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                Debra Hillen: Educator, Fabric Artist, Seamstress, and Mentor
                                 

Education

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale IL, M.S. Environmental Design/Textiles 1979-1982 MS
Kansas State University, Manhattan KS,  B.S. Textile Science 1977-1979 BS
University of Illinois, Champaign IL Fashion Design, Clothing and Textiles 1975-1977
School of Hard Knocks and Common Sense ... always continuing!

Professional
Assistant Professor, Johnson County Community College, Fashion Merchandising and Design Dept., Overland Park, KS 2002- current
Nintendo Retail Representative, (where did that come from) Kansas City MO 2000-2002
Education Coordinator, JoAnn ETC Overland Park KS 1998-1999
Stitchers Sewing School, Olathe KS 1995-1998
Assorted Sales Merchandising positions in Central Illinois, 1984 - 1994
Custom Sewing, Design, Bridal and Alterations, Decatur IL1982 -1994
Asst. Mgr So Fro Fabrics ,Decatur IL 1981-1982
Exhibitions 
Artist Gallery Show, Kansas City MO, Dec. 2005
Fiber Holiday Show and Sale, Greater Kansas City Weavers and Fiber Guild 1999-2004
Olathe Quilters Guild Show 1995 -2002
NQA Omaha NE Fall 1999
Changing Perceptions - Traveling Exhibit  Kansas Art Quilters 2001-2004
Upon Reflections -Traveling Exhibit -Kansas Art Quilters 2003- 2005
Kansas Art Quilters Show, Topeka KS Spring 2001

Organizations
Kansas Art Quilters, 2000- 2004
Quilters 4 Innovative Art (Q4IA), 1998- 2005
Olathe Quilters Guild,  1995 - present
Greater Kansas City Fiber Guild, 1998- present
Art2WearKC 2005 -present                                      

Artist Statement (click here)

AND...........For those with a curiosity... A SHORT (?) HISTORY OF OBSESSION

    I started sewing with sewing cards at about 3 yrs old....fast forward. One summer I convinced my grandmother that I knew how to use a sewing machine, I did not, but at 8 years old she let me do it anyway.   I have been sewing up a storm every since. It always amazed me that no matter what crazy thing I wanted to make my parents let me jump in headfirst, from Cheshire Cat costumes to bright orange jeans for school clothes I think I tried it all!

    I studied flat pattern, tailoring, and draping in high school, made my own clothes and what ever else I could, thanks to a wonderful teacher who always gave me more ideas that I could do in a life time! I even entered a sewing competition as a teenager thanks to her. 

    In 1975 I enrolled in the University of Illinois and after taking my first textile class knew that I had to know how the fibers, fabrics, finishes and dyes worked, too. I transferred to Kansas State University and finished my bachelorís degree in Textile Science. But that wasn't quite enough so I headed on to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to get a masters degree in Environmental Design, specializing in textiles and clothing. 

    From what I learned in my first job (fast food), I knew that I had to work with fabrics. I have worked in many unusual ways with fabrics such as selling sewing machines, various fabric stores, teaching, an online quilt shop, designing and custom making garments. But I have found that dyeing fabrics and designing quilts has been the best of all my jobs, although not always as lucrative. 

    No matter what else I have done in my life, fabrics and sewing have always been an integral part of me. I made many of my husband and children's' clothes, along with quilts for family and friend. I have taught my 3 children to sew, along with several other children around the area. My homes have been a collection of my handiwork, cross-stitch, drapes, table covers, quilts, pillows and covered furniture. I have even taken up some jewelry making to accent my garments. 

    Sewing is my favorite past time. I can sit at a sewing machine for hours on end. It never ceases to amaze me at the things you can make a sewing machine do, or the intricate ways one single machine or hand stitch can effect a project. I drool over the new technological advances the new machines have, but always come back to my all steel Kenmore with its cams and unusual stitches that I bought at in 1974 with my baby-sitting money. Although over time I have acquired 5 other machines, It is still my main workhorse. When it breaks down I actually go thru with drawl until the part comes in the mail to repair it. It is also a good idea to have a in-house fix it guy around, Dave (husband) and he occasionally gets a pair of pants hemmed or a button sewn on. If you want to see the studio he built click here!

    Dyeing is my favorite "messy" past time. if I am not at the sewing machine. I have tried drawing, painting and 3-D techniques to make art. But dyeing fabric has all the element I need its messy, creative and always an "Ah Ha when you finish. I use Procion MX fiber reactive dyes on cotton, silk, rayon and lyocell. Using a variety of techniques to achieve blended colors and patterns. I also do some batik work, stamping, painting, computer printing, overdyeing on commercial fabrics and marbling. A large garage with a sink is a great asset for a home dyer.

    Beading is my favorite "quiet" past time. I love the color and sparkle it adds to garments and quilts. There are so many variations of beads, sequins and threads that I know I will never get over collecting and using them. I use glass, plastic, wood, bone and metal beads, what ever gives the unique look to my quilts. See Bill the Dragon!

    Some people say sewing at home has become long forgotten since we can buy clothing and quilts for so cheap from discount stores. Well they obviously don't live in my world. I think sewing can be elevated to an art form if it is done well and that takes time and practice. Start early and sew every day! Teach your family to appreciate your work, teach them to sew and stitch too, pass on the tradition!

Silver Threads and Golden Needles to you! 

Deb Hillen
 stitchindeb@yahoo.com