Liberated quilting with Gwen Marston

Liberated quilt champion Gwen Marston was the featured speaker at the Mississippi Valley Quilt Guild this month and I really enjoyed her presentation.

She started her lecture by describing her experiences learning to quilt with Mennonite women and then having the opportunity to see a large collection of antique quilts early in her quilting life and how the two influenced her quilting style.

She sews the same way a women used to, quilting out of their sewing baskets using scraps would without the aid of a design wall. The result are quilts that have clumps of a color in a corner instead of spreading it out over the entire quilt, borders that look nice in proportion to the center design, but don’t necessarily exactly measure the same length as the piece it surrounds, and filler pieces in sampler quilts made of blocks in various sizes.

I really enjoyed the applique quilts she shared with us. She makes them by following a general, somewhat abstract shape that she cuts out herself from a piece of folded fabric, the way women used to before quilting magazines and readily available templates. Not every leaf is exactly the same size and that’s OK.

Marston kept emphasizing that she is not throwing the baby out with the wash water and although her quilts do not follow the current standards of perfection in symmetry or border and block placement, they are sewed with impeccable skill and attention to detail.

And to show our appreciation, our guild presented Marston with a Fourth of July themed liberated quilt.

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