Michigan Guest Bloggers: Sabra Danks

Michigan Sabra Danks lives in the Genesee County area, and though we haven’t yet met, we were introduced by a mutual friend and talked via computer. It only seemed natural to ask her to be a part of the Michigan Guest Bloggers!


I’ve never written a blog before, I’m not sure I’ve ever read one, but when Caron invited me to write, I couldn’t resist. So as with any good quilt I decided to start with inspiration. I remember being 4 years old and riding the city bus with my 9 year old sister all away across Flint to my grandmother’s house to spend the night on a roll-away bed and be covered by a simple quilt. I would trace my finger from square to square until I found a match. I guess it was an old version of I Spy. I’ve never tried to duplicate that simple quilt, but I find it comforts my soul, just as today’s quilts comfort my body.

I lean towards art quilts. I prefer machine appliqué, probably because I’ve never learned how to hand appliqué. I love using as many different fabrics as I can in my quilts. When I learned how to string quilt in the Sunshine quiltearly ‘80s I bought all the yellow and white fabrics I could find and created a simple baby quilt of the sun. Little did I know that soon after making that small quilt I would receive a diagnosis that prevents me from going into the sun. I hung the quilt above my bed and could feel the warmth of the sun. As my illness continued, I gave away my fabrics, stopped sewing and felt – well, you know.

After years, I began to re-evaluate my need to sew. I could be successful, even if I could only work for 10 minutes a day instead of the hours and hours I had done in the past. Having lost the ability to enjoy the long summer days at the lake, I decided to make a tribute quilt for my parents who worked so hard to provide for me. I drew up some Are We There Yetsummer memories and created a photo album quilt called “Are We There Yet?” I’d never seen a quilt like that, and felt it was quite unique. I used free motion quilting on the forest green sashing in a fir tree pattern to quilt the piece.

I’ve discovered that my best pieces span time blue enviornment color wheel quiltand nature. They include all the seasons, or day and night. The inspiration for the color wheel quilt was to provide a “teaching tool” within the gift. It has a different environment for each color. Throughout the ocean are a variety of hand-drawn/dyed fish. I like curves. So I thought I would try curved piecing. I bought “Curves in Motion” by Judy B. Dale, read it, and jumped into my own design without practicing. I struggled, but created a small piece, added wide borders and had a baby quilt “Catch a Falling Star” It’s one of my favorite quilts. Catch a Falling Star-1

Most recently, I completed “Adventure.” The inspiration came with my comment of, ”This will be an Adventure,” upon seeing the ultrasound photo of my soon-to-be grandson. Our small family has been all girls–a boy, what an adventure! From a child’s perspective I began looking at Adventurewhat an adventure would be and where it would take place. I asked the family what they felt would be an adventure and I incorporated those into the quilt, thus King Kong lives! Suddenly, I had fallen into my four seasons. Someday, I’ll learn to draw to scale before I start. But some of the fabrics just took over and said they would not be cut (Fabric talks, right?).

Section ofJoyeous TreasuresA few years ago, I won Observer’s Choice at the Planetarium Quilt show. The Quilt, “Joyous Treasures” was for my granddaughter. I wanted to make an I Spy quilt with 5” squares. Each square would contain an appliqué. My daughter suggested that I use a back-ground color to match the environment of the appliqué, blue background for the fish, and starry fabric for the moon. What happened was a watercolor technique background from the sky to underground, from mountain, streams and trees, from sunrise to the night sky, from a meadow to a pond. Then if you look closer, you will see the appliqué, and a closer look still will show detailed stitching. Around the border I used free-motion embroidery to write the name of all 70 objects. Additionally I wrote a 3 page poem about the objects in the quilt. I’m slowly writing a book utilizing the poem and including simple instructions and patterns. It’s the copyright process (I don’t know how) and the fact that I never make patterns that is slowing me down.

Pinwheel on design board 3 This year I hope to complete “Wayward winds.” I’m not a traditional quilter, but I have been working on a pinwheel quilt for the last seven years. Currently it has 98 four-block pinwheels completed. I made about 12 of each ½ square triangle out coordinating fabrics. I used all colors and prints. I’m looking for that childhood memory of scanning the quilt for a matching fabric. I call it my unemployment quilt because that’s when I started it. Luckily, I found employment and now have very limited time to finish it. I have my 5 year old granddaughter helping to lay out the squares so no two alike touch each other (get ‘em while they’re young). She can’t wait to lay out the 8” squares next.

Like “Adventure”, inspiration is everywhere. Thank you Caron for letting me ramble. I guess I’ll go sew something now or work on my book.

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