In 2013, music fans at Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival put their sewing skills to the test, adding squares to a group quilt in a unique tribute to creativity and community.

Wilco quilt

The assembled squares. Photo by Mars Vilaubi.

When Storey was invited by Wilco to participate in last July’s Solid Sound Festival, put on by the band at MASS MoCA (which is also the home base for our offices), we had fun brainstorming ways to engage the concert-growing crowd while accommodating their primary activity: listening to music. That’s when the idea of a group quilt was hatched: each person could embellish one 7-inch square of fabric however they liked and add it to the quilt.

We enlisted the help of three of our crafty authors — Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut (authors of Improv Sewing) and Crispina ffrench (author of The Sweater Chop Shop). Crispina got to work cutting squares from her ample collection of recycled jeans and corduroys. She also mapped out a quilt pattern, using strategically placed red squares to form a giant “W.” We all mined our craft stashes for buttons, embroidery thread, and fabric scraps to use for embellishing.MoCA suggested we position our sewing station right outside the entrance to Kidspace, which turned out to be a great way to attract Wilco fans of all ages. Our spot was bustling with creative activity throughout Saturday and Sunday. Little ones as young as three were eagerly learning to sew on buttons, while older kids started sorting buttons by color and shape to form patterns. Here are a few of their wonderful squares:

wilco quilt denim square

wilco quilt square buttons heart

Wilco quilt square pink buttons

wilco quilt square button rainbow

And some clever folks combined buttons with hand-stitching to make pictures:

wilco quilt square robot

Wilco quilt square smiley face

wilco quilt square flower

wilco quilt square turtle

wilco quilt square joy

Nicole and Debra were on hand with sewing machines to teach their signature doodle stitching techniques. Here’s a square with some inspired doodle stitching:

wilco quilt square doodle stitching

While Crispina’s encouraging guidance on using fabric scraps and embroidery thread produced squares such as this:

wilco quilt square flag

And of course, there were many tributes to Wilco and the Solid Sound Festival that used creative lettering techniques:

wilco quilt square corduroy

wilco quilt square button heads

wilco quilt square double notes

wilco quilt square black denim

wilco quilt square spiral

wilco quilt square solid sound wrist band

And music-related imagery:

wilco quilt square guitar

One avid embroiderer took a break at our station for a couple of hours and produced this lovely tribute:

wilco quilt square embroidered

And a few who couldn’t stay for long took their fabric squares home and later sent us these amazing contributions:

wilco quilt square cat

wilco quilt square skull

Storey staff dug in to create a couple of tributes to our company:

wilco quilt squares storey

I was blown away when my husband, who has never expressed any interest in learning to sew in spite of bearing witness to my own enthusiastic engagement with the craft for more than 20 years, sat down (with no prompting from me!) and created this fish square:

wilco quilt square fish

The creative community spirit of Solid Sound permeated our sewing station, and the result is truly greater than the sum of its parts. What will happen to this creation next? First, we’re going to finish it off with a cozy flannel backing and then share it with the Wilco band members. We hope it will find a home where it can continue to evoke for others the generosity, sharing, and fun spirit of the Solid Sound Festival.

All photos by Mars Vilaubi

Deborah L. Balmuth

As Storey’s publisher and editorial director, Deborah heads up efforts to acquire and publish outstanding, long-lasting nonfiction books that support the company’s mission of promoting… See Bio

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