My local quilt guild has an annual challenge. At our July meeting, members bring their entries to share. This year’s challenge was to create a quilt inspired by Iowa. “What does Iowa mean to you? Corn and prairie grass? The Old Capitol Building? Family and friends? In 2016, Iowa will be 170 years old and we thought we should show everyone what Iowa means to us through our quilts. There is no size or technique limit to this quilt.”
I created the quilt below. You can click on it to open in a new tab and see the detail, including the words.
The quilt was inspired by Iowa, but also by my son and how he sees Iowa. As an Air Force pilot, early this year he flew across the state. Later while we instant-messaged, he described his view:
it was funny looking north across Iowa
I could see the thousands and thousands of straight lined fields
well, the roads around the fields
each field being exactly the same size
everything just in its perfect place
we spent a night in Maine
the people there reminded me of Iowans
fairly chatty, but with nothing too significant to chat about
the land is not like that everywhere,
and the people are not, either
but the Iowa in my mind is
I wanted my design to include his thoughts. In addition, I had already pieced the background fabric and thought it could be a good starting point for construction. When considering how to use that background fabric, I thought of creating a quilt in the shape of the state. I asked Jim if he could make an outline for me of the state, which I could use to shape my quilt. He did.
Though the words are the centerpiece of the quilt, I wanted to include more details that would be meaningful to Son and to others. The wind turbine refers to his work on wind energy while in college, and the fact that Iowa leads the nation in the percent of energy created by wind. The left and right bindings are blue to indicate the rivers bordering the state. The line dividing north and south is Interstate-80, created with a hand-stitched yellow dotted line, as well as machine-stitching for the outer lane markers and quilting. Other quilting includes both straight lines for the rows of crops planted in fields, and the curves of hills across large parts of the state.
Using a pieced background, including words (Sharpie marker), bias binding, painting, fused appliqué… Most of the elements of this quilt were new to me. While I had trouble figuring out how to execute many, I kept plugging away until it told me it was done.
And boy howdy, good thing it finally told me! I finished on Monday morning. My guild meeting was Monday evening.
With no size or technique limit, the challenge entries were varied and impressive. When the group spent time examining the quilts and artists’ statements, I simply felt pleased with what I’d accomplished.
And then the winners were announced. I won! I won the Viewers’ Choice award. Honestly I can’t tell you when I’ve been so pleased with anyone else’s assessment of my work. Until I shared the photo with Son. Son said, “That’s probably the coolest quilt I’ve ever seen!” 🙂 And that was even better.