It is with a heavy heart that I share that my dear friend and mentor, Klaudeen Hansen, passed away this past week after a courageous battle with cancer. She was a teacher and encourager to many, and a great blessing to me in my quilting career. Her ready smile and enthusiasm brought joy to everyone around her ~ and her love for quilts had a great impact on the quilting world for many, many years.
I learned to quilt in 1987. We were living in Sun Prairie and my sister-in-law, Mary Sue, talked me into taking a quilting class at Madison Area Technical College. Our teacher was another dear friend ~ Sharon Grieve Grinyer. Sharon had been a student of Klaudeen’s. She told me that prior to taking a class with Klaudeen:
“I had made a couple of quilts – “learn as you go”. Klaudeen honed my skills, answered my questions, showed me resources. She was generous with her knowledge and her time. She advocated for me with MATC which led to my 20 year quilt teaching career, Plus membership in both AQS and Prairie Heritage Quilters.”
Because of her connection with Klaudeen, Sharon was part of the group that traveled to Paducah every year to help AQS put on their wonderful show. So that’s how I got to be involved with the Prairie Heritage Quilt Show in Sun Prairie, and part of the team in Paducah.
When I began teaching, Klaudeen was always happy to give me advice and… she often shared my name with guilds who would then hire me to teach for them. As you can tell ~ she is very special to me, and being around her made me want to be better at my craft. I think it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be where I am in my quilting career without her. This will be a bittersweet trip to Paducah this year as I will be the only remaining Prairie Heritage Quilter present to help hang the show.
I did a tribute to Klaudeen in my blog in 2014, as we celebrated the Prairie Heritage Quilter’s 40th show. I was going to link you to that post, but as I reread it I decided it would be a fitting tribute to repost it here in its entirety:
The Queen of Quilting!
I learned to quilt while living in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, and I was blessed to immediately become a part of a group called the Prairie Heritage Quilters. This group puts on a quilt show in Sun Prairie every Spring and it has the distinction of being the longest running show, headed by the same person, for 40 years! The leader of this group of quilt lovers is Klaudeen Hansen, and I’m very pleased to be able to say she’s a friend of mine. At this year’s show there was a special room filled with memorabilia from the past 40 quilt shows. It was in this room that we had the above photograph taken of the current Prairie Heritage Quilters group. A Madison area art quilter, Marlene, made the crown Klaudeen is wearing, and dubbed her the Queen of Quilting.
Klaudeen has been a positive influence in my quilting career and I thought it would be a good idea to do a tribute to her as this week’s blog post.
Klaudeen started teaching sewing for Madison Area Technical College in the early 70’s. Somehow that transitioned into teaching quilting for them as well. We’re quite sure she was the first quilting teacher MATC had.
The Prairie Heritage Quilt Show started basically as a show and tell display in 1974, so all of her students could see what the others were creating. The first year or two this was held at St. Chad’s church. It moved to St Albert’s as it grew and was held in the lower level. The first contest was in 1977 and it had 66 entries. The show moved upstairs and included vendors in 1979. This is a picture of some of the original members in their quilt aprons at a show in the early 80’s (Klaudeen is second from the right).
The show has always been on a Monday, and then it grew to add Tuesday (they couldn’t start on Sunday because the show was held in the sanctuary of the church and thus, the quilts had to be hung on Sunday afternoon). These are unusual days of the week for a quilt show, but it’s worked well in Sun Prairie. Our group would have to move out all the chairs (assisted by some husbands, sons and brothers) and move in the quilt racks. Then the hanging of the quilts would begin.
Over the years the show has become very popular. There was a time 11 tour buses brought quilters to the show in one day! and … one year a TV show called PM Magazine (like a local entertainment tonight) filmed their show from our show! Quilted ribbon toppers were first created by Arlene Statz in 1983, and were hand quilted by her! We believe we were the first show to ever make them, if not the first anywhere, definitely the first in our area.
I joined the group in the late 80’s and this photograph was the first one I have of the group (I’m bottom row center, next to Klaudeen).
In going through my photos, I came across a quilt I entered in the show in the early 90’s, called “The Sidewalks of Sun Prairie”. It was the first quilt I made using my Repliqué technique and it won 2 of Arlene’s ribbons! A First in wallhangings, and a special Originality ribbon too.
Klaudeen (and the Prairie Heritage Quilters) have also been a big part of the American Quilters Society’s history (AQS). She met Bill and Meredith Schroeder in Bell Buckle, Tennessee at the National Quilting Association Show, over 30 years ago. The Schroeders owned a publishing company that published Collector Books. They decided quilting was an up and coming past-time and wanted to put on a show, but weren’t sure how to go about it. They were introduced to Klaudeen and she helped write the rules for the AQS show. She also hand typed the show book for them for years! Quilts were entered by slides, full size and detail, those were logged by Klaudeen to be sure they were entered in the right category, etc.. Then two slide projectors were set up side by side, in Sun Prairie, to view the quilt entries. Klaudeen and the Prairie Heritage Quilters juried the AQS show for the first several years. They also made the Viewer’s choice boxes (still in use at the Paducah show) and hung the quilts at the AQS show as well (we still help with the hanging of the show every year).
The dogwood ribbon toppers for the AQS show have been hand made by the Prairie Heritage Quilters all these years. Klaudeen’s daughter Janell is an active part of the PHQ and was the ribbon maker one year. She, along with Jean Sessions (one of the original members and our unofficial historian), shared information and pictures for this post with me. The above topper was made by Jean. Judging of the AQS show was Klaudeen’s responsibility. She does not judge the show in Paducah, but is the one to convey the expectations to the judging staff.
Klaudeen is also the editor of the AQS Quilt Art Engagement Calendar. These wonderful desk style calendars have a beautiful quilt featured next to each week of the year, and – each year at the Paducah show an Autograph party is held at which many of the quilt makers are invited to attend so that purchasers of the calendars can have the pages autographed. It’s a fun, free event to attend at the show!
Thus ends my previous post 😊.
I also thought it would be good to include this portion of Klaudeen’s obituary to give you some additional insight into this lovely woman:
Klaudeen’s passion and profession was in the quilt world. She was a nationally recognized quilt show judge, teacher, and editor. She kept track of the quilt shows she judged and the classes she taught in notebooks. There were over 23,000 students and over 34,000 quilts she judged in just about every state in the U.S. Klaudeen had a very special way of teaching her quilt patterns so every level of quilter was comfortable in her class atmosphere.
One of her proudest accomplishments was starting the annual Sun Prairie Quilt Show that ran for 45 years. She loved that the quilt makers were able to share their quilts with others. Her time with the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, KY was the highlight of her career. Klaudeen was an intricate part of the creation and planning of the Paducah Quilt Show as well as the Great Wisconsin Quilt show in Madison, WI. She was honored when asked to create a quilt to be hung at the American Embassy in Oslo, Norway during the Olympics. Klaudeen was a sweet, smart, and fun woman loved and missed by so many.
Bonnie Browning of the American Quilters Society wrote a tribute to Klaudeen on their blog. You can click here to read it.
Klaudeen was the editor of the AQS Quilt Art Engagement Calendar since it was first published in 1985. The 2024 calendar is the last one edited by Klaudeen and AQS will host its annual Quilt Art Autograph Party during AQS QuiltWeek as a tribute to Klaudeen. I was so happy to hear that her daughter Janell will be there. It will be held from 3:00–5:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 27, 2023 at the show. Maybe I’ll see you there!
May God comfort and bless Janell and all of Klaudeen’s family and friends as they mourn the loss of our dear friend.
Wishing you all a blessed Resurrection Sunday!