Appliqué Quilts That Tell a Story

When I first laid eyes on Dijanne Cevaal’s “Blue Travelers’ Blanket,” a rich example of appliqué quilting, I fell in love with it.

hand applique scraps
‘Travelers’ Blanket’ (detail), shows the hand
appliqué work of artist Dijanne Cevaal.
(Photos by Tony Summers)

First, I loved the story behind the piece, one of series of “Travelers’ Blankets” Dijanne has made. She was inspired by the Silk Road travelers, and imagined how they would record the patterns and textures that they saw on their journeys in stitches, sewing fragments on the blankets they used to keep warma visual and physical aide-mémoire.

Dijanne used a similar technique to appliqué scraps of hand-dyed fabrics onto “blankets.” Rather than use machine appliqué to attach the scraps, Dijanne takes the time to hand appliqué each square onto the blanket base using tiny straight stitches and embroidery floss. She also embellishes each scrap with simple embroidery stitches.

“I use many different stitches in these pieces and have expanded my repertoire to include variations of colonial knots, buttonhole stitch, and feather stitch. I look to embellish each piece of fabric I have appliquéd to give the whole piece a joie de vivre,” says Dijanne.



applique quilt by dijanne cevaal
‘Travelers’ Blanket,’ 35″ x 55″,
by Dijanne Cevaal.

Appliqué quilts like Dijanne’s represent, to me, what art quilting is all about: unpredictable, freeform, organic, and unique creativity. Is it any wonder this quilt graces the cover of Quilting Arts’ December/January 2013 issue?

Whether you like appliqué quilting, machine embroidery, surface design techniques, hand stitching and embroidery, or digital imagery, I can promise you that all the Quilting Arts issues in 2013 will offer inspiration and techniques from the most innovative and accomplished fiber artists on the planet.

You won’t want to miss a thing, so be sure to subscribe to Quilting Arts or renew your subscription now.

P.S. Dijanne says she finds stitching the appliqué scraps very meditative and stories come to her while she stitches. What do you think about when you stitch? Leave your answer below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Appliqué, Embellishing, Hand Embroidery, Quilting Daily Blog

4 thoughts on “Appliqué Quilts That Tell a Story

  1. I always think in a very narrative way when my hands are occupied in this kind of repetitive and creative task.
    Today I was folding the pages of a book to create a Christmas tree, and I was having a whole Talk in my head about why and how I cannot find a good use of all the thing I’ve learned at the University or in specialized courses. How I should transform all the books I ever used to get even more educated into a better use: to transform them into art and show their best use to everyone.
    It was rather depressing of course, but also quite interesting.
    And I was using a small volume of one of my favourite french writer: Maupassant. So I had little glimpse of rich vocabulary and great narrative to enjoy while brooding… A very bittersweet experience.

  2. I often think about my mother and my grandmother when I hand stitch. My grandmother was a very talented seamstress and made things from Barbie doll clothes, to coats for her children, to draperies for her house. When she was getting to the point of not being able to see enough to sew anymore, I was just learning how to sew. She passed away a long time ago but it would be wonderful to have her here now with me sharing this amazing art form. And when my mother was terminally ill, I always took hand sewing with me on my visits with her. As my pieces progressed they gave us many talking points and took our minds off of her illness and led our thoughts to the beauties of life.

  3. I love the Travelers Blanket and her blog. I have been working on a blanket of recycled jeans and my own surfaced designed fabrics and then I saw her blankets and was more inspired. I love to hand stitch it is meditative and that is what I do when I need to calm down and think clearly. The stitching keeps me sane.