Old fabric never dies … it doesn’t even fade away

“Metal Measures” by Jamie Fingal of Orange, Calif., won grand prize in the 2010 “New from Old” contest sponsored by the Alliance for the American Quilt. She recycled thrift store zippers into a traditional log cabin design. All entries were 16 inches by 16 inches.

Mixed media fiber artist Jamie Fingal of Orange, Calif., quickly measured up to the challenge when she decided to enter a quilt contest titled “New from Old.”

Known for her playful approach that incorporates zippers and metal into one-of-a-kind art quilts, Fingal put a collection of thrift store zippers back to work in a 16-inch square patterned after a traditional log cabin design.

The result, “Metal Measures,” received the grand prize in the 2010 contest sponsored by the Alliance for American Quilts. She won a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen sit-down machine, one of the latest designed for long-arm quilting.

Her quilt also sold for $560 on eBay, in a fundraising auction of all the contest entries. Proceeds, totaling $10,727, support the Alliance and its projects.

Fingal fused strips of measuring tape fabric to recycled zippers, then fused the zippers to a wool felt foundation. (Her favorite fusing product is Mistyfuse). She sewed each strip into place by hand, then free-motion zigzagged on every length, top and bottom, to hold it all together.

Other winners in this contest that honored the roots of quilting yet embraced contemporary work were:

First place: “A Tale of Four One-Patches” by Michael Michalski of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Four designs evocative of different eras — vintage through contemporary — were combined through a variety of methods.

“The versatile one-patch is often dismissed as a simplistic pattern, but looking at its evolution, one can find many variations on a theme” in regard to shape, color placement and complexity, reads the artist’s statement.

Second place: “Heavenly Swirls” by Dana Lynch of Olive Branch, Miss.

The quilter was inspired by a painted ceiling in Terem Palace in Moscow, built in 1635. Lynch likened its effect to light coming through darkness, as quilting has weathered changes through the years but perseveres and becomes more beautiful with each new interpretation.

Hand-dyed fabrics from quilter extraordinaire Ricky Tims were used, and the applique was done by machine blanket stitch, then quilted on a Bernina 430 sewing machine.

Third place: “Love My Jammies, Love My Tea” by Mary Vesta Pumphrey of Bella Vista, Ark.

An old pair of pajamas, well-worn and well-loved, were appliqued to cotton fabrics. Heart-shaped buttons and a teapot add to the cozy scene, complete with a tiny quilt on its wall.

This revue of the “New from Old” winners brings me to the Alliance’s new contest for 2011, recently announced by Executive Director Amy Milne from headquarters in Asheville, N.C.

The new theme is “Alliances: People, Patterns, Passion.” The intention is to celebrate cooperative relationships that work toward a common goal.

Anyone may enter the contest, and the requirements are the same: Each work must measure 16 inches by 16 inches. The deadline is March 7.

Entries will be exhibited online and at national venues. They will debut at an exhibition in April at the 27th annual show of the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, Ky. All quilts will be auctioned with proceeds going to the Alliance. For complete rules and an entry form, go to http://www.allianceforamerican quilts.org.

If you need some inspiration to match the theme “Alliances: People, Patterns, Passion,” the Alliance offers a few ideas:

Ode to an Ally: Dedicate your quilt to a friend, teacher, family member or a political or faith-based group. Tell the story in your quilt of the common goal and interests.

Visual Alliances: Feature your favorite color palette or method for bringing together diverse patterns that excite the viewer.

Blocks that Bond: Use traditional blocks that represent alliances — wedding ring, friendship, etc. Design a new block with a symbol that reflects the most important alliances in your life.

Eco-Alliances: What nature/environmental causes are you passionate about? Devote your design to the greenest part of your life.

Satirical/Fantasy Alliances: Let your imagination pour out. Cats and dogs? Hobbits, elves and fairies? A sassy group of super-(s)heroes who turn an angry pile of fabric into a dozen happy quilts?

Here’s your opportunity to have some fun in the new year and support a great organization that preserves and furthers the art of quilting.

What do you say? Can you measure up?

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E-mail Sherida.Warner@ gjsentinel.com.


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