Darci Moyers, Rebecca (Becca) McCoy, and Gart Davis
From Discourse 14

Permission to use a Betty Street kite photo was granted by the Drachen Foundation to Vogue Magazine and was spotted by the Spoonflower staff who entered their creation in their staff quilt challenge.

My imaginative Spoonflower crew mates for thisyear’s annual staff contest, Gart and Becca, bril- liantly brainstormed our way into an unusual an- swer to the challenge to design fabric for and sew a quilt. I (Darci) was fortunate to be along for the ride.

Becca found inspiration for this quilting challenge in an old issue of Vogue, of all places! While edu- cating herself about the proper accessories for a weekend in Montauk, NY, a gorgeous patchwork kite by Betty Street caught her eye and she im- mediately tore out the photo to show the team.

The Vogue feature of the kite quilt cited the Drachen Foundation’s web site, an incredible resource for all things kite related. Any informa- tion you need to make and fly kites can be found on the Foundation’s website, and a little pok- ing around led her to an incredible collection of patchwork kites made by Texas Tech art professor Betty Street in the 1980s.

Gart: When Becca suggested the kite as an idea, we immediately spoonerized “kite quilt” into a “quite

kilt,” and pondered where that might take us. Ummmm, not terribly far. I thought it would be neat to make flight a design theme, a “kite flight quilt.” I have a soft spot for transportation themes, and of course if you think of flight and design for even a second, you go straight to the interwoven themes of the golden age of flight and Art Deco.

One of my favorite examples that brings these themes together is Glenn C. Sheffer’s Art Deco “Chicago World’s Fair, 1933.” Not content with just Zeppelins, mono-planes, search lights, sky- scrapers, and muscular statuary, Mr. Sheffer wrought these elements around an armor clad Valkyrie bestride the world.

Darci: Gart’s vision for an Art Deco and flight- themed kite quilt was perfectly matched when he stumbled across the 1930s quilt block pat- tern “Flower of Autumn” by Laura Wheeler. To streamline our kite quilt creation process, and perhaps to accomodate our modest sewing skills, we fashioned a cheater quilt pattern by enlarg- ing the quilt block to a lap quilt size, and filled a


single repeat of the block with individual fabric designs. Flower of Autumn’s compostion seemed ideal to host our flight and Art Deco patterns in a kite form, with it’s radiant sun-like shape.

Becca: When Gart showed us the quilt block he found, I immediately loved it! Inspired by Betty Street’s collection, I thought it would be the per- fect design for a square patchwork kite.

Darci: We created fabric designs to fill the cheater quilt with our hand-drawn artwork. Gart’s illus- trations of bi-planes and blimps guided our flight theme, and a smattering of Art Deco-themed drawings of architecture, feathery headdresses and beads, and sun- burst patterns filled up our quilt block.

To craft the illustrations into cohe- sive fabric designs for our cheater quilt pattern, we selected a color palette inspired by Georges Bar- bier’s Art Deco work La Paresse. We narrowed our palette to a gold, orange, slate blue, and black.

Using the Spoonflower color changing tool, we recolored our scanned illustrations.

Becca: I decided to make a mock up of our kite to see if we could actually make it fly! I used fabric from my stash to construct a quick version of our kite.

Once that was finished, we waited for a windy day, and right before a huge storm one afternoon, Gart and I took a little hike through the parking lots of our corporate park to fly our kite!

This “quick and dirty” mock-up got much, much dirtier after several attempts to launch ended in mud puddles, but we do have video evi- dence that it was suspended in the air for several seconds! Oh, I do hope Ms. Street would be proud!

Darci: Confident that our kite would fly, at least in tornadic winds, we

Upper Right: The Spoonflower design tool.

Middle Right: Gart’s fabric design.

Lower Right: The Spoonflower girls sewing their Betty Street kite with their custom- printed fabric.


cut into our freshly printed fabric and started sewing.

After sewing our cheater quilt top to a backing fabric printed with Gart’s bi-planes fabric design- -and leaving out batting for lightness in flight–we added a few accoutrements that you’d usually not find on a proper quilt: tails and pockets for the kite structure.

If you can’t tell by the smiles on our faces, we’re pretty pleased with our flight kite quilt. Now for a Spoonflower field trip to the beach to fly a kite quilt!

The completed Spoonflower quilt kite, inspired by Betty Street.

This article has been reproduced from marWar india magazine, volume 19, issue 2. for more information on The magazine, please visit www.marwar.com.