A tale of two enthusiastic quilt admirers is unfolding in neighboring Washington and Fayette counties,
Texas. Although Zadra Morgan and Elizabeth Prichard-Jones have not met yet, chances are they will
click. Both delight in interpreting the art and industry of handmade quilts in distinctive manners that
honor their roots.

Zadra Morgan, who grew up in the scenic countryside of North Central Wisconsin, noticed something
missing when she and her husband moved to the Round Top area of Texas at Burton. While much of the
pastoral landscape was similar, back home Zadra had been accustomed to seeing painted patterns called
barn quilts. Proudly displayed on the sides of country structures, some of the blocks were huge: as large
as 64 square feet.


“They were a part of the landscape, adding a splash of color to the rolling countryside and I missed
that,” Zadra recalls.

Zadra mentioned the absence to her husband, Dan, who hails from Ohio, where barn quilts also are very
popular. He challenged Zadra, who has been working at home since COVID, to use her bottled-up
creativity and create her first barn quilt. Until then, Zadra had focused on more traditional handicrafts
she sold at craft shows.


Dan also offered to help Zadra with the critical prep work to ensure her blank canvasses and paint would
be as stout as the iconic rural buildings where they might be displayed. Typically, participants in Zadra’s
workshops paint 2, 3 and 4-foot quilt sizes.

Zadra Found Her Niche

Since 2020, this Washington County barn quilter has earned a well-deserved reputation. Zadra’s energy, skill,
creativity and patience endear her to participants in the classes she leads. Some novice creators arrive at
least a tad uncertain as to whether they can realize their goal (or dream). When they’ve completed the
hands-on workshop, they will never forget the excitement of walking away holding their very own work
of art.


Zadra, a self-taught barn quilt painter, knows that delicious feeling of accomplishment. Not only do her
students master a new skill, they may have created a family heirloom using a recognizable quilt pattern
or a whimsical interpretation of the art form all their own. It’s no wonder that Zadra’s classes fill up
quickly.

Zadra’s student, Jane Conseco, painted
this dramatic eight-point star.
Zadra’s student, Ann Locke, chose to paint a sunflower
and crow quilt block design to display on her barn.
Zadra painted this dynamic thistle that hangs
at the home of John and Amy Bone in Round Top.

Through displaying two of her barn quilt creations on the Morgan’s rural property, Zadra has brought a
piece of North Central Wisconsin to the family’s home in Fayette County, Texas.

“In rural areas of many U.S. states, you can take self-guided tours of all this gorgeous outdoor art,” she
adds.

That inspired Zadra to start a tour barn quilt tour in conjunction with the Round Top Chamber of
Commerce. For details about the driving tour that meanders through the backroads of this scenic part of
Texas go to:

One day, Zadra expects bursts of barn quilt color will bloom in profusion in the Round Top area, rivaling
the show put on by the spring bluebonnets.

I can see it now!

***

Elizabeth Prichard Jones of Ammannsville, Texas, is a busy lady. This professional crafter and online
social media influencer, who has thousands of Instagram followers, is intent on fulfilling her professional
ambition. Elizabeth wants to inspire others to have fun crafting simple do-it-yourself projects in their
homes.

But another branch of Elizabeth’s business speaks of her Czech-Texas heritage and grounds her as
nothing else does. As a child, Elizabeth was captivated by the beauty of her grandmothers’ handmade
quilts. Gently holding those family treasures, Elizabeth felt a connection to those strong Texas farm
women who took pride in creating winter comfort for their families using whatever fabric they could get
their hands on. Feed sacks were a major source of quilting materials for several generations of farm
women.

What’s a Cutter Quilt?

Over time, even the most carefully stitched quilts show wear from regular, long-term use. When holes
or frayed edges appear, their allure fades and they are no longer greatly admired or deemed handsome enough to display on a bed or hang from a rack. Instead, they may be relegated to a trunk, a cardboard
box in the garage or attic, or a mat for the dog to sleep on.

However, old quilts fortunate enough to be rescued by Elizabeth are born again. She preserves and
repurposes them in an annual vintage quilted jacket collection offered in her Etsy online store. Created
by the talented team of Elizabeth and Kristina of Ollie & Mags Homemade, these one-of-a-kind
wardrobe staples utilize pieces of old quilts that remain uncompromised. (Most of the weaker, more
faded or somewhat tattered pieces go in another pile for future craft projects.)

What You See Is What You Get

Elizabeth delights in sourcing the necessary stack of old quilts every year for the jacket project. She finds
the dilapidated covers at estate sales, flea markets and resale shops. However, Elizabeth’s favorite
hunting ground is the hundreds of vendors set up in the fields at the spring and fall Warrenton, Texas,
Antique Fair.

Elizabeth has a keen eye for the corner of a battered quilt sticking out on the bottom of a pile of covers
in better condition. She politely asks the price, unfolds the quilt and looks it over carefully, noting its
flaws. During that pause, the seller, often anxious to get rid of the shabby bedcover, drops the price.
Occasionally, though, Elizabeth holds a quilt and shakes her head regretfully. The colors or the
workmanship may not satisfy her, or the quilt is well past the point of being rejuvenated in a jacket.

Once and awhile, a vintage quilt has such minor damage that Elizabeth returns it to the vendor’s display.
She won’t cut up the quilt that still has lots of life left in its original form.

When she gets back to her studio, Elizabeth carefully cleans her purchases. Depending on where the old quilts have been stored and how they were used, it may take several hand washings and afternoons drying on the clothesline in the Texas sun to remove smells embedded in the fabric.

Does the pattern of the jacket that Elizabeth is wearing above look familiar? It should. Scroll up and look
at the photos of the old quilt with the holes in the center. Then look back at the jacket that Elizabeth is
modeling. She has watched over this quilt’s reincarnation since she bought it at a flea market and envisioned its beautiful second life.

Elizabeth was ecstatic when an Etsy buyer put it in their shopping cart and checked out last fall. A vintage quilt jacket lover somewhere in the U.S. may be wearing it right now.

***

Thank you, Zadra and Elizabeth, for putting your creative spins on how quilt block-inspired patterns and
aged, forlorn quilts can turn into fun, fascinating new art.

Elaine Thomas
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