27 May

A Quilted Saga

Friends following me on Facebook and Instagram have seen these photos, but not a lot of the story behind them (though I did blog a bit here — and it’s worthwhile to scroll to the very first post at the bottom about the genesis of the quilt). Here are the gory details!

In late 2002 I started working on a quilt somewhat in response to the 9/11 attacks. It was to be a king sized Service Star and I pieced and appliquéd most of it while my husband was deployed on and off for the next year+. I hand quilted most of it, but then life got in the way and I set it aside.

Service Flag

Trapunto, Broderie Perse, and embroidery, oh my!

Service Flag

In 2004 we moved and I joined a group of ladies that met every other Friday to have breakfast together and work on hand stitching projects. I picked up the quilt again and came close to finishing it before moved again. By the time I unpacked it during hubby’s fourth Iraq deployment, I had moved on stylistically.

To go with the sheers

Having embarked on The Army Wife series at this point, I considered how I could bring this into the fold. Inspired by so much subversive stitch and gallery-worthy embroidery, I decided to add embroidered bumper sticker platitudes and a shadowy Uncle Sam.

Service Star WIP (detail)

It worked in my mind, but after many, many, hours into it, I didn’t feel like it was coming together. I’m loathe to just throw the whole quilt away given the hours I have invested in it. But I felt (and still feel) like it should have just had the shadow figure and none of the distracting embroidered flags and sayings. However, I can’t really remove the embroidery because of all the guide lines below it. I tried some blending stitches, and set the quilt aside for another move and another year.


I considered stretching the whole thing like a canvas and painting over it, but I realized I would hardly be able to get it out of the house, let alone into a vehicle to take to a gallery or anyplace! Finally, last week I decided that I was over this quilt. It wasn’t doing anything but hanging over my head. It was too late to call it an heirloom and put on a bed somewhere, and with all the “edgy” embroidery, it just looked overworked and tortured. I thought practical thoughts about what sells and where my work might fit in to that sphere. I love my “Suck It Up and Drive On” quilt and others seem to enjoy it too. It also fits in thematically with so much inspirational wall decor on Pinterest.


So I decided to take drastic measures and I not only painted my quilt, but I cut it up into sizes I could mount on standard canvases. I plan to stitch and paint some more, adding some nice bold stars on some and the Suck It Up phrase on others. They will make what a friend calls “edgy Americana” wall decor. And I will have one monkey off my back.

Interestingly, I just read an article on Ragged Cloth Cafe this morning about creativity and fugitive artwork.

08 Aug

You Don’t Know Until You Know

Slowly but surely I am making progress on the Service Flag quilt. It is an older, traditional, project which I hope to give new life to and incorporate into my Army Wife series.

To go with the sheers

Part of the plan is to add a large shadow over the quilt — the looming presence of Uncle Sam. While it is relatively easy to find opalescent and even sparkly organza and other sheers, finding something matte is not so simple.

Auditioning sheers

I looked at the fabric stores here on Oahu and found nothing. I checked JoAnne’s and a large fabric store in Reno, NV while on vacation earlier this summer and found brown tulle and a taupe synthetic sheer. They weren’t exactly what I had in mind, but the price was right and I bought a few yards just in case.

Auditioning sheers

In New York last month we went to several fabric stores (including Mood — made famous by Project Runway) and found a wonderful taupe silk.

However, when I got home, the organza-type sheers were both too opaque. The silk definitely had the better hand and aesthetic, but the overall look was not right. I had been convinced that the tulle would be too subtle and not play well with my hand quilted and appliqued quilt. But, you never know until you see it in person, and one layer of tulle was just what the project needed. Good thing I had bought enough. And, the taupe sheers I don’t use for this will undoubtedly find homes in some other projects down the line.