I had no idea what would happen after I sewed together the checkerboard at the center of this quilt. I never know what will come next when I’m working on a quilt.
I can remember looking at abstract paintings and wondering how the artist made her decisions about where to put a mark or what color to use.
And then, when I first saw the Gee’s Bend Quilts, I wondered the same thing. Why that color, that pattern in that place?
I was inspired and influenced by the Gee’s Bend Quilts, by their beauty, but equally by the philosophy that so many of the women who made them talked about. The idea that no one can tell the person making the quilt what it should look like. Only the quilter knows that.
It was just what I needed, something I could do that would teach me to trust myself.
It was when I began making quilts that I started trusting my own intuition. I had to, it was the only thing I had to guide me.
When I make a quilt I’m not thinking of color theory or looking to traditional patterns. I’m trusting whatever it is inside of me that knows when two pieces of fabric work together or not. And it’s often only looking at a quilt after I’ve finished it, that I understand where it came from or what it’s about.
As soon as I sew the first two pieces of fabric together, if I’m listening, the quilt begins to tell me what it wants. We keep doing that till it’s done.
When I first started making quilts I laid them all out on my floor then sewed them together. It was only when I took lessons from Mary Ann Pettway in Gee’s Bend that she taught me to sew the pieces as I went.
This was an even greater lesson in trusting myself. Sure I could always take two pieces of fabric apart after sewing them together. But each time I do sew another piece of fabric onto a quilt that I’m making, I’m making a commitment to my decision, no matter how it turns out.
And each time I do this, it reinforces my belief in myself. In my ability to create something beautiful, meaningful and useful. And to trust my intuition and decisions, not only with my art, but in my life too.
One thought on “I Finished Designing My Checkerboard Quilt”
Lovely work. You are an inspiration.
I love the “regularity,” rigidity (I guess you’d call it) of the idea of quilting and how you
bring it to life when you pick fabrics and and quilt “shapes.”
Hope that makes sense.
Yes, Marcia, thanks.