Island quilter is semi-finalist in international competition

Miss Dottie Dresden is taking island quilter Ann Rindge back home to Kentucky. The two share a close friendship, one that began with a needle and thread, a swath of Amish double-black cloth, patches of brightly colored material, a traditional quilting pattern and Rindge’s creative imagination.

In April the duo plan to travel to Paducah, Kentucky, for the annual American Quilter’s Society (AQS) show and contest, QuiltWeek and Miss Dottie’s appearance as one of the semi-finalists. While Rindge shares her excitement about the recognition, Miss Dottie remains tight-lipped. In fact, she can’t talk. Miss Dottie Dresden is a quilt — designed, hand appliquéd and sewn by Rindge.

“As I worked on the it, the name just made sense,” said Rindge, an island resident since 2000. “I started with the Dresden Plate design, but used all polka dot patterns in the blocks and appliqué. With the dots, the quilt started taking on a personality of its own, so I called her Miss Dottie Dresden.”

Rindge’s familiarity with quilts comes from a long line of women quilters and sewers and a community tradition of crafts and quilting bees.

“I grew up in Kentucky where women never just chatted but always had something in their hands to sew, with their project basket nearby,” she said.

The women, according to Rindge, bonded over their needlework, much like Rindge and her own mother did. Though they’d sewn together all her life, Rindge wanted a different activity to share with her mother, so 14 years ago they started to quilt. But for Rindge, this mother-daughter hobby quickly turned into a passion.

“I was hooked right away, and one quilt led to another.”

When Rindge learned her floral polka dotted quilt made it into the semi-finals, she sent an email to her fellow quilters in the Vashon Island Quilt Guild and said “I am all astonishment,” a quote from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

“You don’t get a quilt in this show unless it is spectacular,” said Nancy Sipple, an island artist and member of the Vashon guild.

“And this is the 30th year of the show. It’s a big deal.”

Miss Dottie Dresden competed with quilts from 41 states and 10 countries in the first round. Now Rindge will send her to Paducah on April 4 to be judged with the 408 other semi-finalists. Rindge plans to attend the many workshops and lectures offered during QuiltWeek, April 23 to 26, and to be present when the winners are announced. More than 30,000 international visitors are expected to attend the event.

For more than 30 years, quilters from every state in the country and around the world have submitted their quilts to the AQS Quilt contest. What began as a show of functional art and fine craftsmanship is now a prestigious exhibition of the best quilts as fiber art.

Whether she comes home with a final award or not, Miss Dottie Dresden will be spending the month of April among the best of her peers.

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