Monday 1 November 2021

Newspaper Headline: Friendship 7

When I first read the prompt, my mind went immediately to the question I'm often seeing on social media and elsewhere: What is the first major news story you remember as a child? And I answered, "The Kennedy Assassination," which is what most people in my cohort will say. I was nine years old, and in the 4th grade when that happened. I can remember getting the news as plain as if I were reliving the day. A couple of boys ran by our classroom and yelled in the window, "President Kennedy has been assassinated!" It was shocking news.

But getting back to this prompt, I asked myself...really? Is that really the first newspaper headline I can remember? And then I was reminded of one from earlier: John Glenn's orbital flight on Friendship 7. It was a part of the Mercury Project. I was in the second grade when he made his historic flight. I remember talking about the exciting events of the day with a boy who sat at the desk next to me. And so I went with that for my inspiration.

For some time, I've been wanting to try incorporating a human face into my quilting repertoire. So, I went in search of some news stories about John Glenn. I liked this cover from Life magazine.

After thinking about it for a few days, I worried about copyright issues if I were to use this image in a quilt. I don't know who would care, but it gave me second thoughts. I went on quite a little online journey trying to figure out if the image was in the public domain. Apparently some Life magazine covers are, but I couldn't determine if this was one of them. 

Searching further, I found another image I liked, this one from Time magazine:

But here, I ran into the same problem. Despite hours of trying, I could not figure out if the image was in the public domain, and so I didn't feel comfortable using it.

So here's where I learned something: All commemorative postage stamps created after 1978 are copyrighted. Those created before 1978 are all in the public domain. In my online journey, I found one that commemorated Project Mercury that led to John Glenn's orbital flight. When I found it, I had my inspiration. Here's the original stamp:

And, honestly, how old to you have to be to remember when a letter could be mailed for 4¢?

It seemed like applique would be the best way to recreate the commemorative stamp. My cat, Sadie, is an excellent helper in the sewing room. She helped me trace and cut the perforated frame for the stamp.

I had some perfect fabrics for creating the stamp background, and so I fused the "frame" to the background fabric. Also, I took a little creative license with the layout of the stamp. The globe on the original stamp bothered me. I wanted something that looked less stylized, and so I recreated one that included what was then Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The most difficult part was deciding how to recreate the space capsule. This was fused together on a teflon pressing sheet...

And then moved to the background for fusing and top-stitching.

The most tedious part of this quilt was cutting out those little letters. Here again, I took some creative license, moving the "Project Mercury" lettering to the top of the design to avoid covering the globe.

After that, it was ready for top-stitching. It was first layered with its batting, and top-stitched through the batting. 

It's a little difficult to see, but the background fabric is glittery with stars. Nevertheless, I tried adding some hot fix crystals to give it a little more sparkle. They don't show very well against the glittery background.

All that I needed to do then was to add the backing fabric, do a little more quilting, and then bind it. This is my finished quilt:

It ended up at 13 x 20 inches. Here's how it looks from the back.

I hope you like my quilt! I still haven't attempted to make a quilt from a human face, but I'll save that for another time. 


  1. What a journey you had Barbara and what a great end point you arrived at! Your quilt is brilliant, and a great interpretation of the theme. I have been trying to remember what the first major news story I remember was and I really don't know, you have certainly given me something to mull over :)

  2. I can hear the excitement in your voice as you created this one, Barbara. What a great idea for this theme! I love it.

  3. I remember seeing the Kennedy funeral on TV but I was most interested in the horses drawing the caisson.
    I remember clearly being about 7, reading a headline in the newspaper, and telling my mom with deep emotion, "There was a car crash and people were killed!" and she barely reacted at all. We get so inured to bad news as we grow up. I am glad you focused on a positive story!

  4. And I forgot to mention the great variety of techniques you used, and how nicely the stitching complements the shapes on the space capsule. It is a lovely quilt with so many details to look at.

  5. I think you took the image and turned it into something quite magical with such clever use of fabric and detail. What a great souvenir to have.

  6. I like your design better than the original stamp! I like the backing, and the little crystals; the composition and the stamp edging; the thought process and Sadie. BTW, Josephine says hello to Sadie. They look so much alike.

  7. I thought that stamp looked great until I saw your quilt. I absolutely love it. All your detail is incredible and I think it's much nicer than the original :)

  8. Oh, lots of memories in your post. The techniques you used to make your art quilt were well described. I like that you chose the stamp.

  9. That is so cool, I love your quilt version of the stamp and the fabrics are perfect for it. The detail in the module and the Earth is fab.

  10. I really like YOUR rendition of the stamp and the memory.