I felt compelled (strongly I might add) to create a piece for Quilt National 2013. I did not get accepted but I am very happy I completed this piece. I have good feelings about it. This piece made me ponder and think on a level that I have never done before. This piece is personal. It speaks. The message is a good one.
The theme compelled me: The Breadth of Diversity
Last winter I took an online course from Lisa Call. She encouraged journaling, sketching and goal setting. She has been accepted to Quilt National 6 times. She said she wrote this goal down somewhere and then set out to make it happen. If you don’t actualize things how will they materialize? So that is what motivated me. (She entered this year too and did not get accepted.)
I started with a sketch.
I have been frustrated with converting my sketches into fabric; piecing the pieces together by machine. It finally dawned on me to make a pattern. Now this is not rocket science but I am not used to working with a pattern (other than garments). The design had gentle curves and having a pattern would make sewing the curved sections easy.
I usually like to have a sketch as a starting point and then allow the work to evolve naturally. I love what I discover along the way. But, this time I wanted to actually depict the sketch. I thought it was a good composition and could portray the theme. This time the discovery happened in the planning stages. There were more stages to resolve as the piece evolved which brought more discovery.
New revelations about the theme occurred gradually.
The first thought was that the two large shapes looked held together by the horizontal band. I envisioned the large shapes as groups of people or people of a certain origin, communities or countries; places where people commune and exist.
And, so I began to make the pattern. I used pattern making material. It is a thin non woven product with red dots on it. I used the method I learned in art school: draw a grid on the design and then draw a grid (on the pattern material) with the same scale enlarged to the desired finished size. Use the original drawing referencing to the grid. Draw the design matching the placements of the lines on the pattern. I could then cut each section in order. I cut out a piece from the pattern and laid it on the fabric. The pattern material is transparent which is a big plus. I began with the two large shapes as these were the catalyst for the theme. I added 1/4 inch seam allowance all around each piece.
I like to use the fabric I have on hand and I was able to find and decide upon the fabrics right away. I wanted to use fabrics that had an ethnic quality and colors of the earth. I kept the color palette warm. I also wanted texture. All of the fabrics have something special about them. Either hand dyed, hand dyed damask, hand dyed silk organza and vintage fabric. They are united by their ethnic qualities.
Once I had the pattern made and the fabrics selected the sewing went smoothly and quickly.
The design matched the drawing exactly and I was amazed how the fabrics made it come to life. After I viewed it on the design wall for the first time, I could see some extra bands of fabric were needed around the perimeter to frame the shapes.
After I gazed at it for a few days it occurred to me that the size would make quilting a challenge. I usually work fairly small. But, the theme continued to beacon me.
The next decision was: how would I quilt it? What kind of quilting would further define the theme? I went back to the sketch book and began to draw motifs and thinking more about the theme. I thought about this for a few days. Thinking about diversity truly opened my eyes. I began to realize how I felt about the differences of people; the world as a whole. The ideas started to flow.
I decided to begin in the light shape in the upper center and left. The logical way I could express my thoughts was to write them out. I am pretty good at freehand writing with free motion. I wrote down all of the words and began in the middle and worked out. The first word was:
The more I wrote the more I began realize about myself; it opened my eyes. I had never thought about this topic in depth. My thoughts enriched the applications. I really enjoyed creating this piece from start to finish.
The brick color strip across the top is quilted with tall buildings to look like apartment houses with windows. The brick color strip in the center has a few words and sayings. The yellow band at the bottom has people holding hands of all sizes, combinations and colors. The strip along the right has key holes and keys.
These symbolize: Neighborhoods, People, Opportunities, Answers.
The colorful band represents unity. The ties that hold us together.
I am really proud of this piece. I have full confidence that it will be accepted at some point.