Friday, August 30, 2013

Quilt Full of Wilco: An Update on the Solid Sound Sewing Project

The assembled squares. Photograph by Mars Vilaubi
When Storey was invited by Wilco to participate in last July's Solid Sound Festival, put on by the band at MASS MoCA (which is also the home base for our offices), we had fun brainstorming ways to engage the concert-growing crowd while accommodating their primary activity: listening to music. That's when the idea of a group quilt was hatched: each person could embellish one 7-inch square of fabric however they liked and add it to the quilt.

We enlisted the help of three of our crafty authors — Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut (authors of Improv Sewing) and Crispina ffrench (author of The Sweater Chop Shop). Crispina got to work cutting squares from her ample collection of recycled jeans and corduroys. She also mapped out a quilt pattern, using strategically placed red squares to form a giant "W." We all mined our craft stashes for buttons, embroidery thread, and fabric scraps to use for embellishing.

MoCA suggested we position our sewing station right outside the entrance to Kidspace, which turned out to be a great way to attract Wilco fans of all ages. Our spot was bustling with creative activity throughout Saturday and Sunday. Little ones as young as three were eagerly learning to sew on buttons, while older kids started sorting buttons by color and shape to form patterns. Here are a few of their wonderful squares:

And some clever folks combined buttons with hand-stitching to make pictures:

Nicole and Debra were on hand with sewing machines to teach their signature doodle stitching techniques. Here's a square with some inspired doodle stitching:

While Crispina's encouraging guidance on using fabric scraps and embroidery thread produced squares such as this:

And of course, there were many tributes to Wilco and the Solid Sound Festival that used creative lettering techniques:

And music-related imagery:

One avid embroiderer took a break at our station for a couple of hours and produced this lovely tribute:

And a few who couldn't stay for long took their fabric squares home and later sent us these amazing contributions:

Storey staff dug in to create a couple of tributes to our company:

I was blown away when my husband, who has never expressed any interest in learning to sew in spite of bearing witness to my own enthusiastic engagement with the craft for more than 20 years, sat down (with no prompting from me!) and created this fish square:

The creative community spirit of Solid Sound permeated our sewing station, and the result is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

What will happen to this creation next? First, we're going to finish it off with a cozy flannel backing and then share it with the Wilco band members. We hope it will find a home where it can continue to evoke for others the generosity, sharing, and fun spirit of the Solid Sound Festival.

 Deborah Balmuth, Publisher, with photographs by Mars Vilaubi

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