There are a lot of reasons to make a quilt. Many get made for the love of making and artistry, others are made for the love of the people they are given to. But sometimes they get made because they are about something bigger than the people involved.

I’d like to share a couple of quilts with you that I think are important from a historical aspect. Fiber has a long history as an appropriate (and appropriated) medium for discussing socio-political topics, so it makes sense that contemporary quilters continue to use needle and thread to give further voice to causes they care about. The quilt history books remember many groundbreaking quilts, and I hope these end up being documented as part of that lineage. Another interesting thing to note: while socio-political quilts often engage feminist ideas, the following examples are notable for not being limited to issues that are solely of interest to women.

As an aside, these quilts were rejected from QuiltCon West 2016. I know about them because I’m in the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, and am so very fortunate to share a community with the artists who made these works. While I realize that QuiltCon cannot possibly accept every quilt offered, I think they are the best venue to create a category in future shows that is invitational and perhaps curated by a quilt historian, which shows the intersection of quilts and socio-political commentary. After all, the MQG aims to be at the cutting edge of contemporary quilting, and I can’t imagine anything more contemporary than art made as statement about the important issues of the day. They have also already displayed several really important works by artists such as Chawne Kimber (scroll down at this link for some of her powerful word quilts) and Jacquie Gering, so I think this could be a natural expansion of mission for them.

And so to the quilts:

First up, #lovewinsquilt: a celebration of love, equality and optimism. Spearheaded by Kristin Link of SewMamaSew, it’s a collaborative effort from 37 quilt artists. I think this quilt is as historic as the Supreme Court decision it celebrates, that of guaranteeing the right to same sex marriage.


Photo by Kristin Link

In Kristin’s words:

“On the day of the supreme court decision, 6/26/15, I posted on my personal Facebook page, “I can’t get rainbow quilts out of my head, who wants to make a block?” By the end of the day there were dozens of volunteers. Everyone I know who cares about the issue was so high on love that day that I think we all wanted to express it in the best way we know how. I ended up getting 36 blocks exactly, so I put together the top and the back (photo attached in case you haven’t seen it) and then Charlene Trieloff quilted it and sent it back to me to bind. So it really is a big group effort!”

Row 1: Julie McMahon, Susanne Woods, Megan Cavagnaro Dye, Mary Abreu, Gabrien Chaney, Rossie Hutchinson
Row 2: Paloma Link, Mo Bedell, Shea Henderson, MaryAnn Morsette, Heather Jones, Susan Manson
Row 3: Amy Gunson, Elizabeth Dackson, Kristy Daum, Cheryl Arkinson, Laura Harden, Susan Beal
Row 4: Alissa Haight Carlton, Amy Friend, Angela Milliman, Lauren Hawley, Michelle Freedman, Cherie Grzych
Row 5: Heather Givans, Dan Rouse, Becca Jubie, Juline Bajada, Juline Bajada, John Adams
Row 6: Denyse Schmidt, Kristi McDonough, Susan Fuller, Carla Crim, Monica Solorio Snow, Nicole Daksiewicz
Quilted by Charlene Trieloff


Photo by Kristin Link

Next is Gail Weiss‘s Green Cross Quilt (#cannabisquilt), which celebrates the 2015 legalization of marijuana in Oregon.


Photo by Gail Weiss

Gail wanted to create a sweet, functional object that was in direct juxtaposition to the dark and seedy connotations of violent, drug-dealing crime. The quilt was started before the historic decision, but she hustled to finish it on the date it went into law. The green crosses signify the symbol for marijuana dispensaries (and incidentally, they are the symbol for a standard pharmacy across Europe). Gail said she wanted to make a quilt that was beyond merely pretty, one that meant something. She wanted to use fabric to soften the line between the political and the useful, to make a scary thing (for some) less so.

In Gail’s words:

“Pot is not for everyone, but it’s a wonderful option to pharmaceutical drugs for some people, especially those that have severe reactions to medications.”

Many people get great relief and comfort from pot. I think Gail used the comfort aspect of quilting brilliantly to illustrate the concept of her quilt.


Photo by Gail Weiss

Tomorrow: another important quilt, but for a completely different reason!