Urban Outfitters and the Anchal Project

If I had to sit down and make a list of the things that we love here at HerKentucky, the very top of the list would include Kentucky, quilts, pretty clothes, woman-owned businesses, and helping others. I am so excited about a recent collaboration between Urban Outfitters and a Louisville-based non-profit organization that combines all of these things and so much more!

The Anchal Project is an organization headed by Louisville native and landscape architect Colleen Clines. The 501(c)(3) -- or not-for-profit -- group was founded to empower women who have been forced into India's sex trade by providing them with safe employment in the production of textiles.What started out as a small group of students passionate about designing change for oppressed women now touches the lives of women in 3 cities and employs over 60 artisans on a full-time basis.

Image via the Anchal Project.

Here's how the Anchal Project describes its mission
 Anchal celebrates the creative, nurturing essence represented in the anchal and harnesses it for women’s social and financial empowerment. Through design, craft, community-building and education, we help provide new economic realities for commercial sex workers in India. Our goal is to create the infrastructure for creative, income-generating initiatives to run sustainably with local leadership. We believe that by providing a fair living wage and educational workshops to these women in need, opportunities can be pursued that build confidence, increase self worth and inspire entire communities.
Urban Outfitters recently announced the Anchal X Urban collection, a limited edition collaboration with the Anchal Project, which includes gorgeous home accessories and clothing.

I am so in love with this quilt!

And this one, too!

You can check out the entire collection online at Urban Oufitters' website, and in select stores, including the Bardstown Road location.

(Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links to the Urban Outfitters website; HerKentucky does receive a small commission for purchases made through clicks from this post. Independent of any potential financial gain, however, we fully endorse the mission of the Anchal Project.)

It's beginning to look a lot like...QUILT WEEK!

As Paducah gears up for Quilt Week, I thought I would revisit a post I wrote last year to introduce the rest of Kentucky to the event that preoccupies my little neck of the woods. - SSH

There is one event the entire year revolves around. There is one event every Kentuckian around me loves but also dreads. The tourists. The crowds. The traffic.

The Kentucky Derby?!?!

Nope! That's for you central Kentuckians. Over here in Western Kentucky, the event of the year is the AQS Quilt Show. Starting early this week, the streets of Paducah will start to fill with quilters from near as far (seriously, FAR, as in Japan far) and really live up to its name The Quilting Capital OF. THE. WORLD.

The Quilt Show transforms the entire town. I will never forget the first year I moved back. I walked into my favorite coffee shop downtown only to find the front had been filled with fabric bolts of every color. Coffee shop/Fabric store! Only during the Quilt Show.

Some less enthusiastic citizens complain about The Quilt Show. These are the people who have never actually gone to the Convention Center and taken in the beauty and artistry that is competitive quilting. These are the people who prefer to frown over the slightest change in their routine and giggle at the ladies in their quilted vests. These are the people who don't even go down town the entire week for fear of being confronted by someone not from Paducah!

These are not my people.

I'm very lucky to have my own quilting tour guides every year. My husband's parents run Planet Patchwork, a popular quilting website, and have been coming to the Show for years. (That's how I knew Nicholas and I were meant to be. He took me to the Quilt Museum on his first visit to Paducah and showed me his father's endorsements in the front of all the quilting books.) They show me all the best shops and shows. We eat at the church quilting luncheons. It's a blast to be a foreigner in your own town.

So, as the rest of Kentucky gears up for a little horse race, Paducah will be living large with the quilters. If you're not from around here, I encourage you to come by. And if you are from Paducah and have never embraced the Quilt Show in all its glory, it truly is your loss.

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

Halloween Quilt

How cute is this Halloween quilt and pillow set that my grandma made me?

The HerKentucky 60 Things Project: Paducah

In last Sunday's Herald-Leader,  Cheryl Truman, with the help of many readers, listed 50 things that define Lexington.  We thought it would be fun to make a similar HerKentucky list, with 10 things that define our respective hometowns.  Up next? Sarah's list of things that define Paducah.

1. Rivers. They don't call it River City for nothing. Paducah sits at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers - just upstream from where the Ohio joins with the Mississippi and just downstream from where the Cumberland meets up with the Ohio. There wouldn't really be a Paducah without them. It defines industry in Paducah, with the barge business being a major employer in town. It has shaped our history, with floods being the events that mark time. It has truly shaped our town.

2. Quilts. I've covered this before. Paducah is the Quilt Capitol OF THE WORLD.  The city's calendar revolves around the Quilt Show in May, when the entire town shuts down to welcome quilters from across the globe. We have a Quilt Museum, quilt shops, quilt societies. Quilts are our thing.

3. The Arts. Our official tagline is "Distinctively Creative" thanks to the strong and ever-growing artists community in Paducah. In the 1990s, the city government began offering artist real estate in our LowerTown for CHEAP (as in $1 cheap) if the artist pledged to fix up the real estate and make his or her home in Paducah. The Artist Relocation Program was a huge success (even got written up in the New York Times!) and now we have a town that truly values the arts ... not to mention a truly cool regional arts festival.

4. The Market House. The centerpiece of our downtown. The Market House originally housed the town's market. Now, it is home to the Market House Theater and Museum, as well as the Yeiser Art Center. Surrounded on both sides by cobblestone streets, it was recently named one of the Top Five Most Romantic Main Streets in the U.S.

5. Barbecue. Again, I've covered this before. We love barbecue in Western Kentucky and particularly in Paducah. I know other places have barbecue. It's just not as good as our's.

6. Maiden Alley Cinema. Our local non-profit art house cinema would be awesome enough on its own but it also hosts the state's second oldest film festival every fall, which gets better every year!

7. The Downtown Food Scene. We've got the only other family owned and operated Doe's (a Southern institution). We have one of the oldest and BEST bakeries in Kentucky. We also have the best seafood, Italian, and Mexican - all within a couple blocks of each other. Not to mention, every Saturday in the summers the streets are shut down to cars and fill with people, performers, and music. 

8. The Lake. Kentucky Lake with all its splendor is only a half an hour away, which means it is an indelible part of most Paducahan's lives (and history). 

9. Whitehaven. If you roll through Paducah on I-24 (as most people do), then you this historic mansion will welcome you from high atop a hill above one of the main exits. Built in the 1860's, it is now a welcome center and houses memorabilia from the life of one of Paducah's most famous citizens - Vice-President Alben Barkley.

10. Noble Park. 135 acres of playgrounds, ponds, and trails. I like to think of Noble Park as Paducah's own little Central Park. It is a popular place for picnics and play dates all year round but it really sparkles in December when the city lights up the entire park for the holidays.

~ Sarah Stewart Holland 

Pink Ribbon T-Shirt Quilt

This is what a square will look like.
I've always wanted to make a t-shirt quilt. For years, I've saved quilts from ball games, sorority dances, and charity events. I've matched them to the perfect fabrics and I've made diagrams of their placement. And then, every time, I stopped.

As y'all well know by now, I come from a quilt family. I can distinguish a nine patch from a Log Cabin or an Ohio Star from a mile away. I've learned the appliqué stitch. I can iron like a boss. The thing is, I just can't cut straight. Turns out, that's a big problem when you're making a quilt.

This October, I'm getting past all that. I'm making a throw-sized quilt to commemorate many years' worth of breast cancer charity runs. This cause hits really close to home for my beau and me, and we've always made an effort to support breast cancer research charities. Needless to say, we have a lot of pink ribbon t-shirts sitting around the house. A quilt is a perfect keepsake to help us remember all the fundraisers we've participated in over the years.

My basic pattern.  I'll keep y'all posted.
My grandmother helped me create a pattern for my quilt. We cut nine t-shirts into 15" squares. Each square will be framed by a 2" wide green and pink border. These squares will be sewn together and framed by a 2" wide contrasting border, then quilted.

Since I've cut up over a decade's worth of fundraising commitment to use as quilt squares, I'll need to participate in a few new races and earn some new shirts. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to raise money for breast cancer research in the Bluegrass State this year!

This part scares me far more than running a 5K!
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
Lexington (5K) -- Saturday, October 6, Downtown 9 AM
Ashland (4K) -- Saturday, October 13, Central Park, 9AM
Louisville (5K and 10K) -- Saturday, October 13, Iroquois Park 9AM

American Cancer Society Making Strides Race
Lexington -- Sunday, October 28
Louisville -- Sunday, October 28
Ashland -- Sunday, October 28

Quilts Galore

Since Sarah shared with us why Paducah is known as Quilt City with the AQS Quilt Show in town and Cincinnati recently hosted the International Quilt Festival, I thought it a perfect time to share some of our favorite quilts.

Heather’s grandmother appears to be a prolific quilter – mastering all the traditional patchwork and applique styles.

She also throws in some great modern prints, too, with this patchwork quilt. I’m not sure who likes it more – Heather with her love of Lilly P or Max!

Emily loves quilts for the same reasons I do – each quilt is a labor of love. Quilters often quilt because they love the process, but every quilter I know loves to make quilts for others – almost meditating over the recipient while making the gift.

With this in mind, Emily decided to learn to quilt. She found a local quilter on Etsy and asked for lessons. This is a great way to learn a new craft.

While Emily quickly found out that quilting isn’t always great for those with ever-changing attention spans, she did make two awesome quilts!

One for her father with an Asian influence, and a great patchwork quilt made from some modern Amy Butler fabric (an icon in the modern quilting world!).



My beloved aunt, Carol, helped teach me to quilt when I decided to do a class project on quilting. When she passed away, I inherited her amazing machine, and my love for modern-style quilting really blossomed. I love to use modern fabrics in conjunction with more traditional patterns and also to try to come up with new designs.

City Bliss Play Quilt

I’ve found that baby blankets are just about the perfect size – not so big I get tired of them and not so small that they aren’t functional. Plus, I love giving handmade baby gifts! Who doesn’t want a quilt to snuggle under?

Blue Angles Quilt - front

Ellie's Baby Quilt

Blue Angles Quilt - front

Nine Patch Lattice Baby Quilt

Finished! Seeing Squares for Baby Colin

If I could just find the time to make a quilt for myself!

Reason #2 to come visit

So, the last reason I gave you to come visit was kinda gross...fascinating but gross.

Then Lydia wrote her awesome tutorial and I was reminded of the real reason you should come to Paducah. Such a good reason I ranked it #2! (#1 being ME...of course)


Paducah is Quilt Capitol of ... wait for it... the WORLD!

We have a Quilt Convention. We have a Quilt Museum. We have lots and lots and lots of quilts.

So, what's the big deal you ask? A bunch of blankets. Who cares?


Quilts aren't just blankets. Quilts are ART and until you've stood inches from tee tiny stitches which are not only exactly the same size but were done by hand.  Then you may not look down upon the art of quilting.

It's not just the incredible skill that is required.

(Side note: Upon graduation from college, I decided to make my now husband a quilt. I spent an insane amount of money on fabric for a quilt that ended up being about the size of a crib sheet and was pushed to tears in frustration. I've all but blocked the entire memory.)

Real quilters create incredible tableaus that put color and shape together in ways you can't even imagine.
The quilts themselves are beautiful. They are unique. They are definitely worth a visit.

~ Sarah Stewart Holland