Saturday, July 20, 2019

Quilters Through The Generations - Anne Sidell

In one of the quilting groups on fb there was a conversation or question about what thimble you use.  I shared that I use one of the thimbles that belonged to my great-grandmother, as did several others.  Anne Sidell, was one as well, and bravely stepped forward and said yes when I asked her if she wanted to participate in my Quilters Through The Generations series.  

She, like last week's feature, Susan Nixon, is actually not from a long line of quilters, but of proficient seamstresses and textile lovers.  Again, making my point that her love for quilting is hereditary and passed along in the DNA and genes that make us who we are.

Beyond quilting Anne has degrees in Archaeology and Cinema History, but has not worked in either field since the 80s.   After college (graduated in 1976), she took a position with the Internal Revenue Service and worked only part time as an archaeologist (weekends mostly).  

"I have held a variety of jobs and owned two businesses since leaving the IRS, but I am now retired, and loving it.   I am a dedicated gamer.  I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons (and similar role-playing games) since it came out in 1974.  I still play at least once or twice a week, usually with my husband but sometimes just with friends.   I am also a bibliophile, devastated by having to divest myself of over 10,000 volumes when we moved into our 'retirement home' a few years ago.  I'm sure the Friends of the Library loved the huge donation though.  I collect mid-century modern furniture and art as well."  

Have you ever made a quilt?  Yes, many.  

Who got you started in quilting?   

A friend wanted me to go with her to a quilting class, because she was afraid to go alone and wanted to make her mother a quilt.  I agreed, a bit reluctantly at first, but I went… I got hooked, she didn’t, lol!

Who taught you to sew?  

My mother and paternal grandmother taught me to sew as a child.

Tell me a story about your first quilt.   

In my quilting class, I started making a simple sashed block for my first quilt, which was our assignment, but that same night, I went home and started cutting up cat fabrics, which I’d been collecting for years because I love cats, and made the quilt ‘Susan’s Cats’ from the book ‘The Cat’s Meow’.  I finished that top in 3 days, made a back and started quilting it before the class quilt was even done being cut.   I still have it and still use it occasionally to keep warm while watching tv or reading at night.

Does/did your mother quilt? 

No one in my family before me was a quilter... though my grandmothers both sewed.  My mother sewed a lot – household items of all kinds and clothes for my sister and myself.  Her name was Muriel.

How about a grand-mother?  Great-grandmother?   

My maternal grandmother, Tillie (Tanya) Simon, came here from Russia in her teens and started working in a sweat shop.  She hated it, and hated sewing as a result.    She married the manager of the sweat shop and quit.(shown in the photo)  She owned a Singer treadle and made clothes for her kids (my mom and uncle), but never sewed again for money and always hated sewing.   She was not a quilter.  

My paternal grandmother, Fanny Sidell (nee Freeman), loved textile arts.  (in photo with my Mom & Dad) She was a milliner by trade before she married my grandfather and continued to work as a milliner after her marriage.  She made all the family clothes as well, she also was a knitter, tatter and crocheter, but not a quilter.  I still have her 1924 Singer model 99, and her button box full of antique buttons.

Have you taught someone to quilt?  

I have taught several people to quilt... I used to teach at a local fabric shop.  I don’t remember all their names.  Some were friends before we started quilting together, some were strangers who became friends, and some were like ships in the night.  I treasure all the friends I’ve made through quilting.

How many quilts have you made?  

Not sure… a couple of hundred at least, I think.

Do you have a favorite quilt?  

My Woodland Creatures quilt…  It was a true labor of love and I had such a great time making it.  It elevated my applique abilities over the year it took me to make it and it has won so many awards, including a few ‘best of shows’.

Do you have a favorite block?  

Lone stars and Dutchman's puzzle are a couple of favorites, but I don’t have a single go-to block when I need to make a quilt for someone.

Do you participate in any quilt groups?  

I belong to two guilds and a very active mini-group.

One of my guilds has speakers regularly, sew-ins once or twice a year, one for charity and one personal, as well as holding retreats at a beach house twice a year.  We hold a quilt show every other year, a quilt challenge every other year as well, with a round robin project in years alternating with the challenge.  We make a lot of charity quilts as well for the local NICU, police & fire departments, women's shelters and the like.  My other guild does similar activities as well as hosting several workshops throughout the year.  The second guild is MUCH larger than the first, and holds some special events the smaller guild cannot afford.  

My mini-group meets once a week for an evening sew-in, as well as our 'business meeting' once a month, where we celebrate birthdays, talk about our quilting (and non-quilting) goals for the month, which we record and try to all fulfill before our next monthly meeting.  We make some charity quilts as well, make round robin quilts, take quilting trips (we are doing a retreat in Big Bear, CA this year), go on shop hops together, help each other with our UFOs.  One of our members is a professional long-arm quilter and he does several of our quilts for us.  We are mostly all members of the smaller of the two guilds, and currently we are making the guild's opportunity quilt for next year, working on it together.  

Have you entered any quilt competitions?   

Many… too many to elaborate on all of them, but primary among them are the Ventura County Fair, Road to California, and the Houston International... 

All Colours are of God, shown above is an example of my non-mindless piecing and was juried into Houston International quilt show

I won 3rd place for machine quilting at Road to California, First place applique at the California State Fair, and Best of Show at Ventura County Fair and also at the Simi Valley Quilt Show, 1st place in the Glendale Quilt Show Challenge 2007, 2nd place in the Ventura County Arts Council quilt exhibit.  I treasure them all, just don’t remember them all individually. 

Here is a sampling of Anne's quilts that have been entered in shows and prize winners.
Trojan Star, Under the Jellicle Moon and Spinning In Place
You can see more of Anne's other AMAZING quilts over on her blog - Confessions of a Serial Quilter

Have you sold any quilts? 

I have donated a few to auctions to be sold… don’t know how much they made.. I made two quilts for other people… one for $300 and one for $500… both were wall-hangings commissioned for special events. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?  

Cats, other animals, nature, books, other people’s art, anything can be inspiration.

What is your favorite part of quilting?  

Piecing is fun and kind of mindless and I enjoy it a lot… 

Machine applique is so meditative and almost like a zen experience for me, so that is probably my favorite thing to do…  I think it’s like what other people get out of doing zentangles or yoga.

Why do you quilt?   

I have ALWAYS loved working with textiles… I started sewing at age 6, making doll clothes.  My mother was very frugal in regards to buying clothes, so I started sewing my own clothes when it started being important (in late elementary school – about 10 years old).   I stopped making clothes when it was no longer cost effective vs purchasing clothes in the 70s and 80s and I didn’t realize how much I missed working with fabric.  I did a little sewing in the 90s for my son, making costumes and such.  When my friend wanted me to take a quilting class with her in 2003, I reluctantly agreed and just fell in love with it… hadn’t realized how much I missed the creative outlet.  I’d been doing cross-stitch for about 10 years, but it’s a very slow and laborious process.  Quilting is SO much faster and more fun, in my opinion! 

What do you do with your quilts?  

Some I keep, using them as wall decoration, on our beds, or saving for ‘someday gifts’… some I make for donation to charities, some I make and gift to friends, and some I make on commission for various causes and purposes.  I have to say that I do own the majority of quilts I’ve made over the years (maybe 2/3?)… I’d like that number to go down, as I’ve more than run out of room to store quilts… I just have to find the right recipients for the right quilts.  And of course several of my quilts were made to commemorate some event in my own life, and therefore have to be kept.  … maybe someday I’ll need to do a trunk show?  Lol, probably not, but you never know, but that’s not why I keep them…  I think some are just waiting for the right recipient…   It worries me that they will all end up in thrift shops when I’m gone, and I hate that idea.

Like Anne, I hate the idea that her quilts could end up in a thrift shop when she is gone! 

Do you worry that this will happen with your quilts?  Or have you made some special arrangement with another friend or family member to make sure they all find homes where they will be loved and used?

Leave a comment... I'd love to hear from you!

Stay calm and quilt on...


  1. Hi Melva! I just love this series and am SO glad I didn't miss this edition. Anne sounds like a very interesting person, with a wide variety of topics to focus on. I find that to be true of most creative people - they dabble in many areas and find inspiration from many arenas. Don't you think? I just adore that she is a gamer - D&D! I have never played but can easily see the fascination and probably would have gotten hooked had I known anyone to introduce me to it. I love all the photos that are shared, and the quilts are just beautiful. I had to chuckle when she said she just went with a friend to a quilt class and the friend didn't get hooked. YES! That sounds exactly how I got looked, eons ago. HAHA! Love this whole post. ~smile~ Roseanne

    1. As someone who has seen many of her quilts in person, and played D&D with Anne for a few years in a group, I can definitely confirm that she is very interesting, can talk on a lot of different topics, and has a quick and infectious laugh. A genuinely awesome person.

      Are all quilters this way? I guess I assume so, after her.

  2. Amazing how easily we get hooked on quilting!! I have 3 daughters with 2 granddaughters, 2 grandsons from them and 3 step-daughters, 1 step-son, 2 granddaughters and 1 grandson from them, so I hope that all of my quilts find homes with family. I introduced my oldest daughter to quilting and she loves it as well. She will inherit all my fabric, thread, machines (sewing, embroidery and longarm) and all the goodies that go with quilting!! Love the introduction to Anne!!

  3. What a pleasure to read about Anne. She lives in the old stomping grounds where I was so often found with my best friend, and I wondered if one of the guilds she belongs to was one we attended, too. Her quilts are beautiful, and this was a story worth hearing! I don't worry about where my quilts will go. I enjoy them now, and the boys will probably save most of them, but if they wind up in thrift shops, just think of the joy of the quilter who finds them!

  4. This was so interesting and a pleasure to read about Anne. Her comment about worrying that her quilts will end up in thrift shops was eye-opening. I try to give away most of my quilts, but I do have special ones that I'd hate to have tossed aside.