QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: Flying Colors by Anita Lahay

By Anita Lahay, Individual Member


My QuiltCon Charity quilt “Flying Colors” is inspired by the Hindu Holi Festival. As soon as I saw the color palette I immediately thought of the colored corn starch powders flying through the air. I started searching on the Internet for photos of the festival. In North America there are also “color runs” where people throw colored powders as well. The website for the Calgary color run says it is a race that “celebrates healthiness, happiness and individuality.”

I used improv with intent to convey the colors flying out from the bottom left side of the quilt. My main improv choice was slash-and-insert to show movement and direction. The movement of the powders is continued across the quilt with colored thread. There are ribbons, circles indicating powder clumps and particles, arrows and clouds of powder filling the white space of the quilt. The grey fabric indicates the streets people are running and celebrating on.


When I was piecing the quilt, I originally planned to have the colors running from left to right (blue, red, yellow) along the bottom edge of the quilt and exploding upwards, but when I turned the top sideways to press seams I realized I liked that much better. Since I was free in the improvisational technique to do whatever I wanted, I changed my layout plan halfway through.

I thought about what happens after the runs and the festival. People would need to wash the colored powders off of their skin. The three large bars in the top left of the quilt are quilted with big drips to show the colors dripping off of people. Immediately below the bars the drips continue in threads of corresponding colors. There are more water drops and more drips quilted with white in the space below the three large bars.

The majority of the white space is filled in with white cloud quilting to represent the clouds of powder in the air and the breath being expelled by the people running.

My favorite part of the challenge was searching for inspiration photos and the quilting after it was pieced. I have never made an “improv with intent” quilt before, and I found myself improvising the quilting too. I would look at an area on the quilt and just let it speak to me with what I should fill in there with thread. The clouds were an area where I could let my mind wander while quilting them. It was a freeing and fun process and definitely took me outside my usual box.

I plan to donate this quilt to the Alberta Cancer Foundation after losing my Aunt Valorie Weir to cancer on Christmas day December 25, 2015.