Archive for the ‘black women and quilting’ Category

In The Beginning, God (She) Created

Friday, February 27th, 2009

I am convinced that in a previous life I was an African market woman who specialized in making and selling dazzling cloths. “Madam, Madam, over here. Come and see.”

African Milliner

I LOVE beautiful fabric. Reams. Bolts. Yards. Pieces of fabric I fell in love with for the sheer beauty of the texture, color, or design can be found draped over a chair or table in nearly every room of my house. Some pieces are mounted on my walls for the sheer pleasure I gain when I see them when I enter a room. I should have been a milliner. cloth

Silk. Satin. Linen. Brocade. Organdy. Damask. Raffia. Batik. Kente.  Mudcloth.

Special shout out to fellow fabric addict Rev. Renee Keels and the “Sisters in Stitches Joined by Cloth” for the fabulous quilts they make and those they donate to worthy causes.  Based in Boston, “Sisters in Stiches Joined by Cloth” is the only African-American quilting guild in New England. The African inspired quilt below was done by Renee’s Quilted Creation and donated to My Sister’s Keeper an organization created to reach out to the women of Darfur and to provide assistance.

sister stitchers

Finally, I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve taken up a new hobby. Quilting.Last night was the third class there in the church’s basement. Whenever I pull out my fabric pieces for my quilt I feel like Lydia an enterprising sister in Acts 16: 9-15 who figured out how to whip up dazzling purple dyed fabrics to sell to the wealthy patrons of her day. For now I’m just enjoying spending late Thursday evenings with other women there in the basement of our church cutting, sewing, and laughing across the room at each other. Given the state our economy these days, revisiting some old high school home economic lessons and refamiliarizing yourself with your grandmother and great-grandmother’s art of recyling scraps of fabric and making a family quilt makes a lot of sense.

Here’s a sneak peak at the quilt I’m working on. Special thanks to my teacher Judi Worthan Sauls. Last night’s class focused on how to mount the quilt pieces onto felt cloth so we can get an idea of the lay out of the pattern before beginning to stitch.

Renita's Quilt

I think I’ll spend the weekend doing a little quilting and stitching. Making use of the other side of this old brain lodged here underneath all this silver grey hair. The creative side. The side that keeps me closest to God.

“In the beginning God created…”


The photos above of the woman balancing a sewing machine on her head and the one balancing a stack of fabric on her head are taken from a book  which would make a wonderful gift to give anyone you know who loves fabric and quilting, especially African inspired quilts: Quilt Inspirations from Africa: A Caravan of Ideas, Patters, Motifs, and Techniques by Kaye England and Mary Elizabeth Johnson.

Time to Pull Out the Quilts

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

After spending all day Thursday on “live chat”with the technical engineers at Earthlink trying to get the blog back up, I’m too tired to think a thought all the way through. Today is Lurker Friday.

Surrendering to something beautiful has a way of lifting my soul.

Take one of the magnificent quilts created by my friend Judi Worthan-Sauls. A sister from my church introduced Judi and her finely crafted Afrocentric quilts a few weeks ago to our women’s ministry group at church , and I was hooked.  My mouth dropped at the sight of Judi’s eye-catching use of color and different textures to give her quilts drama and life. As a treat to our group Judi volunteered to teach a beginner’s quilting class at my church this coming February. And guess who signed up to learn quilting?  That’s right. Yours truly. I decided to fetch my old featherweight Singer sewing machine from my college days out of the garage and haul it off to the repair shop for a tune-up and repair.  I need to take up a real hobby for myself. Something to do with my hands that engages another part of my brain from the one that calls for all the writing and reading I do.

Judi’s quilts are not your grandmother’s quilts. Don’t get me wrong. I’d kill to get my hands on one of the many quilts my grandmother, I’m told, whipped up from old fabrics regularly for her family of ten. Judi’s Quilts are works of art. But you have only to see one of Judi’s quilts up close and listen to her talk about feeling herself  surrounded by a cloud of ancestral quilters looking down from above to know that there must be something really spiritual about quilting.

African American quilting is almost as old as the history of America. Black slave women were needed for spinning, weaving, sewing and quilting on plantations and in other wealthy households. But long before the advent of slavery on this continent, prominent civilizations of Africa were weaving the backdrop for African-American quilting and textiles.

Every woman ought to own at least one nice quilt.

Judi calls the quilt pattern below “Wheels of Whimsy.” It reminds her of Lifesaver candies. Don’t you just love the colors?! Looks like something God would create.

Judi's Quilts

Drop by Judi’s new blog “Judi’s Quilts” where she plans to write about her quilts and talk about her journey as an artist. Also check out “The Cyber-Quilting Experiment” a website for young activists who draw from the metaphor of the quilt to call attention to their effort to use cyberspace to stitch together a movement of women’s activism from the tapestry of all that impacts our lives as women.

Albert Camus was correct:

Beauty, no doubt, does not make revolutions.
But a day will come when revolutions will have need of beauty.