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"In Gina's Footsteps," 24" x 30" by Dana Jones, 2018. Inspired by "Flood of Colors, 68" x 88" by Gina Abayan, Caohagan Island, 2000.


This week, my quilt, "In Gina's Footsteps," when on exhibition at the Texas Quilt Museum in LaGrange, Texas, as part of the American Quilt Study Group's (AQSG) 2018 quilt study exhibition, "Inspired by 200 Years of Solid-Color Quilts 1800-2000." What a thrill!


My inspiration quilt, "Flood of Colors" by Gina Abayan of Caohagan Island and made in 2000, came in just under the wire of quilts that could be selected as inspiration. Every other year, AQSG issues a challenge to members to promote quilt study by creating quilts along a theme and within a size range. Quilters can create an exact replica, a partial reproduction or a new work inspired by the vintage piece. I chose to replicate Gina's work but much smaller.



You can learn more about my quilt in the exhibition book, Years of Solid Color Quilts: A Quilt Study, (American Quilt Study Group, 2019). I was so honored when it was selected as one of five quilts pictured on the book's cover.








If you haven't read my book, Pagtinabangay: The Quilts and Quiltmakers of Caohagan Island, it's available on my website. You can enjoy a full-page photo of Gina's "Flood of Colors" plus more than 300 other full-color photos of these amazing quilts, their makers and their island.








I was hesitant to enter the AQSG study exhibition. My first concern was that my proposed quilt would not be accepted as only 50 entries. Passing that hurdle, I was concerned I wouldn't complete it by the deadline. As a journalist and magazine editor, I spent most of my adult life working to deadlines and meeting them. In retirement from that work, I've steered clear of imposing deadlines on my quilting. Entering meant committing to and meeting a deadline. I sew slowly so my fear was palpable.


I met the deadline but not without some angst. I had planned to hand quilt the piece as do the quiltmakers on Caohagan Island. When I began hand quilting, I quickly realized that would be impossible. Some of the strips are less than 1/4" wide so there are many seams close together. I couldn't stitch evenly. I had to quilt it by machine but I honored the Caohagan way of stitching horizontal lines of quilting about 1/4" apart, not drawn but eyeballed as you go. I was surprised how much I like the results, especially because it has the feel of Caohagan with a twist more in line with my tools.


I didn't worry about whether my quilt would be selected for the traveling exhibition which is limited to 25 quilts, and it never occurred to me that my quilt might be used on the exhibition book cover. When both those things happened, it was delicious icing on the cake.


2021 will again be a time for me to embrace quilting to an exhibition deadline. If you have not taken on such a challenge, I encourage you to do so. During 2018, I quilted to three deadlines: The AQSG deadline, a deadline for Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum and the deadline for Colorado Quilting Council's annual Quilt-a-Fair show. I met that last deadline again in 2020. Quilting to deadlines — not too many too often — and quilting to a theme, a size or other boundary has enhanced my quilting. I think it will do the same for you. Give it a try.

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My version of Elizabeth Hartman's "Patchwork City"


When I began planning my version of Elizabeth Hartman's "Patchwork City," I thought about the cities in which I've lived and worked: Chicago and Manhattan, NY. One image was dominant. Taxis. My quilt had to have taxis. But where to find taxi fabric. I didn't want yellow cabs, just black and white ones. I finally decided I had to make my fabric. The beauty of this was that I could make taxis of various sizes to fit each block. And I decided there must be at least one taxi in every block.


Clockwise from top left, "Patchwork City" blocks: Museum, Drawbridge, Rose Garden and Clock Tower



When I first saw Elizabeth Hartman's "Patchwork City" book (C&T Publishing, 2014), I had to have it. I fell in love with the energy of the blocks. Next came my fascination with her use of three sizes of blocks that can be organized in a variety of grids. (More on my love all things grid in a future blog post.)


Most exciting about this book is that it doesn't say make this quilt this way. It says, here's 25 patterns for each of three size blocks. Make as many of these 75 blocks as you want then put them together as you want.


Elizabeth Hartman offers six settings for these blocks. I made her "Metro Area" setting, which uses all 75 blocks. Since I will be teaching this quilt, I wanted to have made all the blocks so I can lead students in making any that they choose. Her other five settings use fewer blocks. Three use only blocks of one size. Rarely have a seen a book that is such an interesting mix of clear instructions for how to make blocks yet leaves so much room for personal choices to create quilts unique to each maker.


It was fun putting finishing touches on this quilt, which is loaded with memories of my 16 years working and living in Uptown Manhattan and six years working in the Chicago Loop, as snow was falling outside my Rocky Mountain home/quilt studio. We got at least three feet plus deeper drifts. After more than two days of continuous snow falling, I've been dug out by a neighbor who plows our driveway and a very snow-competent county road crew.


I will teach "Patchwork City" from 1-4 p.m. Saturdays, June 5, 12, 19 and 26, and July 10 for Holly's Quilt Cabin in Centennial, Colorado. It will be via Zoom so wherever you are, you can enroll. I'll post the shop sign-up link soon.


Snow at my home in rural Gilpin County,

Colorado, Sunday, March 15, 2021



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You won't read Virginia Postrel's The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World in one sitting. If you're like me, you won't even read one chapter in a sitting but you will panic when you can't find where you last set down this book. It's that good. If you've been bugged by the idea that fabrics are a woman's thing, not very important, it's time for an attitude adjustment.


From chapters on fiber, thread, cloth and dye to those on traders, consumers and innovators, this book will enlighten, surprise and transform your appreciation of all things fabric even among those of us most addicted to it.


I was struck by the role of consumers. Postrel writes:


"Again and again, textile consumers remind us that cloth is more than just stuff. It is desire and identity, status and community, experience and memory embodied in visual, tactile form."


Wars have been fought over textiles. Peoples have been enslaved over textiles. Wealth and power have been reordered by textiles.


"Textile consumers change the world," Postrel writes.


So how do you consume fabric? My first response: In quantity every chance I get everywhere I go. I have mailed home boxes of fabric from Asia and the Philippines. I have traveled to Europe, India, Japan and Palestine with near empty suitcases so I could fill them with fabric for the flights home.



German vintage fabric


My dear friend, Elisabeth, brought me this vintage blue and white German fabric a few years ago. Her mother, now a grandmother, purchased it to make something for her home when she was a young woman, but she could never cut it up. Indigo and white always make my heart sing. This fabric calls to something deep in my being, perhaps something from my distant German heritage about which I know very little. A truly amazing gift. What might it mean that this fabric now lives on the other side of the Atlantic?



Gorgeous woven yardage made by a Burmese refugee woman displaced to Thailand along its western border with Burma.


When I had the opportunity to travel to Thailand with my husband for a Rotary International meeting, we decided to search out a community along the Thai/Burma border where friends travel annually to work with Burmese refugees. We visited a center where refugee women were making bags from the stunning fabrics they weave in a rainbow of colors.


When I've shown these fabrics to friends, they think they are from Central America. Postrel writes of how similar yet unique weaving traditions have developed around the world and how trade has influenced materials, colors and patterns used. What might it mean that this fabric now lives on the other side of the Pacific?



Brilliant screen-printed canvas from Bathurst Island, Australia.


On a trip to Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory, my travel advisor recommended I visit Bathurst Island. I spent two days on the island meeting Aboriginal Islanders who are artists, including those who worked at a center for those with disabilities where they produced screen-printed fabrics for home dec and clothing and more. When I see U.S. quilters creating Zentangles, I am reminded of the Bathurst Islanders' patterns.




I have shared a few textiles from other nations that have grabbed my attention when traveling. Each inspires my quiltmaking in some way. Each makes the drawers of fabric in my studio alive with color, pattern and texture.


I don't know that the textile consumer in me has changed the world but I know consuming a vast array of textiles from a range of traditions has changed me. Take a walk through your stash remembering textile consumers rule for good or bad. Carry that thought as you head out on your next road trip wherever it may take you. And don't forget to brake for quilt shops and fabric stores.

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