The traditional Zia sun motif was created by the indigenous Zia peoples of New Mexico to symbolize the importance of both the sun and the number 4 in their culture. In keeping with that cultural tradition, here are 4 fast facts about these quilted Zia pillow shams I made for customer Barry L. –
They were a free gift with his purchase of a custom Whimzie quilt… yes, free! (You can find out more about his original quilt in my blog post Big-Hearted Zia Quilt for a Big-Hearted Customer.)
When you request a custom Whimzie quilt, I typically provide 3-4 designs to choose from. Barry had such a hard time picking between his favorite and second favorite designs that the runner up became these pillow shams.
So that they’d coordinate well, all the fabrics for these pillow shams were fabrics also used in the making of his quilt – except one. In addition to two Adobe reds and two turquoise fabrics, the pillow design called for two ocher yellow fabrics instead of the single ocher I used in the quilt so I had to purchase another.
Barry’s was the first request I’ve had for a Zia sun symbol, though not my first Southwest-influenced quilt design. The very, very, VERY first full-sized custom quilt I ever made featured a Southwest pottery fabric and ombre greens. I called it Anasazi Fair because the quilt block is known as a World’s Fair.
This is a photo of a photo of that quilt because it’s been so long that I don’t even have the computer hard drive the image was stored on anymore!
One of my favorite parts about custom quilting is when a customer comes to me with an idea for a quilt design that I never would have thought of on my own. Barry L.’s recent request for a Zia quilt is one such request.
The Zia is a classic Southwestern sun symbol – and turning it into a quilt design really let my creativity shine (see what I did there? :D)
Barry’s wife is a native of New Mexico, so he wanted the design to reflect not only the state she was born and raised in, but also that they were about to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. A quilt that featured both a Zia symbol for NM and a heart for their relationship seemed to be the perfect combination.
Since New Mexico was the driving theme, I definitely wanted to stick to traditional Southwest desert colors. The heart is pieced from a number of Adobe red fabrics and I chose a single ochre yellow for the symbol and the border accent. Various turquoise print fabrics were the perfect choice for the scrappy background.
To keep the New Mexico flavor going, I chose several Southwestern motifs for the quilting, too. For instance, there are swirled sun symbols quilted on random blocks across the quilt top. I’d originally considered quilting each individual block with this design, but felt they’d lose their specialness. In the end, I like the surprise of a few scattered symbols among the regular meander quilting.
The quilting on the Zia rays and the accent border is inspired by squash blossom necklaces, another popular Southwestern design element. And I echoed the swirled sun ray quilt motif around the center of the Zia to tie everything together.
Let the sun shine through your heart
Barry’s big-hearted desire to give his wife a meaningful anniversary gift really “shined” through all my interactions with him. I wish them both many more years of wedded bliss, cuddled together under their Zia Heart Whimzie quilt!