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Enter Your Quilt

Peggy DeLaVergne

Wooden Quilts

Note from

the Editor

Hot Dish!

No-Heat Sweets

Q&A: Peggy DeLaVergne

As the International Quilt Festival, one of our goals in selecting exhibits for our shows each year is highlighting works that represent—or celebrate, in some way—a variety of countries and cultures. After all, it’s certainly not an uncommon occurrence that a quilt artist create works that pay homage to their nationality of cultural heritage.

Less common, however, is the artist who creates quilts to honor and educate people about a culture that is not their own.

Such is the case for Texas-based quilter, Peggy DeLaVergne, whose “African Expressions” exhibit honors not only another culture, but an
entire continent.

For this edition, we spoke with DeLaVergne about the exhibit (which will be on display at Quilt Festival in Houston), what message she hopes the quilts convey, and how the entire collection started with a couple of colorful fabric scrap bundles.

 

Friends@Festival: First, please tell me a bit about your background. How long have you been quilting? And what type of quilts do you typically create?

DeLaVergne: I am a native Texan, mother of four boys, and a wife of 37 years. I started quilting in 1999. I am a professional quilt appraiser. I have judged several quilt shows, and have presented several quilt related programs and workshops to guilds and various other venues.

I have an eye for color and composition, and because of that, I have created many of my own designs in quilts. My favorite quilting projects include reproduction of Civil War-era quilts, Asian, and Art Nouveau quilts. I have a particularly unique interest in designing
African-inspired quilts.

 

Friends@Festival: I understand that you first discovered African fabrics at Quilt Festival in Houston. Can you share that story?Above: Africa in Turquoise

DeLaVergne: My first International Quilt Festival experience was in 1999 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. I remember walking into that center with its world of fabrics, embellishments, patterns, designers, classes, teachers, vendors galore…and so much energy. I felt on top of the world just standing in the huge hall! I was hooked for life.

The first International Quilt Festival was an eye-opener and was quilt overload. But it was my fourth festival, in 2002, when the love of African-inspired quilts began.

I was actually on my way out of the convention center, when I spied an African man with a blue barrel just on the edge of the aisle I was walking down. He really didn't have a vendor booth, but more of a spot. I stopped, and what I found were bundles of African fabric scraps—no fancy packaging, just bundles of scraps. The various-sized bundles looked like they might be scraps from a sewing factory. I asked, "How much?" The cost was $5 per bundle. The rich colors were calling my name, and so I bought two, not knowing what I was going to do with them. I knew I had to have them. I left the convention center not knowing my fate.

 

Friends@Festival: But you fell in love with the fabrics?

DeLaVergne: Yes, I loved what I found in those bundles—rich colors, textures, bold designs, the people of Africa, the land with beautiful earth tones, the animals. They all flood my brain when I start to create, and my soul becomes happy with the exploration and use of these textiles.

 

Peggy DeLaVergne

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Above: I Wait for Water

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Friends@Festival: And how did you make the transition from owning a couple of bundles of African fabric scraps to creating an entire collection of African-inspired quilts?

DeLaVergne: As I look back today, I believe the true reason I purchased the bundles was my granddaughter Aliyah. She is half Caucasian and half African American. The whole time I worked on my first African-inspired quilt, I thought of her and wanted to make something she could be
proud of.

Also, I research genealogy, and through my findings I discovered the will of a great (many times) grandfather who was born in 1730 and died in 1803. He left African slaves to his children, and he left unborn slave children to unborn grandchildren. He lived in a different time, but we can certainly learn from his mistakes and the mistakes of many others, past and present. We can make this world a better place through education for our children.

 

Friends@Festival: What message do you feel or hope that the quilts communicate to the viewer? And what do you hope people who see them at Quilt Festival this fall take away from the exhibit?

Above: African WivesDeLaVergne: A quilter is born every day, somewhere in this world. And we should be glad for that, because we quilters carry forward a rich, varied, and interesting history filled with tradition, hope, and love. Teach your young children—both girls and boys—to sew not only quilts, but other things as well. It can bring hours of peace and pleasure and a grand sense of accomplishment.

My hope is that we quilters, women and men, young and old, can continue piecing, one stitch at a time, bringing our communities and the world warmth, joy, and beautiful eye candy for all people to enjoy. Piece!

Photo cutlines:

 

1. Orange Africa

2. African Pieces

3. African Flower Garden

4. Delectable Mountain Star

5. Fish n Chicks

 

© 2016. A publication of Quintessential Quilt Media. No portion may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Quilts, Inc.