Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Making Of A Museum Quilt

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is having their grand opening this weekend!  The Bristol VA/TN EGA that I belong to designed and stitched a quilt that now hangs in the museum!  I've shown you some of the bits of that quilt and I will recap here the process of creating this piece.

I volunteered to be on the planning committee when they wanted to know if anyone could design an alphabet that was similar to the letters in the Stoney Creek Pattern:  Stitching to the Music (we got permission to use this design in the quilt).
I designed the remainder of the letters needed while Marlene designed the backgrounds for the letters and turned the vertical "Music" design into a horizontal one.  Letters were handed out to EGA member volunteers to stitch . . . I stitched this "R".

 We had cross-stitchers and quilters on our committee and soon discovered that they think and see the "whole picture" differently.  Nita was the driving force of the vision for the quilt and presented a picture of a tree motif she thought would look good as the centerpiece of the quilt.  We picked a number of neutral fabrics to become the pieced background and decided on the placement of the stitched letters. We discussed how we needed roots on the tree to represent the "Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion".  This reunion is an annual music festival held in September, celebrating Bristol's musical heritage and featuring country, gospel, bluegrass, and roots music.

I took the tree idea and drew it half the size we needed on taped together pieces of paper.  We had it enlarged and passed this pattern on to Sue to applique the chosen fabrics on to the neutral background.

We then decided that we needed a "frame" of cross-stitched names of all the participants in the "1927 Bristol Sessions" .  (The Bristol sessions were considered the "Big Bang" of modern country music.  They were held in 1927 in Bristol, TN by Victor Talking Machine Company produced by Ralph Peer.)  I charted all the names of the participants of these sessions and strips of the pinkish linen were handed out to volunteers to backstitch.

The next idea Nita had was to add another boarder with the words and music to "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" (often sung by the Carter Family).  We received permission to use this as well.  I adapted and charted an alphabet design I liked to the music that Marlene charted and we handed out sections of that to volunteers to stitch.  This  was one of the two sections that I stitched.
Now for the quilters to really get involved, we asked for volunteers to piece together squares representing popular quilt patterns from 1927 to the present researched and chosen by Joneen.  Fabrics were chosen to pick up the colors in the letter backgrounds and several "piecing parties" were scheduled.

It seemed the quilt was growing by leaps and bounds and we were getting a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of it!

We turned the quilt over to an amazing machine quilter . . . not a long arm machine, but a regular sewing machine!  Ann did a FABULOUS job stippling the background, a "bark" stitch on the tree, mirroring the musical staff, outlining the letters and individualizing each quilt block!  At the EGA "stitch-in" we all gathered-round, hand stitched the binding on and admired our work!

On July 14th the EGA was invited to the museum for the dedication of the quilt and a preview of the museum (very impressive museum).

We had a nice reception!  Nita explained our designing process and we had a photo shoot in the grand stairwell of the museum . . . we were on the local news . . . what a thrill to see our efforts come together so beautifully!
AND . . . my name is in the museum!!!!!!!  There is a plaque at the top of the stairs explaining the process of creating this quilt and my name is included on the plaque . . . WOW am I impressed with myself (he, he)!

It was great fun creating this piece with so many talented women who worked so well together!  I hope you get a chance to visit this museum if you're in the area and learn about our musical heritage.

Have a wonderful stitching day!  ~*


  1. WOW--That's awesome! Beautiful quilt and such a nice story.

  2. Bonny, I am so impressed! What an amazing project to be part of, it's gorgeous!

  3. Bonny is too humble...I'm not sure the quilt would ever have grown roots (pun intended) had Bonny not begun the process. Still, everyone contributed and it's such an impressive piece of art.

  4. What a lovely project! You've encapsulated several of my loves, quilting, stitching, roots music, and local museums. I know the time it takes to bring all of those talents into one project and I thank you for investing in the museum. It goes on my lists of museums to visit.

    Stitching and Sentiments

  5. wow i am so impressed...such an lovely project to be a part of it..
    sweet hugs xxxxxxxxxxxx
    p:s can you please tell me who is the designer of the sweet stitch on your header ?? it says" hold a true friend with both hands" and from where you got it? thank you..please tell me..hugs xxx

    1. It is my design called "True Friend". There is a picture of it framed on the right side under the heading "My Designs" ~*

  6. Bonny,
    I am so excited to have found you tonight via Pinterest. I live in Bristol and love its heritage and I LOVE needlework of all kinds! I feel like I have found a Tennessee "'sister"!! I look forward to exploring your blogs and seeing the beautiful quilt on my first trip to our new museum! Blessings -b