I was honored to be asked to create a banner for the first graduating class of Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to train Jewish Orthodox women as spiritual leaders and halakhic authorities. They selected a quote from Genesis 24:60 as their inspiration: “Our sister, may you become a multitude” to reflect their hope that many more women follow in the footsteps of this first class like a tidal wave.
Using this idea of a tidal wave as a jumping off point, I found several blue and purple batik fabrics and started pinning them to a navy blue background on my design wall. To make sure the shapes I cut fit together properly, I pinned tracing paper to the wall, drew the desired shape, pinned the template to the fabric and cut it a little larger so I could fold under the raw edges.
Slowly, the piece came together as fabrics were sampled, switched around, and replaced. When most of the piece was pinned together, I stepped back and decided that it wasn’t quite right (below left). The flow of the pieces on the top left was fighting the overall movement of the piece. So those came off (below right) and were replaced by other pieces of fabric that helped to unite the piece.
Below is the final arrangement of the fabrics. Now, in case you thought I might be one of those people who is able to keep her studio tidy during the design process, I fully admit that this is not true. At this point in the project, my studio was littered with fabric scraps, pieces of tracing paper, and pins.
After a quick studio cleanup so I could get to my sewing machine without injury, I carefully pinned each piece of fabric in place and removed it from the wall. Using a blind hem stitch on my sewing machine, each piece was sewn to the navy background (below left). I then layered it with cotton batting and a solid navy backing and basted the piece with safety pins (below right).
Next it was time to quilt! To give the piece a little shimmer, I used a metallic thread to quilt a few highlights (below left) and then filled in the rest with free-motion stitching using a variegated thread that contained several shades of blue and purple (below right). This is where I once again mention how much I love my Bernina sewing machine and send a big thank you to my parents who gave it to me!
Of course, as all quilters know, you start quilting from the center and then work out from there to reduce the possibility of puckering. Since I randomly selected sections to quilt using the metallic thread first, by the time I got back to a couple of them filling in with the variegated thread, I realized my mistake… So then there was some reverse sewing (or stitch removal) followed by smoothing out the layers, and replacing the metallic stitching. Below are pictures of the error and a detail of the finished quilting.
Once the quilting was done, it was time to add the quote. I found a light purple batik that could be seen over all the other fabrics, but still worked with the color scheme and printed the verse out on paper as a template. Each letter was then cut out with double sided fusible webbing attached so I could audition the letters before attaching them to the piece. I tried a few different paths for the text (see below), found one I liked and then fused and sewed each letter in place.
The final step was to finish the edges with a clean facing and to add vertical sleeves and a label to the back of the piece so it can be displayed at the graduation. I can’t wait to see it in action on Sunday!