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Solid Color Fabrics Never Looked So Good

"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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