It’s a NEW Day! – Debra Gabel’s 2009 Obama quilt


It's a NEW Day! by Debra Gabel 50" x 54"

This is my final quilt to honor the election of our new president Barak Obama. It will hang in a Art Show in DC on the inauguration. (See details of show in previous blog entry)

I originally start ed this concept several months ago when Obama was running for the democratic nomination.  I wanted to portray Obama as looking into the future as he is America’s great hope for some radical changes and unity that is so desperately needed here in the USA.  I pieced the flag with scraps that represent all of the diversity in the US. The dove is the symbol for hope.  The dove holds the leaves – green leaves – hopefully we will become more green as a nation.  I named the quilt “It’s a New Day” after Will I Am’s song (singer from the Black eyed Peas) which is about Obama and the changes. It is an amazing song! Check it out!

I started the quilt as a pencil sketch. Once I had a rough concept I searched for an appropriate image of Obama – and finally made a composite of my own from several images and manipulated the image on photoshop to get a division of gradation. I made a very detailed acetate overlay map of Obama – the figure. I selected 12 grades of skintone and made several patterns from freezer paper. I turned all the edges and stitched the face together. Once his face was a unit I made scrappy red fabric by taking red scraps from my scraps bag and sewing them together randomly. I did the same for the white and blue. Once I had my scrappy fabric pieces I made a flag and again used freezer paper to make patterns. I purposely placed him on a flag because I remember being moved as he said….We are not the red states of America, We are not the blue States of America – we are the UNITED states of America.  Originally I was going to have the edges of the overall quilt be random and end at the edges of the flag and his shirt. However he looked so good on a black background that I ended up placing a black border around the inside design. I bound the edges with a stripe (of course!) and I piped metallic gold cording in between the background and the binding.

I placed my embroidery watermark on the bottom right as I always do. (See pix)  I made ONE red stripe in the upper left top corner symbolizing the first month – #1=January. I placed two red stripes in the upper left on the side for the year 2000, and nine red stripes in the border on the bottom for the year 2000 + 9 = 2009. All together by looking at the quilt you can see the initial image – my watermark and the month and year it was made 1-2009. I have been making all of my art quilts with this unique marking. It has become my own trademark for my art quilts.


Detail of "DG" logo signature watermark


Top sigle red=January Two side reds = The year 2000


9 Red stripes for the year 2009

The last touch were the addition of the three stars. The stars certainly represent the states but they also represent the trinity in hoping that God will walk with him on his huge journey ahead. He is a brave guy to take this job. I really hope everyone can be patient to help get our country back on track!


Dove sybolizes hope and going green

This quilt was made for the inauguration and also as a commission. I plan to show the quilt to my patron very soon. It is going to be tough to let this go.  I do plan to exhibit it for a little while before it goes to it’s permanent home.


Pictured above is the back label. It reads:

It’s a NEW Day!

“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America – there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and latino America and asian America – there’s the UNITED States of America.” 2008

“We are not a collection of red states and blue states. We are the the UNITED States of America. ”
2004 Keynote @ Democratic Convention

~ Barak Obama 2008  ~

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. ”

~ Abraham Lincoln 1863 ~

This quilt was completed on January 4, 2009 in honor of Barak Obama, our 44th elected President of the United States of America. It was designed, pieced and quilted by Debra Gabel. ( All Rights Reserved©

Below is a picture of the overall back of the quilt with the label in the bottom corner.



Face detail of turned edges on all pieces

I would love to hear your comments! Happy New Year – and It’s a NEW Day! Thank God!


21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leslie
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 12:16:36

    This is a wonderful work of art. Congratulations, and thanks for the inspiration!


  2. Diane D.
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 14:17:03

    Great job, Debra. It’s wonderful!!


  3. Irene
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 14:40:36

    This is an amazing work of art! I can’t wait to forward a link to the quilters in my life. Congratulations on all you’ve created.


  4. Laurie Fujimoto
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 19:19:54

    Hi Debra,

    Initially when I saw the e-mailed picture of this quilt, I thought you painted Obama’s face…then I read your blog post and saw it was pieced with fabric! It’s amazing! Also, I love the wonky peace sign on the back of the quilt.

    Great job!


  5. Linda S
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 20:33:52

    Oh, Debra, I love how this turned out!! What a great quilt — you should be very, very pleased indeed!!

    🙂 Linda


  6. zebrapatterns
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 22:41:17

    Below are Email replies I have gotten as comments:

    Congratulations on your successful business. I went to your website. It is really wonderful. Nic will be in love with your Obama quilt. He is a HUGE fan. He went to a few rallys and has collected a lot of Obama memorabilia.Ellen

    Wow!!! I am really impressed and totally understand that this is going to be a tough one to part with. You did an amazing job and I am certain that you will be making many many more just like it!!!


    This is awesome, Debra! I’ve seen quite a few Obama quilts, but yours is my favorite. You did an excellent job of capturing his face!Can you ever remember so many quilters spontaneously making quilts of the new president? Ellen Lindner

    Wow! you really captured him. It’s truly an amazing replica!! Nancy
    LOVE IT!
    Keep up the great work!Let me know how it is received…Mike.

    Alex Anderson It’s a New Day! Everyday!

    Astonishing work Debra. Lori H
    This is so amazing- and shown at the inauguration show – that is way too cool!!!! You have an absolutely amazing talent. I still think about those quilts that were auctioned at TRES several years ago- I never got a class one an always wanted one! Hey- I made out better for my kids though- their quilts still hang in their rooms. I love um!
    Thanks for sending this.

    Happy New Year! This looks great! Congratulations on having in the Inauguration Show. Please give my regards to the family. Kimberlyn P

    The Quilt is Amazing. I can’t wait to see it in person! talk to you soon – anne q

    WOW!!!! You are wonderful. DeAnna

    Deb, What a beautiful job. Congratulations. You’re very talented, but then you knew that. Hope you had a great New Year. Steve
    Holy moly, it’s gorgeous. You should give it to him someday. It is really awesome….congrads, most talented one!!! JJ
    Happy New Year! The quilt is absolutely amazing, stunning! I am beyond words to express it’s meaningfulness – and I didn’t even vote for him! I loved how you used your scrap bag and captured such diversity. I loved how you honored all – red, blue, black, white, etc. Truly a moving piece – I hope he gets to see it! May you have a joyful 2009,-SusanA
    Very nice!!! Thanks!-Deb P


    Happy New Year. Congratulations on getting your piece in the Show. Ricky

    Your Obama quilt is amazing!! I hope you are well…Felicia

    Simply amazing! the best one ever in the group you are in! Be prepared to be majorly famous now! I’m so proud of you!

    Congratulations! Stunning! Thanks for sharing. It’s a new day!
    Ricky Tims Visit


    You’re such an artist. Thanks for sharing.Hope your family has a wonderful New Year!!


  7. Bonnie Stapleton
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 18:40:56

    Debra: This is so awesome. Your artistry really shows through in this piece. It is wonderful to have a commission but I know you will miss having this in your own collection. Perhaps it might be time to do a second one for you. How long did it take you? Bonnie S.


    • zebrapatterns
      Jan 06, 2009 @ 20:25:21

      Bonnie –
      I would love to say I whipped it together, however this piece was at least 2 months of hard work. I really wanted to capture his likeness that worked best from a distance and became abstract up close. It was very tedious and time consuming but I do have to admit i am happy with the final product. Thanks for your comments. – Debra


  8. Renee Valdes
    Jan 08, 2009 @ 15:48:56

    Debra, this is awesome. I commented on an earlier post a few minutes ago, as I found your site from Black Threads. Then I realized you had actually finished the piece. I love the quilt the label and the way you made the name of the quilt a piece of art in itself on the back. You are definitely an inspiration!



  9. Lydia Goode
    Jan 16, 2009 @ 03:35:33

    this is the most incredible work of art. You should be so proud. Any plans to have this printed on t-shirts? I am in total awe, blows me away. I wish I could be there to see it in person!! Lydia in NC


  10. Lydia Goode
    Jan 16, 2009 @ 22:07:37

    I can’t get this quilt out of my mind. Might there be a pattern available in the future…hope, hope??


  11. Debra A Gabel
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 01:08:23

    Thanks for your comments! There has been an amazing amount of interest in the quilt. I just dropped it off in DC today for the show I have written about and I have gotten several emails from interested people. Never say never! I do not think a pattern will be as complex- but maybe someday – we will see! 🙂


  12. Maribeth Sayers
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 02:55:29

    What a beautiful tribute as well as a gorgeous work of art. Your passion for Obama and his ideas really comes through. I was searching the web for ideas because I, too, want to make an Obama quilt. Yours is in a class by itself!


  13. Kristin
    Jan 31, 2009 @ 12:25:01

    WOW. Everything about this quilt is amazing. I can’t believe the precision of the quilting and the variety of quilting designs.


    • zebrapatterns
      Jan 31, 2009 @ 12:54:40

      Kristin –
      Thanks for the nice feedback. This quilt was a ton of hard work. I am glad that people are seeing the detail.


  14. turningturning
    Jan 31, 2009 @ 15:28:13

    Just breathtaking.


  15. k
    Jan 31, 2009 @ 18:57:39



  16. Jess
    Feb 01, 2009 @ 17:53:46

    I love your quilt — but really wish you had spelled Barack correctly. The image is beautiful, however.


  17. Ros
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 15:18:11

    It is beautiful. I wonder if you know that Obama’s name is actually spelled ‘Barack’. I just thought that for such a beautiful and historic quilt, you might consider re-printing the label to get that detail correct.


  18. Rah
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 17:56:01

    Magnificent tribute, and your artistry is also!


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