(Ok, I'm not really a witch, but I probably would have been burned at the stake in 17th century Salem.
I am a big fan of midwifery, pirates, and eating a peck of dirt before you die.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

First Stitchy Post

So, one of the things I'm learning about blogging, is it takes up time. And I am the kind of person who struggles with doing something that takes time from things I want to be doing. So, now, as I make this post, I'm wishing I was working on the thing that I am posting about, and not just blogging about it. Ah, the perils of virtuality. I just made up that word. Look, if Shakespeare could do it, so can I.

Voila. The 2009 People's Light & Theatre Auction Quilt (top).

Every year since 2000 I have donated a "hand crafted" quilt to People's Light, my artistic home. In 2000, the quilt sold for $12,500. It was one of the proudest and most shocking moments of my life. Every year, the quilt is featured in the fund raising event, so much so that I don't even have to have it finished, or conceived even, before auction date. Now, PL&T auctions off the "promise" of one of my quilts and, although they've never fetched quite the ridiculous amount it did in 2000 (that was before 9/11, remember), it is a much anticipated moment. Go figure. All monies from the auction benefit the People's Light Project Discovery programs, which brings theater and its processes to thousands of students yearly. This is a program I've worked in extensively, and believe in wholly, and am eternally grateful to for shaping my approach to theater, and thus, my love and life.

Back to the quilt. This year, it's a Bargello pattern, one I've used before, and, like every year, I use remnants of fabrics used in the costumes from productions from the current season.

A couple of previous years' auction quilts:

This used calicos from the production of SPLITTIN' THE RAFT, a 4 character telling of the Huck Finn story, so there were some great 19th century vintage fabrics. I think this was my favorite. It was hard to give it away, but the winners are dear friends, so I know it is well-loved.

This is more typical auction quilt style. I like how the stars almost twinkle.

So: the Bargello is fun because the design emerges out of precise ordering of pieces and a kind of mathematical system. It appeals to my love of geometry, and beauty unfolding out of pattern.

Strips of different widths await their turn in the pattern. I manage the unpredictability of the fabrics (these are mostly silks and they shed and fray terribly) by keeping them uber-organized. I learned (too late for this year's project) from the awesome lady at my new favorite fabric store in Narberth, Cloth and Bobbin, that using very lightweight fusible interfacing before cutting the strips make fancy fabrics much more manageable.

It's funny. Putting the strips together doesn't really pay off until they are all connected. It starts off looking very blocky and formulaic and I wondered if I hadn't made a terrible mistake in the pattern and choice of colors. They don't really talk to each other and move together until it is complete.

Cool, huh? I know, the colors are whacked from different lighting, but it really is the same quilt.

I like the trippy picture because it really captures how this very precise, strict patterning ends up creating so much movement when completed.

Then just add some borders and off we go.

It really is quite luscious, even if completely unusable. I guess some quilts just get to live the lazy life and their only job is hanging on some wall and looking pretty. It doesn't appeal to my pragmatic nature, but there you have it.
Sometimes beauty is just, well, Beauty.


  1. Love the green and teal-y border on this, the way it bounces off the other colors...

  2. Bargello is such an interesting pattern to develop. One of those "hold your breath" till the end style adventures.
    I can understand why Splittin the Raft is your favorite. You must have had a wonderful time using all the vintage fabrics.

  3. The quilts are all beautiful, but I am with you that quilts should be used. Have to expand my horizons to include the use of decoration.

  4. What a great story and fabulous work raising money for your theater project!

  5. What wonderful colours! And yeah for you for donating your time every year! I'm more and more tempted to attempt a Bargello everytime I see one.

  6. What a lovely quilt...I remember doing bargello when it was popular - including chair covers!

  7. What a great way to raise money. Your quilts are beautiful.

  8. What a wonderful quilt, a great way to use scraps that have meaning, and such a generous use of your time and to raise much needed funds. Thank you for sharing :o)

  9. What an accomplishment! I can't fathom having a quilt sell for that much, and to have the funds go to a group you support, even better. i really like the star quilt, it does twinkle!

  10. What an amazing story!!! Congratulations on raising money for a cause you feel strongly about. All the quilts are amazing. I love the Bargello. It is on my things of things to try. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Your quilts are all beautiful. Kudos to you for donating your time and talent to People's Light.

  12. great quilt...i love your splittin' the raft auction quilt...it is very fun

  13. Lovely Bargello, they are not my favorite quilt to make but the effect is charming..

  14. "Beauty is its own reward"

    Such a beautiful art quilt.....

  15. I was just recently reading about Bargello. It's so interesting and deceiving!

  16. What a great achievement to have your quilt raise over 12,000. The split raft (rail fence) is too cool.
    Come see my antique quilt entries

  17. All your quilts are very beautiful! I love the twinkly star one. How wonderful of you to give your quilts up for the fundraisers.

    ..I am off today from work, so will hopefully get to some others on the quilt fest. I have some drawing orders to work on and of course, cleaning house... Now that our children are grown and my hubby and I are empty nesters, I can't be a "stay at home mom", but I would love to be a stay at home wife :o)

    Blessings & Aloha!
    If you have a moment to come over, please let me know by leaving a comment at my post. It was fun meeting you!

  18. lovely quilts--fascinating story of its creation and good ideas for trying something like it. i have an old, beautiful crazy quilt made from my great, great aunt's clothes and her family's with wonderful embroidery on it--so fragile but so marvelous. thanks for sharing

  19. Great post and such lovely quilting...I relate to your pragmatic comment and yet if you use most things as first intended then it makes total sense ( pragmatically) to have some things that are just for the beauty to remind us how beautiful all the things to our avail on a daily basis really are...like women making gorgeous piecework and quilting it together for the keeping..