Greenbrier High School senior Taradee Hagan is an accomplished photographer, artist and softball player.
But her senior project led her into unknown territory - quilting.
"I'd never sewn anything," Taradee said.
The two quilts the 17-year-old completed don't resemble the traditional block quilts often adorning a grandmother's bed. Taradee said her research focused on the new age of quilting and how technology affects the long-standing craft.
"Quilting is evolving into more of an art form than just a craft, which is what I tried to show more on my second quilt," Taradee said after spending more than 100 hours since September completing the sewing projects.
Taradee, who moved to Evans from Virginia in August, said she originally wanted to use photography for her project, but was told by her adviser that it wasn't enough of a learning stretch. Quilting was suggested and Taradee said she researched art quilts and ran with the idea.
"I thought I might not be able to do it, but I can try," Taradee said. "... It seems easy when you read about it online."
Working with her mentor, Susan Lewis of Branum's Sewing and Vacuum Center, Taradee learned quilting basics, which she demonstrated with her first quilt. It is a base white quilt with colorful blocks and delicate embroidery.
"It is a lot more crafty than I am used to," Taradee said. "I am very meticulous as far as math and things like that. Quilting gave that, too. You have to get your quarter inch. You have to have everything line up. You have to be so precise."
Taradee also is a third baseman for the school's softball team and created a softball scene as the focus of her second, and much more complicated, quilt. It involved plenty of new quilting techniques including free motion quilting, snippets and the use of Batik fabric, as well as some fundamental techniques.
"All I had to do was teach her the how and she knew what she wanted," said Lewis, a Bernina specialist and educator at the sewing center. "We have adults that won't even tackle anything like that ... She conquered things that most people don't, they don't even try."
Taradee drew out the softball players in the scene depicting a batter, umpire and base runner. The quilt is bordered with photos of Taradee in all stages of the softball career she began in the first grade.
After spending nearly every day at the sewing center, Taradee learned how to not only sew a quilt, but how to plan and carry out her own idea. She drew out the figures, enlarged them and traced them out in reverse to create the pattern for the many bits of fabric needed to create the figures and their clothing and accessories.
The entire process turned out to be more daunting than Taradee expected, but she rose to the challenge, Lewis said.
Taradee recently received a full-tuition scholarship to Salem College in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she plans to study studio art. She hopes to one day be the art director for a magazine, she said.
For now, Taradee said she's hoping the judges of her senior project will be impressed with her quilting.
"As soon as my interview with the judges is over, it is going into a frame," Taradee said. "I can't wash it, but at the same time, I won't need to because it is not going on my bed."
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