Sunday, April 6, 2014

I Quilt for Me

Baltimore Applique Society Raffle Quilt.
Made in approximately 1995 by BAS members and
recently bequeathed back to the Society upon the
death of the quilt winner.

I've been reading comments on electronic media and have been struck by how much negativity and guilt is connected with an avocation so many of us love.  Which is why I chose the title, “I quilt for me,” for this blog post.  (Note: I am peppering this post with great quilt pics so you can ignore my soapbox speech and enjoy them.  That is the better choice.)  The whole quilting process is something I thoroughly enjoy from the idea through the last stitch on the binding (whenever that may occur) but I don’t enjoy them the same at all times.  If I want to start something new, I do.  If I want to exercise discipline and work diligently on a current project, I do.  If I think my stash has gotten out of hand and needs editing, I do.  Get the picture?  I don’t like scolding and I certainly don’t think it productive to scold myself.  Quilting is a positive experience – or it should be – so I would rather assess where I am today when deciding what to work on and what to plan. 

My scraps spilleth over and that's the way I like it.

Let me back up a bit.  Nearly 10 years ago I returned to working full-time and lost most of my quilting time.  I tried to keep my part-time job teaching quilt classes at a local shop.  Therefore, my quilting wasn't for me and became a chore instead of a joy.  It took a while, but I finally assessed the pros and cons of giving up teaching and decided to stop and focus on what I liked most about quilting: reproducing antique quilts.  I gave away a large portion of my stash – the non-repro part – to a one of my guilds to use in their raffle baskets and charity projects.  They were thrilled and I was unburdened.  What I am trying to say is, if something in your quilting life is bothering you, figure out what it is and do something about it.  You don’t deserve to be punished if you decide you have too much fabric or too many projects.  You just need to decide what you want out of those things and figure out what you need to do to make yourself happy with your avocation.

Look at the quilting on this one!  Do you think the maker was smug about
her skill or just completely in love with quilting?  Both? Neither?

Which brings me to the Quilt Police.  They are real and apparently have accounts on a popular social networking website.  I've seen them in action.  But, I am happy to report that they have never been sanctioned by any official agency and you don’t have to listen to them.  Not listening to the Quilt Police is my way of rebelling against my eighth grade Home Economics teacher who taught me nothing because she insisted there was one way – her way, the curriculum, whatever – to cook and sew.  I came to her class already enamored with both, a track record of experimenting, and successes and failures to my credit.  There is more than one way to stitch a tote bag and to bake Snickerdoodles.

Wreath from an album quilt.  It is tiny and kind of gets lost in the full quilt.
But, when examined for itself the skill in making those tiny stems
and buds is incredible.

Awhile ago, there was a discussion on that social networking website about whether one was to use single or double thread when hand quilting.  I was amazed at how many quilters declared that double thread was the way it should be done.  When, of course, it should be single…oh wait…that’s just the way I do it.  For me.  We can learn from each other when discussing these things, of course, but I find it most successful when individuals state things along with their reasons for doing so.  Such as, “I use double thread because that’s the way I was taught” or “I use double thread because I like the way it shows off my quilting.”  And, an open mind to other methods is always helpful.

Blooming cactus block from a c. 1850 quilt.
Was this a pattern or did someone interpret a popular motif
in her own wild fashion?  The quilting certainly isn't comparable to the
previous two pictures.  Does the wow factor make up for that?
Does it matter?

More recently, some began declaring who deserved to call themselves quilters.  Apparently, if you are buying and using kits, jelly rolls, layer cakes, etc., you are unimaginative and pathetic.  Dare to combine too many of those things I just mentioned and you’re out of the club.  One compassionate comment stated that you only "know how to use your checkbook or credit card and how to turn on an iron."  Ouch!

I applaud the 19th century maker of this block.
It is my pictorial comment to the "quilt police."

I took a class with Kim Diehl a few years ago and her bindings were different than what you generally see on quilts.  She told us she entered a quilt show once and her binding method was severely criticized.  Quilt police in action.  Have you seen her quilts?  They are fantastic.  The binding looks fine.  But, on the back of her quilts it is bigger than you typically see.  Horrors!  That’s the way she taught herself and that’s the way she does it.  Works for her and for her quilts.

This picture is here because I am into all things birds these days.

I understand that quilt show judges (and my old Home Ec teacher) have those little score boxes they need to check off because they use “Standards.”  Are quilts and cookies better because of those standards?  Sometimes.  But, they can also be better because some sought to please only themselves and, in doing so, came up with something wonderful.  Worse, still, rigid critiques and comments can be downright soul crushing.  Hopefully, you will all remember that the only one you need to please is You and just tune out the negativity.

...and stars...I'm always into stars.
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