09 January 2011

Reflections on: options

I always imagine quilt making as a wide-open umbrella. Under this umbrella are myriad options – different techniques used to create quilts in varied styles, shapes and sizes. If you don’t like a particular style, you can choose a different one but you are still a quilt maker.


My quilt making journey started in the 1980s when I attended my first patchwork lesson. It was a sampler class in traditional piecing, using the limited fabrics and colours of the day. We learned how to draft blocks, cut templates from sandpaper and accurately cut the fabrics with scissors. We hand pieced the fabrics and hand quilted the finished product. I loved every stage of the process.

Soon I became more daring and started to piece by machine. I learned to use a rotary cutter and mat after seeing a demonstration of the new-to-Australia tools at a craft show in the early 1990s. I have even tried my hand at appliqué, although the results were decidedly amateurish (more practice required!). Sampling all the new techniques in books, magazines and workshops has kept me busy for many years.

Initially following other people’s quilt patterns, I often altered parts of the design to suit myself. As I gradually developed skills in different techniques and clarified my personal tastes, I started designing my own projects. After completing several bed-sized quilts, I realised that I did not enjoy machine quilting large quilts so now I choose to have my large quilt tops professionally quilted. This way, I can use my time to focus on the processes that give me pleasure.

Feeling adventurous, I made small journal quilts and ATCs for a couple of years. These enabled me to try different methods and styles without a huge commitment of either time or materials. Through this experimentation, I discovered a love of shapes and abstract composition.

There are some styles of quilt that still do not appeal to me – they leave me unmoved and I don’t bother with them. Gradually, it has become obvious that I am not obliged to enjoy every technique. Certain designs I love may not appeal to you, and vice versa. I do not think it matters. As long as we appreciate that there are as many options as there are quilters, and don’t just dismiss the whole craft after trying just a small part of it, we will all benefit.

That is why it is wonderful to be under the quilt-making umbrella. We can choose whichever style or technique we want to explore. We can change along the way or can stay with the colours and styles that satisfy us. With so much choice, there’s something for everyone. Just as well that umbrella is so enormous!

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Great points. I think most quilters understand this. It's the non-quilters who have very rigid ideas about what is a "real" quilt.