The Tucson Modern Quilt Guild’s entry was a truly collaborative effort that grew from a shared vision of a quilt that would represent our desert city, affectionately known as the Old Pueblo.
We met to plan the quilt armed with a flip chart and lots of magazines. After compiling a list of subjects that reflected Tucson’s history and desert themes, we discussed whether the quilt should be representational or abstract, made up of many blocks or one large image, etc. Someone pulled up an image of San Xavier Mission at sunset (“Mission San Xavier Del Bac, Tucson” by Richard Cummins/LPI). The Mission was established in 1692 and the current building dates to the 1780s. A thunderstorm had created a large puddle in front of the Mission that reflected one of our spectacular sunsets. We all loved the image, but how could we represent it in a quilt?
More flipping through magazines found us our inspiration quilt, titled “Shining Through” by Brigitte Heitland (Modern Quilts, Summer 2013 (Vol 2, #3)). Her quilt features multiple sizes of squares set in a diagonal field that is quite striking.
Inspiration quilt: “Shine Through” by Brigitte Heitland, Modern Quilts, Summer 2013 (Vol 2,#3)
We had an image and a layout, so we set to work selecting fabrics in the prescribed color palette. Our quilt shop, The Quilt Basket, had a variety of shot cottons and prints that worked for us. We purchased 13 fabrics and distributed them among the members with guidelines for cutting the fabrics into squares and rectangles. We added some white fabric later.
At our next meeting, we began laying out the fabric on a twin sheet marked with a diagonal grid. We wanted to represent the Mission as well as the sunset in the sky and its reflection in the water. We even sneaked in an abstract saguaro cactus. Can you find it?
As we worked on the design, we developed guidelines for incorporating our colorful squares and rectangles into strips that could be joined together. After two sewing days, the quilt began to take shape.
The strips were joined together, and the top was turned over to our intrepid quilter, Kristi, who had volunteered to do the quilting over her Christmas holiday.
We had suggested that she quilt parallel lines, figuring it would be challenging but straightforward. But the quilt had developed a personality by this time and demanded that there should be several different sets of parallel lines to set off the design and that each color needed its own quilting treatment. Thirty hours of quilting ensued, and then we were treated to photos of the finished project.