Behind The Scenes with Kaye England
A Country Home
After growing up in a Kentucky farm family, quilt designer and collector Kaye England now lives on an 8-acre farm and home outside of Indianapolis. Here she is with Foxy Lady, one of her five llamas.
Just for Fun
Ethel the goat keeps watch while Kaye prepares to get her portrait taken down at the barn. Although she does use the wool from the llamas for needle-punch, Kaye says they (and the three goats and 19 chickens) are there just because she loves the animals and they make her laugh.
Kaye feels free to bring some of her quilts outside during the day. This 1930s Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt sits on the porch of the garden shed. "I just don't want to own anything that I can't enjoy," Kaye says.
There are even quilts in the breezeway between Kaye's home and office. While the quilt on the wall is in disrepair, Kaye felt compelled to buy it at an auction because another bidder planned on using it as a liner for a dog bed. A Double Wedding Ring quilt made by Kaye's grandmother is draped on the yellow chair and an unfinished quilt top adorns the table.
Caring for Quilts
Kaye stores the oldest quilts in her collection up high so light doesn't reach them as much. She also moves all her quilts around regularly and refolds them so they're "happier and healthier."
Civil War Tumbler
Kaye, who has over 100 quilts from the 19th century, says this Tumbler quilt dates from the 1860s. Most of its 1x1-1/2" pieces are cut from dark prints, but every once in a while there is an unexpected bright piece like this orange patch.
Tiny Flying Geese
Tiny quilts are displayed in table-top vignettes all over Kaye's home. This miniature Flying Geese quilt (pinned to the inside of a vintage suitcase as part of a display in the guest bedroom) is a mere 4x7".
In addition to her antique and vintage quilts, Kaye collects current pieces. On one of her teaching trips to Australia, Kaye bought Deb Nichol's "Magpie Meeting" wall hanging at Barassa Quilting Cottage in West Adelaide. Wool appliqués of magpies and their many activities adorn an overdyed army blanket used as the foundation fabric.
At Home Sewing
"My sewing space in my home has in-progress things and inspirations" Kaye says. On the right-hand side of her design wall, she auditions a setting for antique Log Cabin blocks.
Sets of antique blocks fill baskets in Kaye's sewing room. While mostly used for inspiration, Kaye sometimes incorporates them into new quilts. She also has antique quilt tops, which she typically doesn't quilt because they're too fragile.
Combining Old and New
An example of old and new is the front quilt on the quilt rack, where antique blocks merge with new setting squares. The border is a reproduction print (from American Folk & Fabric) in a home-decorating weight.
Throughout her office and sewing room, Kaye displays women's history artifacts, which prompted her Voices of the Past pattern series. Among the items in her collection are signatures from influential women like Amelia Earhart, the namesake of one of the newest patterns.
Three closets of hundreds of Kaye's quilts (mostly Kaye's designs) downstairs in the finished basement. "I used laminate on the shelves so the quilts wouldn't be harmed by being stored on wood," Kaye says. She also runs a dehumidifier all the time because, as she says, "You can mildew the bottom of stacked quilts real fast."