SciQuilt – From the Bridge

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April 19, 2023 by Dr. G

This quilt is part of my JOIDES Resolution Expedition 390 (South Atlantic Transect I) collection. by clicking on the tag 390 quilt, you can see all the quilts I made before and after my two months on the South Atlantic Ocean.

This quilt captures a phrase commonly spoken on the bridge of the scientific research vessel JOIDES Resolution. Can you decipher the phrase?

Red and white quilt hanging

Close-up of red and white fabric on a quilt

Each red fabric represents a different letter of the alphabet. The red and white colors are a nod to quilting history. The Turkey red dye was a desirable choice for fabric in the 1740’s and 50’s, as the red color did not fade with washing or from being in sunlight. However, there was an exorbitant cost for importing and exporting the Turkey red dyed fabric from where it was first developed (the origin of the dyeing process is unclear – possibly beginning in Greece or India). With the time of up to four months and labor necessary for dyeing the cotton, Turkey red was a symbol of wealth and status.

The procedure for dyeing fabric red eventually spread to the UK and Western Hemisphere, with red and white quilts becoming a classic color scheme since the early 19th century. Red and white quilts peaked in popularity at the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century. This color combination was especially popular for the construction of fundraising quilts for organizations such as the Red Cross. With the history of red and white quilts, especially the story of Turkey red, it seemed appropriate to make a quilt with these colors in honor of the JOIDES Resolution’s captain and its crew to recognize their essential role in leading the ship operations.

Close-up of flame pattern used for quilting

All of the fabric on the front of the quilt, including the red binding, is a 3 Cats Shweshwe fabric manufactured by Da Gama Textiles in South Africa. For Expedition 390, JOIDES Resolution departed from and returned to port in Cape Town, South Africa. The long-arm sewing was completed by Old Country Store Fabrics in Intercourse, PA. The flame pattern used for the quilting is a hint and ties in to the message coded in the quilt.

Quilt measures 48 inches tall by 71 inches wide and was completed on April 7, 2023.

*I have developed a worksheet for those interested in figuring out the message on the quilt, and for learning more about red and white quilts.

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