Allison Wilbur

by Allison Wilbur on January 6, 2020

Embroidered block of village life in Mali

I chose this spectacular embroidered block which has the feeling of a village full of life. As a bird watcher, the bird in the center also attracted my attention and made me feel my sister artist was perhaps a bird lover as well.

Embroidered scene of village life in Mali with fabric border

I selected two fabrics to surround the block, a thin gold strip to accent the huts and a striped indigo from Mali as a wider outer border. The indigo came from the New England Quilt Museum. Someone had donated their collection of indigos and I was thrilled to find just the right piece to work into this project. There is a strong tradition of indigo dyeing in Mali and I dye with indigo, so it strengthened my connection with the piece.

Embroidered village life block surrounded by gold and blue fabric borders

It was tricky working with the pentagonal shape and the lines in the indigo fabric, but I was pleased with how the blue outer borders drew attention to the figures in the center.

Mud cloth or bogolan from Mali
Mud cloth or bogolan from Mali

I had purchased some mud cloth or bogolan from Cultured Expressions in Rahway, New Jersey when I visited there in 2018. At the time I had no idea I would be working on a quilt from Mali, I just loved the rich earthy tones and the interesting geometric patterns. How exciting to have such a treasure to incorporate into my quilt!

Embroidered village scene from Mali with indigo border and bologlan fabric

Almost there! I added some hand dyed damask fabric which is probably from Africa as well (though who knows for sure since it came from my stash).

Mchine Quilting on embroidered block from Mali
Mchine Quilting on embroidered block from Mali

The quilt was finished with machine quilting. My goal was to add texture but to not distract from the center embroidered block. I am pleased that I was able to bring in so many elements that connected to life in Mali and hope that my Sister Artist in Mali understands how much I admired and was inspired by her beautiful work. I have titled it “Peaceful Village.”

Finished Sister Artist Quilt titled "Peaceful Village."

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