Mary Kate Karr Petras

Mary Kate Karr Petras - Associate EditorMary Kate

As the daughter of an actor/stage manager with an affinity for folk guitar, participation in the performing arts runs in the family.  As for visual arts, well — in elementary school I was classified as “the singer” while my best friend was “the artist,” so I quashed my own attempts at drawing or painting early on for fear of being compared to other more talented kids.  Nor did I grow up in a sewing household; I believe we had to borrow a neighbor’s sewing machine so I could complete my Home Ec corduroy tote bag in 8th grade.  So I don’t really know what drew me to quilting when I was in my 20s.  Perhaps it was the idea of making something with a long tradition, established techniques, and ready-made materials that could, if nothing else, serve a utilitarian purpose. I started learning about quilting by buying magazines—including Quilters Newsletter—and then slowly worked my way (by hand!) through Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!  Meanwhile, after college I worked at Alfred Music Publishing where I honed my editorial chops.  I have gone through extended periods in the years since when quilting has been put on the back burner in favor of other pursuits, such as performing, marriage, moving to a new state, buying and fixing up a house, having a child… But through it all, my small, trusty stash and basic model Viking have traveled with me, always ready whenever I’ve felt the itch to stitch.  I am inspired by the full range of artistic expression, from traditional American patchwork to fine whole-cloth hand-quilting to quick projects featuring fabric by today’s hottest designers, as well as by the contributions so many generations of women have made to our culture at large through the very personal and quiet act of making a quilt.

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