Margaret Blank – Progress: “Learning Curve”

The theme for this challenge – “Progress” – had me stymied for quite some time.  In addition to trying to figure out how to interpret it, life was full of activity these past two months, some of which involved learning new skills.

As I thought about my circumstances, I realized that I was on a learning curve – and that each step of the way, one way or another, I was making progress!

I went to the computer and did a bit of research on images for a “learning curve” and found two that appealed to me.  The first is found in “The Learning Curve”, a chapter in Part 3 of Psychology: An Introduction by Russell A. Dewey, on the “Psych Web Resources” website:

This illustration is what often comes to mind when thinking about the concept of a ‘learning curve’ – a smooth, upward-moving curved line.

The second, from the “Learning and Teaching” website ( paints what I think might be a more realistic picture – not a smooth curving line but a series of jigs and jags curving upwards, making progress in a much more uneven manner – one step forward, two steps back, as it were:

When I saw the two illustrations, the idea for my piece became clear.  I created it in grey and white.  The white section – below the smooth, upward-moving curve – symbolizes a learning ideal.  Highlighting this line in blue emphasizes the apparently peaceful progress of this ideal.  Smoothly-curved echo quilting adds further emphasis to this idea.

The grey section symbolizes the activity of our brains – our grey matter – while learning.  Closer to reality than the ideal, it is highlighted by a jagged upward-moving red ‘curve’.  The meandering quilting is designed to illustrate the surface of the brain and also the more random activity of thoughts and ideas as we make progress on a real-life learning curve.

The whole is divided in three by stark black lines and bound in black to resemble a scientific graph.

Materials:  commercial cotton fabric, cotton-polyester blend fabric, cotton and polyester threads.

Techniques: curved piecing, applique, machine satin stitching, machine quilting.

Learning CurveMB


Close up View:

Learning Curve - Detail 1mb


Learning Curve - Detail 2mb

  1. English quilter

    I love your interpretation of the theme. Well researched!

  2. Margaret, this is a wonderfully clever interpretation, simple and tells the story. Bravo

  3. joanbrailsford

    I love the graphic nature of this piece

  4. Wonderful idea for Progress.

  5. Chantal Guillermet

    I love the graphism of your piece

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