43 For 43: A Collaborative Quilt

Hero Image: 43 for 43 on a rose pattern

Who would think that piecing together bits of fabric to make a quilt could be a weapon of hope and potential change? But that’s exactly what this project aspires to be.

Collaborative Quilt

I was fortunate enough to come across an initiative by Zak Foster asking quilters around the world if they’d like to contribute a square representing a name of one of the 43 students that went missing a year and a half ago in Mexico.

Facebook message from Zak

The hope was to help the families of these 43 students create awareness and eventual justice for their missing family members by creating a quilt-banner to carry to protests and display at other events.

Here’s the video that explains the project idea:

Where are the Missing 43?

Forty-three college students disappeared on the evening of September 26th, 2014, and remain unaccounted for. Their buses were on route to Iguala where they were stopped by local authorities. Then the firing started. Students were taken captive and they have not been heard from since.

This is a crime that no one should get away with, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Mexico to date. Unless justice and explanations are demanded of the federal government, these 43 college students will remain missing.

Watch this documentary for all the known details, as well, to get a sense of the chaos that unfolded that night (via footage from one of the student’s cell phone). Some scenes are quite graphic.

Dónde está Everardo Rodríguez Bello?

I immediately signed up to contribute and chose Everardo Rodríguez Bello as the student I’d like to create for.

Illustration of Everardo-Rodriguez-BelloHis bio says that he is 21 years old and from Omeapa. He’s known as “Shaggy” at Ayotzinapa teaching school because his friends think he resembles the character from Scooby Doo. He would get upset about inequality, particularly when it came to food. One student said that if others got, say, six tortillas at lunch, and he got only five, he got very upset, just for a tortilla — very similar to the Shaggy character.


My Square

Photoshop: I started by creating a file 12 inches by 12 inches, as instructed by Zak, as a good final size for each square. I added text that would fit nicely in that square-size and went through a handful of fonts before landing on this one. I had to choose a font shape that was solid and chunky so that when I cut out the letters they could easily be traced to fabric. I printed out my final version and cut out the letters.

letters to cut out from the printer

Fabric: The instructions stated that the quilt square needed be red and white. I went to Dressew to find fabric and ended up choosing a subtle rose design as the background and for the letters. I used a white cotton fabric I already had as a background for the letters to sit on — I wanted it to have a ‘highlighter’ kind of look.

Prep: I fused on interface to my rose-patterned fabric to beef up the stability of the cotton. I then traced the cut-out paper letters to my fabric with a water soluble pen and cut out my fabric letters.

fabric letter cut out and sitting on couch

I used fusible iron-on fabric glue to position my letters the way I wanted on the white fabric. I then cut out the three sections of his full name to bring to the sewing machine for some embroidery.

testing fabric letter on different backgrounds

Machine: I went with a teeny, tiny zigzag stitch to make the letters permanently fixed to the fabric. The machine was set to a stitch width of ‘1.5’ and a length of ‘.8’. It’s certainly not perfect but I dig the handmade look so I let my missed stitches go.

letters embroidered

Final square:  I thought the roses and the mini pom-poms were Mexican-esque and helped make Everardo’s name stand out. I hope his family likes what I did.
Final square of Everardo Rodriguez Bello
I can’t wait to see what this square looks like with all the other squares added and feel over-the-moon that I could be a part of such an important message.

Here are some examples of other squares already submitted for the social activist quilt.

Quilt square submissions for 43 for 43 quilt
Source: Zak Foster’s instagram

Be sure to follow Zak Foster if you’d like to stay up-to-date with this story and its progress. And if you’d like to do your small part, share the story of the 43 missing students to raise awareness. Hashtag: #43for43


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