No one is more surprised than I at how much satisfaction and pleasure I’ve gotten from working on Nellie’s Nine Patch. I ‘found’ myself as an artist when I discovered quilting in 1996. I focused on art quilting, textile and fibre art for about the next 15 years. I made my last quilt in 2012 for my bed ‘Enter the Forest of Dreams’. Then, I started going to a drawing class in 2013 and got into other media for a while.
Still, most people know me as an art quilter and often ask me how my textile work is going; for the past five years I’ve been saying, ‘I used to make quilts and fibre art, but recently I’ve been painting and drawing and doing other stuff’.
Anyhow, I digress. I’ve finished all of my repairs on Nellie’s Nine Patch and have decided to quilt the 161 squares which I had left blank back in 2002.
I quilted about a mile of straight lines criss-crossing through each one using my walking foot. I do not have a long arm quilting machine. I do have very strong hands and biceps though!
Then I lowered the feed dogs, put my free motion foot on my Bernina and am adding a four petal flower to each square. I like figuring out the meandering pathway through a set of about 20 squares and ending up right where I began.
I’m also replacing the grade school photo of my mom which was so faded on the back side. I quilted the square (and over the old photo) first, then replaced the photo, so it would not have quilting lines going over her beautiful face.
At first, I was going to use a photo printed onto sheer fabric. I felt there was something romantic about the 15 year old faded photo being overlaid with a new one, but I had problems lining up the eyes exactly. First one, then the other was too low. I ironed on, then tore off the first two. By the time I got to my third sheer attempt, there was so much fabric glue showing through that she appeared to have a skin disease.
In the end, I decided to print the photo onto Pima cotton. I’ve also replaced the poem in a font that looks like old fashioned cursive writing. My mom had great penmanship, which she probably learned as a little girl in the 1930’s.
Once I had zigzagged around the edges of the photograph and the poem with invisible thread to secure it, I re-stitched in the ditch around the nine patch squares from the front, leaving the photograph framed, secure and unstitched through.
The Durabright ink in my Epson Stylus printer is archival quality and is supposed to last for 100 years. So the childhood image of my mom will be around for quite a long time. Longer than it takes memories to fade anyhow.