Why I quilt

In my last post I said I wanted to come talk about the magical experience of making quilts with fabric that could truly be considered art. In mulling this over, I of course got sucked into the “what defines art?” and “is your work being called art even important?” rabbit hole and decided instead to come talk about why I quilt.

WhyIQuilt

My quilts are an expression of personal love rather than of intended Art (capital A). I don’t make them to be hung and examined. Quilts like Jacquie Gering’s evocative “Bang, You’re Dead” are purposeful, and intended to serve as Art with a message. And they do send a message.

…But so do my quilts. Except that my message broadcasts to a smaller audience (the recipient), and is uncomplicated (you’re important to me; I love you). That’s not to say I do not take seriously the importance of the artistic process and aesthetics, and that I am not mindful about my materials–in fact, I obsess over these things. It’s just that my intention for the quilt is different.

In one respect, my quilting is for others–I give quilts as gifts. But in a much larger respect, in my mind, quilting is strictly for me and not for others; that is to say, I don’t need to fancy myself an Artist to feel joy and pride about my quilts. If you want to call me that, fine–I’m charmed! If you want to call me a crafter, fine. I am not demeaned. I simply do what I do and try not to be concerned with which SPHERE my art/craft falls into. I sew because it’s therapy; I sew because it makes me happy; I sew because I love color; I sew because creativity is important.

from Marta with Love | straight-line quiltingDo I enjoy sharing pictures of my projects on this blog? I do. The reasons are three-fold: (1) photography is another of my creative outlets; (2) keeping some sort of archive of projects is important to me–I enjoy looking back and reading what I had to say about past ones; and (3) I love to goggle at and be inspired by the work of others, and I delight in imagining that my fellow quilters could come here, to my humble space, to be inspired–even in the smallest way.

Quilters joke about the annoyance we feel at being asked to hem people’s pants or encouraged to sell our stuff on Etsy. But the reasons above, not pride in the one instance or insecurity in the other, are precisely why I do neither of these. UntitledI don’t quilt because I want to make money.* Nor is sewing–including hemming your pants–my job. It’s what I do to escape my job (I work with lawyers–lord knows I don’t need another job). So the temptation to feel insulted when people imply that your craft isn’t worthy unless you’re profiting from it is great–until you remind yourself that you are grounded solely in your own intention. Cliché? Meh. But it really doesn’t matter what other people think or how they view your chosen outlet for creativity. They can do their thing and you can do yours. I try my best to be kind and honor the creative outlets of others–no matter how “trivial”–rather than place some sort of arbitrary expectation on them and make someone feel bad about what they’re doing. If your creative outlet is Popsicle stick log cabins? GET IT, girl. Do your thing. I won’t suggest you sell them on Etsy.

It’s easy to fall victim to these thoughts of: If my work isn’t as artistically amazing as this or this, then why even share it? How can I possibly compare? How could anyone possibly find my work interesting or inspiring when THIS is out in the world? Well here’s my answer:

CreativeEntitlement

I’ve focused for years–then discovered Brené Brown had articulated it for me much more effectively–on this idea that I will not feel shame about my work, nor allow myself to be shamed by Artists about my work.** I will continue to put it out there, and what I will not do is be preoccupied by the potential judgment of it by others. Again: you do your thing and I do mine. Who am I to tell someone what should or should not fill up their soul? If my kinda quilts make me happy, and your kinda quilts make you happy, then kumba-fuckin-YA. High five. God bless. (Sorry for cussing in public, Dad.)

Now. ALL THAT SAID, do I prefer working with and feel more connected to fabric that I feel was made with thoughtfulness and artistic intention? Yes, I prefer that fabric over chevrons. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason I feel that way isn’t because I judge that fabric as being more worthy of the title of art, but because I can feel that the artist whose work this was poured more love and thought into their fabric than is required by the simple reprinting of a polka dot print in a different size and color. And I appreciate that.

 


*I do think acknowledging the value–in time and money–of quilts is a worthy topic, though. Check this post out if you’re interested.

**Edit: It’s important to add to this that I’ve never personally been shamed, nor has anyone ever been mean to me about my work. It’s the fear alone that is enough to paralyze some and prevent them from sharing their work.

So in love in 2016

I’m so in love.

Fibs and Fables bundle and Everyday Style book

Although 2015 was marked by my happiest ever life moment–my best friend asking me to MARRY his dreamboat self–that’s not the love I’m here to gush over (though I could do so, at length, until you all puke. Let me know if that’s something you’re interested in). What I’m really smitten and gaga and cross-eyed in LOVE with is the fabric with which I’m starting my first quilt project of 2016. My heart belongs to Fibs and Fables by Anna Maria Horner (okay, and to my LaMar)!

Fibs and Fables strips

A half-yard bundle of Fibs and Fables was included in my Christmas gifts this year (alongside a copy of Lotta’s new book). And before my belly had even digested our holiday feasts, I got busy planning the quilt for our “marriage bed” (heh) that I would make with my new fabric. I love combining simple, neutral (usually white) bedding with colorful patchwork.

For this quilt, I knew I wanted bigger blocks, with a striking, somewhat traditional-looking pattern that would beautifully juxtapose these modern, saturated prints. So I chose my sweet buddy Amy’s Potluck pattern from her uplifting book, For Keeps. I believe it will be perfect.

For Keeps (book by Amy Gibson)

Potluck quilt pattern from For Keeps book

Side note: remember my sewing table? It’s in here! In a section about useful tools.

The quilt in the book is a 3-block by 3-block version with sashing (the blocks finish at 15 inches). I’m making a 5×5 version without sashing so I had to spend a little time recalculating my fabric and cutting requirements.

I’ve already cut out all my pieces and arranged swatches to pick which prints to use for each block. It may look random, but there is precision, rhyme, and reason in this fabric-picking! I had my little system, which I can talk about in a later post.

Fibs and Fables quilt block pieces

Fibs and Fables swatches

ARE THESE NOT THE YUMMIEST SCRAPS IN EXISTENCE?? A half-yard bundle is plenty for a super-sized version of this quilt. I even have enough for a 30-block (5×6 layout) version.

Fibs and Fables strips

Fibs and Fables scraps

Next time I stop by here I’d like to share some heartfelt thoughts on the process of creating with fabric that comes from true art and intention. It’s a bewitching experience and I can’t wait to put those thoughts down.

Happy New Year! It’s going to be beautiful.

More like Merry CUTE-mas

Blasphemy be damned (wait, what?)–I’m renaming Christmas to CUTE-mas. How can I not when this stinker of a happy new pillow has just found its home on my couch?

Christmas Joy pillow

Christmas Joy pillow

I was recently delighted to rediscover a bunch of Alpine Wonderland fabric I have that was leftover from my favorite Christmas table runner. Nordic Christmas: #cantstopwontstop.

Christmas Joy pillow

To make the front panel I just fussy-cut two of my favorite Alpine Wonderland scenes (sleigh and chalet) and pieced those into a square with a blue dot print above to represent snowy sky and some brown fabric below to look like earth (I think the brown print is from a collection with “woodland” something in the title but cannot remember–help me out if you know it!). Then I just sewed on a couple borders to make it big enough for my 20-inch pillow form.

Christmas Joy pillow

After that I used fusible web like in this Sew Mama Sew tutorial to make the appliqué JOY letters, which I top-stitched down with a simple straight stitch (no zigzag required since they were already heat-fused down with the webbing and very secure).

Christmas Joy pillow

Finally, I chose some festive prints for the back, enclosed it with a zipper flap, and attached the binding (the flap is Lizzy House, the dot print is Michael Miller, and the binding fabric I believe is Riley Blake Small Chevron in Green but don’t hold me to it). I originally wanted to do piping around the edges but was about a foot short on rope so binding it was! I ain’t mad at it.

Christmas Joy pillow

The general consensus in our house is that the pillow is everyone’s new favorite decoration. I’ll be so sad to pack it up after Christmas, but then I’ll probably forget all about it and flip out next year when it’s time to pull out Christmas decorations. I can’t wait to rediscover it on an annual basis! :)

Christmas Joy pillow

More snuggly flannel baby quiltness

After six years of quilting, I experienced a first this weekend: tying a quilt! And I LOVE the result.

Forest friends flannel baby quilt pt. 2

Forest friends flannel baby quilt pt. 2

A few months ago I finished up an almost identical quilt (same pattern, same fabric collection, different colorway) and learned a few things that helped me with this one:

I learned that flannel doesn’t like to be densely quilted (unless you want its “flowiness” stolen). I learned that it’s hard to straight-line quilt flannel without making it wonky, which in turn necessitates lots of trimming to square it up. And I learned that in order to counteract some of these issues without having to trim off half your quilt, you should quit your whining and block your quilt for a nice result (you can tell in the photos of my other quilt that the edges were unfortunately wavy–blocking would’ve eliminated that problem).

Forest friends flannel baby quilt pt. 2

Forest friends flannel baby quilt pt. 2

So this time around, I decided tying was the best route–and I was right! (As always…) It turned out SO soft and snuggly.

Forest friends flannel baby quilt pt. 2

Forest friends flannel baby quilt pt. 2

The Stats:

Forest friends flannel baby quilt pt. 2

P.S. How great are those polka dots?? They make me happy. I’m gifting this snuggler to my best friend from high school, Jade, whose little man turns one just after Christmas. I hope they love it!

Forest friends flannel baby quilt pt. 2

P.P.S. If I don’t see ya before then, have a happy Christmas!