August 31, 2012


For several years I've been making notes and sketches for a quilt about "regret."  In the last year or so I finalized the design, seen above in a small maquette; the final quilt will be about 60x72."  My interest has been to capture the nature of the feeling of regret, which to me has to do with a missed connection between two people.  My experience of regret has been intensified by the death of people I love--my parents in 2003 and my son in 2004.  Once a person is gone, those missed/failed connections become more salient, and, at the same time, there is no longer a possibility of repair.  No further chance to apologize, or to change a behavior.  Working on this quilt has helped me understand the pull that regret has come to have in my life.  Working on the quilt hasn't eased the pain, but it has helped me live with it.

There are still key decisions to be made on the construction of the quilt.
  • Should the black figures be appliqued onto one large background piece, or should it all be pieced?  For a long time I assumed I would use applique, but I did this maquette through piecing, in order to get reliably sharp points on the figures (e.g. in photo below).  Other design features will follow from the method I end up choosing.
  • Should the rusty/red background fabric be somewhat mottled or closer to solid?  (This is all fabric I'm dyeing myself, so I can control for this.)
  • What quilting will best express the meaning of the piece, including the differentiation of the figures from the ground?  In this maquette I used mostly straight-line quilting, with one-direction in the figure and multiple directions in the background.  Maybe reverse that?  I've also tried out some hand-quilting in the second figure. (Shown below--you'll probably need to double-click on the image to see this.  I originally machine-quilted the whole piece, but picked out the stitching in the upper right corner so I could try some other things.)
I have received some very helpful (and conflicting) advice from people whose critique I appreciate and trust, and I will be doing some more experimentation along the lines they've suggested.  But probably most important, I now need to make some quiet space to think about which decisions will most successfully express the ideas I have about regret.


  1. I like the multiple directions in the lighter background material because I found it easier to see the lines & enjoy them. I also like the mottled effect in the lighter background material because it indicates depth of emotion to me.


  2. Penny, I think the two black shapes really capture the missed connection. I like the idea of a mottled background representing the life the two shared with multiple quilted lines to represent the complexity of their shared time. I'm leaning toward the idea of the background being pieced together to symbolize that complexity, but maybe the multiple directions of quilting will be enough to carry that idea on one piece of fabric.