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Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Feature: Brenda @ Scraps and Strings

Moderator note:  Every Featurer starts with a list of points to get the writing juices flowing for a FF (Friday Feature) post.  These points are in bold below.

Hi, I’m Brenda Suderman from Winnipeg, Manitoba. I blog at

About me: I’m a journalist for my local newspaper, a part-time graduate student currently writing an MA thesis, and I’m also a quilt maker who writes with fabric. I’ve made nearly a dozen word quilts, using the free-pieced techniques developed by Tonya Ricucci in Word Play Quilts. I also make art quilts, bed quilts, baby quilts, and wall quilts, mostly from scraps. I started blogging four years ago after joining some group blogs, and now I’m part of a dozen different blogs, some more active than others. 
            I also run a group blog where we share our quilts made from strings, and we’re also making one together. Check us out over at

About my quilting: I’m a scrap quilter partially because of where I live. In Winnipeg, we have a couple of small quilt shops, and several discount fabric stores. I love shopping the sale bins, but I also get a thrill when someone hands me a bag of scraps. For years, I’ve been playing with scraps from my mother, from friends, and selvages mailed to me by quilters I’ve met online.
            I’ve only been making quilts for the past eight years, although I’ve been a sewer for all of my life. I started off with making clothes for my dolls and going on to make my own clothes and those of my two sons, including outerwear.  My mother has been a quilt maker and quilting teaching for three decades, and for years I was her cheerleader and critic. I took the plunge into serious quilt making when my sons didn’t want to wear homemade clothes anymore. When they were in elementary school, I made a quilt with their class every year and in 2007, I made an 11 foot wall quilt with 150 people in my church. They each made a square and I put them together for a permanent installation celebrating the 50th anniversary of my church. I love making group quilts, and right now I’m puzzling together 50 plus B blocks fellow bloggers sent me for a recent big birthday. (I called the project Brenda’s Big B Birthday Bee and you can find the tutorial and explanation here. (link to

Highlights of the past year: More recently, I’ve been making quilts for Alzheimer Art Quilts Initiative ( and this past year, one of my little quilts made from teeny triangles sent to me by a blogging friend was purchased by an Alzheimer’s researcher, who received a grant from AAQI. After 25 years of having my words published, I’m about to have my first quilt published in a friend’s book to be released later this year. In the past year, I’ve worked to improve my free motion quilting skills and I’m proud of the fact that I can do feathers. I used to be exclusively a hand quilter, but I bought a new sewing machine 18 months ago that sews like the wind and does well with free motion quilting.

What’s next? I’m plotting out ways to push the boundaries of writing on quilts, writing with quilts, and practicing the craft of slow writing with fabric. Since I have to write quickly and to deadline for my professional life, it’s a huge contrast to deliberately make the components of each letter with another piece of fabric, then piece the letters together to make a word, and put the words together to make a sentence. I’m also planning to use more found fabric, like old linen calendar towels, to make quilts. Just this week I received a bag containing a friend’s silk bridesmaid dress she no longer wanted to wear, and a beautiful green sari embossed with silk. I’m thinking of cutting up the sari and sending it to some blogging friends and together we can incorporate them into our quilts.
What have you always dreamed of doing? Since I’m a writer and a quilter, the obvious answer would be to write a quilting book, but that dream will have to stay on the back burner until I finish my thesis (on an entirely non-fabric topic) this year. At this stage in my life, I can only handle one big writing project at a time. I’m also keen about introducing non-sewers to the joys of working with needle and thread. I loved sewing with the elementary school students, and  I’d like to get back to teaching them to sew and quilt.

Come visit me over at  and if you’re ever in Winnipeg, let me know and I’ll show you some great places to shop.


  1. thanks for sharing your life with us! It is good to get to know you a little. ....and greeting from the province next door :)

  2. Oh I love that blue strips quilt. Thank you for stepping up to be featured! It's such a pleasure to meet other Canadians this way! : )

    All the best in everything you sew,
    Monika K.

  3. Brenda is a great inspiration with her quilting and always a great resource of knowledge. Thanks Brenda! :)

  4. I love that blue strips quilt too!
    It's so very interesting to read about a fellow Canadian blogger. My goodness, I'm in awe of how busy you are!

  5. I am completely in awe of that word quilt!!! So much work!!!

  6. hi, Brenda. I'd take you up on the fabric shopping but I'm not sure I need anymore fabric! lol I like how you incorporate words in your quilts. It makes me think about my quilting in a different light especially as I move away from the bigger quilts. Great post! Good luck on your thesis.

  7. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Brenda! Nice to meet you!


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