There were a few questions yesterday whose answers could be useful to many. So I’ll tell you more about those patchwork words.

I first learned about what is now called liberated or improvisational quilting from my father, my grandmother, my great-grandmother–that is, from my quilting ancestors. There is nothing new about the process of using the fabrics you have in creative ways and in keeping with a very old cultural principle that “perfection” in art is undesired and even shameful. I was taught that one makes accidents on purpose to appease god. One can see this play out in the lovely collection from Gee’s Bend and in the works of Anna Williams among others.

But the more traditional quilting community was introduced to this mode of patchworking by Gwen Marston and her acolytes now bring us variations on the theme. The idea of making patchwork words first entered my worldview around 2006 or so when I saw some on Quiltville accompanied by a (now gone) tutorial by Tonya. One can now get a thoroughly annotated and nicely illustrated version of the tutorial in her book, Word Play Quilts. The book is great for spiritual guidance, but the projects/patterns are repetitive and simplistic.

The idea is simple. You really do just follow your intuition and “write” letters. I keep scrap paper next to my sewing machine to draw letters with pencil for reference. Maybe I’ll tell you more about how I modified the technique to fit my style some other time?

fabric grain

So I finished the poetry quilt top yesterday and tried to take some photos that reveal details but not the message. In addition to the improvisational nature of my handwriting, this top includes “mistakes” via the background fabric. Due to the weave, it actually has a discernible grain. Those blues are the same fabric, but turning 90 degrees affects the reflection of light to make it seem like a slightly different fabric. I just did this at random within the piece overall.

And someone asked to know what the poem is…

a finished top

Heh. I’ll show you later. This will go off to the longarmer today and should be back in a week or so.

Now…what’s next?