Moth Quilt At Home

Neia sent me this picture of the Moth quilt on her bed.  “The colors are so vibrant and rich and the pattern is soothing and interesting. I have it on my bed and will love going to sleep and waking up to it.” she wrote.

It’s a lovely thing to hear about a piece of my art that someone has purchased.  Neia also said that she didn’t realize that the piece of moth fabric was velvety.  Sometimes the textures of the fabric I use gets lost in the photos. I don’t think about it because I’m so close to it and know what it all looks and feels like.

So maybe it’s a nice surprise when a person receives a quilt they’ve been seeing in pictures and gets to actually feel it and experience the nuances of it close up.


Tacking My Moth Quilt

Sewing the batting and backing on my Moth quilt

I was listening to the Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings as I worked on my Moth quilt today. I’ll admit there is much I don’t understand, but I like being present for what I hope is her confirmation to the Supreme Court and history in the making.

I got the quilt all sewn up and started tacking it with dark green yarn.  I didn’t get far and I have Bellydancing tonight but I plan on having it done by the end of the week. My Moth quilt is sold.

The back of my Moth quilt with one row of tacking done.

Finishing The Front of My Moth Quilt

I figured out what I’d do next on my Moth quilt last week.  But I didn’t get to sew it together till today.

I love this idea of cutting the “bad” parts out of the old quilt top and sewing the “good” parts together.  I want to do more with that. It’s a process that if not considered too much, can create a very spontaneous feeling.  And result in some good design too.

This is a detail of one of the sections of the quilt that I cut up and sewed back together. I love the odd shapes and those thin lines and tiny pieces that would otherwise look contrived.

The hand stitching on the old quilt top

I have to be careful about the stitching on the old quilt tops.  If they’re hand-stitched they sometimes come apart.  This quilt had two kinds of stitches.  They were both very tiny and mostly in good condition.  Many of them were so tightly sewn together they looked stronger than what my machine could do.

If there were tears I’d either cut them out or sew over them with my sewing machine.

After sewing on the brown strip of African fabric to the top of the quilt, I saw that I sewed it on with the back of the fabric facing the front.  Somehow I didn’t notice the big writing.  So I took out my seam ripper and took it apart. Then I sewed it back on the right way.

After sewing on the bottom piece, I added a thin line of fabric to both sides.  Then I knew I was done with the front of the quilt.

After that, I laid out the fabric for the back of the quilt.  I’ll sew it together tomorrow.


Moving Along With My Moth Quilt

I got into my studio early and got right to work on my Moth quilt.  I was scheduled to work at the Cambridge Co-op today so I wanted to get as much work in as possible before going there.

I tried out a couple of different fabrics to go between the squares I pieced together yesterday and decided on the green with the tiny leaf pattern. I liked how it picked up the other greens in the quilt and was a more subtle transition between the pieces than the browns I was also looking at.


Then I chose to repeat the blue and green organic pattern from the African fabric.

It turned out when I got to the Co-op, the weekly order that I was going to help pack out came early and was already done.  So there wasn’t any work for me to do.  I picked up some yogurt and canned tomatoes and headed home, eager to get back to work on my quilt.

I had been working on the bottom strip of pink when I left for the Co-op, so I got right back into it.

I liked the green in this piece of the old quilt top, but the white and brown stripes didn’t work.  So I cut it up and kept the green but replaced the white with the orange and blue piece of African fabric above it in the photo.

After this, the quilt was a struggle.   By 5:30 I had tried so many different fabrics on every side of the quilt to figure out what came next.  But I was having a hard time making a decision.  It took me a while to accept it, but I was creatively spent.


When I left my studio I was somewhat convinced that at this point the quilt needed a thin dark brown line around it to frame it as it was.  I have no idea if that’s the right decision or not.  But I’m not going to think about it anymore tonight.  I obviously need some space from it to be able to know what to do next.

Moth Quilt, What Comes Next….

Those three pieces under my Moth quilt have me a bit stumped.  I pieced them together, but now I’m not sure what comes between them.  If I had more time this afternoon I’m sure I’d figure it out.  But I have Bellydancing tonight.  I’m especially looking forward to class because I missed it last week because of the snow.

I know in the few minutes before I have to leave, I’ll be looking at them, trying to picture what comes next.

Moth Quilt

Colleen sent me this swatch of moth fabric at least a couple of years ago.  I pulled it out when I began my Forest Floor quilt.   It didn’t work with that quilt, but it looked perfect with a piece of flannel leaf fabric that Sharon sent me.

I put them both aside thinking they might be the start of my next quilt.  And it seems they are.

Inserting that other section of leaf fabric in the green and white leaves made me think of the patterns on a moth’s wing.

Then I found these scraps of fabric that seemed to work with the moth fabric too.  Once again I felt like within the pinkish fabric they referred to the pattern on a moth’s wing.

This is as far as I got today.  More tomorrow.

“Moth” Quilt, Going Home

I finished tacking my Moth quilt today. Tomorrow I’ll put it in the mail and it will be on its way to its new home.

Looking at the quilt now that it’s all done, I feel like breaking up the regimented squares of the old quilt gave it more of an organic feeling.  It’s one of the parts of the quilt that make me think of looking at nature under a microscope. It’s filled with layers, like those in the earth.  And also moves back and forth in scale.

I’ll remember the discovery I made using the old quilt top.

I’m thinking of choosing another old quilt top and cutting it apart in the same way. That is, cutting off the torn and stained pieces and sewing the good pieces back together.  I’m not sure what that will lead to if anything, (maybe the start of another quilt) but it seems like something I’d like to explore.

It often happens as it did with this quilt my Forest Floor quilt before it, that one creation leads to another.

The back of Moth


Working On My “Moth” Quilt

I saw the quilt top in my stack of quilts from the corner of my eye.  The colors were just right and I liked the idea of adding a bit of tradition to the moths and what I had done already.

I knew I’d be using that piece of African fabric that Fran sent me, and the pinks and patchwork squares would be just right in the mix.  From a distance, the quilt looks to be in very good condition, but it’s torn in places and stained too.  That only makes working with it more interesting.  I dealt with the stains by cutting them off.

I also cut the quilt up choosing to use only the colors and patterns that worked with the “moth” feeling of the quilt.

The color is off in this photo, but I pieced together two rectangles like this.  One for either side of the quilt….

Then I added the African fabric…

I quickly knew  I needed another modified pink patchwork below it…

This is where I left it for today. But I have an idea of what I’ll be working on tomorrow.

As in the strip of pink above the moths and leaves, I’ll do the same with these scraps of fabric with the green piece of material in the picture.


What The Quilt I Made For My Mother Looks Like


The Quilt I made for my mother

Mashed potatoes.  I told my friend Susan, who is bringing Salmon for Thanksgiving dinner, that I’d make mashed potatoes and vegetables to go along with it.

Yet every time I though of making mashed potatoes, an old, feeling came over me. I haven’t made mashed potatoes in over ten years.  When we were making plans for dinner it seemed like a good idea.  Now it paralyzed me, threw me back into another time.  It zapped my creativity and curiosity, made me doubt my simplest decision.

I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

The holidays always bring me down, but this was different.   I recognized what I was feeling, the way I used to feel most of the time.  I was pulling in, shutting down, making myself smaller and smaller.

The day before, I was thinking about what to get my mother for Christmas and a question popped into my head.  If I made my mother a quilt, what would it look like?  In my mind I scanned the fabric on the shelves in my studio, but I couldn’t imagine anything about the quilt, not a color, not a pattern.

The next day, feeling panic and darkness descending on me, I went into my studio knowing that if I did some work, I’d begin to feel better.  The question of the quilt was in the back of my mind.

I found  the piece of fabric that the quilt I was beginning would center around.  It’s shape and design suggested to me a baroque kind of vulva.  It was a spider, an octopus, a heart with a lions face in it.  It was an ornate jar, the kind the ancient Egyptians put the organs of their dead in.

I took  my feelings about the holidays, mashed potatoes and my mother and emptied them into the quilt.I picked up fabric after piece of fabric, looked at the color and patterns and asked myself if it was what I was feeling.

I sewed the red, woven placemats I bought after I got divorced next to a worn and stained synthetic dress from the 1950’s.  The red velvet curtain bordered the cotton fabric swatch and the striped linen dish towel.  I didn’t think of where the fabric came from, while I was making the quilt, I was only feeling what was right, what worked.

Then, this morning, after deciding to make roasted potatoes instead of mashed, it came to me.  I understood what I was feeling and why.

I used to use food to fill the emotional emptiness inside of me.

I was alway loneliest at  family dinners and the holidays.  It was then I most craved the richest food.  Lots of cheeses, sauces and gravies. Mashed potatoes, baked in their own skin topped with butter and Romano cheese, was my favorite.

I don’t use food  that way anymore.  I’m not lonely or emotionally craving, the way I used to be.  I’m fulfilled in my work and in my relationship with Jon and the community of people I surround myself with.

This morning I looked at the quilt laying on my studio floor and knew it was done.  I was trying to make it bigger, but there was nothing more to add to it.  It was complete.

I also knew that this is what the quilt, that  I made for my mother, would look like. I had done it without being conscious of it.  I can’t explain it anymore than I already have.  The quilt says what I can’t.

My Sperry Flour Sack Quilt And Juneteenth

The flour sack bag I sewed onto the quilt

There is a sack with a drawstring in my  Sperry Flour Quilt.

I was going to cut off the drawstring and square off the rounded corner, but then I thought of  the book “All That She Carried, The Journey of Ashley’s Sack a Black Family Keepsake.

In the book Tiya Miles traces the origins of a cotton sack that was given to a child by her mother.  Both of them were enslaved in South Carolina in the 1850s.  When Ashely was sold at age nine, her mother gave her the bag to take with her.

In the 1920s Ashley’s Granddaughter Ruth embroidered her family history on the bag.  It read:

My great grandmother Rose
mother of Sahely gave her this sack when
she was sold at age 9 in South Carolina
it held a tattered dress 3 handfuls of 
pecans a braid of Rose’s hair.  Told her
It be filled with my Love always
she never saw her again
Ashley is my grandmother
Ruth Middleton

Miles researches each item that Rose put in the bag for her daughter.  Looking for the reasons why she chose those things to give to her child who, she knew there was a good chance she’d never see again.

And each one of those things tells more than one story about the lives of enslaved people in nineteenth-century America.

Miles writes about how women often passed down linen and embroideries to their family members because they couldn’t own property and it was all they had to leave.

The story of Ashley’s sack is heart-wrenching and beautiful.  If Ruth hadn’t embroidered the words passed down to her, we would not know the powerful story behind that simple cotton sack.

I don’t imagine the flour sack I sewed into my quilt today has a history anything like the one in Mile’s book.

But someone did sew that flour sack into a bag with a drawstring and use it enough so it is faded and worn.

I have no trouble cutting clothes apart to use them in my quilt.  And I’ve used hand-embroidered hankies in so many different ways.  I was glad to give them a new purpose, new life.

And now that little flour sack bag has a new purpose.  But I was able to do it and keep the bag intact.

I wasn’t consciously thinking about Juneteenth when I sewed that sack into my quilt today, but remembering Rose and Ashley’s story feels like it’s a good way for me to commemorate the holiday.

My Sperry Flour Sack Quilt so far
Full Moon Fiber Art