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Folk Artists Gallery African American Quilters Gathering

About African American Quilters Gathering:

COMING SOON, our Folk Artists Gallery will include a full profile of the African American Quilters Gathering of Harrisburg, PA. In June 2021, founding member Narda LeCadre spoke with folklorist Amy Skillman about quilting in the context of the Black community.
“Why is quilting important to me? Because it's the best thing I do.”
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Narda LeCadre holds a quilt she made called "Garlic Knot"

A Beautiful Gesture

Narda LeCadre is one of the panelists for our Bringing It Home event, Beautiful Gestures, centered on women's art and the many ways we make meaning with our hands. Narda is a founding member of the African American Quilters Gathering of Harrisburg, which is soon to be featured in a Folk Artists Gallery profile.

Meet Narda LeCadre

A a self-proclaimed night owl, Narda is often quilting at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. She has been quilting since 1974 and like so many quilters, she made clothing long before she started quilting. After her mother passed away, Narda started dreaming about quilts, so she knew she had to make one. She still has that original quilt, and estimates there are over 300 of her quilts out in circulation. She also has about 120 tops at home waiting to be quilted.

Although most of her quilts are what she calls “utility quilts,” Narda is known for making quilts that have as much detail and design work on the back as they do on the front. She rarely has a plan when she starts a quilt. “I put two pieces together... and figure out a size for a block. Then I just fill it in, so it doesn’t necessarily make any kind of sense, but it works.” She says she doesn’t really have time for hand quilting but hand-sews the binding and adds her label by hand.

Fabrics fade and wear out when people actually sleep under a quilt. So quilts often come back to her for repairs and restoration. Narda has become even more productive since retiring, and with 17 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren, she expects to be busy quilting for a long time.

When asked why quilting is important to her, she says, “Because it is the best thing I do.” This striving for excellence to make useful and beautiful objects is the hallmark of a true craftswoman, and the stuff of dreams.