I’m still riding on the satisfaction of seeing my latest quilt complete. It’s quite big, and it came together just how I imagined it- always a treat :) The whole quilt was made over five months, from fall to spring. It felt like a fast one! I’ve been experimenting with strip quilts lately. With this one I was interested in the way a grid forms when the top and bottom strip are the same color, and the blocks, once cut, are alternated between horizontal and vertical placement.
I spied the concept in a vintage quilt that I happened upon… somewhere now forgotten! I didn’t realize the image would stick with me at the time so I didn’t bother to hold on to the source. It was a cheddar quilt, I think. This one’s a little more… aged gouda ;) The yellow fabric that forms the grid is from a pair of linen curtains that a friend retired. Some folds had faded in the sun so I didn’t want to use the fabric in large pieces or for clothes. I really wanted to make a quilt highlighting the fabric (it’s not often I have that much of anything!), so I cut it into strips and the fading became this gentle variation in hue instead of a splotch. I pulled the rest of the fabrics in a palette loosely based on the nature preserve that I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years.
I sometimes hesitate to write about my reasons for using the fabric that I do, because I’m worried it will sound preachy and there is no one way to make a quilt. But how I source my fabric is such an important component of my work that it feels important to put it to words:
I know that there is mass overconsumption of textiles in my country, and that the production of those textiles takes an unfathomable environmental and human toll worldwide. Knowing those two things I can’t in good conscience source new fabric for making my quilts. So I don’t! I get my fabrics from the thrift store, from my own retired clothing, from friends, from strangers, from garment producers, and from garage sales. I buy the majority of my clothing and home textiles secondhand, and I select them with future quilts in mind. When I thrift for quilting directly I try to select garments that are unfit for wear (with stains, tears) because I know the thrift store is a resource that meets a lot of varying needs from the community, not just mine, and my work doesn’t require a whole or unblemished garment.
My choices around my quilting practice don’t stand alone- they are interwoven with all of the choices I make about how to live on our Earth. I can’t currently buy a new car that doesn’t rely on fossil fuel (or go fully carless), as a renter I have very little control over the building I live in, and I haven’t got extra money to put behind people with more power whose ideas on climate change I align with (ah, democracy). I can’t even plant a garden! But I can do this, and I have been for long enough now that it would be difficult for me to approach it another way. And luckily for me this way of sourcing fabric pairs beautifully with quilting. It makes my quilts unrepeatable and gives them both contemporary cultural context and a thread of historical connection. The fabrics connect the quilts to place- they reflect my physical location and also the spokes of my community. So it’s a choice, but it’s also a pleasure.
I guess that’s sort of my fabric manifesto!! It goes for the fronts, backs and bindings of the quilts- I do sometimes use new cotton or wool batting, as alternatives are less plentiful. I love to talk about this, so if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to:
Now I have a small ask of you:
It’s been four months since I hopped platforms from Patreon to Substack and I can happily say that it was the right choice. I’m finding this platform so much more intuitive and easy to use, which means I can spend less time cursing it and googling how to use it and more time working on art. However, it wasn’t possible to manually move paying subscribers from one platform to another and I lost quite a few people in the jump. I was hoping to be able to make up the loss in income by now, but the pandemic winter intervened. So I could use a little on the ground help.
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