Flag Quilt Made From Scraps Reflect My View Of Americans

A funny thing happened on the way to The Guggenheim Museum. I decided to make a flag quilt instead.

Flag Quilt www.debhathaway.com


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.

Flag Quilt scraps www.debhathawy.com

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.

Flag Quilt sewing www.debhathaway.com flag quilt sewing www.debhathaway.com

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.

Finished Flag Quilt www.debhathaway.com

Time to get quilting!

A sample selection of my fabric stash. I just love Polka Dots!

As the old saying goes… The person with the most fabric when they die WINS! In as much as I am as competitive as the next person, I can now say with certainty… I will lose this contest… and am perfectly fine with it.

For YEARS (more than I am willing to admit) I have been collecting fabric. It’s a sickness. All quilters suffer the same illness, I am no exception. We run a quick errand to the fabric store to purchase that last yard of something we absolutely HAVE to have to finish a UFO (UnFinished Objects) or a WIP (Work In Progress). While at the quilt shop we are like kids in a candy shop. Surrounded by all the colors of the rainbow and designs so cute we swoon. All the luscious fabrics are jumping off their bolts right into our arms. Honestly, we are in a daze and have no idea what we are doing.

The best kept secret in any quilt shop is the special ‘bargain closet’ where discontinued bolts sit on shelves like cute puppies at a shelter waiting to go home with a loving family. That’s where all quilters lose their resolve. Fabrics you couldn’t justify purchasing at full price just because you liked it, now become a ‘must have’ at 40% off. Oh look! If you purchase the whole bolt you save 50%!!!! Woo! Hoo! What a bargain! You may not have a project in mind for this fabric… but who cares. Certainly a design will pop up somewhere that will be perfect for this… you reason.

Once home, you are so proud of yourself. You saved so much money (yeah right… most likely you spent more than your weekly food budget). You take the fabric out of the bag, stroke it (or should I say ‘pet’ it), and think of all the fabulous things you can make with this 5 yards of goodness. Then you neatly fold the yardage and place it among the other ‘strays’ you brought home… and forgot about.

Hmmm…. Maybe ‘forgot about’ is too strong a statement. It’s just that newer fabric has caught our attention. Also… sometimes a particular fabric is so special you simply don’t want to cut into it. Whatever the reason, you now find every nook and cranny overflowing with fabric. Your laundry room, the trunk of your car, under your bed, every closet, the attic, the basement… all the places you can think of to hide it from your husband. Wouldn’t he FREAK if he knew how much fabric you REALY had??? Shhhh… I’ll never tell.

Hide no more my fabulous fabric stash. It’s time to come out of hiding and be proud! It’s GAME TIME! My stash has waited patiently for this very moment… to be sewn into quilts spreading warmth to families devastated by Storm Sandy.

The first family to receive quilts is a retired couple from Seabright, NJ. They lost absolutely everything! The man is a fishing fanatic and the woman takes care of stray cats. I have the absolute perfect quilts in mind for them. I am so excited… I can’t wait to get started. I will post pictures as I go.

All quilts are made with top quality 100% quilter’s cotton, layered with 100% cotton batting for comfort and warmth, and are large enough to wrap up in or cover a twin size bed. Each quilt is custom made for the recipient. Favorite colors, likes and dislikes are considered before the first square is cut. My stash is HUGE and includes florals, geometrics, fireman, Dr. Seuss, batiks, and so much more.  I am ready to sew for children of all ages and adults. I prefer a more modern approach to quilting using fresh, clean designs… but have a few traditional ideas up my sleeve to pull out when needed. If you know of a deserving family please do not hesitate to contact me at deb@debhathaway.com.

Let’s keep New Jersey WARM this winter!