After more than 2 years I am finally done with my quilt!! I started it shortly after I quit my job at Gartner and it proved a cathartic experience in relieving my stressed-out mind and body from their clutches.
The process involved taking cast off jeans and using pieces of them, in addition to some other fabric I got at Goodwill (as clothing was cheaper than buy fabric by the yard) and somehow it just fit better for the soul of the piece to have the history of a stranger’s life woven into our own.
As you can see from the pictures this is not your ‘traditional’ structured quilt. My inspiration was two fold…..the first source inspired the project and the second connected it to my own past.
So onto the inspiration…I was watching a segment on the quilting women from Gee’s Bend (I think on a segment from Martha’s pre-jail and much better show) when I knew THAT was the project I have been looking for but could conceptualize on my own. These amazing women, who in the process of trying to provide basic necessities of warmth and cover, as well as occupy the seemingly endless night at home, created a distinctive folk art. The uniquely varied and seemingly haphazard creations have a simplistic yet powerful impression of strength and hidden source creativity. They didn’t have fancy patterns or machines to make complicated appliqués or cuts, but creativity came from a purer genius; from the ingenuity of necessity.
The Gee’s women’s style appealed to my design technique I would loving refer to a “winging it” J In projects I frequently jump in with both feet first and just ‘try stuff out’ – most work, but some fail miserably. (I don’t think I ever need to mosaic anything ever again!!)
It was about at this point I realized there was actually a second inspiration subtly and oh so subliminally lurking at that very moment in my own closet. For years I had been collecting old jeans, cast offs we didn’t wear anymore, with the thought I would create a ‘utility’ blanket of sorts, like the one my mother had made many, many years ago we used to haul dirty items around with, take on picnic to cover the grass and mud and other sorts of unromantic functional actions. I dug out that old jean blanket my mom gave to me as part of my trousseau of sorts when I moved to CA with her other functional items she was handing down like my 40 year-old ironing board and almost as old tea towels for drying dishes.
I looked over that old jean blanket and knew it was now my quest to follow in the steps of many and much more talented women to try and emulate their work.
I decided to piece the quilt with the sewing machine (that is sewing the pieces of the quilt together) and then hand-quilt the sandwich (the pieced top layer, the batting in between and the backing together in a ‘sandwich’) The quilting the sandwich is what took the 2 years – since the quilt was pretty thick, I couldn’t do multiple stitches in one needle, but had to resort to the up-down of each needle stroke – much more time consuming. Needless to say I would lose motivation for periods and leave the project and come back a month or so later. The end result however is a great sense of accomplishment, not necessarily the quality of the finished piece, but just in the fact I didn’t give up on the thing! Now I have a great useful object that is big enough for two to cuddle under……J
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