Kathryn Simel of Midcoast Cottage Design

MQU‘s Cheryl Sleboda talks with quilter and contributor Kathryn Simel of Midcoast Cottage Design.

Originally posted on May 3, 2018 by Cheryl Sleboda

We caught up with Kathryn Simel, whose quilt “We The People” is in the latest issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited #23.  She was able to tell us a little about what’s going on with her and her quilt adventures!

Hey there, Kathryn! So tell us about when you first learned to sew? When did you make your first quilt?

My absolute first attempt at using a sewing machine was in an 8th grade home economics making a plaid flannel short jacket with elastic on the sleeves and around the waist, puffy sleeves and a zipper. The height of 70’s fashion! That was the extent of my fashion career, it came and went very quickly with good reason. Quilts came much later in my life. When I was home on maternity leave, after having my son in 1989, my Mother and I took our first quilting class together. It was a simple nine patch crib quilt pattern, I was hooked.

What is a technique that you have never tried that you would like to?

Reverse applique is definitely on my list. I am even toying with using it with some knits and trying my hand at garment making again!

What about the Modern aesthetic appeals to you?

I love the wide diversity of the Modern Quilt movement. Every element of traditional quilting can be found in Modern Quilting and the range is astounding. I love the “anything goes” aesthetic of Modern Quilts. I am a no rules kind of person. Recently I have been working on a project that combines machine applique, vintage linens, batiks, and linen/cotton backgrounds.

We the People, by Kathryn Simel of Midcoast Cottage Design

What advice would you give to a beginner in quilting?

I would say to buy and use fabrics that you love and experiment. Start with a pattern you like but don’t be afraid to make it your own. Improvise when you feel comfortable and try something new. If it doesn’t work out try another fabric or technique. That is why they make seam rippers!

What kinds of fabrics are your favorite to work with?

I love Carolyn Friedlander’s fabrics, they are in my comfort zone, small modern prints with linear designs. Recently I have been pushing myself to experiment with different fabrics and styles. I used Alison Glass’s batiks for an applique quilt and Anna Maria Horner’s Loominous woven fabrics for a sample of my “A Checkered Path” pattern.  I try to consciously step out of the box whenever I can.

What kind of projects are you working on next?

Once again I have too many irons in the fire! I released my first small project pattern last year, a project bag that comes in two sizes and a tote bag that also comes in two sizes is planned for this summer. My personal projects include an applique quilt that also includes some repurposed vintage linens and a protest quilt against gun violence in America that should also be finished this summer. Too many projects and too little time as always!

We can’t wait to see what you do next, Kathryn!  To see how to make this quilt, check out the latest issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited! To see more of Kathryn’s work online, check out her website at

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