Quilter Spins Free Time into Award-winning Art

Many a husband has a private location at home to escape and relax; a place affectionately known as a “man cave.” One Maple Grove woman has her own “woman cave,” and while it may be relaxing, it has also become a place for serious work, full of color and creativity.
 
“I started back when my youngest daughter was a junior in high school, and I knew that the soccer games and lacrosse games were going to come to an end once she graduated,” says Patricia Henseler. Realizing that she would soon be faced with a lot of free time, she began to think of activities she could undertake as serious hobbies. Henseler enjoyed sewing as a young girl, so she enrolled in a beginning quilting class and the need for a full-out woman cave quickly became evident.

Henseler started with a T-shirt quilt. It combined T-shirts acquired during her daughter’s dance competitions and other high school activities.

A second one for another daughter blended memories into a collage of warmth.

Although both her mother and grandmother were sewers, no one in Henseler’s family was a quilter. She’s gathered knowledge and inspiration from quilt shops in the local area, and began submitting her works at the State Fair.  “I became interested in entering my quilts in the State Fair because, every year, I would go into the Creative Activities building and see all the beautiful things people were making. I thought I would give it a try,” she says. Each year, she works on two quilt projects with the goal of entering one of them in the fair, and her efforts have garnered her judges’ recognition.

Besides the pieces that catch her eye at local shops, Henseler is also inspired by quilt designers like Judy Niemeyer and Jacqueline DeJonge. “Both of these designers take quilting to a whole different level,” she explains with an edge of excitement in her voice. “They create designs that are more than just an average bed quilt; they are creating quilt designs that are a form of art … more than just straight lines and angles, they incorporate curves and circles. These two designers challenge me and make me want to try something that is a little different and out of the ordinary.”

Her favorite project to date is a quilt called Words to Live By designed by Lisa Bongean. It is made with wool on cotton and employs hand applique. Each quilt block has a stenciled word on it, such as faith, hope, love, family, etc.

The most challenging project she’s tackled so far is called Enchanting Stars. It uses a process called paper piecing, which helps a quilter meet the challenge of matching corners and points with intricate angles by machine stitching the fabric directly onto paper to be used as a foundation. The paper is removed after the “perfect” piece is completed.

Henseler says her next project will include machine applique—a needlework technique where smaller pieces are attached on top of larger pieces. A passion for new quilting techniques will certainly flourish in the woman cave this fall.