This is White Privilege

26 05 2019

The Madison Quilt Expo sent out a call for submissions to their Modern Mini Quilt Challenge (#modernminiquiltchallenge). This is my entry and here is what I wrote with my submission:

From the spaces we enter to the people we encounter to the opportunities provided – we white people have a responsibility to identify what role white privilege factors in.

Someone had asked the organizers of the challenge to explain the meaning behind the quilt. They forwarded the question so it could be answered in my own words. It was a great opportunity to force me to articulate why those words were chosen. Here is what I wrote:

There are a many meanings or prompts for the quilt. Here are a few:

  1. The quilting community is very white. I see this at every guild meeting, QuiltCon, Quilt Market, and in the faces of our leaders and teachers. Yes, there are exceptions, but not very many. And we (mostly) white women don’t talk about it. We don’t have to. That is white privilege.
  2. When I go into those spaces as a white woman, I may have social concerns or anxieties navigating those spaces, but race is never one of them. That is white privilege.
  3. Recently, the Modern Quilt Guild intentionally excluded the voice of a woman of color when putting out a call for a quilt challenge because they didn’t want to make their members uncomfortable. They did the correct thing by honestly owning the action and intent and apologizing in an email to all members. But that omission is white privilege.

4. The quilt is intentionally designed to have a layer of white over predominately black and white fabric to represent that we white people tend to “white wash” the world by centering the world around us and considering and referring to other demographics as “other” – because we can – because that is what we have been conditioned to do. An example of this is including a racial descriptor when referring to a non-white person (“a black woman came into the store today”), but not doing the same when referring to a white person. The descriptor is omitted with the assumption being that the person is white. That’s white privilege.

5. Acting out of white guilt instead of white responsibility is white privilege.

I could go on. But basically, those thoughts above contribute to the meaning of the quilt.
My hope is that this will prompt more conversations in the quilting world that are long overdue.

The knitting community has begun this conversation. The Modern Quilt Guild has issued an Inclusion Statement  and has an Inclusion and Diversity Task Force. But, in general, we just don’t talk about the lack of diversity in our community.

Where am I in this? Stumbling, but listening and learning and talking. I spent years denying that I could be a Becky. Not only am I one, but I have done harm to people I care about under the guise of “I couldn’t possibly be one of those white girls because I grew up on the streets in inner-city-Rockford, my boyfriends were black, my friends were/are black, I’ve been to Africa, dammit!” But I was – am – and am in the process of taking responsibility for that.

And I know for a fact that I have benefited from white privilege. One of the fortunate things about southern racism is that it’s open and in your face (as opposed to the too-nice-but-always-just-below-the-surface Wisconsin version). While in the Air Force stationed in Georgia, my last job was in an office working under the base commander. One day, we were talking about race and my supervisor stated very directly that if I had been black, he wouldn’t have had me working in his office. This was the mid-80s. In Georgia. He reported directly to the base commander. My enlistment was almost up. I didn’t say anything. That’s white privilege.

But it’s also having an all white (often male) leadership team at work and not asking HR and senior leaders “why”?

And it’s microaggressions.

And it’s centering ourselves and our denial when a non-white person tries to tell us their experience.

We can all do better.

Resources to continue (or start) the work

  • Google “White Privilege”
  • Read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
  • Follow Layla Saad on Instagram (@laylafsaad) – and read and learn – and buy her “Me and White Supremacy” book when it comes out and support her and her work in Patreon
  • Follow Rachel Cargle on Instagram (@rachel.cargle) – and read and learn – and support her and her work on Patreon
  • Support non-white artists and art with your attention and dollars

[The quilt was made by cutting fabric hexagons into letter shapes, layering with Kona White, and then straight line quilting with various weight and color thread. Color and heavy grey stitches are made with 12wt Cotton by Wonderfil. Alternate light grey rows made with 80wt DECO-BOB by Wonderfil.]


Project Quilting 8.3: Tune in to Texture

3 02 2017


For the third Project Quilting challenge in Season 8, we were told to explore texture. For awhile, I had been wanting to experiment with Fabric Magic and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. My current infatuation with Cherrywood hand dyed fabrics made the material selection easy since it naturally has a textured look..

The Fabric Magic is sewn to the material, then steamed with an iron to make it shrink and create texture. Sounds easy, and it really is pretty cool, but I haven’t used water in my iron, it’s older, and apparently, there was some dark gunk in the steam pores. So, guess what? The dark gunk ended up on my fabric. Boo! It sort of maybe looks like part of the dyed effect, but not really.

The thought of investing in anything quilted with a spotted piece of fabric wasn’t super exciting, so I made a zippy pouch, which has been one of my favorite fun, go-to things to make lately.

I would definitely use Fabric Magic again, but might need to invest in a new, clean iron first. This is one of my favorite things about PQ: each challenge provides a great opportunity to experiment. #pqSeason8

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Rocky Horror Quilt Challenge

23 03 2016

Challenge quilts are cool and a great way to experiment. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is also pretty dang cool. So sexy. So when Trisha F. posted a link on Facebook to the BadAss Quilter’s Society Rocky Horror Picture Show challenge … well, I couldn’t NOT sign up!

My first full-production RHPS experience was in the mid-80s while in Air Force Tech School in Denver, CO. As a first timer (“virgin”), I got up on stage before the show, stood in line, and had a cherry put in my mouth with the stem sticking out. “Magenta” came by to pop the stem off of each of ours with her teeth.


I didn’t know what was going down.
And I LOVE maraschino cherries (give me a jar & they’re gone).
So, of course, I ate my cherry. Yummmm.
Magenta got to me and asked me where was my cherry.
I said that I ate it.

She turned to the audience and yelled:


And so it began. 😀


A couple of friends from work perform with the local RH production group, Velvet Darkness. I asked one, Sara Morrissey, to design the quilt and told her that I would make it and give it to her. This is Sara’s awesome design:

And this is what she based it on:


It’s a subtle nod to the fact that Rocky is a spoof of old horror flicks (and the tower shows up at the end).

IMG_2670The material (except a square of gold faux leather and some fancy gold accents), is all from my new favorite line of solids: Grunge Basics by BasicGrey for Moda Fabrics. The challenge package opening was even more exciting than the arrival.





Because I always seemed to find the most difficult way to do something and have a light bulb moment illuminating an easier way to do it when I’m one or two steps away from completion, the tower is not appliqued with easy little strips and a bunch of straight lines.  No, no, no.  It is pieced. All of it. every triangle and white segment. All at odd random angles. Pieced.IMG_2908

In an effort to get more comfortable with quilting, a couple of details are in the stitching, such as a little fishnet criss-cross in the border:


And the BOSS tattoo (a bit hard to see with black on black):


And Dr. Frank-N-Furter:


This is what I did with some of the scraps.

It was a fun, difficult challenge (those are the best, right?) and I’m glad that it’s going to a good home.  Next time: Think applique!! (Finished size: 60 x 88″)


OK, so now (24-30 Mar), head over here to check out all of the other really cool entries (really, they’re quite impressive) and then. Vote. For. Mine. Please. It’s easy: just click.
And check out a super cool quilt haven: BadAss Quilter’s Society. I mean, just that name!

Project Quilting Season 7 Challenge 3: All About That Thread

6 02 2016

Here’s a poem:

Threads connect.


And here’s a thready quilt:



To make it especially thready, I tried raw edge applique and raw edge binding, plus a round in the washer.

Add a Deep Thought ala Jack Handy, and we have another completed Project Quilting challenge.
Within scope.
On time.
Under budget.

Completed size: 17 x 17″

FullSizeRender (1)


Aside for the artsy fun with fabric, my obsession with quilting is about the process of making order out of chaos, creating structure for the randomness, bringing unrelated pieces together to design geometric soul.
Thread is the tool that connects, brings it all together, makes it possible, adds the color, creates the fabric itself.
Thread is the quilt love.


Paul is the Center Star!

30 01 2016

IMG_2702I love my guy. I really do.
It’s just that I was a bit intimidated about making his quilt … for over 2 years.

OK, here’s my confession: I’m super, super proud of this quilt!!!  It’s definitely traditional, and even (mostly) came from a pattern and kit, but dang!  It’s cool. I took my time (and lots of stitches out). The points are sharp and it lays flat. That all may not be a big deal to some, but it’s a a bit of an accomplishment in this house.

IMG_2714Here’s the basics:
Size: Approx. 100 x 100″
Center pattern: Center Star by Julie Hendrickson
It can be found in the Spring 2013 edition of Primitive Quilts.
The border was made from the scraps using a Pinterest pattern using half square triangles.
Material from JJ Stitches.
Quilted by Cindy Hasse


The Story:
In Sep 2013, Paul found this quilt at the Quilt Expo. I said, Sure, it’s just squares and triangles, I can do that.  After we got it home, and after reading the instructions, I got scared.IMG_2708
So the material sat. And sat.
I would pick up the instructions, read them, remember the scared, put them down, and make something easier. Paul frequently walked by with the comment: “That doesn’t look like my quilt.”
When we moved, I packed every other quilty project or potential project to force some progress on this.  It worked and the center start was pieced!


That was March 2015. After the move, it once again sat. At the end of my cutting table. For months.
But here’s the thing: I’m glad I procrastinated. This quilt needed to be my best. I needed to be confident and careful. I needed to have a better relationship established with my Seam Ripper. (We are now besties!) This is my Masters degree thesis paper. And I was making it to impress my favorite professor.


After over a year of telling her monthly that I was getting close, Cindy Hasse finally received the top in December and called for pick up this month!!  I had been admiring her quilting for years and knew from the beginning that she was the one who should quilt this one. She did a beautiful job!! The borders are my favorite with the graphic edges. And she replicated the border pattern in the stitching. How cool!!



With a red binding to frame it all, the quilt is done!!!
Clap, clap, clap!!

Now begins the process of crossing off items from the #2016sewmystash list. There are 18 remaining projects for 2016.

Ready? Go!






Project Quilting Focus Through the Prism: December’s Everything

28 12 2015


All 7 colors, all 7 accent materials, all 7 blocks, both of the background fabrics that were in each quilt (except one), red center, red corners,  quilted by Marcia Wachuta: December’s quilt has Everything!

Do I like it? No. There is just too much going on and it doesn’t look like what I had inagined. BUT I love that it ties everything together and that I couldn’t have made it without contributions from some generous friends: Chris R provided the initial piece of light swirl background that was used in 6 of the challenge quilts, Joanne H gave me her piece of light swirl so I could make the 8th, Marcia W. gave me some pieces of Cherrywood in the colors that I had used up, and Evelyn L. gave me the piece of Cherrywood blue used in the binding.

Here is the last quilt with the other 7:




Project Quilting 6 Challenge 6: Isn’t That Charming?

21 03 2015

It’s time for another Project Quilting challenge! Here’s the finished product (front and back).

18The challenge required that we use charms (5″ squares), so while at the Prairie Heritage Quilt Show in Sun Prairie WI last weekend, I had an excuse to browse the vendors. (Ok, well, I didn’t actually need an excuse. Checking out new prints is just FUN!)  A pack of Moda New Muslin Mates ended upcoming home.charmThings went smooth with assembly, but the quilting? Not so much.  After having it almost done, I got honest and admitted that … just yuck.  So all of the stitches needed to come out.
The seam ripper is your friend!10
After simplifying things a bit, I’m happy with the result. All of the charms in the pack were used (plus 3 white squares) for the font, back, and binding.


The hexes were made from a circle using a technique demonstrated here.

The hexes using this method don’t come out with sides quite as equal as when a template is used, so “Wonky-ish Hex” might be an appropriate title for this quilt.



Thanks to Kim for another season of Project Quilting!

Project Quilting 6 Challenge 4: Have a Heart

22 02 2015

There is this cool challenge called Project Quilting that Kim Lapacek over at Persimon Dreams coordinates (#pq6). This is the 4th challenge for Season 6: Have a Heart.

She throws out a challenge Sun at noon and you have to get it done by the following Sun at noon.  Crazy, right?  My goal was to get just one done on time. Well, the goal has been met.  A bit sloppy on the corners lining up, but done.  How about “Balancing Opposites” for a title?


The challenge required 12 hearts.  Last Sun I drew this up:


My sewing machine and I then struggled with with some 1″ squares to create the center during the week.


On Friday, shit got serious. I took the day off of work and focused on hearts.  It paid off because I got it done! Yeah me! With an important lesson learned: Square up ALL blocks as you go!

Here are some pictures.

image    image

The fabric collection is “Whisper” by Janine Burke of Blue Underground with Kona Cream for an accent.  Love, love, love the color combinations!