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Bookshelf quilt is threaded with personal details

Jan Warren’s bookshelf quilt doubles as a portrait of her family. The blanket in the shape of a five-shelf bookcase is chockablock with clues about the Warrens.

“I tried to incorporate books in it that have meaning to us, that refer to our hobbies or places we’ve been,” Jan said.

A Bible and other religious texts attest to the importance of faith in the Warren household. Spines made from patterns featuring saxophones and notes demonstrate their love of music. Three Kansas universities each have their own volume. So do many holidays, which reflect Jan’s enjoyment of seasonal decorating.

On the top shelf, some books reference Jan’s Scotch-Irish and Swiss heritage. A stitched title on one spine reads “Lindsay,” her grandmother’s maiden name, and “Scotland,” her homeland. The Warrens’ nationality is represented by fabric in red, white and blue.

The pleasure of Jan’s bookshelf quilt is in all the details she layered into it. In these choices, you can see her mind at work: a scrap of a red-and-white gingham print became a volume labeled “Cookbook.” Most home cooks will instantly recognize the reference to the “Betty Crocker Cookbook” and its iconic gingham cover.

To add other titles to the spines of some books, Jan used pieces of selvage — the edge on the side of woven fabric that prevents it from unraveling. It’s often printed with the name of the fabric pattern, and Jan turned many of these into book titles. For example, she matched the title “Fiddle Dee — It Was Meant to Be” to a book in the children’s section.

In addition to books, Jan styled her shelf with a globe, fishbowl, blue and white china plates, and prints from four national parks: three the Warrens have visited and the Grand Canyon, where they’re headed next.  

“It was fun to put it together and see what fabrics looked good next to one another,” Jan said. “And I wanted to be sure I put in leaning books and stacked books and some other objects to make it look like a real bookshelf.”

Though Jan is new to quilting, she learned to sew in junior high. A couple of friends encouraged her to give it a try. When she got stuck, Jan consulted a book, a YouTube video or a friend.

First, she made a several holiday-themed quilts to add to her holiday decorations. Then a bookshelf quilt caught her eye on Pinterest, an online image-sharing service.

“I thought that would be a good way to use up scraps,” Jan said. It turned out so well that an artist friend urged her to enter the Art is Ageless® competition at Salina Presbyterian Manor. “Book Shelf Quilt” won Best of Show – Amateur.

When she’s not planning her next quilt, Jan works part time at the Salina Dairy Queen, which she owns and operates with her husband, a retired schoolteacher.

“I decorate the ice cream cakes,” Jan said. “It’s another artistic outlet for me.”

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