One of the most intriguing contemporary tie quilts we've seen is "Corporate Attire" by Dale Fleming, who lives and works in Walnut Creek, California. The impetus for this quilt was her husband's decision to discard a number of silk ties after he had cleaned out his closet. The quilt received one of 7 awards granted at Quilt National '01 (out of 1,411 quilts submitted).
Corporate Attire, 46 x 62", by Dale Fleming
Dale's visually arresting quilt is made from silk ties and other silk fabrics; machine pieced and machine quilted. On her website, Dale explains that she has invented several methods to make machine piecing easier, one of which is a cross between paper piecing and foundation piecing, where the backing does not have to be removed. When the backing is kept intact, the quilter saves time, as well as providing a stabilizing effect for delicate silk fabrics.
Dale writes, "These ties with their rich colors, wonderful textures, and intricate designs just begged to be used." This quilt flows from a single square into a design-as-you-go quilt that plays with color, texture, value, and shape. It is as if she began working from the center out, to show that her designs and her life as an artist emanate from her core, evolving as they go.
In creating art from menswear, the quilter is often faced with the blessing of using fine silks and wools, but s/he also faces the challenge of drab corporate medium-value colors which do not provide much interest for the viewer's eyes. By selecting pure reds and whites and juxtaposing them to show maximum contract, Dale solved this problem. Dale combined the more subdued grays and navies together into a right-angle swath so that they do not diminish the high chroma reds, but rather provide a restful "negative space", much as shades of deep black serve to complement the brilliant jewel tones of Amish quilts.
Image credits and links: The image is shown with the generous permission of Dale Fleming. "Corporate Attire" is featured in The Best Contemporary Quilts: Quilt National 2001 published by Lark Books. Dale Fleming is the author of Pieced Quilts So Simple by C&T Publishing.