Helen Kelley Patchworks

Quiltmaker, Teacher, Lecturer, Designer, Author, Judge

About Me

The thing I love most about quilting is the people I’ve met. I cherish my friendships with these creative, enthusiastic, generous people.

My beginnings: I was inspired to do needlework by my mother’s fine craftsmanship. I bought my first sewing machine, a Singer Featherweight, in 1946. My first quilt was set together with this machine. I spent my younger years on the East Coast, but I have made Minnesota my home since 1962. I find the tenor of Midwest life particularly conducive to creative work.

Since then: In recent years I have taught throughout the world, criss-crossing America, Europe and New Zealand, spreading the gospel of quilting as I went. I have authored seven books and a monthly column, “Loose Threads” in Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine. My book, Every Quilt Tells a Story, is a compilation of my “Loose Threads.” It has been such a success that a new book, Joy of Quilting, is now available.

My Inspiration: I find creative inspiration in the use of old patterns for exciting, contemporary quilts. Ethnic needleworks from around the globe have fascinated me, especially as they relate to the creative people who have made them and the techniques and tools they have used. The origins of American Indian ribbonwork and of Indian Star quilts have been a particular interest to me. In pursuit of my love, I have created many quilts and collected many more.

My family: As my readers, you have all met Bill, my husband, through my articles. He has always supported and encouraged me. Would you believe that from time to time, he even suggests that I should buy more fabric! I have four daughters, Helen, Ingred Jo, Connie and Faith, two of whom live nearby in Minnesota. Connie lives in the Bay Area of California and Faith is a Nebraskan. Though all four of them sew, each of these women has unique creative interests of her own. You may have heard about them in my articles, too.

My guild: I was the first president of Minnesota Quilters in 1978. I still value my relationship with them.

Honors: I’ve had a few really nice things happen to me professionally. Among them,
        1995 – Artist of Distinction, Fiber/Metal Arts of Minnesota
        1998 – Minnesota Quilter of the Year
        1999 – My Renaissance quilt honored by the International Quilt Association as one of the 100 best quilts of the 20th century
        2000 – Minnesota Textile Center’s Spun Gold Award

Contact me:
            Email: helen@helenkelley-patchworks.com.
            Traditional mail: Helen Kelley, 2215 Stinson Blvd, Mpls, MN 55418.
            Or phone me at 612.789.8207.

I’d love to hear from you.