September 26, 2011

Over the weekend I was in Reedley, California, for their semiannual quilt show. Reedley is not far from Fresno. That’s right, Fresno, where the hot sun turns grapes into raisins. It was 99 degrees on Friday. My neighbor Donna and I nearly suffered heat prostration trying to get everything loaded in and set up.

I was delighted to be there, though, because the amazing Janice Whittington was one of the featured artists!

Jan Whittington

Jan Whittington

Jan’s daughter Shamara runs Second Chance Fabrics, a genius concern that rescues unused fabric out of quilters’ stashes and gives it a second chance! Jan helps out at the booth at shows, and mom and daughter have become buddies of mine.

Part of Jan’s display was a collection of Biology Quilts. Let me see if I can get the story straight. Jan’s husband Nathan, Shamara’s dad, is a high-school biology teacher. When they moved to a new building, the high ceilings made the room echo. Plus, the articulated cow skeleton couldn’t come along, so the space that had been dedicated to it in the new classroom was now bare. On top of that, the school administration sent down a decree that there could be no nails in the new walls.

Now you know what a quilter does with bare spaces and echoing halls. Jan immediately started on a series of quilts to go in that new classroom. The rebel in her came out. She went down there herself to put the nails in the walls. “They’re not MY boss,” she says LOL!

Here are some of the pieces in her amazing biology series.


Octopi for Nathan

Octopi for Nathan

Inspired by her husband’s many coastal class field trips.

The Bug Collection

The Bug Collection

The first quilt Jan made to help baffle the echoes.

Wee Beasties

Wee Beasties

My personal favorite. Now how many people do you know who’ve made a bacteria quilt?



Here’s another of Jan’s quilts that I just loved.

Aztec Rose

Aztec Rose

From the Aztec Rose Garden pattern by Colette Belt. Longarm quilted by Cynthia McGunigle of Mac Quilting, Fresno.


Beautiful pattern, beautiful colors, beautiful appliqué.

Well done Jan!

By Sunday the temperature had gone down to “only” 85. The local residents said they were grateful for the cool weather.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie


10 Responses to “The Biology Quilts”

  1. Arlene on September 26th, 2011 3:24 pm

    What an incredible collection!

  2. Diane on September 26th, 2011 5:43 pm

    As a microbiologist and a quilter, I have to say I love the Bacteria quilt! What a creative person Jan must be, as well as an excellent quilter.

  3. Debbie St.Germain on September 26th, 2011 6:29 pm

    What amazing quilts and really creative ideas.
    It is so humid here, it is killing me, never been this humid in the fall.


  4. maritza on September 27th, 2011 2:39 am

    Qué trabajos tan preciosos!!!, estan fantásticos, me encantan. Un beso

  5. Stray Stitches on September 27th, 2011 5:00 am

    I felt so sorry for you all that had to stay in those buildings for the two days. It was a wonderful show! My husband and I enjoyed viewing all of the quilts and especially liked Jan’s quilts. And poor Jan was stuck in the hotter of the two buildings.

  6. Carrie P. on September 27th, 2011 6:05 am

    wow what an imagination and some really awesome quilts.

  7. Carol on September 29th, 2011 5:37 pm

    Very enjoyable since my husband is an entomologist and my sisters quilt

  8. Jeanney on September 30th, 2011 5:45 am

    Yep, that’s my big sister, Jan! Hard to ever keep up with her talents but I do try…she is my hero, my mentor and such a generous person. Love you Jan!

  9. Rhonda Seltzer on October 29th, 2015 7:12 pm

    Please tell where to get the pattern for aztec rose quilt….it’s beautiful!!

  10. Kay on October 30th, 2015 7:13 am

    Rhonda, just google it! As it says in the post, it”s “From the Aztec Rose Garden pattern by Colette Belt.” A quick search turned up the link, at one of my vendor buddies Quilters Paradise.