Tag Archives: quilt

Quilt Book Update – Testing Unconventional Materials for Book Covers

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m working on an artists’ book using an old family quilt. Originally I’d planned to use some lovely leftover pieces of Rives BFK for the inside pages.  But it turns out, as I’m trying cover options, that in order for the cover to best display the quilt pieces it will need to be a larger book – so I’ll save those Rives BFK pieces for a future project.

I didn’t want floppy covers so sewing them without an internal structure wasn’t really a choice. I considered sewing fabric sleeves to insert the Davey board into – as I did here with jeans, in Pockets:

But I finally decided to use the actual quilt pieces as the covers. I’m using them like book cloth, wrapped around Davey board. This affects the artists’ book not only in necessary cover size but also in limiting the edition size. I like that each book about the quilt will come with it’s own pieces of the quilt.

Using the quilt with book cloth is a bit more interesting than I expected. I find that I have to use a lot more glue than I would with book cloth or cover-weight paper and that there is a lot of holding-for-a-count of 30 to make the quilt stay where I want it. Below is a step-by-step if you are interested. Pardon the photos, they were taken quickly with glue-y fingers and in kitchen-table light.

1. I applied glue to the Davey board and then applied it to the quilt. The lines on the Davey board are the grain direction. The quilt is an odd shape because it follows the quilt pattern. I decided that rather than cutting it down further I would try to use it in this shape. I used a brayer after every step in gluing so as to get the best possible contact between the fabric and the board.

2. I applied glue to the top and bottom turn ins. Rather than using scrap or newsprint under the quilt I used waxed paper. I found the whole process to be much messier and stickier than when using bookcloth or paper.

3. I used my fingers rather than a bonefolder to fold over the fabric. I wanted to get even tension and found that I had a lot more control with my fingers. The quilt was much stretchier than a usual cover material.

4. When turning in the corners I used some glue and held the corners in and down until they held.

5. Finished corner folded in.

6. The front piece of the quilt glued onto the Davey board. I decided in order to get even pull front and back that I had to use another piece of the quilt as the back side. I used the pieces that are in lesser shape as backing pieces. I wish now I’d kept all of the edging (which would have been large enough to use here). Note to self: keep all of the pieces until the project is done!

7. Finished cover (not dry – you can see the glue has made the fabric temporarily translucent.) I’ll dry it overnight under heavy weights – between waxed paper sheets.



Preserving Family History in an Artists’ Book

In a box in the bottom of my studio closet was an old, tattered quilt made by my great-grandmother. The quilt is worn through to the backing in places and has stuffing bits showing through here and there. When I found it as a child it was probably in good condition – but I fell in love with it and used it for everything from cuddling on the couch, to wrapping up my cat like a baby, to making a fort over the grand piano.  I didn’t understand that this was an heirloom to be preserved and instead dragged it from adventure to adventure in between stops to the washer and dryer.

Would my great-grandmother have saved it for good? Or felt that it was a useful item that would be wasted if carefully folded in the linen closet? I didn’t know her and I can’t answer that question. But I can see in the thousands of little hand sewn stitches that she took pride in her quilting and spent a lot of her precious time creating this work of art.

[My great-grandmother (center in flowered dress) circa 1946]

I’ve often thought about ways to give the quilt another life but have eventually returned it to the box each time. I found it again during my studio clean out and am finally ready to make the quilt into artists’ books. I like the idea that by creating artists’ books with the quilt it will continue as art – just in a different form.

To start out, I did some research. It turns out this particular kind of quilt is called a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. A pattern that was popular 1929-1939 since it could be made out of small scraps of fabric such as feed, flour and sugar sacks and bits of leftover dress material. For a generation of women making do during the depression, this was the perfect quilt pattern.

First, I cut the quilt into manageable pieces and now I’m scanning it 1/2 a piece at a time.


Next, I am merging the two halves in Photoshop. This is one of my favorite bits of magic with this software. In Adobe Photoshop (my version is CS3), File>Automate>Photomerge. A bit more editing to color correct the image and then cropping to remove the green edges and here is one of the raw images from which I am going to begin my artists’ book.