• Breaking News
  • New Quilt Scout – Why Quilts (Still) Matter

    Houston Quilt Festival tickets available online!


    • SHOWS
    • International Quilt Market/Houston*
      October 24-26, 2015
      Classes begin October 23
      George R. Brown Convention Center
      Houston, Texas
    • International Quilt Festival/Houston
      October 29-November 1, 2015
      Preview Night October 28
      Classes begin October 26
      George R. Brown Convention Center
      Houston, Texas
    •  
    • 2016 SHOWS
    • International Quilt Festival/Chicago
      April 7-9
      Classes begin April 7
      Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
      Rosemont, Illinois
    • International Quilt
      Market/Spring*

      May 20-22
      Classes begin May 19
      Salt Palace Convention Center
      Salt Lake City, Utah
      *Credentialed trade show, not open to the general public
    • International Quilt Market/Fall*
      October 29-31
      Classes begin October 29
      George R. Brown Convention Center
      Houston, Texas
      *Credentialed trade show, not open to the general public
    • International Quilt Festival/Houston
      November 3-6
      Preview Night November 2
      Classes begin October 31
      George R. Brown Convention Center
      Houston, Texas

    • Subscribe to our mailing list

      * indicates required
      Show(s) about which you'd like information:
      Email Format
    • Exhibitor booth inquiries
    • To advertise in show programs


Column #139

Passage Quilts


Passage quilt for Michael Gaido


In 1976, journalist Gail Sheehy wrote a book entitled Passages, Predictable Crises of Adult Life. The book became a publishing phenomenon, remaining on The New York Times bestseller list for three years.

Translated into 28 languages, it was eventually named one of the ten most influential books of our time in a Library of Congress survey. In the decades since the book’s publication, the term “passage” has become synonymous with life stages such as birth, marriage, and death that are a shared part of the human experience.

Quilt artist Sherri Lynn Wood has adopted the term to describe quilts made to commemorate or honor those life stages. Although Wood herself sometimes makes passage quilts on a commission basis, more often she acts as a facilitator to help someone directly involved in a passage to make the quilt as part of working through the emotional aspects of the event.


Passage quilt for Michael Kessler (1982-1999)

Made from the clothing of those who have made the life passage, Wood’s quilts involve an improvisational process.

“Beginning with the architecture of the clothing, these quilts are pieced without a predetermined pattern,” Wood writes. “The resulting quilts reflect the relationship of the maker to the materials, retain a sense of the body, and in the case of bereavement, carry the consoling essence of the beloved.”

Bereavement provides an especially powerful impetus for making a passage quilt. When a loved one dies, dealing with his or her clothing can be one of the most difficult steps for the grieving survivor(s) because clothing is so directly and intimately associated with the deceased and such a stark reminder that he or she is no longer alive.

By selecting certain clothing items that have particular familiarity or significance, and using those pieces to create a quilt, Wood has found that the maker is able to use physical activity to work through emotional pain.


Original jacket from a girl named “Alexa”…


“The external steps of passage quilting coincide and reflect the interior states of transition, thus providing a grounded container for the experience of grief,” Wood says.

Once the articles of clothing are selected, they are not simply cut up into pieces of fabric. Instead, they are taken apart at the seams and returned from a three-dimensional object to a two-dimensional one. Then, they may be cut or used whole, depending on the preference of the maker, before being reformed into a quilt using what Wood calls “ruler-free sewing techniques.”

In this manner, the items that functioned in one way for the deceased are transformed to function in another way for the bereaved, while keeping the familiar association with the loved one intact.

“The process is so powerful,” Wood adds. “It is both cathartic and comforting to be able to retain the evidence of a life while making a tactile object that recalls a person after death.”


…and how Wood incorporated the jacket into a quilt

Wood, who is based in Oakland, California, has a Masters of Fine Arts in sculpture from Bard College, and a Masters of Theological Studies from Emory University. She began quilting in 1988, but started working on passage quilts in 2001 after the September 11th attacks, when she decided to take a more service-based approach to her art.

She shares the improvisational process that she encourages when dealing with life’s passages through workshops, presentations, on her blog, daintytime.net, and her book, The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters.

An archive of her passage quilts can be seen here.

 



Email this page


Click here to return to top.

Archived blogs:

Column 138: Home of the Brave Quilts
Column 137: The Story of Fabric Yo-Yos
Column 136: Christmas in July
Column 135: Trifles
Column 134: Deaf Initiatives—Communicating Through Quilts
Column 133: My Betty Boop Quilt
Column 132: Maura Grace Ambrose
Column 131: All You Need Is Love
Column 130: Chicken Linens
Column 129: The Quilted Chuppah
Column 128: Patchwork Around the World: Yoruba Dance Costumes
Column 127: The Bowers Co-Op Quilts
Column 126: Fon Appliqué and Haitian Voodoo Flags
Column 125: The Quilt Garden at The North Carolina Arboretum
Column 124: Harriet Powers and Handful’s Mauma
Column 123: Quilters de Mexico
Column 122: An Appliquéd Surprise
Column 121: Matisse’s Fabric Stash
Column 120: Soogan—The Cowboy’s Quilt
Column 119: The Ron Swanson Quilt
Column 118: HClarkdale, Georgia—A Thread of History
Column 117: How WWI Changed the Color of Quilts in the United States
Column 116: Wagga—The Bushman’s Quilt
Column 115: All in the Family
Column 114: The Alabama State Quilt
Column 113: Balloon Quilts of Albuquerque
Column 112: The Family That Quilts Together, Stays Together
Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
Column 109: Community Cookbooks and Fundraiser Quilts—Parallel Histories
Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
Column 105: A Call for a National Juneteenth Commemorative Quilt
Column 104: Dominoes
Column 103: 1936 Texas Centennial Bluebonnet Quilt
Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
Column 101: Montana CattleWomen Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery
Column 92: The Ballerina Quilter
Column 91: Grandmother's Flower Garden Comes Alive at Texas Quilt Museum
Column 90: Leitmotif for a Lifelong Love Affair
Column 89: Quilting in The Bahamas
Column 88: Joan of Arc: A Quilter's Inspiration
Column 87: Home Demonstration Clubs and Quilting
Column 86: Linzi Upton and the Quilted Yurt
Column 85: A Bounty of Quilts
Column 84: Desert Trader
Column 83: Quilts and the Women’s Liberation Movement
Column 82: Replicating the Past: Reproduction Fabrics for Today’s Quilts
Column 81: Why So Many Quilt Shops in Bozeman, Montana?
Column 80: Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum
Column 79: 54 Tons of Quilt
Column 78: Ollie Steele Burden’s Quilt Blocks
Column 77: Quilting with AMD
Column 76: Maverick Quilts and Cowgirls
Column 75: The Modern Quilt Guild—Cyberculture Quilting Ramps Up
Column 74: The Membership Quilt—Czech Quilting in Texas
Column 73: Maximum Security Quilts
Column 72: Author: Terri Thayer
Column 71: The Christmas Quilt
Column 70: New Mexico Centennial Quilt
Column 69: Scrub Quilts
Column 68: “Think Pink” Quilt Raises Funds for Rare Cancer Research
Column 67: Righting Old Wrongs.
Column 66: 100 Years, 100 Quilts - More on the Arizona Centennial.
Column 65: Arizona Centennial Quilt Project
Column 64: Capt. John Files Tom’s Family Tree
Column 63: The Fat Quarters
Column 62: Quilt Fiction Author: Clare O’Donohue
Column 61: Louisiana Bicentennial Quilt
Column 60: The Camo Quilt Project.
Column 59: Thread Wit
Column 58: Ralli Quilts
Column 57: Preschool Quilters
Column 56: The Story Quilt
Column 55: Red and Green Quilts
Column 54: On the Trail
Column 53: Quilt Trail Gathering
Column 52: True Confessions: First Quilt
Column 51: Quilted Pages
Column 50: Doll Quilts
Column 49: More Than a Quilt Shop
Column 48: Las Colchas of the Texas-Mexico Border
Column 47: Literary Gifts
Column 46: A Different Way of Seeing
Column 45: Sampling
Column 44: Hen and Chicks
Column 43: A Star Studied Event
Column 42: Shoo Fly Pattern
Column 41: Awareness Quilts
Column 40: Tivaevae
Column 39: UnOILed UnspOILed Coast Quilt Project
Column 38: Katrina Recovery Quilts
Column 37: Quilted Vermont
Column 36: The Labyrinth Quilt—A Meditative Endeavor

See other archived columns here

facebook Follow QuiltFestival on Twitter Follow QuiltFestival on YouTube Instagram

Back to top

7660 Woodway, Suite 550 • Houston, Texas 77063 U.S.A.
Telephone (1) 713.781.6864 • Fax (1) 713.781.8182 • e-mail: shows@quilts.com
To request a free informational postcard, contact us.
Please specify which show you are interested in.