Cathy Wiggins – Quilting with Leather

Photo by Bonnie McCaffery.

Make an entire quilt out of leather? Who would think about doing such a thing? Is it even possible? Wouldn’t it be kind of like trying to iron a shirt with a crockpot?

Cathy Wiggins not only figured out how to quilt on leather, but her award-winning leather quilts have gained international recognition, a book deal, and a booming new business.

As a matter of fact, while on her journey to master quilting on leather, Cathy single-handedly created a whole new genre that has rocked the quilting world.

This is her story . . . .

Cathy and her twin sister were born and raised in eastern North Carolina. They got their first pony for their sixth birthday, and grew up riding horses. Her mom liked to say, “Cathy rode until she discovered boys.”

Once a girl has that love for horses, it never goes away.

In college, Cathy wanted to major in art. She loved creating in any medium, whether paint, papier-mâché, clay, or anything she could find. But her mom said she couldn’t make a living at art, so she majored in math and software engineering instead.

Cathy worked for twenty-five years in the telecommunications industry helping build the infrastructure that our cell phones use today. During those years, she painted acrylics on paper gaining recognition, winning awards, and magazine covers. It wasn’t until 2002, when she left her high tech job, that she discovered quilting.

Here is Cathy’s remarkable quilt journey in her own words . . . .

I started out like any other quilter, cutting little pieces and making traditional quilts. But those techniques never felt quite right with my creative spirit. I attended my first quilt show, Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, in 2003. I saw there were no limits to quilting, and I didn’t have to make traditional quilts. I could make pictures! And I fell in love. For the next three years, I worked hard to figure out my niche, and I bought my first longarm. I knew two things, I wanted to become a competition quilter. When people left a show after seeing 300+ quilts, I wanted them to remember mine.

Clowns on Parade
the first of the “Just for Fun” series.

I began creating my “Just for Fun” series of quilts. “Clowns on Parade” was the first in the series. For this piece, I created each clown individually on it’s own background and then put them together on one large quilt top. Each clown has its own three-dimensional element, like hair that sticks out or costume collars. It was like an “I spy” quilt with lots of hidden images quilted in the background. It went on to win several ribbons, and when I saw how people reacted to it, I had to make more.

Do you want more as well? Click HERE for the full story.