Rita Hutchens, Sandpoint, Idaho

In my life and in my creativeness there is a desire to be distinctive. With that desire comes the willingness to take risks and with that willingness comes the ability to accept mistakes. The best ideas and concepts are often developed through mistakes, which I like to think of as intuitive decisions. It is through quilting that I have been able to let go and truly enjoy the process.

I was drawn to the graphic and visual possibilities of pieced fabric during the making of my first quilt in 1981. With little exposure to contemporary or traditional quilt making, I had no pre-conceived ideas regarding the right or wrong of how to make quilts. I liked the idea of putting little things together to make bigger things and devising new formulas and making up rules for myself as I go. I am constantly playing the what if game and will spend days exploring the many possibilities of one idea or concept, when all of sudden a completely new concept will pop up for me to explore and I will go off on another tangent.

Working intuitively with lots of experimentation and mistakes I discovered a style and process of working that was all of my own and developed a unique method of strip piecing. I have explored this technique in depth designing and producing innovative contemporary quilts and award winning garments. I am enthusiastic about sharing this template and paper free technique.

Biographical Highlights

Born and Raised

1955 Long Island, New York

Current Home

Sandpoint, Idaho, since 1979


Half of the living room of the 1100 sq. ft. home shared with 16 year-old daughter

Artistic Passions

Exploring the use of color and pattern - quiltmaking - beading - the techniques of strip-piecing - ENJOYING THE PROCESS

First Rainbow
1986, 62" x 76"

Artistic Determinations

Uniqueness of style and content, in my work and in my life
To make an interesting and decent living at what I love to do
To become an excellent and inspiring teacher, encouraging students of all levels
Sharing the art of creating
To bring the level and art of quilt making into the art and craft world
To hold the integrity of my work
Incorporating it all to create a lifestyle that will take me into my old age


Primarily self-taught
Formal training in color theory and design at the State University of New York at New Paltz
Grew up outside of New York City and was exposed at an early age to many disciplines of the arts
Years of making a living using my creativeness
The world

Artistic Accomplishments


- Began Quiltmaking in 1980
- Worked in an isolated studio making quilts while developing my own style, technique and improvisational way of working
- Incubated an intuitive ability for exploring the concepts of color and design
- Earned a living from the early 80's into the early 90's designing, producing and selling one of a kind and limited edition pieced quilts and clothing, while at the same time developing my skills as an artist
- Participated in one person group and juried shows in galleries, nationally (See Selected Exhibitions below)
- Participated in juried wearable art shows at the Bellevue Art Museum, Oregon School of Crafts and the Seattle Art Museum (See Selected Exhibitions below)
- 1988 Had a baby

Aleya, sweet and sassy, at 16


- Continued to quilt for myself while developing a love, style and skill for beading
- Earned a living designing, producing and selling one of a kind and limited edition beaded bracelets and necklaces
- Began teaching my inventive beading techniques throughout the northwest
- Got on staff at a major quilting conference, Quilting by the Sound, and began networking in the quilting world again, realizing after almost 15 years my technique was still not being done by anyone anywhere

Bumpy Bracelet 1


-Bought a computer and taught my self to illustrate both my beading and quilting techniques
- Wrote a book which included
- Designing manageable projects the readers could create following step by step directions
- Writing / Technical writing / Explaining my technique in detail
- Technical illustrating which included over 100 illustrations for the projects
- Producing quilts for the projects and for the gallery section

August 2003 Release of 80 page 8 ½" x 11" full color book Totally Tubular Quilts explaining my technique for piecing quilts. Includes photos of twenty-one of my quilts and directions for making five of them. This book introduces the quilt world to my inventive technique.

Selected Exhibitions

Pacific Northwest Quiltfest, Seattle, Washington / Regional juried show / August 2004

Quilts = Art = Quilts, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center / Auburn, New York / National Juried Show / November 2003

Art Quilts at the Sedgwick, Sedgwick Art Museum / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania / National Juried Art Quilt Show / March 2003

Handcrafted, Rocky Mount Arts Center / North Carolina / National Juried Craft Exhibition / February 2003

Facets of The Gem State, Traveling Exhibit: Idaho-Sandpoint, Twin Falls, Coeur d'Alene, Moscow, Boise, Regional Juried Show / March 1990- January 1991

Centennial Biennial, Contemporary Idaho Art / The Boise Art Museum / Regional Juried Show / catalog produced April-June 1990

Art To Wear, Elizabeth Fortner Gallery / Santa Barbara, Calif. / September 1986

Designed To Wear, Oregon School of Arts and Crafts / Portland, Oregon / National Juried invitational / April 1984, '85, '86

Art Wear, Bellevue Art Museum / Bellevue, Washington / Regional Juried Show / April 1985,1986

Robots and Friends, Gayle Wilson Gallery / Invitational Wearable Art Show / May 1985

Northwest Designer Showcase, I. Magnin Co. Portland, Oregon / Invitational / May 1984

© 2004 - Rita Hutchens
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