We have so much talent in the Supernatural fandom! Fans draw, edit photos and videos, write fan fics, create costumes or props, make jewelry and much more. It’s time to showcase some of the #SPNFamily’s talent and ask the people behind the creations some questions!
9 months, 2.440 pieces and more than 800 hours of work. That's how much time it took to create an awesome Supernatural Quilt!
I´d like you to meet Cheryl, the woman behind that incredible project.
How and when did you find the Supernatural fandom?
About 3 years ago, I was eating lunch at work and my usual show wasn’t on. The network was airing Supernatural instead. The dudes were good-looking, and since I didn’t feel like watching golf, I decided to watch Supernatural. It was the episode where Sam stands idly by and watches Dean get turned by a vampire and then lies to him about being reliable and protecting him. I didn’t like it. I knew they were brothers, and brothers are supposed to have each other’s backs (I didn’t know that Sam was soulless, nor did I suspect such a story line to explain his behavior.) What I saw was lying and deceit, so it was more like a backstabbing soap opera. Good looking or not, it was more negativity than I wanted in my day.
I didn’t watch again for a while, until nothing else was on again and I gave it another chance during my lunch break. This time, it was an episode where Sam (with a soul) was doing puppy eyes and being compassionate and saving somebody. I was smitten. I started watching the show daily, taking my lunch break during the time when I knew Supernatural would be on so I could see entire episodes. I didn’t have Netflix at the time, so I was at the mercy of TNT to see the episodes. At some point, TNT started them from the pilot, so I got to see Dean say, "Dad’s on a hunting trip and he hasn’t been home in a few days.” Took 6 seasons before I learned the reason Sam was an a*s to Dean was because of going to hell and returning without a soul. The second time I watched it, and saw the whole episode along with everything that proceeded, it made a lot more sense. I’ve been hooked ever since.
What does the Supernatural fandom mean to you?
I haven’t been a part of something like this before. I didn’t know something like this fandom even existed until I was in it. Everybody seems to be enabling each other, but of good things. The fandom enables support, and caring, and listening, and being there for each other, treating each other as part of a slightly less-dysfunctional family than most people are likely in. I have gone through things in my own life, one of which completely stripped me of what I had considered to be my identity. It took a while to figure out that I am ME without having to identify as how the world sees me. I could make choices that worked for ME instead of living up to others‘ expectations. I didn’t have to keep on the same path that was put in front of me. Sidestepping, or finding another way as Sam and Dean say, helped me figure things out. Seeing Jared and Jensen at conventions and how they relate to their fans, it’s obvious that they really do have a vested interest in the fandom being a support group, not just for the show, but for the members of the fandom to come together and be there for each other. Not everybody has someone to rely on, but this fandom gives that to you. In a world filled with hatred and negativity, this fandom of such a large diverse group of people, many of whom haven’t actually met each other, support each other and actually give a damn at a personal level, which is refreshing...it’s positive...it’s something this world needs more.
When did you create your first quilt? Is there a reason you started with that?
I took a sewing lesson in early 2017 because I was missing “something.” I had decided I liked it, so I bought a cheap little sewing machine and proceeded to attempt making clothes, planning to make a new wardrobe. I completely sucked at making clothes. Since I had spent a hundred bucks on a sewing machine, I decided to make pillows and curtains. I did a few, and that wasn’t so great either. Then I decided to give quilting a try. I watched some Youtube videos and joined some Facebook groups, and started figuring it out. I finished my first quilt in time to give it to my parents for Christmas in 2017. Quilting became part of that new identity I mentioned, and making new choices, trying new things. It was something I had never done before, and I needed a challenge, something different, to throw myself into and re-establish myself, to be a new me. It also gave me a creative outlet that I was severely lacking. While quilting can have stressful moments, it doesn’t argue with me like sewing clothes or writing stories can do. I am able to walk away from a quilt as well, and come back to it an hour or two later and pick up where I left off. Writing doesn’t allow that break. Quilting calms my mind. Also, quilts are generally self-explanatory, even if everyone else doesn’t understand the message. I can say stuff without actually having to say stuff. This works out great for an introvert. Even when I don’t want what I’m saying to actually be heard, expressing it in a quilt allows that too. Most people don’t consider quilts as artwork or creative self-expression. While this can cause a lack of appreciation by others, it also gives people like me a language of my own. Art is more than just drawing. Music is more than just notes. Quilting is more than just pieces of fabric. I can express stuff without jeopardizing or exposing who I really am.
I know you made other quilts before, but I want to know more about the awesome Supernatural quilt. When did the idea of making this one grow?
Around February, 2018, I started to get the idea of combining my two major interests into one thing. I started looking at Supernatural themed quilts and everything I saw was mass produced and not from the heart. None of it was particularly inspiring. I gravitated to different photos from the show, and decided I wanted a personalized quilt of the Sam and Dean that didn’t look like everything else I found online. I found a website that let me upload a photo and it produced a pattern for a pixelated quilt. I tried a couple dozen different photos from Supernatural until I decided on the one I made, mostly based on image quality when pixelated, and expected level of complexity.
Once I bought the pattern and looked at all 25 pages of it, I decided I was up for the challenge and started to buy my fabric and other supplies. I started cutting the fabric and organizing my pieces around April, 2018. My other quilts took me about 4-6 weeks to make. This quilt pattern suggested it would take about a month. Based on that and my own pace/time to work on it, I figured I would have it finished by October, 2018, when Season 14 aired. Before I finished cutting out all the pieces, I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew. My quilt experience did not give me the proficiency necessary for a project of this caliber. I was never one to back down from a challenge, though, and refused to let this project stop me. I accepted that I may end up with a colossal mess when I finished, and kept going.
Can you tell us more about the process? What material did you use and how much?
How long did it take to finish the quilt? Did you have help from someone?
The process was tedious. Extreme attention to detail every step of the way…and organization of all the colors and pieces of fabric added to the work. I had zip locked bags for each different color of fabric, and for each individual size of those colors. The front of the quilt, the actual image, is made up of 7 different colors of fabric, a total of 11.5 yards, cut into 2,440 pieces, ranging in size from 8” to 1” upon completion. There’s also 2 yards of the custom border fabric. On the back are several yards of a variety of plaids. Anyone who watches the show should know why I chose plaid. As an example, pieces of “moss” colored fabric were in 11 different sizes, including 23 rectangles at 4x1”, 177 rectangles of 2x1”, and 289 one inch squares. Each individual “block” was laid out as an 8” square. Within that 8”, there was a combination of all the colors and sizes of the different fabrics. There was also a specific order that the pieces had to be sewn together in sub-blocks to create that 8” block. Once all 108 of the 8” blocks were created, I combined them into groups of 9. I then had 12 blocks measuring 24” square. The 24” blocks were then sewn together to make the large quilt top. I quilted 108 anti-possession symbols on the quilt, using a template I made. Using my sewing machine, each symbol was free motion quilted (meaning, a computer didn’t do it), so they are each a little different and not a single one of them is perfect. This was the first time I ever did any free motion quilting too. By sewing the pieces into 24” blocks, it allowed me to make the quilt reversible with the variety of plaid blocks on the back as well. This break-down in block sizes was also necessary because I was using my little domestic sewing machine which was not designed for making queen sized quilts. The 24” blocks made working with the batting (the stuffing inside the quilt, between the front and back layers) a little easier too, but added the necessity of sashing (connecting fabric) and more thread than would normally be necessary.
The entire process took me 9 months, of at least 800 hours. I didn’t get any help from anybody and aside from some of my family and the progress photos I posted on Instagram, I didn’t show anybody what I was doing. The few people who saw it on Instagram asked why I didn’t share it more publicly, and I explained to them that I wanted to “surprise” the fandom. I felt like it was going to be special when I finished it, and it would be even more special if everybody didn’t see it in progress, but instead got smacked with pictures of the finished quilt. I also wouldn’t have the pressure and stress of expectations from people if they knew what I was doing and wanting to know when it would be finished, etc. Smacking people is usually the least stressful option, in my experience, in almost any given situation.
Has the cast or crew seen it? If yes, how did they react?
I have made several attempts to show it to the cast and crew of Supernatural, as well as Creation Entertainment. While I have had several people tell me they know someone and will show someone on the cast or crew, I am unaware if that ever happened. To date, I have not heard of anyone from the show ever seeing the quilt.
How was the reaction from other fans?
Overwhelmingly, the fans have loved the quilt. I have gotten a lot of love and appreciation from not only the Supernatural Family, but also other quilters who simply appreciated the labor and time involved. There have also been a few quilters that are part of the fandom who were particularly interested in the process and I know of a few that have undertaken making quilts of their own in a similar fashion.
What are your next projects? Another Supernatural quilt?
Since finishing the quilt, which I named Not Without My Brother, I decided to get back to basics and do a few “regular’ quilts. I also told my husband to smack me if I ever even think about taking on a massive project like that again. Of course, in the meantime, I have been looking at options to make another quilt, either of Misha with Jared and Jensen, or one of Ruth by herself (Ruth is badass). I am about to finish up my current quilt (non-Supernatural), and I have my next 3 planned, but after that, I can’t say for sure I won’t do another Supernatural quilt. With the show ending, I have some mixed feelings about it. I enjoyed the challenge of the quilt, and as my skills improve, I would hope the quality of my quilts also improves. That may make it more fun to create, even as labor-intensive and expensive as it is. On the other hand, do I really need more Supernatural quilts? Then again, living in southern Louisiana, I really don’t need quilts at all, and that hasn’t stopped me. So the short answer is, I don’t know if I will make another Supernatural quilt….it’s a huge, big, overpowering... maybe, or maybe not.
Are you creating other Supernatural arts besides your awesome quilt?
I have not created other Supernatural art besides the quilt.
Some artists are open for commissions. What about you?
I have been asked about commissions, which is very flattering, especially since I haven’t been quilting for 2 years yet. Since quilting is my way of escaping and relaxing, I worry that having someone with expectations about the resulting quilt would likely damage that escape and artistic expression for me, not to mention create more anxiety. Also, considering the materials for the quilt I made cost me $1,000, in addition to over 800 hours of work, the commission for a quilt is likely more than people would expect. While I would hope my experience would allow me to create another quilt in less time, there is still a tremendous amount of labor and love involved, especially in a quilt that involves this show. Part of my soul is sewn into the quilt, well, actually every quilt I make. But when I die, if I’m not at rest, this quilt should definitely be on the list of items to salt and burn…at least in the top 5.
Is there anything else you like to share with the fans? What more would you like to tell us about your art or yourself?
I actually just got a new sewing machine that is designed to accommodate quilting! I also have re-purposed my dining room into my official quilting room, including a custom cutting table my dad made for me, which has made organization and cutting fabric much easier. So, should I happen to invite anyone over, the dining room is gone and you get to sit outside on the patio to eat. And don’t judge my sewing zone if you want to be invited back. Generally speaking, I am quite organized but some stages of quilting aren’t neat and tidy.
Cheryl made a video about her quilt. Listen to her describe her pride and joy:
Now it’s time for the question I ask everyone. If you could change only one thing in the world right now, what would it be?
I would bring back dinosaurs. Just kidding. This is a tough question. The world is filled with so many things that I would love to change…from curing cancer, to giving dolphins legs so they can play beach volleyball and kick sharks in the nuts. The options are endless. I would like to see people show more compassion towards one another. There are people who preach kindness, but when someone behaves in a way they consider odd, ignorant, unkind, or in conflict with their own values, instead of exercising their compassion towards that person, they lash out with judgment, anger and hate. It’s easy to show compassion to others who are also compassionate, or who share your values and opinions, but why is that where the compassion for others stops? I think compassion could be helpful to bridge the gap and keep the peace between people who simply disagree.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me!
Please share your comments, questions, and reactions below! If you want to follow Cheryl, the links are below:
Thanks for reading.
-Using Words, Telling Stories, The Writer Business-
Read More Stories of Fans who have been "Inspired by Supernatural"! They can all be found in WFB's "Lighter Side" articles!