Taking Sides


I very much enjoy viewing other quilters work, in person as well as through photos online or in books and magazines. When it comes to an actual collaboration, however, that is another story. Although my life is planned in large part around the monthly quilting days with my quilting group and the twice-a-year retreats we take, I’m not that interested in quilting something together. I prefer the side-by-side quilting that we do, each working on our own projects with plenty of support, suggestions, and praise from one another.

While collaboration per se doesn’t hold much attraction, I do like a challenge. Something with specific constrictions can actually feel rather freeing. I don’t have to think of all the parameters, but it is like a puzzle I have to solve. I can turn the puzzle around in my head for hours (even days or months) as I go about more mundane tasks. Such a challenge was issued to me a few years ago, and it also involved collaboration.

My sisters and I were planning a trip to Brazil, along with our spouses, to visit our “sister” Griselda (originally from Uruguay) who had lived in our family many years before when she was an exchange student. We wanted to take meaningful gifts to her and her family; items from where we live or things we had made. My oldest sister, Cheryl, the other quilter in the family, proposed that she and I make a table runner, with each of us completing one side.

Cheryl's side

Cheryl’s side

Cheryl began the piece by creating the first side; a simple design with beautiful fabrics and her typical quality workmanship. She then mailed the piece to me, 3000 miles away. My part included my side, plus the final quilting and binding. I didn’t want to do anything that would detract from the pattern already established, but I did want to give it enough of a distinct look so that having it be reversible was beneficial. I settled on a solid piece of fabric embellished with machine embroidered dragonflies and a white on white fabric border to offset the blue. Cheryl’s square pattern served as a guide for placement of the embroideries and for the final quilting, a simple stitch-in-the-ditch around the blocks and border.

Denise's side

Denise’s side

In spite of the success of this project, I’m still stuck on solo quilting. But if collaboration involves working with one of my sisters, I’m in. And if it means making something for a sister, even better.