saint jane :: Okan Arts

Saint Jane quilt by Patricia Belyeasaint jane

saluting a special lady

Mom’s pink seersucker shirtIn 2013, I spent many months as a support person for my parents in Victoria, BC. My father, in a steady decline with stage 4 lung cancer, beat back his expiration date with determination and resourcefulness. My mother Jane lived in a difficult twilight zone. She stayed close to my father’s side during the bittersweet journey that culminated in his passing near the end of November.

This quilt, Saint Jane, tells the story of my family—with the inclusion of fabric from my mother’s pink seersucker shirt and extensive hand stitching.

The making of the quilt top started at the 2013 Quilt Retreat with Joe Cunningham. Joe had just given me the green batik fabric. To that I added some yukata cottons and commercial solids.

I didn’t follow Joe’s lessons but embarked on my own exploration for the quilt design.
In progress, Saint Jane quilt by Patricia BelyeaSomething Joe mentioned made a profound difference in the finishing of Saint Jane. Joe said he creates a new stitching pattern for every one of his quilts.

Inspired to make my own stitching patterns, I started with a pair of oversized, open hands—ready to accept anything. I photographed my own hands, scaled them up onto freezer paper, and then traced the forms with a water-erasable blue pen. The linework was hand stitched with four rows of Presencia No. 8 perle cotton thread. Between the arms, I hand stitched the name of the quilt “Saint Jane.”
In progress, Saint Jane quilt by Patricia BelyeaI added a scattering of maple leaves and tulips on either side to represent my Canadian heritage and my hometown of Ottawa—which I stitched with one row of perle cotton thread.
In progress, Saint Jane quilt by Patricia BelyeaOn the right border, I stitched patterns to signify my siblings (L to R): squares within squares for Derek, an accountant; an arty flower for Kathy, a watercolor painter; circles of influence for Janet, an astute executive; a split zygote for myself and my twin sister Pamela; and a modern shape for my hip younger sister, Jennifer.
Sibling stitching, Saint Jane quilt by Patricia BelyeaMore stitching includes my childhood address, my surname, and my father’s casual “Bobba” signature. It all means something to me.

Telling stories with stitching has opened up new directions for my quilt making.