Get to Know: Darlene Zimmerman & Clothesline Club


1. Tell me a bit about you: name, location, affiliations, personal stuff. 

My name is Darlene Zimmerman, and I'm from a very small rural community in southwest Minnesota. I have a degree in elementary education, but after teaching two years I realized it was not for me. Instead, we started our family, and for many years I was a stay-at-home mom. I love all types of needlecraft-- crochet, knitting, embroidery and sewing. Then I discovered quilting and everything else went by the wayside


2. How did you get started sewing/quilting?

I have always sewed. I grew up in a family of six girls (no brothers). My grandmother sewed, my mother sewed most of our clothing, and we all learned to sew at an early age. I made doll clothes, embroidered and hemmed tea towels and then graduated into making most of my own clothes (including designing and making my own prom dresses). Later, when my children were small I also sewed craft projects and dolls.

3. What do you like best about quilting?  

I like every aspect of quilting, but the best part is playing with fabric, color and design.  Even my spare time is filled with quilting!

Quilting has also put me in touch with women all over the world who have quickly become my friends. This common interest bonds women of all ages and backgrounds together. Think of all the friends you have made through quilting! 

4. What is the hardest thing about quilting?  

That's an easy question-- not enough time!


5. How much time do you sew or quilt during an average week?

It really varies. It seems to be feast or famine. Some weeks I have office work or pattern writing to do and don't have time to sew. Other times, such as when a deadline looms or a new collection of fabric just arrived, I do nothing but sew, sleep and eat for weeks. Ideally I would like to sew everyday, all day. When I relax in the evening I always have either a hand applique or hand quilting project that I pick up.

6. Do you name your projects or label them? 

Yes, I always name my "babies", but also forget what I've called them. Labeling? I always recommend it strongly as I am also a quilt historian, but am not good about following my own advice. 


7. How did you start designing fabric?  

It happened as a lucky accident. I was demoing my tools at Quilt Market, and there was a new fabric company in the booth next door. When I looked at their fabric swatches, I noticed they were old designs, but in modern colors. I commented that their colors were wrong for the time period, and they promptly asked me if I could do better! After Market I sent color swatches and a selection of vintage fabrics that showed how the colors worked together, and that was how my first "Granny" collection was created. I designed 30s fabrics for Chanteclaire Fabrics for eight years, and for Robert Kaufman Fabrics for the past 5 years.

8. What is your favorite step in the fabric design process?  

I like all the steps, but probably creating the different colorways for each design is the most fun.

9. How did Clothesline Club start?

I had so many requests for patterns and ideas for using the 30s prints, and many shops were asking for a 30s club.  


10. What can people look forward to this year in Clothesline Club?  

The three collections; Buttercup, Sweet Pickin's and Sweethearts are some of the best collections I have ever created. The projects range from large to small; and teach a variety of techniques. 

11. You also design tools & rulers for Simplicity... tell us more!

Back in 1991 I was teaching quilting in community education classes. While teaching, I discovered a need for a quarter-square triangle tool (cuts triangles with the long edge on the straight of grain). I had my husband cut the triangle out of plexiglas and discovered how well it worked with an existing tool, Easy Angle. I contacted that company and after only nine months I convinced a man (non-quilter) At EZ Quilting to manufacture and sell my tool, Companion Angle. This was my ticket into the quilt industry. I also started publishing pattern books at that time. I now have twenty tools with EZ Quilting (Simplicity), and have published five books with EZ Quilting and seven books with Krause (F & W Media), with a new book coming out Fall 2011.

12. What inspires you? 

Anything and everything. The colors of nature, the colors and designs of antique quilts, and the world around us. There are pattern, design and color everywhere we look, and we just need to pay attention to it.

13. Anything else you want to tell us?

I would just like to give a big hug and thank you to everyone that has helped me along the way; to friends that have encouraged me and fellow quilters who use my tools, sew my designs and buy my fabric! I have been so blessed to be a part of the quilting world for almost twenty years.


Darlene's Booth at Fall 2010 Quilt Market

-Want to join the Clothesline Club?  Ask about it at your Local Shop.


Where to Buy Section

of the Robert Kaufman site will be updated with the 2011 Participating Shops soon.

-Also you can see more photos from

Darlene's Booth and Quilt Market on Flickr



Photos from

Julie Herman

Interview questions from

Nicole of A Stitch in Design

as seen on the

Philly Modern Quilt Guild Blog


I'll be back on November 19th with A Little Birdie Told Me!

volume 1 post 7

{ julie herman blogs at 

jaybird quilts