Geometric shapes have always fascinated Hallye Bone.
“They have always appealed to me--just the way they go together and how there’s an infinite number of combinations of squares and triangles and other shapes” she said.
Back in 1967, that fascination—plus a love of fabrics—led her to take some books out of the library and teach herself to quilt.
It was a life-changing event.
That little zig on the path of life—she was an English teacher at the time—launched a new career for Bone as quilting became her passion.
Initially, she hand pieced and hand stitched quilts for family and friends.
Eventually, she would sell her work and become an expert at quilting as well as in the care and restoration of quilts. Currently, she teaches the craft not only in St. Louis but at quilt shows around the country. She also sketches and designs colorful squares. Bone has authored more than 100 articles on quilting and penned two books. She is one of only 95 American Quilter Society-certified textile appraisers in the U. S.—and one of three in Missouri.
She will sign her latest book, Flower Dance, at 2 p.m. Saturday at ., the quilting store in St. Charles where she began her teaching career in 1981. The book is a collection of red work embroidery designs and appliquéd projects for quilts, aprons and pillowcases featuring 30 flower designs she created. The flowers are also featured in her Flower Dance quilt with 30 flowers of the Midwest stitched in. The quilt will be on display at the book signing.
Bone, who lives in Town and Country, said her love of working with her hands and the creative bent she calls on to design her quilts are natural offshoots of a childhood punctuated by arts on the one hand and crafts on the other.
Growing up in Normandy, her grandmother lived only a block away.
“I would walk over there, and she would say, ‘OK, we’ll let everybody else watch TV tonight. We’re going to knit or embroider or do something with our hands. I think it (Bone’s success with quilting) comes from a love of doing something with my hands that’s creative.”
From her mother who was an artist, Bone developed a love of color and design. “We were exposed to the art museum and art very, very early,” Bone said. “Our Saturdays were always spent at the art museum or the historical society.”
Bone’s love of fabric traces back to the days when her mother made her clothes.
“We would go and look at fabrics I was nuts about,” she said. "She loved feeling the fabrics and seeing the colors and thinking about what we were going to make,” she said.
Bone said she got into teaching quilting by accident in 1981 when a friend who was supposed to teach a quilting class decided she didn’t want to.
“She said, ‘I don’t know anything about quilting. I don’t know why they asked me to do this. You go,’ Bone said. “So I went. It was just kind of a fluke.”
But it was a fluke that worked out. For 11 years, she taught quilting every month of the year at the store except July, which she took off.
“I loved it,” Bone said. “I loved the students. I loved the fact that they were expanding their horizons.”
For 12 years Bone lived in Houston and taught in six quilt shops while she was there. She no longer teaches regularly at Patches, Etc. because when the owner of the store moved in upstairs, Bone lost her classroom. But, Bone said, she will still arrange a class if someone wants it. She teaches regularly at Jackman’s Fabrics in St. Louis County but spends much of her time traveling the country appraising quilts and teaching at quilt shows. Her schedule is so full she spent only eight days at home last October, she said.
She continues to create and stitch beautiful quilt tops by machine for her clients but she has the layers hand quilted by Amish women in Shipshewana, IN.
“I just don’t have enough time to hand quilt anymore,” she says.
A favorite of Bone’s is a St. Louis Cardinals quilt she made when the team won the World Series in 2006.
Nowadays, too, Bone does a lot of charity work. This year ,she made a quilt for the gala of Gateway 180, a homeless shelter downtown and two for the United States Tennis Association’s scholarship fund.
“I do a lot of charity quilts because I feel like everybody needs to give back from their talents,” she said. “Bread on the water, and it comes back to you.”