quilting from scraps

The last few weeks have been pretty intense work-wise – so a heavy dose of “anti-stress quilting” was required.  There is nothing for me like taking needle to fabric to bring on a sense of accomplishment.

Back in Maroua many moons ago, you may remember I collected remnants of pagnes (6 yards of fabric) to use in making quilts.  As any good quilter knows, one must have a few projects on the go at any one time, leading to the well-known UFO (un-finished object) syndrome.

this is what scraps look like when washed and dried in the courtyard in Maroua

These remnants have produced their fair share of UFOs.  However, getting down to business in the last few weeks, I made lots of quilting progress.  In fact, I’m happy to report that I have hit a momentous personal milestone:  I have completed my first, entirely hand-sewn, full-size quilt top!

Here it is in all it’s glory!

the Far North Quilt

I call it the “Far North” quilt because all of the block fabrics came from there.  It, is made up of 24 blocks with names like crossroads, swing time and shooting star.  Some are 9-patches, some are 16-patches.  The colours are many –  made from what fabric was available – some were more like scraps and others larger remnants, so no pre-planning or colour-coordination was possible.  It was a “make do” with “what is on hand” project.

Or – as Cameroonians say – “On fait avec! – We make do with what we have!”

It’s a great reminder of the incredible display of colour and life on display in Maroua and around the Far North where men and women wear these vibrant traditional cloth. While the quilt’s fabric is mostly used for men’s gandoras, it is also used for women’s fancier ceremonial outfits.

I could be incredibly sentimental – even sappy – and say that the 24 blocks correspond to the 24 months we committed to volunteering in Cameroon.  I could venture even further to say that the centre, with its ferocious centrifuge of colour implies the whirlwind of experiences, challenges and opportunities our time in Cameroon has been and will likely continue to be.

However, if I did say the quilt represented all this, I would forever imagine non-quilt-aficionados rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves: “Geez, woman!  It’s just a bunch of scraps.”

And to be honest, it really is.  But if life gives you scraps (or tailors down the street – as the case may be), make a quilt!

Note to quilters:  I’ve failed in finding appropriate batting in Cameroon, so this will be a “summer quilt” with only an old sheet on the inside and another piece of pagne as backing.  That’s all one would want for a light covering in the heat of the Far North anyway!

~ by Caroline Spira on December 2, 2010.

11 Responses to “quilting from scraps”

  1. Your scrap quilt is marvellous – so bright and vibrant. And what a wonderful memory of your time in Camerooon.

    • Thank you so much! I like how the quilt is made from pieces of fabric from clothing people are wearing around Maroua – perfect strangers that are now a reminder of our time there. 🙂

  2. I am beyond being impressed with you. A hand sewed quilt is a rarety in this day and age and it is so beautiful. I truly love it. Want to sell it????? I am a collector of quilts, can’t sew at all! one could also say you gave yourself 3 quilt squares for each night of Chanukah! kisses

  3. Caroline, it’s lovely! It evokes images of the brilliant clothing I’ve seen African people wearing on TV, like during the World Cup, etc. I like the randomness of it, too; it feels exciting, like there’s something good going on!

    You might like to know that the email version of your post didn’t include the picture of your quilt (odd!), in case anyone is confused by that. It shows up just fine in your blog, however, which people can get to just by clicking on the title of the emailed version of your post.

    Nice work! And it’s no longer a UFO…


    • Not only are the colors evocative of life here… but I surprise myself in the willingness to wear these vibrant colors! Africa is rubbing off on me in a good way.
      Thanks for letting me know about the pics… I will have to research that before the picture-filled post!

  4. Your quilt is an inspiration! I am working on a labyrinth mini-quilt here in Ethiopia…and finding it a good way to de-stress, along with my yoga mat.

  5. what a great job, Caroline!! I LOVE it!! Please, do teach me how to make these. What about developing a quilting club in Yaounde (even if it will only be populated by you and me!). Heck, maybe we could convince Greg to learn, too 🙂

  6. its great what you guys are doing out there. the idea of making quilts from scraps is very good

    • Using scraps has been done for ages, from flour sacks to old shirts. I am just thrilled the remnant pieces here are so colorful and lively.

  7. Absolutely beautiful.

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