Continuing to work through the discussion guide about “Why Quilts Matter“, today I want to focus on:
[W]hat are the aspects of quilt making with which you most identify?
So what are the aspects of a quilt? I brainstormed for a bit and came up with this non-inclusive list:
- quilt top
I think the great thing about quilting is that there are so many avenues for expression and exploration, and there are an amazing amount of tools and resources available to support the areas that you don’t want to focus on in quilt making (we can buy fabric bundles to take the stress out of color grouping and selection, we can purchase quilt patterns, we can send off quilts to be quilted and bound by others, etc.). So in some ways, I feel like it is sometimes easier to know what aspect of a quilt I identify with the least because I struggled with that aspect of the quilt.
Personally, I find that each quilt is unique and what I identify with most in one quilt that I make might be very different from what I identify with in my next project. For some quilts I am utterly focused on the meaning and intent behind the quilt. Other quilts I am exploring a new design. Some quilts I choose to focus on a color. Other quilts are whole cloth quilting explorations.
The tie that seems to connect all my quilts together, though, is the joy and love of handmade creation. The sense of accomplishment and “I did that!” never seems to wear off, and touching / holding a quilt that I created is a unique physical pleasure.
Do you most strongly identify with one portion of the quilting process, or can you identify a different commonality that keeps you quilting?
23 thoughts on “Aspects of Quilt Making”
I like all your points. For me it also matters I am making something that will be useful, and also quilting for me is a lot about play – it’s a part of my life where (mostly) I only have to please myself, express what is in my head/heart.
The fact that quilts are also useful is a great point, Kaja. In my former life with real job, I definitely struggled a bit with “and why / how does this help the human race?” I also don’t think about play enough and love that it is such an integrated idea in your quilt making. 🙂
You’re right, each quilt is so different and unique and what appeals to me in one that I make may not be the same in another – although it’s almost always around the piecing! But the overriding common threads for me, I think, are feeling that I’ve created something more beautiful than its individual component parts, and feeling that I’ve created something that will, hopefully, last years and years.
Knowing how long a quilt can last does mean a lot to me, too, Sally. I have the 3rd quilt I ever made on my bed right now. I didn’t know much about consistent seam allowances and even after over 15 years of pretty solid use, even though some of the edges are fray and seams are popped open… it is warm and snuggly and loved and used!
I always get so excited when I have put the last stitch in the quilt top. But tempering that excitement is the thought that there is still a backing to make and then the basting, quilting, binding. The part I love the most though is feeling the quilt come together when I’m quilting it. As it starts to ‘feel’ more like a quilt I’m amazed that I am making that happen. And hand stitching the binding gives such a feeling of satisfaction. So I guess I identify with many different parts of the quilt making process!
I think my all time favorite part of making a quilt is seeing the quilt top come together, Beth. It is super satisfying! But I know what you mean about how it feels as a flimsy and then how it feels after it is at least basted – what a difference! Honestly, the more I think about each stage of a quilt, the more I can think, “I like that, too!” which is pretty neat. 🙂
What has always intrigued me most about quilting is the layering. There is of course a set of actual layers, backing, batting, and top, but also the layers of design in the individual pieces of fabric, the individual blocks, the overall top design, and finally the quilting. There are so many opportunities to create layers of meaning, or simply layers of beauty.
I’m glad you mentioned that different quilts capture different feelings for you. Same here. It can be hard to simply answer, “What about quilting do you like?” because that answer really can be different for each quilt.
I really like the way you describe layering and how it has so many meanings and uses in quilting.
My favorite part is quilting, it is the part I feel the most creative expression and satisfaction. I do enjoy the full quilting process, from design to binding, though.
I think your love for quilting really shows in your work, too.
For anyone else reading along in the comments, you should know that Renee just had a post where she said she “quilted the life” into a quilt. I love that sentiment and the obvious joy and sense of artistic expression she shows in her quilting. 🙂
I mostly enjoy/identify with the planning stages: the designing, the hunting and gathering. Then things like cutting and preliminary stitching of parts is a bit tedious but must be done. I perk up again when I can see the quilt forming–maybe modifying design a bit here and there. I drag again, really drag, at making the quilt sandwich. Then I love the quilting. And finishing. And the showing.
It sounds like you know the process pretty well. I definitely understand perking up when you can see the quilt forming. Is there the same sense of excitement or perk when you think about the quilting that helps you get through making the quilt sandwich?
Pondering aloud. First thought. It is more like the thought, It isn’t going to do itself, get moving. Due dates help a lot, whether external or self imposed. The self imposed ones are not as insistent, though, and can be ignored. I’d like to say the potential excitement of finishing motivates me at the basting stage. I really don’t think it does.
The tactile nature of quilts me quilting also the meaning and history behind them. Most of all design. Great post. Intersting!
Great post. My favorite aspect to the quilt is design. I love designing and playing around with quilt blocks, layouts, and fabrics. During the actual quilt making my favorite steps are piecing the blocks and hand stitching the binding to the back.
Hand stitching binding is such a calm and meditative process, I think. I am glad to hear so many people who enjoy that step! 🙂
I agree that there are so many aspects of making quilts and different ones appeal at different times. But for me, it’s mostly about the creativity and the originality. I like designing and bringing to life something that someone else has not made before, something that’s one-of-a-kind. (Then I publish the pattern and everyone else can make one.)
“Bringing something to life that someone else has not made before” – yes! And I love that you then turn those into patterns. 🙂
Is it crazy to say that while I enjoy the whole process, my favorite part is the finishing? I love finishing quilts!!!
That is not crazy at all! I don’t always hand stitch down binding, but when I do I find it the most pleasurable part of the process. 🙂
I probably identify the most with color planning and matching and combining fabrics and colors 🙂 At least that is what I enjoy and I’m happy when it works.
I am with you, Vera. I love the designing and planning. For half my life now I have doodled quilt block ideas whenever I had pencil and paper, or even just a driftwood stick and swath of wet sand. I love the “hunting and gathering” of fabrics as well. The very best part though is sitting down with my stash and auditioning scraps. In the past, i do think I put more weight on emotional connections and sentimental meaning. At this point in time, I am focused more on process, and will not do what I do not enjoy! Yvonne, I love your site and I thank you for seeding and hosting these conversations.