Sunday, March 29, 2009

A good friend is like a quilt wrapped around your heart.

It has been far too long since I had seen my girlfriend, Maryanne. I've tried to lure her into Westside Wednesday, but she keeps insisting on bringing quilt blocks and refusing to hold yarn.
It was very fortunate that I ran across an ad for a quilt show put on by Northwest Quilters Guild at Multnomah University; it was the perfect opportunity for us to get together! She picked me up bright and early Saturday morning, and after an obligatory stop at Starbucks for coffee, we hit the road.

After winding our way across town and paying our entry fees, this masterpiece was the first thing you laid eyes on. This entire quilt is made up of tiny square that are reverse appliqued.

Not regular applique, mind you, but reverse applique! Now, in regular applique, the blue design is cut out and applied to the top of the background fabric. This is reversed, so the blue fabric is behind the background, and then the background is cut away to reveal the blue. Click to make it bigger and see for yourself.

Then the squares were put together to make the top, the border applied using the same reverse applique technique, and then it was quilted together with the batting and the backing. The real killer here is that this was all done by one person by hand. As in no sewing machine. No wonder it was front and center, showing off its blue ribbon!

And in case blue wasn't your color, there was a similar one in red!

Not all the quilts were traditional; some were very modern. This one is a technique, which Maryanne informs me, is bargello. Maryanne says the fabric is cut into strip and sewn into panels, which are then cut crosswise into varying widths and shifted up and down to make these patterns that appear three-dimensional.

This one stopped Maryanne dead in her tracks. She loves deep, rich, jewel-tone colors; I think it was the deep blue and purple that reached out and grabbed her.

Some of the quilts looked like they started out all traditional and well-behaved, then took a left turn and went all contemporary at the last minute. Like this one.

There were also some antique quilts being shown. Like this Hawaiian one from 1932. The two-color Hawaiian quilts always remind me of papercutting designs common in so many parts of the world.

Looking at this one up close, the close pattern of quilting reminded me of a labyrinth. Can you just imagine how long it took to quilt this by hand?

Some quilts looks more like paintings. This one was made up of thin strips pieced together horizontally.

This one looked very Asian at first glance.

But none of the fabrics were an Asian print. There were musical notes, starfish, polka dots, batiks, stripes, even cow print! But no Asian prints!

This one was a ribbon winner, too. The information label on this one said she had designed this quilt in honor of her 40th wedding anniversary. All the squares, except for two, were traditional patterns which held special meaning for her and her husband. The other two had silhouettes of their children and the date of their marriage. Oh, and the label also said she finished it just in time for their 50th anniversary!

And there were other quilts made to honor someone. Like this little one for Frank Lloyd Wright. I'm thinking this one could be done in knitting; stockinette blocks bordered with black and joined as they're worked. Maybe a project for next winter. . . .

And this one was labeled "Happy Birthday, Charlie" in honor of Charles Darwin. You can't see it very well in the photo, but there are things hidden in the quilting: snails, tadpoles, ferns, peoples faces, etc.

The one that took my breath away was this one. Maryanne asked what it was that I found so stunning, and I'm not sure I can describe it. It's the rich, saturated colors; the random/not random piecing; the curves that cut through, yet join all the blocks; the way it has a border on two sides and not the others. It's the balance and total of it all. It reminds me of Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, and Gee's Bend.

It almost makes me want to start quilting. Almost.


  1. Oh. My. God. Thank you, thank you for the photos! I didn't make it to the show (doing my own sewing) and what a treasury I missed. Thank you for sharing! These are works of art. (Can you imagine the reaction if the grandkids pulled one of those off the bed and snuggled up on the floor to watch tv?)

  2. Wow! In general I'm not big on modern quilts but that last one is glorious! Reminds me of the work of early 20th cen. French painter/textile artist Sonia Delauny.
    I saw the sign for the show but my day was full up.
    By the way I finished the recycled grey tweed alpaca scarf last month and finally got it to its recipient. He's very happy. Single guy; nobody knits for him but me. I gave up hoping my spouse would want a hand-knit anything decades ago. Scanned the Goodwill for likely candidates to "unknit" yesterday but nothing was both cheap and luxury fiber.
    Mrs. Tiggywinkle, what do you mean
    by "frog"? Clearly not Jeremy Fisher.

  3. I've always wanted to do a bargello quilt. I just haven't taken the time to do it yet. Knitting pulled me away from quilting. ;^)

    Thankfully I still have two drawers of fabric that I can pull out and at sometime in the near future a quilt or two can still happen.

    Now if all those knitting patterns, my growing stash and the spinning wheel with its growing stash of fiber didn't call to me.....

    Thanks for sharing! I wish I had remembered about it and gone.

  4. I'm a quilter and knitter. The reason I can no longer turn around in my sewing room is that I have TWO stashes - one fabric and one yarn...

  5. Thank you for sharing these pics - the bargello quilts are amazing. Might even go and dig out some of the patchwork stuff I started and never finished years ago.


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