In January I had a conversation with Thomas Knauer on the podcast. Thomas is a deep thinker and he’s got some pretty radical things to say about quilting and the industry that’s grown up around it. One of his big ideas is that we should step away from the constant consumerism of quilting – more fabrics, more thread, more tools, more machines – and instead work to make meaning from what we already have.
Thomas suggested creating a piece of patchwork from all of the fabrics in your collection as it stands right at this moment. That quilt would express your taste, your color palette, and your story. I loved this idea and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
One of the things that’s always drawn me to craft is making something from nothing. Years ago I made a bird from cloth labels I cut from all of my clothes as a way of demonstrating that there are bits of interesting and usable fabric all over the place that we hardly notice. Many of my favorite fabrics came from our town dump – literally trash that I’ve been using to make things from for years.
My current fabric collection certainly isn’t nothing, but it also isn’t the stacks of folded yardage you see in many quilters’ sewing rooms. I generally sew small things – dolls and toys – and my fabrics are what other people might considered scraps, stored by color in clear bins.
A few weeks ago I dug into all of those bins and pulled 99 fabrics to make into hexies. Once they were basted my middle daughter, Stella, and I laid them out on the floor in rainbow order and I lettered and numbered the backs. I’ve been hand sewing them together in the evenings sitting on the couch with my husband while we chatted and finally this weekend the top was done.
I backed it with some gray Kona cotton and bound it with a rainbow chevron by Ann Kelle. The batting is a sample sent to me by Quilters Dream for an article I wrote for UPPERCASE about upcycled fibers.
I’m so happy when I look at this quilt. I’ve had some of these fabrics for more than 10 years and some were tiny scraps just big enough for a single hexie. Now they’re all here in what I’m calling my snapshot mini quilt. A big thank you to Thomas for planting this idea.