Mom Made Movie Theater Quilt Block

Every year, one woman on Vashon (the Island my mom lives on) assembles a completely hand-sewn community quilt that is raffled off to support Vashon Allied Arts. It’s been going for over 20 years. This year the theme is Downtown Vashon and Beyond. My mom was asked to sew a block for the quilt! She was given the Vashon Movie Theater. Her challenge was to capture the theater in a 14 inch square, entirely hand sewn, making sure to include specific fabrics. I think she did an amazing job! She makes the theater look mid-century modern and not outdated, the block is bright and fun while still being quite realistic.

This is the final draft of the design for the block. (Sorry for the fact that it’s hard to see. Mom drew it faintly in pencil on tracing paper so photographing it was a challenge). The biggest difference between the draft and final version is that the draft had film reel wrapping all around the block. Mom really struggled to make the film reel look good. She couldn’t find fabric or ribbon that captured it. She solved the problem by sewing together two different ribbons – a shiny brown down the center and a polka-dot ribbon folded over each edge. She then embroidered on top of the ribbons to give the appearance of individual frames. The only problem was that it was so stiff from the many layers involved that she couldn’t wrap it around the block like she originally wanted to.

My favorite detail is the popcorn. Mom cut the kernels out of wool so they would look fluffy and edible. She also hand-drew the stripes on the popcorn box so that they would be the right scale.

A close look at the block shows how much detail and how many different techniques mom used to make the block. All of the fabric pieces were sewn on using needle turn applique (meaning the raw edges are turned under the fabric by the act of sewing them, not by ironing them over first). She embroidered details such as the door handles and plants using several different embroidery stitches. She also embellished with ribbon and cording.

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