Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Patience to Raise the Sun: Quilters of Haiti

A Haitian proverb says, “You must have patience to raise the sun.” This truth is well understood by the Haitian women who made the quilts we’re sharing today. All of these quilts were machine pieced on a treadle machine, then hand appliqued, embroidered, and quilted. The exhibit* was organized by PeaceQuilts, a nonprofit organization that provides sewing machines, equipment, and training to help women establish their own small artisan businesses so they can earn a living wage.

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Tout Moun Ap Kontample Environman Haiti (Everyone Contemplates Haiti) by Nadege Florian

This charming quilt was inspired by the life and environment that all Haitians know and love. Nadege Florian says, "In the center is the tree of life, important because Haiti has been largely deforested. Around the tree are colorful tap-tap buses; each one represents a different state in Haiti. The outside band of the quilt represents the sea."

This beautiful work was pieced on a treadle sewing machine, then hand-appliqued, echo quilted, embroidered and embellished.

Kay Koule Twonpe Soley Men Li Pa Ka Twonpe Lapli (A Leaky Roof Fools the Sun but Cannot Fool the Rain) by Sr. Angela Belizire

 "A leaky roof fools the sun but cannot fool the rain" is a Haitian proverb. Sister Angela Belizire says, "These are sayings that all Haitians know, and which are used to instruct children and provide wisdom and life lessons." This quilt depicts a typical Haitian home and yard.  You can see Sister Angela's expert hand embroidery in the closeup photo below.

Machann Twal Yo (Our Fabric Market) by Imma Hyppolite

The artist, Imma Hyppolite says,  "This [depicts] the market where I sometimes buy fabric. I love to see all the different colors and designs, but most of it is synthetic. Cotton is very hard to find."  Brightly colored cloth is displayed in the closeup photo below.

Kenèp Mwen An Ap Donnen (My Kenèp Tree Will Bear Fruit) by Rose Marie Agnant

Kenep trees grow up to 30m high and bear green fruit related to the lychee.  Rose Marie Agnant says this quilt was inspired by the Kenèp tree in her yard and by the tree of life: "I love to sit under the Kenèp tree in my yard. We are always happy when we can harvest the fruit." You can see a wonderful article on Rose Marie at the PeaceQuilts website.

Vini Danse Avek Mewn (Come Dance with Me) by Sr. Angela Belizaire

Sister Angela Belizaire says, "Haitians love to dance, and even though I am a Catholic nun, I also dance on many occasions. I sew my own costumes, select the music, and follow the movements of traditional Haitian dances. In this quilt, I am inviting everyone to dance with me. I decorated the border with cow horn buttons because Haitians make beautiful things out of almost anything, including the horns of a cow."

Bann RaRa an Ayiti (Hairian RaRa Bank) by Veronique Mathurin

Veronique explains, "RaRa bands are everywhere during Carnival but this is the one in my village of Lilavois. This is the most exciting and fun festival of the year and starts the season of Lent. This quilt shows all the different costumes, people dancing, playing horns and drums."

The online store at PeaceQuilts offers folk art quilts, pillows, bags, jewelry, and other handmade items. Each purchase helps support member-owned sewing cooperatives where women create beautiful, artisan-made products, inspired by Haiti's rich artistic and cultural heritage.

*Image credits: Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2017 Houston International Quilt Festival. The special exhibit was called Haiti PeaceQuilts:  Patience to Raise the Sun.


  1. These are fantastic! And, I love that they are hand done. Just beautiful!!

  2. What delightful work! The hand applique and quilting in the first one is mind blowing!

  3. Vibrant and wonderful! My favorite is the dancing woman in the gorgeous orange dress. We are currently in the Bahamas, and have met a few Haitians living here and in Turks and Caicos. I'd love to visit Haiti someday. I'll be sure to bring cotton fabric to share!
    louise dot hornor at gmail

  4. Fabulous quilts. These are treasures indeed.

  5. Super článok! Určite budem sledovať ďalej!:) krásne fotky:))


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