Motivated by a Sense of Quilt

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Good things can come from stress--even something as good as a handmade-quilt business. Stacy McEachern was in a stressful job as an account sales executive when she signed up for a quilting class. Even though she thought the last thing she wanted to do was spend her Friday nights sitting around quilting with other women, she quickly found herself rearranging plans around those sessions. Within two years, she'd quit her job to start a quilt company with her husband, Joel McEachern. The result is Quilt Finder, based in South Pasadena, now 11 years strong and employing 75 pairs of needle-wielding hands around the country to stitch quilts.

Every quilt is custom-designed, with prices ranging from about $500 to $1,500, depending on size and intricacy. Basically, customers can commission a portrait or "quiltrait" of just about anything--homes, cars, animals. After that, there is a lot of back and forth on design between the customer and company until the rendition is finalized and the quilt begun--"rocking the needle," as Stacy calls it.

Sometimes, original fabric with sentimental value is incorporated into the design. Bobbie Fagin, who lives in Sherman Oaks, ordered a quilt with a family tree as a gift to her son and daughter-in-law on the birth of their first child. Not only do the quilt and nursery match color-wise, but fabric from her son's wedding vest (the same as that of the bride's wedding gown) is part of the design of the tree as well.

"It was a great experience--something so unique," Fagin said. "What do you give your granddaughter that is a part of you, that she will always have?. To have a sense of family, to impart my sense of family, in an artistic creation is the best gift I could have given her." The 4-by-3-foot quilt, made in Pennsylvania, took three months to complete.

Quilts usually take three to six months to finish and can take up to nine for a bed-size one.

By the way, if you're fortunate enough to have a handmade quilt, maybe even a family hand-me-down, keep in mind that Quilt Finder does quilt restoration as well.

The company can be reached at (800) 642-3312 or by e-mail at thequiltfinder@netscape.net .

Torolab Works

to Go on Display

Design works by Torolab, based in Tijuana, will be on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. ( Torolab is a consortium of artists and designers whose projects encompass fine art, architecture, clothing, graphic design and sound installation. "ToroLab: Laboratorio of the Future in the Present" will run from Sunday through Sept. 25.

Smithsonian Awards

The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City announced that the annual National Design Awards will be held at a gala dinner Nov. 14. The awards program, launched last year as an official project of the White House Millennium Council, will honor winners in six categories, including lifetime achievement.

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Candace A. Wedlan can be reached at candace.wedlan@latimes.com.

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