idea of quilting conjures visions of old-fashioned bedspreads
with pastel printed fabric arranged in repetitious geometric
patterns. But quilting has come a long way in the last several
years. A diversity of styles, ranging from the traditional
to the painterly, are widely being practiced by quilters
around the country. Quilting is not restricted any longer
to the domestic sphere. And as it emerges as one of the hottest
new forms of fine art, the styles are changing.
Sandra Starley is one of Moab’s ardent advocates of quilting and
soft sculpture. She is the former, founding president of the Delicate
Stitchers Quilt Guild formed in December of 1997. The Delicate Stitchers,
affiliated with the Utah Quilt Guild, are committed to quilting and fellowship
in the Moab area.
The Delicate Stitchers hold several annual fundraisers for local charities
and those in need. In the spring, they will hold their second annual
quilt show, which will exhibit a wide range of quilts from the guild
members and the community.
When Starley became founding president of the Delicate Stitchers in 1998,
she did not even own a sewing machine. In fact, she had not sewn since
high school. But Starley, like other quilters, quickly fell in love with
the art of quilting.
Starley expressed that she is "addicted to quilting". Perhaps,
she was referring the social aspect of the guild and the workshops, where
avid quilters seriously play with new designs and techniques. But I believe
she was referring to the sensual aspect of quilting, the luscious array
of fabric textures, colors and patterns. She has an obvious passion for
using her hands and imagination to manifest brightly colored
designs, which combine traditional techniques with humor and whimsy.
example, in African Sun-Rising to the Challenge Starley subverts
the traditional "log cabin" pattern, which entails piecing
together four strips of material around an interior square and then repeating
this pattern outward. By cutting the successive piecings at odd angles
she creates irregular quadrilaterals, which she combines into the overall
For African Sun she was given a fat quarter, 18 by 22 inches,
of African fabric and challenged to make a quilt that harmoniously integrated
the fabric into a final design. The colors of African Sun are warm and
fall-like, combining oranges, golds and chocolate brown, with a cranberry
red and a splash of turquoise. The resulting quilt is visually harmonious
and balanced, while being wildly colorful and provocative.
African Sun challenged Starley’s sensibilities, in that
she had to force herself to break away from her attraction to uniformity
and her keen sense of perfection in order to cut the fabric at odd angles.
The final "log cabin" blocks ultimately had to fit together
into the right sizes to give the full quilt its rectangular shape. The
art of quilting requires precise mathematics to ensure that the patchwork
is uniform and that the sewn pieces turn out to be the exact sizes for
the resulting whole.
was under the misconception that quilting was the process of piecing
fabric together in shapes or patterns called "patchwork", but
the word "quilting" actually refers to the process of sewing
two layers of fabric together around a center of padding in a decorative
design. It is the quilting that creates decisive unity to the finished
patchwork quilt. And it is also the subtle texture of the quilting, which
makes the product exquisitely touchable and appealing. In Starley’s Home
of the Brave quilt, there are hand-sewn stars inside the "flying
geese," the triangles going around the border like pointing arrows.
These intriguing little stars reiterate the theme of the quilt, while
enhancing its design and composition.
A quilter is by necessity a detail oriented person, with a bent towards
perfectionism. But that attention to detail necessitates lack of imagination
and passion, is simply untrue for Starley. Her quilts exhibit boldness
of design and color, playful challenge to tradition, and true zest for
experimenting with techniques and materials. Although quilting may seem
to be a fairly new craft for Starley, her passion for the medium has
turned into a sincere and enduring creative endeavor.
has just helped form a new guild in Moab called Creative Force. In the
monthly meetings, Creative Force will focus on learning new techniques
in a range of media. To learn more about Creative Force contact Susan
at 259-0688. The guild is open to artists of all media.