A glimpse of Living Colour: Madder and Friends

Here’s a detail photo of my textile piece, Madder and Friends, that was accepted for the Living Colour touring exhibition:Detail of Living Colour textile

The Living Colour blog is being updated every other day to include a glimpse of one of the 32 exhibits. Mine appeared earlier in the week.

As you can see from the photo this is a very simple construction. I’m a stitcher rather than a quilter (although I would like to get much better at quilting) so there is no clever piecing involved here. I started making this in the summer of 2013 and it took me around 6 months, working at it on and off. One of my intentions in this piece was to demonstrate how harmoniously these natural colours work together – hence the title ‘Madder and Friends’.

These started off as 7cm squares, including a seam allowance of 1cm. Each square that you see in the finished piece therefore measures 5cm. A strict stipulation for entry was that the finished piece should measure 100cm x 40cm. This means that this work comprises 20 x 8 squares – 160 squares in all. I took squares in progress with me wherever I went – some of these were stitched on long train journeys. Because they are so small they were very easily portable. I used a lightweight calico backing which was very useful in providing some body for the lighter weight fabrics, especially the habotai silk. I used a range of different stitching designs – no two squares are alike – but I tried to bear in mind the organiser’s requirement that this work should reflect both ‘Living’ and ‘Colour’ – I have tried to suggest life and movement in the stitching.

Although I was very careful about cutting the squares and piecing them, I was a bit anxious about meeting the dimensions requirement; there was an allowance of + or – 1cm which is not much. However, the end product was pretty much spot on. To get the cutting right I had to buying a quilter’s ruler showing centimetres rather than inches. It seems that most of the rulers available are in inches, which no doubt reflects the US influence in quilting. Fortunately, because I’m old enough to remember using what we quaintly referred to as ‘Imperial’ measurements I’m happy to use either centimetres or inches.

I’m enjoying keeping up to date with the Living Colour blog. The latest work to feature on it is by Di Flint, of Australia, and it looks lovely. Do have a look…


  1. Congratulations Catherine! I think your interpretation of the the theme ‘living colour’ is unique and brilliant. I’m very much looking forward to seeing it when the exhibition travels to New Zealand next January.

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