Monday, April 4, 2011

Don't Put Quilting in a Box!

My response on the new quilting debate.

I would like to start by saying that a quilt is pieces of fabric sewn together into one piece and made into a blanket adding a back and some padding in the middle. Quilting is what you do to make that. A quilt may not even be pieced come to think about it, I think it just means that there are two pieces of fabric sandwiching an inner layer that makes it warm and sturdy, all sewn together in some way or other. That’s it people. It doesn’t get any more complicated.

In addition, the origins of quilting in the United States (quilting has a rich history before the United States) came from those brave and strong women who traveled across the country, from the settled East coast to the unsettled Western territories, in covered wagons. They didn’t have, or even any kind of fabric store, they also didn’t have money. They made quilts to stay alive through the winter. I don’t remember any prairie stories about the Missouri settler criticizing the Minnesota settler who made simple quilts. Seriously, are we having this discussion?

I began quilting, in 1983 or 1984, fabrics were calico, nobody used a long-arm quilter, that I knew, and everyone pieced and quilted by hand, in my circle of quilting friends at least. I learned to sew when I was 10 (1969, and on a machine, BTW) and sewed a lot of my own clothing. When I started quilting, I found it odd that people bought fabric to make quilts. OH how far I have digressed.

I was also trained in Fine Art, I have a degree in Art History with many classes pre and post-graduate in studio painting, drawing, color, design. I studied Art in Italy, I worked in an art gallery. I would not tell someone that they were a beginner painter because they used bright colors and used simple shapes. Art is not what is produced but the process and method and history behind it. If you want to equate quilting with art, there isn’t any judgment about what’s beginner and what’s advanced.

Nobody puts quilting in a box! (references to Dirty Dancing completely unintended!). Quilting is not science, it’s not based on facts and diagrams that must be followed or else. It’s an art and a craft. We’re very lucky that it’s no longer a necessity.

I am 51 years old (gasp!) and stopped quilting in the late 80’s because I didn’t like the traditional look of quilts. Also, I work as a systems analyst for the Dept of Defense. I have to work, I don't stay at home though I WISH I could. I don’t have much free time and believe me, after analyzing systems and dealing with people and software and deadlines and pressure all day long where I MUST follow every rule, there is no way I am following rules doing something I enjoy, like sewing fabric together.

I really feel that a lot of this debate may stem from the fact that quilters who have been quilting a long time are jealous that they aren’t getting the attention of some of “greener” quilters. Well, guess what? It’s not just about quilting. It’s also about gorgeous photos and good writing and modern blog headers and personality. I want to be visually stimulated when I’m reading a blog or looking at fabric or making a quilt. I also like to spend my leisure time on positive things so I don't really need debates in blogs, just fluffy writing about fun colors and design accompanied by equally pretty fabric photos, that does it for me. That's also why I need to have colors and fabrics I love. To me it’s not so much about the design and whether it’s traditional or not. And it doesn't really mean that person is an 'advanced' quilter, it just means they are really good at having a blog, or writing about their craft, or selling fabric.

OR, to summarize my verbose thoughts above, you might just say about this train wreck of a topic 'Come on folks, move along now, nothing to see here.'


  1. So true. Regarding this subject, put a fork in me and call me done!

  2. Amen! Thanks for your thoughts :)

  3. So true! I don't know people care so much about what other people are creating. We all have varying levels of skill, time and different tastes.