The journey from Imagineering to QUILTmania #141. I’m holding the pages in my hand.

Journal Entry: January 23, 2021

Imagineeringfrom design ideas to making, to see a finished quilt. I’m both pleased and honored to have the opportunity to share my batik and wool appliqué quilt, Bandana Blossoms, with the many QUILTmania readers. And honestly… it’s on the cover! WOW! That takes me over the top with excitement! I’m holding the pages in my hand!!

QUILTmania Issue #141
QUILTmania Issue #141
QUILTmania Issue #141, English and French versions.

Passion. It’s a word that brings to my mind a feeling, and a doing. To be passionate is to have something you believe in and brings you joy. Thinking back to what I wanted to achieve with Bandana Blossoms leads me to thinking about my passion for quilting. This quilt truly represents my authentic quilter self. I’ve made many types of quilts and have honestly found joy in exploring and making them all. I set out to design a quilt that incorporates my most favorite fabrics and techniques. Cotton, batik and wool appliqué quilts. Embroidery and bead embellishments. And whimsical flower shapes.

batik and wool appliqué quilt
Bandana Blossoms, a guest bed quilt.

The story of the handkerchief bandana…

I’ve read about hidden histories. There are books and TV shows and magazine articles that describe how the history of something isn’t always apparent on first glance. And, how very true it is that so many quilts also have hidden histories—histories that a maker brings into the quilt design. Bandana Blossoms was inspired by the Paisley designs in the iconic 24″ square handkerchief bandana. We’re now seeing paisley again in many coloring books and fabrics. I’ve learned whimsical paisley patterns, and particularly paisley handkerchief bandanas, are as retro as many traditional quilt block designs. They date back to the 1600’s, in the shawls of Central Asia and into European fabric designs. At one point paisley patterns were protected intellectual property, much like technology applications are today. 

Paisley handkerchief bandana fabric…

Paisley bandana fabric was one of the inexpensive printed cottons available at the turn of the 20th century. Dotted and paisley prints were worn by America’s sweat-soaked cowboys, farmworkers and miners to hold back dirt and grime. You may recall print paisley was one of the designs representing the 1960’s hippie generation. And look at it now. We’re seeing so many people choosing paisley-patterned bandanas as protection against the spread of the Coronavirus.

paisley handkerchief quilt
My handkerchief bandana collection. Bandana blossoms aren’t always black and white.

Behind the fabric and threads in Bandana Blossoms…

The Bandana Blossoms quilt design features paisley elements that provide visual texture to the design with the use of a collection of fibers, embellishments and stitching techniques. I’ve blended modern Batik prints and black solid quilters’ cotton with the rough texture of wool recycled from a discarded coat. The Perle cotton embroidery thread, micro-sized buttons and seed beads add more dimension. The finishing touch is the Big Stitch hand quilting that lends its own design element as it brings together the paisley elements found in those traditional big square bandanas.

batik and wool applique
Bandana Blossoms, Batik and Wool appliqué, embroidery and bead embellishments.

Choosing black and white for this batik and wool appliqué quilt placed the focus on the clean lines and shapes of my paisley theme. I strived for the shapes in the design to be the headliner. The design of the Banyan Batik Studio Banyan Classics Opal and Onyx fabrics fit perfectly.

Banyan Batiks
Banyan Batik Studios Banyan Classics Opal and Onyx and Colorworks Premium Solids by Deborah Edwards Northcott Studio, all designed for Northcott.

More hidden histories…

I learned from the Classics designer Karen Gibbs that she was inspired by historical design elements for the collection. She played with the hard and soft coloring of black and white space, scale, placement, shapes and density of the elements for the fabric design. Karen also leveraged a collection of influencers: 1800 Japanese screen printing of open swirls, small  18th-century handkerchief tear drops, Art Deco clamshells, mid-century stitched florals, and dense and loose 20th century polka dot shapes. Humm… hidden histories again. 

Other batik and wool appliqué quilt designs…

I’ve dubbed Bandana Blossoms a ‘guest bed quilt’. It’s one I get so much pleasure from seeing on the bed when I pass by the guest bedroom. But not one that I necessarily want someone to use. It’s smaller than a regular bed quilt, so no one will mistake it for a covering. All the parts and pieces can stay pristine.

Since making Bandana Blossoms, I’ve explored more designs with batik and wool appliqué, embroidery and bead embellishments. Check out Panier de Points and In My Easter Basket.

My passion has exploded with my flower basket quilt series. Yes, I have to admit, batik and wool appliqué have really become my obsession.  I can’t wait to imaginate the next project. 

Happy Quilting Forever,

handkerchief bandana
In memory of Abigail
A gal who always wore her bandanas proudly