Have you considered the way you feel about the impact of the pandemic on your life, and expressed those feelings in shape and color, fabric and thread?

Making such a quilt could be a very enlightening and emotionally freeing experience. In “The Creative Art of Quilting” Michelle Napoli says “You symbolize how you understand something before you can find the words.”

Some of the traumas of the pandemic have been grief, loss, stress, uncertainty, isolation and anger. But as you know, there are also positive components to this pandemic. Living through this time we have experienced personal growth, the appreciation of all the truly important things in life, the preciousness of valued relationships, the strengths within ourselves, our humor and joy.

Consider this abstract from the Journal of Occupational Science: Exploring the Forgotten Restorative Dimension of Occupation: Quilting and Quilt Use.

“Restorative, or restful, occupations serve to renew depleted energy resources and result in an improved physical and mental state, with feelings of regeneration during and after participation. Restorative occupations include sleep and quiet focus activities such as quilting. Historically, the concept of restoration has been a neglected dimension of occupation within the fields of occupational therapy and occupational science. The process of quilting is used in this article as an example of a restorative occupation. Restoration from quilting may be gained through the experiences of meaning, tradition, ritual, and rite of passage that quilting provides. Quilt use may be restorative as well, through associations with sleep, meaning, and the sensory qualities of quilts. Both quilting and quilt use have therapeutic benefits that promote restoration”.

Below are some interesting examples of quilters responding to the pandemic. I especially like the self-portrait in the Hillsboro Current Threads exhibit for its humor, and the cubist scream in the SAQA exhibit for its intensity.

Linda Lunt







Journal of Occupational Science, volume 7, 2000 – Issue 2

by Dana Howell & Doris Pierce, Pages 68 – 72

Published 26 Sep 2011, Taylor & Francis Online

Nextavenue, Vitality Arts, The Creative Art of Quilting

by Marijke Vroomen Durning, July 12, 20187



Preliminary sketch of design elements and color choices


How do you decide what quilt to make next? Do you start with a pattern you like? Do you have
some beautiful fabric you can’t wait to use? Has something inspired you? We all start
somewhere with a goal for our quilts, even when that goal is vague and we just grab some
fabric, start cutting and sewing, and see what happens.

A few months ago I discovered a unique way to determine what my next quilt would be like. I
was reading “From Concept To Form In Landscape Design” by Grant W. Reid, ASLA. It’s a
wonderful book, devoted to visual design principles, filed with drawings and photos that
illustrate written descriptions of design concepts. While the book’s subject matter is landscape,
its content can be applied to all of the visual arts. In our case, that means QUILTS!

The book opens with a discussion of general philosophical concepts: “Ask yourself ‘What is this
place really all about?’ Designs that are rooted in a strong philosophical base will have a strong
sense of identity. A person experiencing such a place knows he or she is somewhere special.”
There was an “ah ha” moment. Contemplating my next quilt, I could ask myself “What is this
quilt really all about?” A strong sense of connectedness to a quilt and a meaningful experience
viewing a quilt was possible for me as the maker and others as the viewers 🙂

My first learning experience with this approach was in January 2021 just after a mob stormed
the Capitol building in Washington D.C. I asked myself, what do I really want, right now? How
could I express those feelings in a quilt? My answer was peace within movement (like in Tai
Chi), the absence of upheaval and discord, and hope for a new beginning. From that answer
came design choices:

horizontal orientation for a sense of stability
curves, meanders, and soft edges that flow for peace within movement
a connected sequence of areas for unity within a group
bright, springtime colors for hope and a new beginning

This philosophical and conceptual approach to quilt making is a HUGE challenge. That January
quilt is still in the thinking, experimenting, design stages. Incorporating those design choices
into a satisfying fabric form using principles such as Unity, Balance, Harmony, Scale, and Color is
far more difficult than expected.


1993 (First Edition)



This Barn Quilt was created during a group slice quilt project by the Stray Threads Quilt Guild, 2019 – 2020. The panels, left to right, were made by Jill Green, Linda Lunt, Pat Peterson and Leslie Henderson.

“What is an Art Quilt?’ really asks three questions:

What is a Quilt?
What is Art?
How do Quilts and Art intersect?

I hold no ranking or value judgement among the various types of quilts. Every quilt is a wonderful and special form of creative expression. Expertise of construction, use of design principals, choices of color and fabrics are all elements of a quilt, not a defining statement of its worth or value. A fine example is the quilts of Gee’s Bend and their 2002 exhibition at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. (’s_Bend)

A generally accepted, tangible definition of a quilt is two or more layers of fabric and one or more layers of batting, all of which are held together by thread stitches. Within that very loose definition we include yarn for tying, various types of fibers for fabric, natural and manufactured strands for couching, ribbon and beads and buttons for embellishment, etc.

The definition of art is less clear and more subjective. ThoughtCo says There is no one universal definition of visual art though there is a general consensus that art is the conscious creation of something beautiful or meaningful using skill and imagination.” ( For me, visual art attempts to reveal truth, convey a message, evoke a response, express an emotional feeling. It is an effort, intentional or unconscious, to share some part of the artist’s inner landscape with the outside world.

Where Art and Quilts intersect, all manner of wild, unique conditions can exist. In really edgy art quilts, “Batting” can include almost anything: old wool blankets, corn husks, modern plush fleece, resin bonded polyester, lightweight Peltex, feathers, down etc. “Fabric” can be thin, flexible woven grass mats, vinyl shower curtains, tulle and netting, flexible wire mesh stitched to a backing, lace panels etc. “Thread” can include fine gauge string, narrow ribbon, natural fibers such as wool, cotton, silk, bamboo twisted into a cord, monofilament and metallic thread, glue.

Unconventional construction techniques, experimentation, pushing the boundaries, intentionally breaking the “rules,” beading, and surface design techniques tend to be more common in art quilts than in other types of quilts. Art quilts are usually meant to be displayed rather than functionally used. Taking advantage of that intended use, art quilts may have irregular shapes, significant surface dimensions and elaborate embellishment.

Think of two clouds in the sky, a big fluffy white one and a dark gray storm cloud. When those clouds collide, the part where they overlap will not be bright white nor will it be dark gray either, it will be somewhere in between. The edges of the overlap will be kind of fuzzy, not a sharp clean line. An Art Quilt is like that. It can be defined as an entity on a spectrum from pure quilt to pure art.

These art quilters illustrate that “in between” spectrum condition:

Irene Roderick’s quilts are way over the line towards abstract art.


M. Joan Lintault’s quilts are on the far end of the spectrum towards art also.

Ana Sumner’s quilts look more like quilts but are still on the art end of the spectrum.

Velda Newman’s quilts look a little less like art, a little more like quilts.

Jo Budd’s quilts with their geometric shaped pieces are towards the quilt end of the spectrum. and

Ann Harwell’s quilts are on the quilt end of the spectrum.



When I first started making quilts, I worked very hard to make everything perfect. If I made a mistake, I would rip seams and re-sew. Then one day it occurred to me there was a lot to be gained by looking for all the design and construction possibilities in a project. I still believe in accurate and excellent construction. But when that does not happen it opens the door to an exciting and unexpected challenge.

Here is an example. My original design goal was a large 4-patch square. Each patch would have diagonal parallel strips of fabric running from edge to edge across the square.

I started by cutting strips of various widths and sewing them together on the long edges to make a large rectangular panel. Along the way one of my seams widths was a bit uneven on one end of the strip. As more strips were added, the unevenness was magnified. When I noticed the problem, the beautiful panel of perfect parallel strips had a distinct bend to the left on one edge.

This was clearly a “oops.” There were three choices to correct the problem: abandon the project and start completely over, rip out seams and re-sew, or figure out how to use this mistake to my advantage.

So I took the third choice and experimented. I cut the panel diagonally into 4″ wide strips and then cut the strips into squares. After cutting I had several diagonally striped squares and some triangular and odd shaped scraps. I added additional strips to the triangles and scraps and sewed some of the pieces together, then cut the sewn units into 4″ squares.


This process made the uneven strips almost disappear within the overall complexity of the design. I arranged all of the squares in a pleasing order and added a border.

My original simple 4-patch design turned into an interesting experiment by using my “mistake” in an intuitive way. It was fun too. If you have a question please feel free to contact me.