Quilt Artist Spotlight 2021 - Quilting Cowboy

Jun 29, 2021 9:00:00 AM / by AccuQuilt

For Dale Allen-Rowse, quilting is an expression of love.

It is a simple, yet an impactful, way to share your connection to others – be it a quilt made for a baby or a decorative piece to make a house a home.

Big Interviews for a Big Designer

We are so excited to feature Dale's work in our gallery and thrilled that we could virtually chat about his quilting journey.

We are featuring two different interviews for Dale. This blog explores his process and his story. Watch the video below to explore his exhibit in the AccuQuilt gallery and learn details about some of his most impactful quilts.



Dale Allen-Rowse Interview

AccuQuilt: We’re so excited to feature your work in our gallery! How did you choose the pieces to send?

Dale Allen-Rowse: My quilting journey explores both art quilts and fresh modern quilt designs that always have a basis in traditional work. My quilt designs strive to bring a new idea to our community about what is both high design and appropriate for men. At some point we all make quilts for guys and my fabric lines were born out of my personal frustration of never finding anything in quilt shops that’s masculine, handsome and modern. Most men I know would NEVER use novelty fabrics with fishing poles and hammers.



AQ: Is there anything we should know or think when we view your gallery?

DA: My work speaks for itself; however, I do play with perspective in my art quilts. See if you can spot this. For example, Koi in the Moonlight can be viewed in two directions. From in the water, with the lily pads floating above you, or from above looking down into the water. Also, I believe in art/spirit connection and I hope the weight of my subject matter is felt. From the little details such as the back of the mans shirt in the COVID quilt to my Blue Palms quilt where the universe is sending on the spirit of a friend who I discovered murdered in my home. I hope viewers feel the weight of that.

AQ: How did you find quilting?

DA: In 1999, my sister told me she was pregnant with my first niece and I wanted to create something for the newest member that most closely described the love I felt for her - even though I had yet to meet her. Making a quilt was the closest expression of that. Making quilts for me is making beauty out of thin air, and comfort for those who need it.

AQ: Tell us a little about your first quilt.
DA: My first quilt was the baby quilt I made for my niece. It was completely done by hand because, back then, I didn’t know how to use a sewing machine. It still brings me joy, despite the Frankenstein stitches and wobbly edges, because it was made from so much love. That’s the beauty of quilts. The ‘mistakes’ make it human. And I have gained infinite knowledge from continuing to make mistakes or as I call them, Happy Accidents.

AQ: What are you working on now?
DA: I just completed my third fabric line - which I am so excited about. We’re also in pre-production for a Quilting Cowboy TV show which we hope to begin shooting summer of 2022. I’m also enjoying going back and recreating many of my original patterns. I feel like I need to make my original designs a few times to fully understand it. I do the same with colors. I use color very selectively, and will work with the same palette repeatedly until I fully understand how it resonates and ‘feels’ – not how it looks.


AQ: From where do you draw inspiration most often?
DA: I see quilt patterns everywhere because nature is patterns and math. Music is patterns and math. Architecture is patterns and math. When we fully dive into an exploration of say a 5:4 rhythm... or a snail shell... or the spire of a church... the basic structure is there. The pattern, the rhythm, the blocking and spacing, the negative space and information regarding tone, hue and contrast… it’s all there if we have the mind to listen for it. I sew in silence because of this. I’m not seeing. I’m feeling. I’m not talking. I’m listening to the silence for it has informed my work more than anything.

AQ: The color theory in your quilts are amazing, what are a few recommendations you’d give to someone who is still learning the concept?
DA: Great question. Color theory is something that should be studied. A good quilter knows color families. Is it a jewel tone quilt? Or an earth tone quilt? Getting this right is why/how quilts sing and it all begins with fabric selection. This is something I strive for in my fabric lines so that people have a palette to work from that is all speaking with the same voice. I strongly encourage beginners to watch videos on this concept.

AQ: You have so many great fabric lines out there, what made you want to start designing fabric?
DA: As I touched on earlier, my fabric designs were my answer to never finding fabrics that spoke to me. Every time I’d go fabric shopping, I’d leave depressed and I didn’t know why there was no representation of me in quilt shops. High design fabrics for men are important because we all make quilts for guys at some point in our quilting journey. My designs strive to be color and design appropriate for men, but women also enjoy the rich colors and handsome bold point of view. When it comes to fabric selection, women seem to enjoy a whole different perspective. The cacophony of bright colors ladies often use stresses me out, and I often wonder what women are hoping to achieve with this confetti blast palette that attacks my senses and gives me a headache. To me, quilts should be soothing and comforting and I hope my fabrics represent this.


AQ: Where are some of your favorite places that quilting has taken you?
DA: This I’ll address in two ways because quilting has taken me on two separate journeys. One external and one internal. The ability to meet other artists, and share our collective love of the work, inspires me and helps me sharpen my skills. I’ve had the opportunity to teach all over North America and to meet some of the best people in the world - not just the quilt world. Quilters are natural healers and caretakers, and to share space with those who dedicate their lives to this pursuit is something I never tire of. But quilting has also taken me on an internal journey of personal exploration and understanding. It’s through my work that I ‘know’ the ways of the universe more clearly. For me, it’s the connection to what is and following those intuitive cues. Each quilt is an exploration of this. What am I feeling? How do these colors together make me feel? How are these shapes speaking to one another. Synesthesia, or exploration of the sense to inform the work from differing perspectives, is super interesting to me. This is the ability to hear with your eyes or taste from your sense of smell. To me, understanding things informed from these unexpected places opens up a vast new landscape of creativity.

AQ: Who or what influences your art most?
DA: Honestly, my spirit influences my art the most. It’s the silent walk and journey of a monk in the world. It’s the meditative deep dive into the unexpected ways I continue to better understand what it means to make my heart sing. It’s putting together polar opposite elements that ‘shouldn’t’ work but somehow takes your work to another level that gives work gravitas and clarity of voice. This is a lifelong pursuit for me.


AQ: What are you most excited to be working on in the next year or two?
DA: Like anything, the more we do it the better we get. It’s like I tell my students, "You have to love it enough to survive your own learning curve." This path never ends and certainly applies to my design work. In the next year, I cannot wait to launch my ‘Gala’ fabric line. It’s so good, if I may say so, and I’m so excited to share with others my personal evolution in this world. I’m also super excited to resume in person classes and see people again. It’s been a tough few years, and I think we will all benefit from being able to come together again. My TV show will also be teed up late 2022, and I’m so excited to bring to television my vision for what crafts mean to artisans all over the world.

AQ: If people want to follow your work, where should they go?
DA: If you google or search 'Quilting Cowboy' on any social media platform you’ll find me, but I do post different things to different accounts. The more traditional/family friendly posts goes on my Facebook Page, the slightly more edgy on Instagram and the plain silly on TikTok, and the outrageous laughter and learning on my YouTube channel.

AQ: Is there anything we missed that you want the world to know?
DA: Recently I’ve been more transparent about my potentially crippling medical diagnosis. I have a rare neurological movement disorder called generalized (or global) dystonia. Each day is a different journey and some days I’m totally fine, but others I lose my ability to walk, speak or control how I move. I do my best, but it’s a massive undertaking to sit with this - knowing that at some point I may not be able to do the work. To friends, I’ve described this sensation as sitting on the beach knowing there will be a tsunami, but not know when it might happen. Quilting for me is healing and clarity, and I do my best to steady myself for what might yet come... but it’s a lot. I share this not for pity, because I will punch you in the throat if you do that (lol), but for understanding of my work. There is weight and thought in it and some of this, I hope, can be felt by those who truly engage with the work. My hope is that my work isn’t just seen... but felt.


Rapid Fire Round!

  • Favorite project you’ve worked on: Funny enough it was my beginner pattern ‘Tangled Rectangles’. I did this quilt recently as part of my beginner YouTube series and I LOVED the simplicity of it. It’s this quilt that I have on my bed. It’s just so beautiful to me.
  • Favorite time to work: Mornings until noon.
  • Favorite quilting snack: Iced coffee and a muffin.
  • Favorite thing to listen to when quilting: The universe.
  • Favorite way to unwind: Playing with my dogs or jumping in our pool. A real benefit to living in Palm Springs!
  • Favorite hobby outside of quilting: Driving my truck off-road.

Written by AccuQuilt