A funny thing happened on the way to The Guggenheim Museum. I decided to make a flag quilt instead.
Living in New Jersey, it’s a quick train ride into New York City. For years I have thought it would be awesome to spend a weekend or more in the city and really get to know my way around. With decent hotel rates costing more per night than my monthly car payment, that trip was always a pipe dream… until now.
I had the amazing opportunity to ‘house and dog sit’ for 10 days in (be still my heart) the Garment District of New York City. As if having every fabric, thread, zipper, and bead store right out side my door wasn’t enough, the homeowner is a quilter!!!
Museums were my number one destination while in the city. MoMA, The Met, Whitney, Neue and so many more were calling my name. On the morning I planned to visit The Guggenheim I first visited a friend for a chat. On my way out the door she mentioned that in the house I was ‘sitting’ was a large bag of fabric scraps, and to feel free to rummage through and use what I wanted.
If you know me at all… then you know I didn’t make it to the museum that day. Instead of turning left towards The Guggenheim, I turned right and went right back up the elevator, and headed to the big bag of fabric scraps. Without a second thought, I dumped the entire bag out on to the huge white table and began sorting through all the colorful confetti. I was in heaven!! And that’s how my flag quilt began.
Truth be told, I already had the idea of the flag quilt and had a nice pile of red, white, and blue scraps sitting on my dining room table back home. As luck would have it, I needed to return to NJ for a day, so I grabbed my pile and added it to the NY pile.
Where to begin? The blue pile was the smallest, so I started with that. I loved the way it turned out so much I could barely sleep that night. My mind would not shut down. I dreamt of how to piece the red stripes. After walking the dog I hit the red scraps next.
I made my own red fabric yardage by haphazardly sewing a bunch of scraps together… and adding more, and more scraps until I had a large enough piece to slice into 2 ½” strips.
This is when I really THOUGHT about what I was doing, and what this flag quilt represented to me. Here I was, mixing all different colors, patterns, and fabric weights… and the result was beautiful. Even though a lot of scraps weren’t red at all, some were orange, others were pink, and even a purple thrown in, it all looked harmonious. It made me think of us as a nation. We are all different colors and come from varied backgrounds, but when put together, we are awesome! We blend. We belong together. I was filled with excitement as I continued grabbing another scrap and adding it to the patchwork.
If you take a closer look at the flag quilt, you will notice the white stripes aren’t plain white. Some are a white-on-white design, while others have a colorful print, and one is a pale, pale grey. Another reminder of different colors blending so well they fool the eye into thinking they are something that they’re not.
There are 3 different styles of quilting on my flag quilt. The white stripes were ‘free motion’ quilted by machine in a wave design, reminding me of the freedoms we have in this country. The red stripes were hand quilted in a running stitch of red thread… binding us all together. Finally the ‘field of blue’ was studded with 50 white shirt buttons and hand tied with white thread, just as quilters many years ago tied their quilts.
I am proud to hang my flag quilt over my mantle. I am proud to be an American.
The Guggenheim visit will have to wait for another day.