A Quilt(ed) Journey

A Quilt(ed) Journey

The life of us quilts is fairly uneventful.

Right at our conception admittedly, there is some major excitement. Fabrics are chosen, patterns are researched, and sewing utensils are frantically searched for. Cutting tools are sharpened and matching threads are purchased. The sewing machine prepares for a heavy workout. Design ideas are conceived, evaluated, and sometimes overthrown again. Crisis breaks out when it becomes evident that the focus fabric will run out before  we are finished.

You might wonder when a quilt really starts to feel an identity of its own. This is a very difficult question to answer. Almost every quilt I know personally has a different story to tell. For some, life doesn’t start before they are assembled into a quilt top, but for others their first clear memories are of being – still as unconnected pieces – closely looked at and examined whilst hanging on a design wall.

Some quilts, especially wholecloth quilts, see the light of day much, much later. They don’t develop a personality before the quilting stage is well under way which is no wonder since quilting lines is the only distinctive trait they acquire while being made.

Brunhilde Zöhrer

Brunhilde Zöhrer's IBS1 quilt

I appear to be rather special in that respect. I have some seemingly extremely early, if a little hazy recollections of being born already as a package of quilt blocks made by quilters from many different countries. Perhaps that is the reason why I am multilingual. Not that this is of any use at the moment – all my fellow quilts here have been stitched by the very quilter who owns us.

After the excitement of being born, every day has been pretty much the same as the previous one. Occasionally, we have been used to warm somebody at night, but most of our time has been spent being stored on a spare bed or displayed on a wall.

So imagine my very great surprise when, a few weeks ago, I was suddenly taken away from my circle of quilt friends, folded up to an almost painful degree, and stuffed into a box. A box which certainly was much too small for any kind of comfort, and of course, terrifyingly dark. I was quite frightened. My discomfort increased every minute because soon after the light vanished, the box started to shake and roll so violently that I almost got sea sick.

Eventually, after what seemed to be a small eternity, the box stood still and was opened again. An unknown pair of hands took me out of my box, unfolded me and held me up to a bright window. I was scrutinized from every angle which made me blush internally because I am a little shy. But I was soon reassured by the cries of happy admiration which followed. The stranger then carefully laid me on a large bed on top of what seemed to be a substantial quantity of other quilts. Mmmh, what a pleasure after being packed so tightly in that stupid little box!

Dawn Burchett

Dawn Burchett's IBS1 quilt

And, oh joy, I was surrounded by other multilingual quilts, and, even better, by quilts related to me! For reasons which elude me they are made up of the same blocks as I am! What an incredible twist of fate! To be thrown out into the cold, dark world, only to find some family members I didn’t even know existed!

As if this hadn’t already been adventure enough for me, a few days later, I was again put into a box. Luckily, this time the box was a lot bigger than the first. And I was not alone this time. All the other multilingual quilts had joined me making the experience a lot more bearable. This journey, however, turned out to be considerably longer than my first, solitary trip.

Derry Godden

Derry Godden's IBS1 quilt

Finally, yet more strangers unpacked us and started to discuss where we should be displayed. Travelling is indeed made a lot easier if one speaks the language. It seemed that we had ended up at something called a quilt show.

None of us had had any prior experience of something like this, but it soon became evident that a quilt show is not a place for calm reflection and repose. People ran around carrying boxes and pushing carts, all overflowing with fabrics, sewing tools and what not. Shelves were being put up to be stacked with merchandise. Tables and chairs were carried around, placed somewhere, only to be removed and placed elsewhere. People shouted and swore and ticked off endless lists of vital tasks to be performed in a great hurry.

You simply won’t be able to imagine the hurry and buzz breaking loose around us quilts – someone shoving rods into our hanging sleeves at great speed, another preparing to screw the rods to some exhibition walls, yet another putting up labels with our quilters’ names, other people scurrying around picking up litter, lost screws and dropped screwdrivers…

Suddenly an eerie silence and – the limelight!

A remote sound, something like the sounding of a bell, unleashed throngs of quilters chatting excitedly, approaching with a great deal of curiosity, looking very closely, taking pictures, exclaiming over every single quilt block, admiring our layouts, wondering about techniques, exclaiming over fabric they have in their own stashes, agreeing with their quilt friends that we are both unique and extraordinarily beautiful…

Aaaaaaah, celebrities at last!

Celebrities at last

The IBS1 quilts at the 2013 Festival of Quilts - quilted celebrities indeed!

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