Then & Now: “Yes! THIS is what I want to make!” with Shea Henderson

Page Content: 

These words would inspire anyone to become a modern quilter! The joy and excitement in Shea Henderson’s words inspired her to start the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild with Jacquie Gering in January 2010. In the upcoming Then & Now features we will celebrate the co-founders of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild. Stay tuned for spotlights on Jacquie Gering and Jenifer Dick coming soon.

How and why did you become a modern quilter?

While I learned to sew as a young girl, and made my first quilt in high school, I only stumbled into quilting more deeply when I started my first teaching job and one particular year it seemed like everyone was having a baby! I lost track of the number of quilts I made that year, but it solidified my love for quilting. Around that same time, the books Denyse Schmidt Quilts and The Modern Quilt Workshop came out. I remember turning every page and thinking, "Yes! THIS is what I want to make!" During that year I made several quilts from those books, and once I found the Fresh Modern Quilts Flickr pool and the blogs connected to those makers, I was hooked.

Why did you decide to start your own chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild?

In October of 2009, I read the blog post that Alissa Haight Carlton had written after the first LA MQG meeting. I was jealous of their ability to gather with other quilters interested in making the same things I was. Flickr and blogs were great for finding and learning about modern quilts, but nothing beats a conversation (or seeing a quilt!) in person. Our second child had been born that same month and, like a crazy lady not getting enough sleep, I e-mailed Jacquie Gering whom I knew to also be from Kansas City. We'd never spoken or written previously, but we both expressed a desire for a guild like that in our area. We agreed to meet and did so in December, planning out what would become our "organizational meeting" for others to gather in January. We hoped a few people would join us and were shocked when thirty-two people came!

What’s your favorite part about being a part of the MQG?

For me, it is about the sense of community and the way that the other quilters I have met "see" structures and fabrics and design in ways that interest and inspire me. I also loved knowing that in going to a KCMQG meeting, I was bound to laugh. The guild is full of people with a great sense of humor. It was always part quilt show, part comedy hour!

How has modern quilting and the MQG impacted your life?

It has inspired many quilts, but more than anything it has brought 'quilty friends' into my life. My friend Lauren Hunt, whom I met at the very first meeting of the KCMQG (and who designed our guild logo!) often joked that "quilt guild changed my life" and it is so true! Years later, when I was writing my book, School of Sewing, Lauren was my no-brainer first choice for photography. The book itself would not have happened without the people I met along the way via my pattern business and Market, which are all because of the connections I made via the MQG. Today, I am a freelance technical editor and feel like I am doing work that I love while having a flexible schedule to still volunteer in my kids' classrooms and our community. And this job, like the other opportunities, happened because of yet another MQG connection. Our children are now elementary and middle school students and are no longer babies and toddlers, so our evenings are full of baseball and basketball games, swim meets, and piano lessons. Consequently, my available time for guild meetings is tricky so I became an individual member of the MQG a while back. But I look forward to the idea of getting together with local friends again to sew in person. There's nothing better than being with someone else who enjoys doing what you do!


Photos by: Shea Henderson

Image 1: Shea Henderson

Image 2: Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild when it started in January 2010

Image 3: Modern quilt made by Shea called ChoppedCherryO