I didn’t actually plan to make a quilt this season, but that’s what happened. I admire quilters who choose a pattern and a color scheme, then buy fresh bright cottons from Jo-Anne’s to fulfill their vision. In my case, I pulled out an old wool blanket (felted last year) and a stack of blue dye-experiment scraps and thought, “What the hell… I’ll stitch it all together.”
But then the fabric scraps looked a boring, so I pulled out my paints and stamps.
But in figuring out what stamps actually worked with which paints, I found myself carving new ones.
“Make beautiful layers!” I instructed myself. Inside my cramped line-everything-up, make-it-clear style, there is a bolder, more playful artist struggling to be free.
As I muddled along, the parameters of my quilt emerged: 16 squares, alternating light and dark; pieced on the sewing machine; edged on the sides with dyed thrift-store lace; and enhanced on the fringe ends with strips from an antique crocheted table cloth, dyed with indigo. After I got the top pieced, I quilted the two layers by hand.
Suddenly, it was done.
I was challenged to layer my designs, but when I looked at it this morning I realized the layers were as much about time as space. As I had my morning coffee and pulled it over me, I saw that every element had a deep history, a meandering story of thrift-store visits, dye-pot experiments, Jim’s 1960s passport stamps, motifs from old sketchbooks, and more. The wool throw once kept someone else cozy. The crocheted tablecloth was someone else’s dining room pride. A bit of their souls cling to these hand-me-downs.
Cotton quilted to thick felted wool makes a very warm blanket. And to have it tell me stories too — that keeps my heart warm.