Baby Biscuit Joy: Telling Stories With Fabric

I have a favourite sister-in-law. She’ll probably tell you she’s my only sister-in-law and while that’s true, I couldn’t ask for a better addition to our family. She’s intelligent – sometimes I need a thesaurus just to keep up to her – and funny and warm and kind.

Theresa is also one of the most creative people I know. Under the label Baby Biscuit Numbered Quilts,  she uses fabric as the medium to create art, like a painter uses paint or an author uses words.

“When putting together a Baby Biscuit Numbered Quilt, I select a palette for the interplay of colour, texture and pattern scale, cutting the fabrics into squares, pinning and stitching 160 squares to form 80 pockets, weighing fill to stuff the pockets, then closing them to create biscuits … little pillows of puffiness.

Why has Theresa chosen this labour-intensive craft as her creative outlet?

“There is the joy that flooded over me when I made my first biscuit quilt, more than 30 years ago, which has only intensified since I resumed with Quilt #7 in January of this year. It is the joy of total immersion in what I’m doing. I have so immersed myself in studying fabrics – juxtaposing texture, colour, pattern – that I now see or read their interplay as narrative. And even though each quilt is numbered  to reflect its uniqueness, I have discovered it also has a narrative and the story it tells has a name.”

Here’s Theresa to tell you about the stories in her Baby Biscuit Numbered Quilts.

The Personality of Baby Biscuit Quilts #7: PINK ZINGER
Baby Biscuit Quilts #7

“This quilt was made for a little girl I know so the foundation of the color scheme had to be pink. But the personality of the girl was not pastel. My search for fabrics took me to vibrant hues of pink patterned in diamonds and stylized florals. The pink paired itself to intense greens in paisley, stripes and dots. And the quilt came to be named Pink Zinger because the outstanding personality of its owner needed to be matched with a zinger of a quilt.”

The Philosophical Turn of Baby Biscuit Quilts #16: VERDIGRIS ET VERITE (Oxide and Truth)
Baby Biscuit Quilts #16

“I bought a fabric striped in shades of aqua and red to use as a piping strip. The colors reminded me of the patina of rust or metal oxide and the blood-red intensity associated with truth. Perhaps unpleasant to consider for a baby quilt but as I built the palette and worked with the fabrics, their color variations and patterns revealed a narrative. Truth is always contested and is always dependent on the interests at play in establishing its veracity. “

 

Truth may be overt or cloaked.

In different lights, truth takes on different meanings.

 

Truth can be maze-like, its core hidden at the centre, waiting to be found.

 

There can be half-truths.

 

Because truth shifts shape, it may need to be held in place.

 
“It was all there, waiting to be read. After I told this story to my daughter Erin, she said, “Mom, you need to write this down and include it with the quilt. You’re doing Biscuit Philosophy.”

The Puzzle of Baby Biscuit Quilts #17: CONNECT THE DOTS
Baby Biscuit Quilts #17

“I relinquish the solution to this puzzle reluctantly, but it’s fun, so I’ll let you in on the secret. Polka-dotted fabrics comprise the palette–at first glance, that is. What appears to be a teeny-weeny crimson dot on black background is actually an itsy-bitsy crimson diamond! And as with most things, all is not as it appears.”

To view select albums of Theresa’s Baby Biscuit Numbered Quilts, visit her Facebook page.

You may also contact Theresa at biscuit-quilts@shaw.ca

Now, take a look around your home or work area. If your favourite fabric could tell us about your personality, what would it say?

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About Sheila Seabrook

Author of Single Title Romantic Comedy and Women's Fiction

Posted on September 7, 2011, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 48 Comments.

  1. Sheila, remember those jobs? One of mine was working with piece goods for a small dynamo, a man who worked with the sylists and pondered, argued and labored long hours over colors and patterns. Then he yelled at the printers and argued with the mill workers, harrassed executives and thrilled clients. My fascination for colors, patterns and their relationship to what we wear or how we see our world changed and a love affair with fabric and all the thousands of things I could make with them began a life-long love of crafting.

    I sewed and connected, made boxes and hundreds of gift baskets and the lessons he taught me have never failed to remind me of the wonderful a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes he rolled out each year. I crochet and do the same with yarn and love it all. I was also blessed to have an artists for a brother who did the same with paints. Thanks so much 🙂 Thank her for me as well!

    • Florence, I’m a crafting nightmare, meaning anything I make … well, a 5-year-old could do better. 🙂 But I recognize beautiful craftsmanship when I see it and I’m awed (and I’ll admit, envious) of people who create with their hands. I can understand your co-workers desire to argue so passionately over the “look” he sees to create.

      So let me welcome my sister-in-law, Theresa, who creates these wonderful quilts and also decorates and cooks with a flair I find fascinating but alas … will never achieve on my own.

  2. Sheila, thank you for featuring Baby Biscuit Numbered Quilts on your blogsite. I enjoyed our engagement with this project; it was fun to think through it with you, while you did all the work. Certainly, the process reflects the wisdom in the adage ‘Two heads are better than one’!
    Love, Theresa

    • Welcome to the Women Unplugged, Theresa! Our collaberation was indeed fun as were the stories you’ve shared with us. I’m fascinated by your ability to connect the fabric patterns to a meaning. Or would the pattern in the fabric be more symbolic?

      • And please, Theresa, feel free to jump in to the conversation. I want you to be comfortable here because sometime in the future, you’ll have more quilts and more interesting stories to share. So sit down with us, grab some tea or coffee, and make yourself at home. 🙂

  3. Wow, what beautiful quilts! Your sister-in-law has quite a talent. My grandmother used to make afghans, all unique to each person she crocheted them for. When she died, I had one she’d made for me as a wedding gift and I “appropriated” the one she had for herself. Hey, I did all the work cleaning out the house, so I deserved it, right? Anyway, now I have one for each of my two children to pass on. Sadly, they won’t get anything handmade from their own mother. Except for cookies, I can do them. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing Theresa’s beautiful artwork with us.

    • I’m with you, Tracy, sadly unable to make anything handmade unless it’s cookies. Hmmm, I think the quilts would be better for our hips than the cookies. 🙂

      In fact, here’s a story I’ve never admited to Theresa until now. One Christmas, I made a crocheted tree-top angel. The poor thing. I’d crochet a few rows, put it away, crochet a few more, realize my angel was getting crooked, put it away, repeat, repeat, repeat. Then when we went to Theresa’s house for Christmas Eve, there was the same angel atop her Christmas tree. Beautifully gold and perfect.

      Mine went into the drawer and never came out again. 🙂

    • Tracy, Hi.
      I haven’t made cookies in years. Kudos to you.
      It’s wonderful that you have Grandmother’s afghans to give to your children. Such keepsakes are priceless.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of the quilts.

  4. Hi, Sheila,
    Love those quilts! I surround myself with solid colors, but my anniversary rug–bought for a big wedding anniversary–is a swirl of umber, dark red, rose, and sage on cream.

    • I would love to see a picture of that, Pat. I wish there was a way to attach photoes to these comments. Maybe you could share it on twitter? 🙂

    • Thanks so much. Personally I prefer wearing solid colors. But my creativity index skyrockets when I shop for quilting fabric.

      Your rug sounds dreamy.

  5. Oh Sheila, I’ve made those for years, and even taught at my local Joann’s how to make them! It amazes me how they all turn out SO differently, and I try to taylor the quilt to the parents and the environment the new baby will come into.

    I’d love to show you one, but don’t think this will allow an attachment.

    Thanks for the post, you made me smile.

    • Oh, you and Theresa have lots to talk about, Laura! You know, we’re definitely going to have to have a twitter-showing of everyone’s favorite quilts and designs. 🙂

    • Laura, you’re right. They do all turn out differently. I liken it to what 2 oil painters can achieve each with a set of primary colors. It fascinates me.

  6. I’m always amazed by people who can quilt. My daughter and I tried our hand at sewing a simple apron and between lining seams and folding hems trying to get everything just so — it was tough!

    Beautiful work!

    • I believe it’s tough. I’ve seen Theresa’s work room and she’s shown me the steps to making a quilt. It requires patience and fortitude and a love for the craft. 🙂

    • Dianne, thank you. You’re right–sewing is tough. I’ve looked at the first biscuit quilt I made for our son 30+ years ago and I would have to say: Make more aprons! Sorta like practice, practice, practice your craft.

  7. Sheila, what a fascinating post. I’m jazzed to try my hand at making a biscuit quilt for our first grandchild, due in the fall. I have a ‘quilting’ friend. Maybe she can walk me through the steps. Our local craft store closed a few months ago. Drat!

    • Ohhh, thanks for joining us, Cargal. Perhaps Theresa would share a few tips on creating these beautiful works of art.

      And congratulations on the upcoming grandchild. How excited you must be! 🙂

    • Wow, a new grandbaby. How thrilling: Congratulations!
      Have you searched for crafting supplies online? Some really great resources exist, such as onlinefabricstore, hart’s fabrics, fabric.com.
      Have fun quilting.

  8. Wow! Now this is true art. I, too, am amazed at what someone can do with fabric. I love “blankies” and had my sister Kathy make me a quilt out of my children’s baby clothes. I cherish that. I’d love to have one of Theresa’s quilts and will go to her FB page right now. Thank you, Sheila, for letting us know about your uber-talented sister-in-law.
    Patti

  9. I love quilts and have the one my mom and grandmother made from feed sack fabric on my bed. It’s backed with muslin and incredibly soft. I love looking at the different fabrics and know these two lovely women made this.

    You favorite sister in law’s quilts are exquisite. As are you!

    • Vicki, what is feed sack fabric?

      It’s interesting how we all treasure the quilts we’ve received from those closest to us. It’s a true testament to the value of families and friends and the love we share with them.

    • Vicki, thanks so much. I also have quilts hand-patched made by my grandmother as a wedding gift (36 years ago!). The pattern is ‘Rose of Sharon’. I still recall watching her piece the fabrics togther with fine applique work, turing the edge of fabric under with the tip of her needle as she stitched.

  10. Lovely…and absolutely a work of art. I have quilts made by my grandmother that are 50 years old. I use them for decoration in the guest room now, but they are treasured beyond measure.

    • Linda, I also love the quilts made by my grandmother. For a time, they were folded at the foot of the bed of one of our daughters in her room. For some years now, they’ve been in storage and occasionally I open them to air and refold so they don’t develop weaknesses in the fibers. You’re right: they are treasures beyond measure.

  11. Sheila, thanks, once again for featuring my quilts and inviting me to participate.
    I would say I attach meaning to the patterns in the fabrics I use. So yes, a particular fabric pattern can be symbolic.

  12. So interesting to see your sister-in-law’s work and how she really thinks about her colors and patterns as a reflection of personality. I’m trying to gear myself up for re-doing our guest room (otherwise known as the junk room) and I feel like I should step outside our earthy-brown-red-rust color scheme, but anything else doesn’t feel like us. I’d love to do a blue room, but can’t pull the trigger. Maybe a visit to Theresa’s Facebook page will inspire me!?

    • Christy, wow. That’s a huge compliment, thank you for seeking inspiration on my FB page. The palette for Baby Biscuit Quilts #10 is based on blues, creamy white, and brown (blue sky, white clouds, and solid earth). I’d love to be a guest in that color scheme–very restful.

      • Christy, I’m an earth-tone girl, too. But then I see beautiful bright colors like on the quilts Theresa uses and the colors just brighten up a room, especially on those gloomy winter days coming our way. 🙂

  13. Sheila, how fascinating. The quilts are gorgeous and so thoughtfully created.

  14. Sheila, went to Teresa’s Facebook page. How amazing it is to create such wonderful designs 🙂

  15. Oh my goodness what a lovely post. I’m a flannel girl…what does that say??? I’m envious of people who can make such beautiful things. I can only imagine what goes into make one.

    I don’t have children, but I do have four-legged critters and I have to say I always buy a new quilt for them when they are babies. There’s just something about that.

    • That is so lovely. All babies, even four-legged critter kinds need coxy quilts for snuggling into.

      Sheila did a great job translating our conversations into this wonderful post.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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