By Alejandra Alcantara, Leader Mexico Modern Quilt Guild
The Mexico Modern Quilt Guild chapter was born in 2017 after some of us, who had previously attended QuiltCon, wanted our country to be present in the Modern Quilt movement. We are 26 women from Mexico City’s sprawling metropolis, historic Queretaro and bohemian San Miguel de Allende. Having seen the amazing display of Charity Quilts in Savannah and Pasadena, we decided we would participate in the 2019 Charity Quilt Challenge. With a background in graphic design I put together a few ideas and the group voted for the one which followed the MQG year’s Small Piecing theme and showed the spirit that pervades in Mexico when we celebrate what we love.
In our country, the Mexican fiesta has become an art form which few can resist.The syncretism of prehispanic and religious elements combines with dance, fireworks, colorful costumes, and lots of food and drink. Our quilt design is an abstraction of the streamers people hang up from side to side on the streets in small towns where everyone contributes to the success and happiness of the day’s celebration.We call this type of decor “Papel Picado” (perforated paper) which is considered Mexican folk art. Artisans use small mallets or chisels creating as many as 50 tissue paper banners at a time.
Throughout this project we each found out why designing a quilt is such a challenging process especially because we worked with pencil and paper (old school!) Packets were sent with fabrics and instructions to everyone who was participating in the first piecing stage. The excitement went full throttle when we got together again and everyone began showing their blocks. What we had seen in sketches was now taking form! After lots of paper piecing and many hours in the sewing room, the quilt top went into the long arm machine and finally we all got together, sat around the almost-finalized-piece and did the last hand binding, chatting and dreaming on how our quilt would look when it’s finally displayed in Nashville.
For the México MQG, this will be the first time a community project will be shown abroad.I took the quilt from México City to New York in early January. Since such a prized item couldn’t be checked as baggage, I boarded the plane with it under my arm and, I’ll confess I wrapped myself in it during the long flight. We are so looking forward to seeing it at QuiltCon in Nashville among the other Charity Quilts which we know will be happy to have their Mexican friend displayed among them. Our quilt will be donated to the Magdalena House, a transitional neighborhood of homes in San Antonio TX that serves mothers and children who have fled dangerous and abusive lives.