Making Up Her Own Rules
Written by Linzee Kull McCray
If you look at Kim Diehl’s intricate designs, it’s easy to imagine that she’s a natural-born quilter, or that she at least learned to quilt at her mother’s knee. Not so, says Kim, who calls herself a late bloomer and admits that at first the tools of quilting were so unfamiliar that she was afraid of rotary cutters.
“I was in my late 30s and knew nothing about quilting,” she remembers. “I took a pattern into a fabric shop and the ladies there helped me figure out what to buy and how to use a rotary cutter. I was afraid I’d lose a finger and sawed through fabric with a tiny cutter for years, until I worked up the courage to graduate to a ‘grown-up’ cutter.”
In retrospect, Kim says knowing little about quilting had its benefits.
“I learned a lot through trial and error,” she says, “including the invisible machine appliqué technique that I teach today. Not knowing the ‘rules’ was an advantage, because I didn’t have preconceived notions and it enabled me to find a better way.”
She also didn’t have a clue about the competitiveness of quilt challenges when she entered only her third quilt in American Patchwork & Quilting magazine’s 1998 Pieces of the Past competition.
“I nearly didn’t enter, because I had no idea if my design was any good,” she says. “But the quilt won first place, and that really did change my life and send me down another path.”
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