Among Brenda's Quilts

This is part of a series of profiles of quilt artists involved in a project that saw Canadian quilters send their art to be displayed in a quilt show in Taiwan that will begin on April 30 and run through May, 2016. Read about the project here and find links to other participant profiles.


I’ve known Liz McNally ever since I joined my local guild in the early 2000’s. Liz is an incredibly skilled and vibrant quilt artist who is always interested in exploring new ideas and learning new techniques.

Liz comes from a line of talented women. Although her Mom died when she was young, her Grandmother successfully sold her crochet, sewing and quilting handiwork to a shop in northern Manitoba. The store would send her the raw materials and Liz’s Grandmother would work away until she had a steamer trunk full of articles to ship by train to the West. The extra money was helpful to a farm family living on hard scrabble rocky ground.

Liz grew up to become a nurse and created dozens of tailored shirts for her family members using wool flannels and linen/silk blends. They were better than what was commercially available. She made so many shirts that she wore out the buttonhole capabilities on two sewing machines. 

Along the way, Liz wanted a couple of bed quilts for her home but she could not afford to purchase them. She found a picture in a book for a Boston Commons quilt. That was the quilt she wanted! With a friends help she visited the local Lens Mills store to pick out what seemed an impossible amount of colors. How could they make 16 colors work together? Neither had a great deal of knowledge about fabrics so they purchased cottons,  cotton/poly blends and poly batting.

As retirement approached Liz made a plan. She’d buy a sewing machine to take her to the end of her days and she’d join the local guild to learn more about quilting. Since 2003, when she joined the guild, Liz has sewn a total of 3 sewing machines into the ground and she’s still sewing strong! 

Liz loves classes and takes them to support her habit and to support the groups that support quilting. ‘I always take home usable information no matter what the class’.  Liz has two boys who have in turn had two children each, who range from 4 to 20 years of age.

Liz has been blessed with a keen interest in quilts, a creative spirit and an unstoppable talent. 

Artist's Statement

Ash trees in my area have been killed by the Emerald Ash Borer.

 Past Elegance - Art Quilt

Past Elegance

Simple beginnings are shown with the log cabin blocks. The present day is depicted by a solitary white ash tree that has died. The zipper teeth represent an ineffective barrier to the insect. The decorative tape shows a glimmer of hope for the future of this species of tree.  

Materials and Techniques

This original design features cotton-wool roving. It is machine pieced and quilted and includes finished edge appliqué, thread painting, needle punch and hand embroidery. 

Past Elegance - Art Quilt, detailed version

Past Elegance detailed view

Written by Brenda Miller — April 04, 2016


I'm Brenda, and I love designing patterns that help you create beautiful, functional bags and quilts.

These patterns are unique, well-illustrated, simple to follow, and fun to sew.

We also carry my own line of bag zippers, finished designer bags, bag hardware kits, specialty fabrics, and notions, so you're able to easily find what you need to do a superb job on all of your ABQ projects.

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