Imagine the din and the chaos which must go hand in hand with raising four young boys. Mary Alsop of Eden Prairie doesn’t have to. That is why 30 years ago the young mother sprang at the opportunity to join her church’s quilting group – it came with free childcare. Mary admits the group could have been devoted to anything so long as it offered a moment’s peace.
As her sons colored in drawings of Daniel in the lion’s den and David preparing to battle Goliath, Mary fell in love with quilting. She cut her teeth by strip piecing quilts to give to the less fortunate, and thus hooked began quilting back at home as well. Her very first creations were nothing special. One little quilt she made for her newborn nephew, she admits, is the ugliest thing she has ever created. Yet her newfound passion for quilting drove Mary onward.
“It’s a very creative outlet,” said Mary. “It’s almost like drawing with thread. Quilting allows you to bring any idea you might have to life. It can be something in nature, in architecture, even a simple shape which you can build on. A great quilt stirs a response in the viewer, leading their eye from one point to the next.
“Quilts also mean a lot to the people who receive them as gifts. Each one is a unique piece of art, but it also provides comfort. The club I now belong to makes quilts to give to women in battered shelters, and to police so they can drape them over children on their worst days.
“I was once told by a friend that I would have to enter my work in quilting competitions if I ever wanted to succeed in business. The Minnesota Quilt Show and the state fair have the largest local competitions, and I’ve participated in both since 2014. I was on pins and needles the very first time, and a little intimidated to walk around and see what all the other competitors had entered. But I also felt pride to get recognized by the judges. It helped me appreciate that I can offer people something valuable, and that I deserve their trust when they ask me to quilt their quilts.”
Mary founded Prairie Quilting in 2013. With her decades of experience and industrial longarm sewing machine she now brings her clients’ sewing projects to life as beautiful quilts.
“People come to me from all over the state of Minnesota for help creating quilts to give as gifts or to mark important occasions. My clients provide the quilt tops that they have sewn together themselves, and I add the quilting that complements their piecing.
“T-shirt quilts are especially popular presents for high school seniors getting ready to go off to college. For one of those the grad’s mother or grandmother cuts up their old shirts into squares, sews them together, and gives the top to me to turn into a very personalized quilt. I’ve quilted similar quilts made with late family members’ old shirts as well.
“I offer quilters edge-to-edge and custom quilting for their pieced or appliqued quilt tops. I work closely with my clients to choose quilting designs that will compliment their finished project.”
Prairie Quilting offers access to the art of quilting to anyone who can put together a quilt top. If you would like to engage Eden Prairie’s resident quilting expert for help finishing a comfort quilt, heirloom quilt, or show quilt, then you need only visit prairie-quiltingmn.com.