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Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Passion for Quilting


  How do you explain your passion for quilts and quilting?

   I was having lunch at work recently. I told a co-worker how excited I was to come home from a conference and find an order of fabric waiting for me. This led to a discussion of quilting. While my co-worker does knitting and crochet, she has not caught the quilting bug.

   I guess her biggest question was why people would buy and or collect multiple quilts. She said she could understand buying paintings or other art, but you could only put one quilt on your bed at a time.

   And she was further astounded what a quilt could cost to buy or have quilted.

   Sorry, I feel like I let the side down! I just couldn’t articulate what quilting meant to me, both the art and the craft of it. (In the end, I sent a link to Tim Latimer’s web page to her—pictures speak louder than words.)

My boring blue quilt
   I was well into middle age when I was inspired to quilt. I went to a quilt show and walked around; it just came to me that I had to try this. My first attempt was a fat quarter throw which I pieced on my sewing machine. I made a fatal mistake of being too conservative on my fabric choice (for my taste, anyway). Periodically, I make an attempt at finishing this, but my heart is not in it. 

    My second was crafted at a monthly workshop. It is fused blocks representing month of the year, with embroidery accents and is hand quilted.

This was fusible applique
 I still do mostly smaller projects, but I love quilts and enjoy looking at the beautiful works of art created by others (particularly on the Celebrate Hand Quilting Facebook page). I love the feel of the needle in my hand, even when it aches. There is nothing like the drape and weight of an authentic quilt.

   So I have come up with my truths for quilting. They are just mine; you can make up your own. Maybe next time, I will be better prepared for explaining what it means to quilt.

--Quilting can be an art. The designer of every unique design is an artist. When you choose fabric and a pattern, put them together to please your eye, you are in an artist. Some quilters have more talent than others, but each quilt is an expression of art.

--Quilting is also a craft. Using another's pattern and fabric choice to make your own quilt takes skill and commitment. Not everyone is comfortable putting fabrics and patterns together and sometimes we just fall in love with a design and want to make it for ourselves.

--Both quilters and non-quilters buy and collect quilts for many reasons. To preserve the quilt’s history, to celebrate the skill and talent of the makers, sometimes to just enjoy the story the quilt tells. Quilts show so many different points of view and they are truly a piece of art that you can use, display, or just enjoy having.

--Don’t worry about it if your sewing skills are not on the expert level. They will improve. And I’ve seen many beautiful, charming quilts where the seams don’t match and the stitches are crooked. A world of perfect quilts would be as boring as a world of perfect people.

--Don’t be judgmental when looking at others’ quilts. Ugly fabric to me may be meaningful to you. Especially in older quilts, there may have been a limited access to fabric choices or the quilter may have had to make do with what was on hand. Appreciate the work and love that went into the quilt if you don’t appreciate the aesthetics.

--If there are quilt police, you don’t have to listen to them! Make one in a weekend or take a few years. Use a needle, a state of the art sewing machine or grandma’s old singer or any combination. Do it alone, with a group or get help from a professional. Repeat to yourself, “It’s my quilt.”

--The only wrong way to quilt is—wait, there is no wrong way to quilt.

--The best quilt is the one you are planning in your head while you are working on your current project.