Monday, June 29, 2015

The Dream Keeper Quilt

Long ago and not so far away, I worked at a fabric store. I accumulated a lot of fabric and spent my down time designing quilts. I had an idea for a poetry quilt series. I went through poetry books, scriptures, and songs looking for short lines that could be used on a quilt. I got the idea from my illustration training. I did several illustrations for poetry. I've given most of the illustrations away now and most of the quilts were never made.

My favorite short poem is The Dream Keeper by Langston Hughes. He was a Harlem Renaissance poet and wrote both beautiful and political poetry. I always loved the nurturing language of this poem. While in college I did a water color illustration for the poem using some of my nieces and a nephew as models wrapped in blue blankets. I loved that painting but I gave it to their parents so they could have a painting of their children.

A year after college I was working at a job with lots of isolation and down time. I dealt with it again by designing quilts. The temple snowflake quilt was designed at that time and I printed out the words for The Dream Keeper quilt. I traced the over sized letters from the printed page onto fabric and used fusible webbing to get them ready to iron onto the final design. I cut out each letter individually and this took weeks. I needed to move to a new apartment at this point and the letters were all carefully put away.

Every now and then I would find the pile of letters in my sewing supplies and I would revisit the design. I have never done so many designs for a single quilt. It was going to be a picture quilt of a mother and child with the words of the poem circling the borders or dancing around the picture or something artsy. The design would depend on the size of the quilt since the letters were already cut out. The letters while small for applique purposes but were huge for design purposes and I didn't really want a huge quilt. Finally last year (Eight years after cutting out the letters.) I decided to just get it done already. I was making a crib sized quilt and I liked the sentiment of the poem for a baby. I had just had another miscarriage and I wanted to keep busy and positive rather than wallow in pain for months like I did the first time. I designed a quilt using fabric from my years-old stash and made it very simple. (It had to be simple to fit all those large letters onto such a small quilt.) I used blues and golds and finished the quilt last summer. I lost my camera for months and by the time I found it I forgot about posting my quilt.

 This is a bit blurry and the quilt had been folded and put away for over a year when I took the picture, sorry.
 The finished quilt size 45 x 36 inches.

Corner detail. 
Just think of all the fun I had tracing, ironing, cutting out, peeling off the paper, machine stitching and then hand quilting around every single letter. Good times. This is my first and probably last poetry quilt.

This quilt should work great for my baby boy when he is born in the fall.

Next time: The Happy Birthday Quilt

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