The Francisco Center for the Performing Arts in La Veta, CO wanted to present the musical play, The Quilters, but felt a bit challenged by the quilt that is the main link to telling all the stories within the play. Ricky raised his hand and said, “Making the quilt will be easy! Leave that to me,” and he set out to design and oversee the making of the Legacy Quilt.
There are sixteen blocks in the play — each telling a story of life, laughter, triumph, and tragedy in the lives of pioneer women during the settling of the West in the mid-1800s. Because each block is shown during the play, and then the complete Legacy Quilt is revealed at the end, two of each block had to be made. In large theatrical productions, the quilt is revealed as a gigantic backdrop on the stage. The stage in the theater in La Veta is small, so a regular bed quilt was best suited for the play; a real quilt that could be used and loved, rather than being a stage prop that would be put in storage.
After measuring the stage to determine the best size of quilt appropriate for this production, Ricky designed each block to finish at 15” and created sashing bars with cornerstones to link together all the blocks. Although the play features sixteen blocks, Ricky’s design called for 20 traditional blocks. The “piano key" border added the finishing touch. Ricky selected all the fabrics for the quilt, new fabrics with an old-fashioned feel to them. He had the vision to choose deep red as a linking element throughout (not all the deep reds are the same fabric, but they are the same general shade of red).
Members of the Colorado Quilt Council (the state guild in Colorado) raised their hands to make the blocks. Each individual was sent a block pattern (with some requiring hand piecing), along with Ricky's fabric choices and a key to fabric placement. A deadline was set for all the blocks to be sent back, with each quilter making two identical blocks. Ricky created the Lone Star block. One volunteer also assembled the sashing units and another volunteer made the piano key border.
Once the blocks were returned, Ricky assembled the quilt top based on his master design. The quilt, which finished at 103” wide by 85” tall, was then sent to a machine quilter - thank you Cyndi McChesney! - who custom quilted each block with an appropriate pattern or design. One unique characteristic of this quilt is that in order for it to fit on the stage, it had to be assembled in a horizontal layout. This will provide a nice bit of history to the quilt when people are curious why some of the blocks are on their sides.
The quilt was used as a raffle opportunity and raised $2200 for the theater group. The winner of the quilt is a local quilter, so it will be treasured forever. The sixteen blocks used in the play, the additional four unused blocks, and the remaining fabric, were sent to the Colorado Quilt Council to be assembled into a charity quilt. The quilt is a great example of community spirit and teamwork. Ricky is considering making this a pattern - so stay tuned!