UD’s Bailey creates quilt out of Ag Day shirts from years past

Donna Bailey, employee of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources administration office, created a quilt called the Funky Blue Hen out of old Ag Day t-shirts.Of all the traditions of the University of Delaware’s Ag Day, perhaps none is more colorful and unique than the T-shirts that are created every year with a fresh design.

To honor and display the designs of years past, and also to raise awareness about the 2015 shirt, UD’s Donna Bailey has pieced together an Ag Day quilt.

Dubbed the “Funky Blue Hen” by her children and grandchildren — it features a design Bailey picked out called the “Funky Chicken” and has blue stitching — the quilt features Ag Day shirts from 2010, 2013 and 2014, as well as a shirt whose year is unlisted.

Bailey, who works in the administrative offices at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, got the idea for the quilt when Katie Hickey, Ag Day coordinator for 2015, brought up old T-shirts from a storage closet.

“She handed me three of them and that was it. The idea was born so I took them home and cut them up,” said Bailey.

The T-shirts didn’t fill out the entire quilt so Bailey had to come up with an idea to fill in the blank sections. Because of the “Farm to Table” theme for Ag Day 2015 and a recipe contest that will be featured, she immediately thought of putting watermelons in canning jars.

She also wanted to do designs that represented the mission and the four departments of the college – Animal and Food Science, Applied Economics and Statistics, Entomology and Wildlife Ecology and Plant and Soil Sciences.

“I looked through my stash and I found fabric with brightly colored bugs and butterflies and worms. I thought, ‘Well, the butterflies and the bugs go with our entomology department and the worms go with our sustainable earth, and if I cut the fabric so the insects look like they are in canning jars, that kind of stayed with the theme of our Farm to Table concept.’ That was how the quilt got made,” said Bailey.

“I also saw this really cool fabric that became the border,” she added. “It reminded me of our wetlands, again our sustainable earth, and I just love the colors in it. We’re trying to preserve the earth and to keep it in its natural state and all the colors just pulled together like nature in all of its beauty.”

In addition to the Ag Day quilt, Bailey, who estimates that she has made around 400 quilts over the years, will have the other quilts available for purchase at Ag Day, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 25.

One will be a bargello quilt done in blues and greens titled “Longwood,” as Bailey said she got her inspiration from the garden’s water lilies. Another will be a flannel quilt and the third is titled “Friendships Braid” and will feature sunflowers.

Of her favorite part about Ag Day, Bailey said she enjoys “seeing friends and family gathered and there’s an educational component, too. There are those ‘ah-ha’ moments where people learn about plants and animals — and the ice cream’s not bad either.”

As for the quilt, Bailey said that putting it together was a lot of fun. “It all just worked. Some quilts just flow and this one just kind of flowed out. I think it was meant to be.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Lindsay Yeager

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.