Making the ‘Colours of Mexico’ Quilt

On Thursday 15th November, Quilt Now issue 56 came out and I drove in to Durham to buy a copy.

I was excited to see the pattern for my ‘Colours of Mexico’ quilt. It’s there on page 26 and has a mention in the Editor’s letter.

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This is the story of how this quilt came about…

Two years ago, my daughter went to live in Mexico for 10 months, where she lived in the picturesque town of San Miguel de Allende and taught at the University of Dolores de Hidalgo in the province of Guanajuato. Her husband joined her on a tourist visa for six months and we (my husband and I) went out to join them both for a most memorable two-week stay.

The first seven days were spent travelling: Mexico City, Oaxaca, Monte Alban, Puebla, Cholule. In Oaxaca, I visited the textiles museum, which includes in its collection a white shirt with a brightly embroidered rectangular front panel. It was stunning. What caught my eye above all was the glorious mix of strong colours mixed together in bright pairs in the different parts of the embroidery.

I had a small book of squared paper with me (a free gift with Quilt Now from a year or so ago), a pencil and a set of coloured crayons. I made a first version of a quilt design right there in Mexico, on the rooftop terrace of a Mexican hostel. I picked out the colours I had seen in the embroidery and only worked with those: red, green, bright blue, yellow, purple and orange.

I planned to use large-scale versions of traditional blocks. The first version was an oblong shape and was enormous! This was later reduced down to a quilt which was still pretty large (90 x 90″).

Designs (for me, anyway) change as they go along, so although I made all my large scale blocks as I had planned, I spent time carefully arranging and re-arranging them into the final lay-out. When all the blocks were done, and hanging in columns from the banister in front of my landing studio (my equivalent of a ‘design wall’), there was one block that didn’t work colour-wise. I had to unpick it and sew another with a different centre so the colour balance of the whole quilt would work.

The back was a striped material which incorporated all the bright colours of the front and it was also used for the binding.

It was quilted at home on a domestic machine, downstairs on our kitchen table, because of the large size. You can see this in the photo on the welcome page of this website.

I think this is my favourite quilt so far. I love how it has turned out and also love the way it reminds me of the wonderful travels in Mexico with my daughter, who is now a university lecturer in Latin-American Studies.

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