away from the line, sew on the line and bring the block back the following week.  No suggestions of suitable fabric, cutting on the grain, type of needle or thread!  We did this for 6-8 weeks.  The blocks were awful and I’m sure no one made them into anything!  At that point we decided if we were going to learn anything, we’d better take a class at the local quilt shop! 
 I made a lot of small things from classes we took at that quilt shop – like table runners, tree skirts, pillows, and small wall hangings.  My first quilt was probably a baby quilt that most likely was given away.  I really have no idea how many quilts I have made over the years.

Does your mother or father quilt? 
Neither my mother nor my father quilted but, my maternal grandmother, Edith Wallick, and great grandmother, Ellen Wallick,  made many quilts, most of them pieced, some appliqued.  I don’t remember seeing them do this, but I do have quite a few of the quilts that they made.  Most of the tops were machine quilted in the 1950’s by a man who had a commercial quilting machine for making bed spreads.

Have you ever taught someone to quilt?  
When we moved from the Chicago suburbs in 1977 to a rural community in the western part of Illinois, friends talked me into teaching in my home which lead to opening a quilt shop called “The Patchwork Corner” from 1980-1985.  In addition to teaching many classes over the years, I have taught my grandchildren to quilt, starting when they were 3 or 4.  I currently teach quilting to middle school students after school in the winter, as well as workshops for quilt guilds. I have helped “found” 3 guilds in Illinois, have been a member  of 9 or 10 guilds over the years and have quilted in a few church groups.

Have you ever sold any quilts? 
I used to do commission work but that was not fun or profitable!

Do you have a favorite quilt? 
I made a king size quilt for our bed when we were in the process of moving to Minnesota.  Instead of packing, I procrastinated by making this quilt.  My reasoning was “what if I didn’t buy enough fabric?  I’d better work on this now while I know I can still purchase the fabric!”  It is a star quilt, but since I didn’t use a pattern it became a “Harmon star” since it is not a perfect star.  But it is perfect for our new home and I love it.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 
My inspiration comes from many avenues, including books, nature and pictures of floors I have taken on trips!  Quilting is my passion! Being able to complete the whole quilt, including the label gives the satisfaction of accomplishment.

What do you do with your quilts? 
I use them on beds, hang them on walls and share them with others through the lectures I present. 

Using quilts from her collection, which continues to grow, she presents examples for each of the lectures. Some examples of lecture topics include "FEEDSACKS - More than just a bag", "Scraps from the stash - old & New", "Batting 101" and "Passing on a legacy". Her lectures also include the importance of quilt appraisals, gleaning from her 14 years of appraisal experiences. Sue has taught, lectured and appraised throughout most of the Midwest.

Sue has been certified by the American Quilters Society since 1997 and is required to re-certify every three years.  

"This means that I continue to keep informed through reading and researching, taking classes on new trends and techniques, attending appraisal workshops and staying in touch with fellow AQS appraisers".

Sue has come a long way since her first community ed quilting class.    She certainly has "Passed on a legacy" by sharing her passion for quilting and her love of fabric with her grand-children.  We will hearing from her grand kids in the coming weeks...

If you are interested in contacting Sue, simply click the link above with her name (highlighted).  Be sure to leave a comment below and thanks for stopping by.  

Have you passed on the legacy of quilting to someone?  
Tell me about it in the comments below.  I'd love to hear from you... 

Happy Quilting!


  1. Lovely to meet and get to know more about you, Sue, and thanks for another great interview in the series, Melva!

  2. I totally agree with Sue's statement that commission work isn't profitable and having deadlines takes the joy out of it, too. I would love to attend some of Sue's lectures! Great job on following up on the story of Grandma Sue, Melva