Monday, September 22, 2014

Slow Cloth Project: A Quilt for Jenny

Thanks Beth at Love Laugh Quilt for tagging me in the Around the World Blog Hop.  Beth is a woman after my own heart for her dedication to crafting with scraps.  She makes beautiful quilts in an improvisational style, and she knits and weaves too.  Visit her if you haven't read her blog.

I'm using the hop to launch a new project.

 I've actually been working on a new crazy quilt all summer.  I spent months thinking through this project before I even picked up a needle, and I expect it to go this slow from here on out.

After I published my poetry collection Mexican Jenny and Other Poems earlier this year, I decided to make a quilt in honor of the protagonist of the title poem.  Jenny Wenner was a prostitute in a Colorado mining town who killed her husband in 1912 after he beat her up for not bringing home enough money.  In prison she made a crazy quilt about her life, which the prison sold when she contracted tuberculosis and was released.  According to legend, the money was used to send her to Mexico, where she died.

So many amazing things have happened to me in the process of learning about Jenny's story and writing about it.  I will chronicle some of these things as I make Jenny's quilt.  I will write about her story and why is has been so compelling to me, as well as write about the quilt Jenny made, which I've now located and seen pictures of.

My quilt will be about women who travel physically, but also spiritually, so it seemed fitting that  I begin the quilt with a Mariner's Star.  

I used Cheryl Phillips' templates and instructions for making the Mariner's Star block.  Her technique involves precise folding, sewing and cutting, but doesn't seem as fussy as the traditional methods.

I decided to make this quilt of brightly colored cottons, rather than the traditional fancy crazy quilt fabrics.  I wanted to use this much-loved and long-stashed feature fabric, and the coordinating fabrics I've been saving for awhile.

The transparent wedge tools allowed for fussy cutting the featured fabric into star points.

Spray starch and a good hot iron became important tools.


Although Jenny's story is one of struggle and sadness, ultimately, her creative act of making her crazy quilt is an act of endurance, and I wanted these colors to celebrate that.

The predominance of blue is a reference to the repeated references to water: to the sea and to the Rio Grande in the poem.

I joined the last set of star blades by sewing them carefully together from the back.  I also held my breath and prayed.

Here's the block from the back...

...and the finished block! Although I like the navy background, I'm going to hold off setting this block until I get the 7.5 inch crazy blocks made.  I may change my mind about the color in the process.

Thinking about this block, I remembered this fat quarter of sun faces that I believe Rian Ammerman sent me a long time ago.  One of these may end up in the center of the star.

I hope you'll join me for this crazy quilt journey and see how it turns out!

Next in the blog hop, I'm tagging Suz whose blog Suztats features her colorful hand embroidery, tatting, and painting, among her craft repetoire.  I hope you enjoy her multicraftual inspiration as much as I do.


margaret said...

you have certainly taken on a challenge here and it is coming along beautifully, those points are so accurate, love it

Cyra said...

Oh wow. Love that colour combo.... now I can't wait for next week to see its progress.

Suztats said...

OMGoodness, Susan! The precision required for this wonderful piece blows me away! This is a gorgeous block. I wonder which face will appear in the center. Thanks for the shout out.
I am having technical difficulties with blogger, and cannot upload photos (that's why there's no post from me today--so I hope it's fixed by next week!

Suztats said...

Brain fart, Barbara! I am not working on all! Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

That looks pretty neat. I like that very colorful center fabric.

Judy S. said...

Fabulous, Barbara! And it's so much the style of the cover of your book! I love it and can't wait to see how it progresses.