Detroit Woman Uses Graph Paper to Make Unique, Custom Quilts

customquiltsToday, most adults and teenagers most likely associate spiral-bound, graph paper notebooks with math class. However, the product can have creative uses as well. For example, a Detroit woman is using graph paper to make hand-knotted quilts that combine her lifelong love of drawing with the traditional craft of quilting.

Kecia Escoe says she has long used drawing to relieve stress, but her projects took on new life when she realized she could transfer her work to fabric. She then taught herself to hand-tie quilts, using graph paper to create the designs before transferring the pattern onto quilting materials. However, Escoe says she believes there could be a genetic component to her skill: after her first 50 quilts, family members revealed that her grandmother, born in Georgia, had made quilts as well.

Today, Escoe creates utterly unique, custom-made quilts that are often inspired by the clients themselves. When she meets with a customer for a consultation, she says she uses the colors they choose, but also remembers their enthusiasm and personality to help create the actual design. From there, Escoe will create three different patterns and, later, meets with the client or emails them her sketches. Once the customer makes their decision, she begins the quilting process, 60% of which are hand-tie projects. Depending on the size and fabric used, her finished quilts can cost anywhere from $50 to $2,000 each.

After 12 years of quilting, Escoe says her favorite fabric is cotton, a flexible and soft material she can find easily at different stores. However, she also recycles blue jeans into durable pieced bed coverings, which use the same graphing and hand-tying process that she utilizes to make her other projects.

When she isn’t making quilts, Escoe also makes wall hangings and repairs vintage quilts and blankets. Currently, she is working on one quilt that is 120 years old. As a former member of the Needle Rules Society, a Detroit quilting group, she has had her work featured at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Wayne County Community College. However, Escoe is occasionally able to use her skills to help Detroit in more concrete ways as well: for example, after budget cuts caused many schools to eliminate home economics classes, Escoe visited several schools in the area to hold workshops on quilt-making. If given the opportunity, she says she is open to hosting these events again.

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