Here’s a Franciscanized Patchwork of Mother and Daughter Quilts

Paul Keggington

May 09, 2012

Happy Mothers’ Day! Remembering our own mothers and all women who nurture others to grow and be all that God calls them to be, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity share the handiwork of Tess Flanagan Roberts and Eileen Flanagan Doughty, mother and daughter quilters who inspire each other in decorative designs. A neighbor while our Sisters lived at St. Paul Manor as part of St. Paul Elder Services, Kaukauna, WI., Tess is a true and long-time friend of our Community.

Comment from Tess Flanagan Roberts

I have been quilting for about 25 yrs – and enjoy every minute.  It brings contentment into my life, and I have fun giving most of them away, for people to keep warm & cuddle up under.  Hopefully, working on the quilt processes will keep my aging brain active………!

Also, I am lucky to have such a generous & supportive  husband, Tom, as it can be an ‘expensive hobby’.

My daughter , Eileen’s quilts are exquisite and each one an original. (Whereas mine are someone else’s patterns.)  They are ART QUILTS — and she is very, very successful, with quilts hanging in museums, etc, in 5 continents.  She is very well known & respected in her field.  I continue to be amazed at her talent and skill.

But what I am most proud of is:    she was way up the corporate ladder, as a cartographer, at U. S. Geological Survey, in Washington DC area, and chose instead, to become a full time mother at the time of their first child’s birth.  She and husband Jonathan, now have two children. 

Sample of Tess Flanagan Roberts Art

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Comment from  Eileen Flanagan Doughty

Like most quilt artists, I started out making traditional bed quilts. In 1986, after hearing how much my mother, Tess Flanagan Roberts, was enjoying her first quilting class, I had to try it too. I should have learned sewing from my mom when I was a kid, but I wasn’t interested in it till after graduating from college and moving to another state.  My mom made most of the clothes for my three sisters and me when we were little.  She could turn out a pretty dress in no time!  Tess still churns out bed and lap quilts.  The quilt shop in my town begs for her scrap quilts; they so appreciate her lovely color choices and fine work.

My first quilt class resulted in a traditional sampler quilt. It was entirely hand-pieced and hand-quilted. I survived that first quilt and was hooked — but knew that handwork wasn’t for me.  Making quilts on a sewing machine lets me finish many more than just one per year.

Quilting was a hobby for me, while I worked full-time as a cartographer.  When my first child was born, I became an at-home mother.  Eventually quilting became a home business.  I started making my own designs, particularly landscapes, not surprising for a cartographer.  I realized that quilts could be art, could be expressive, even abstract. My landscape quilts have benefited from my map-making days, since both require some knowledge of drafting and the principles of color, design and perception. 

My landscapes typically come from a place I have seen, and are a memory I want to be able to hold in my hand.  They often involve something that challenges me technically   how to depict rocks, swiftly flowing water, reflections in water, moonlight on snow.  Then there are my commissioned and public art projects, which often are based on photographs that the client sends me, along with my own research about the location. 

My artwork continues to evolve, as I explore what makes fiber art unique from other media. I am glad to read in art publications that ‘beauty is back’ because I do try to have beauty in my work.  And I am grateful for the many adventures quilting has brought me, the friends I’ve made around the world, and most especially the unfailing love and support from my mom, who remains my inspiration and hero.

Sample of Eileen Flanagan Doughty’s Art

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To read more about Eileen Flanagan Doughty’s Quilts, click here.


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