Why do I quilt?
This question is asked of me all the time.
I have come to quilting entirely through my own volition. Whilst my family members are into sewing, crochet, knitting, candle making, photography, art teaching and writing … none have quilted. The ‘traditional’ handing down of quilting techniques and process did not occur in my learning of quilting. I have come upon my skills through the internet, books, magazines and good old give it a go! Social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and the many blogs written by passionate, creative and very experienced quilters, have inspired and driven my learning, to where I am today.
I can’t really say where the desire to make my first quilt came from. When my girlfriend asked me, “Why don’t you make a quilt?” I remember laughing and replying with my own question, “Why would I want to do that?” I am still asking myself this.
What I do know is I am drawn to the colour play of fabrics. The shapes and patterns when putting different pieces of fabric together makes my head spin with inspiration. The hum of the machine is hypnotic as it empties spools of delicious thread, piecing and then quilting what was once just a seed of an idea. Watching it all come together through sketches, plans, test blocks, on the design wall, and finally through my fingers as the final threads are buried, is something akin to giving birth. Let’s face it; I am sure many of us have projects which we have been working on, far longer than 40 weeks!
The joy experienced when gifting a quilt is something to be savoured. I love that my children drag their quilts all over the country. Visiting Nanny isn’t the same without one of mum’s quilts to wrap themselves in when I need to work while they sleep. The random pictures, friend’s share of their children where my quilts are being used, always make me smile. There are also the connections these quilts bring for me. An early quilt I made, wrapped a very special man on his final journey. I can’t even comprehend losing my children to cancer, yet am humbled that the quilt my son sent to his friend has been able to warm in the coldest of places.
I was thinking during the early hours about my motivation to make quilts and it struck me as interesting, that my current activities reflect my final year subjects in high school, Biology and Art. Midwifery and Quilting seem to have many practitioners that dabble in both. I can chat quilting most nights at work, with one midwife or another. Quilts are quite common in hospitals; special care nurseries often gift long term residents with a quilt of their own. It may have been seeing these during my student years, which subconsciously led me to making my first quilt.
Of all the processes in making a quilt, the quilting is by far my favourite part. The quilting, while servicing the most basic of functions, holding the quilt top, batting and backing together, also brings another dimension to a quilt top through both visual and tactile texture. Inspiration for free motion quilting fillers and motifs are everywhere, and watching these brought to life on a quilt top, can add so much to the finished quilt. It is this part of the process I am now committed to persuing, in a big way.
Taking the leap, from domestic to longarm, machine is full of delicious possibilities, and I am sure it will also be one fraught with both profanities
( I reckon there could be a quilt in there) and setbacks. Still, I will not bow to any fear. I am so excited to start this new part of my quilting journey. I am just glad I haven’t had to sell an arm and a leg to get started. I am also glad to be part of the conversation about quilts and making shit!!
So, why do I quilt?
I love it, and I can’t stop myself. But if I find a more definitive reason, I’ll be sure to let you know!
Now to share a WIP. Destined to be a queen size and a practice quilt for the longarm, it is coming together nicely.