Many of you might know that that the Quilt Alliance was named The Alliance for American Quilts until 2012, when the board of directors voted to become the Quilt Alliance to reflect the popularity of making and studying quilts around the world, as well as the Quilt Alliance’s broadened global focus on projects both at home and abroad. Since the Quilt Alliance isn’t just interested in American quilts, today’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight features an international interview with Peruvian quiltmaker Mary Flor Garcia. Mary Flor supports her family by making arpilleras, small three-dimensional appliquéd pieces.

Though she’s thousands of miles away from the United States, her interview has many of the same themes as an interview with a quilter from Lima, Ohio might: satisfaction in a finished project, a hope for the future of needlecraft, and a love of chatting while sewing!

Mary Flor shared a bit about the joy of seeing her completed work:

I get excited about the appliqué of my landscapes. The appliqué is when once I have the background ready, I fill it with all the details. You imagine how it is going to turn out, and that is what I like the most… I feel good because I like making it. It is something that now comes to me naturally. I never imagined working on this, but now I like it. I tell my older sister, how it is that before she dared to do anything and now it is me, the younger one who dares to do even more. And she tells me, it’s because I am young, her ideas and mind are not in this anymore.

ImageShe also shared a bit about the place where she sews:

“My place is a small room where I have my bed and my small kitchen. I sit in my little table, in my bench and with my bag of fabrics. I feel good when my sister who stitches for me, and my brothers chat with me. Then, I stitch and stitch while chatting but when I am alone, I can’t stitch! I need someone talking to me.”


Often, Q.S.O.S. interviewees talk about teaching and encouraging a younger generation. Mary Flor is hopeful that arpilleras will continue to be made in Peru:

[T]he girls in the future, yes they are going to like it, they are going to continue doing it. And if they have a feel for the creativity that we all have, they are going to improve it even more from what we are doing now. I see the future as more beautiful, more vibrant. AB: Do you think that we are, or you are encouraging the new generation to continue? Are there young artists making arpilleras?

LFG: Yes, there are girls that are just starting, and most of the learning comes from the stitching. And when you already know how to stitch, then if you have the desire to try more and if you have talent and good skills then they start asking to make a full landscape on their own. And that is how we give them the opportunity by encouraging and helping them trust they can do it. I have a small niece that likes to stitch.

AB: How old is she?

LFG: She is 12 years old and likes to stitch and my brother, who is a man, from little when we needed it, he also helped out stitching. Whoever dares to do it, can do it.

AB: That’s good, it is good to know as one may think, look perhaps this kind of artwork, in 20 years from now, may not exist anymore as it is quite rare for it to be all handmade and with so much detail.

LFG: There are people who get bored. They may do a little and say, ‘I can’t.’ This work is not for everyone, because you do need to have lots of patience.

You can read more stories about quilts from around the world at the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance’s site.


Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories