As you may, or may not, already know, the theme for this year’s Charity category at Quilt Con was text with a black, white, and grey color palette. While this can seem limiting and maybe even boring to some quilters, we at the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild were almost instantly inspired. Over a short conversation with some fellow members, I proposed the concept of using braille as out interpretation of text. From there, the ideas began flowing free and it seemed like a great choice.
After bringing in samples of braille quilted into panels of fabric, our guild decided to go with the idea and reach out to Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired to see if they would be willing to auction off the final product at one of their fundraising events. They loved the idea and so we decided to use a quote they reference often, “Along we can do so little; together we can do so much.” By Helen Keller.
To further emphasize this message, we decided to create our quilt using the potholder method. In this method, each member would create a panel that spelled out one word. Then they would quilt and bind their panel as if it were a mini quilt. Finally, all the panels were assembled using a decorative stitch. Yes, alone, we can each make a mini quilt, but only when we come together is the whole quilt possible.
If you’ve never taken a close look at braille, it can seem like just a bunch of random dots. But there’s actually a very regular structure that made translating it to quilting rather simple. Each letter is represented with one braille cell. Each cell is made up of six dots in a 2x3 arrangement. The combination of raised dots is what creates a letter. In our quilt each dot that would typically be raised is represented by a piece of black fabric. Many quilters chose squares rather than circles to simplify the piecing process, but others stuck true with circles and some even used hexagons. The shape and method of assembly was up to each member and we love how this allowed each quilter to add their personal flare to their word.
This freedom extended to that backing of each panel. As a group we set the limits of using only black and white prints on that back that were of a value as the front fabric, but let each quilter pick out their own. Again the patchwork look is incredible effective in emphasizing that only by coming together was this quilt possible.
From start to finish our guild worked with one collective mind and goal and created something that we are truly proud of and inspired by. After being shown at QuiltCon 2020, this quilt will be auctioned off by CABVI at their Dining in the Dark even in November. For more information about this organization and event, please visit cincyblind.org.