When asked to translate “A Sentimental Journey,” into a quilt, Barbara Wiggins was brought back to the roadsides of Texas. Driving home to her ranch, her eyes took in the rainbow of wildflowers — bluebells, Indian paintbrushes, thistle, blue bonnets — all in full bloom every spring alongside the farmland of old homesteads.
Wiggins felt these flowering images of colorful country roads fully encapsulated the Quilters Unlimited’s 35th Annual Capital City Quilt Show theme, and her quilt will be among the more than 50 hand-crafted and machine- made contemporary quilts at the Museum of Florida History this fall. Co-chair of this year’s show, Wiggins has been a guild member of Tallahassee’s Quilter’s Unlimited since 2010. She says the camaraderie of the group, as well as access to workshops from rock stars of the quilting arena, have all bolstered her passion for the art form.
Classes with Karen Stone and Sharon Schamber are particular standouts, reinventing Wiggins’ thoughts on how to use color and appliques. Her favorite color schemes reside in the jewel tone family, with reds, oranges, and yellows always making an appearance in many squares of her work. “I tried making a monochromatic quilt one time and I had to stop and add some color to it because it just bored me,” admits Wiggins. “I have one of those brains that needs that stimulation of color. It grabs your attention and depending on the placement, you can direct movement around thesurface of the quilt.” If it can be made with a needle and thread, Wiggins says she’s tried her hand at it. Sourcing scraps from her mother’s projects, she first employed the skills and techniques she learned from her high school home economics classes to create basic sewing constructions. It’s only been in the past 10 to 15 years that she’s started creating quilts, either working from scratch or using a long arm quilting machine. Working through different projects, Wiggins says quilting also provides her with a “mental gymnastics” outlet she uses to work through outside problems or concerns.
As far as style, Wiggins is drawn to scrap quilts, which repurpose old or used fabrics and garments. She first saw scrap quilts at a show in Brenham, Texas, which cultivated her affinity for how the quilt makers arranged various pieces.
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