Recently I designed and constructed The Forest Quilt to honor a beautiful lady named Gloria. To access that account, click on Stories which will lead you to the first blog about it. It was a difficult quilt which I made for Gloria’s son. After finishing The Forest Quilt, I designed and constructed a second quilt for the daughter, who told me her mother loved to dance. I wanted a dance theme but also one that would honor the spirit of the lady.
For this quilt, I used a semi-traditional background made up of blocks which were 9 inches wide and 3 inches high. They were divided into two equal pieces, each one cut diagonally from a 1-inch side to a 2-inch side. I had seen a similar block used in several quilts in one of Joan Wolfrom’s wonderful quilt books and had always been intrigued by its use in art quilts. After settling on a theme, the first thing I did was separate all the colorful clothes to see if I had what I needed for the quilt I had in mind.
I had seen a picture on the internet that absolutely blew my mind. It depicted a lady dancing or leaping through the air against a background that included a body of water, a distant horizon and a setting sun.
Among Gloria’s clothes I found many blue blouses, a purple running suit, t-shirts in mauve, yellow, red, and cream. There was a pale yellow dress, a gold scarf, grey slacks and a grey knit shirt. So yes, I had the makings of a sea and of a sunset.
After cutting out and laying out the design, I begin the task of sewing them all together. Occasionally I changed the dimensions of the pieces, for variety. I didn’t particularly like the severe edges of the blocks, although I did like the way I could achieve a wave as clouds in the sky might appear, or waves in the sea. It is difficult to see in the pictures, but the dark purple velvet pieces blended well with the blues of the deep sea and the reddish purple of the middle of the sea.
In the lower middle are seen sienna brown mountains with the sun appearing behind them. I decided make it a sunrise rather than a sunset so I could mirror the deep blue sea in the night sky.
In the picture above, most of the patchwork has been sewn together and I have applied a “fake dancer” (I blew up the picture from the internet to use as a template).
After finishing the background, I appliqued the body of the dancer plus a swirls of bluebirds in flight around her. I attached the skirt only temporarily to see how it looked. After the quilting was finished, I attached the skirt permanently to the middle of the lady and to her legs, leaving the skirt open and free to blow in the breeze.
I decided to add an obvious sun. The picture above shows the heavily quilted sunrays.
Again, see a partial of the quilted piece before the skirt was added.
And the entire quilt shown before the skirt was added.
And then the finished quilt:
Every time I look at this quilt – or even at the picture from which it was conceived – I feel a lift of my spirits. I think it embodies the spirit of Gloria for whom it honors. I hope that is evident to others.
It was truly an honor and a privilege to work with these beautiful clothes and to be trusted with such a project. I feel very fortunate to be able to spend my days making these quilts!