Sunday, April 6, 2014

I Quilt for Me

Baltimore Applique Society Raffle Quilt.
Made in approximately 1995 by BAS members and
recently bequeathed back to the Society upon the
death of the quilt winner.

I've been reading comments on electronic media and have been struck by how much negativity and guilt is connected with an avocation so many of us love.  Which is why I chose the title, “I quilt for me,” for this blog post.  (Note: I am peppering this post with great quilt pics so you can ignore my soapbox speech and enjoy them.  That is the better choice.)  The whole quilting process is something I thoroughly enjoy from the idea through the last stitch on the binding (whenever that may occur) but I don’t enjoy them the same at all times.  If I want to start something new, I do.  If I want to exercise discipline and work diligently on a current project, I do.  If I think my stash has gotten out of hand and needs editing, I do.  Get the picture?  I don’t like scolding and I certainly don’t think it productive to scold myself.  Quilting is a positive experience – or it should be – so I would rather assess where I am today when deciding what to work on and what to plan. 

My scraps spilleth over and that's the way I like it.

Let me back up a bit.  Nearly 10 years ago I returned to working full-time and lost most of my quilting time.  I tried to keep my part-time job teaching quilt classes at a local shop.  Therefore, my quilting wasn't for me and became a chore instead of a joy.  It took a while, but I finally assessed the pros and cons of giving up teaching and decided to stop and focus on what I liked most about quilting: reproducing antique quilts.  I gave away a large portion of my stash – the non-repro part – to a one of my guilds to use in their raffle baskets and charity projects.  They were thrilled and I was unburdened.  What I am trying to say is, if something in your quilting life is bothering you, figure out what it is and do something about it.  You don’t deserve to be punished if you decide you have too much fabric or too many projects.  You just need to decide what you want out of those things and figure out what you need to do to make yourself happy with your avocation.

Look at the quilting on this one!  Do you think the maker was smug about
her skill or just completely in love with quilting?  Both? Neither?

Which brings me to the Quilt Police.  They are real and apparently have accounts on a popular social networking website.  I've seen them in action.  But, I am happy to report that they have never been sanctioned by any official agency and you don’t have to listen to them.  Not listening to the Quilt Police is my way of rebelling against my eighth grade Home Economics teacher who taught me nothing because she insisted there was one way – her way, the curriculum, whatever – to cook and sew.  I came to her class already enamored with both, a track record of experimenting, and successes and failures to my credit.  There is more than one way to stitch a tote bag and to bake Snickerdoodles.

Wreath from an album quilt.  It is tiny and kind of gets lost in the full quilt.
But, when examined for itself the skill in making those tiny stems
and buds is incredible.

Awhile ago, there was a discussion on that social networking website about whether one was to use single or double thread when hand quilting.  I was amazed at how many quilters declared that double thread was the way it should be done.  When, of course, it should be single…oh wait…that’s just the way I do it.  For me.  We can learn from each other when discussing these things, of course, but I find it most successful when individuals state things along with their reasons for doing so.  Such as, “I use double thread because that’s the way I was taught” or “I use double thread because I like the way it shows off my quilting.”  And, an open mind to other methods is always helpful.

Blooming cactus block from a c. 1850 quilt.
Was this a pattern or did someone interpret a popular motif
in her own wild fashion?  The quilting certainly isn't comparable to the
previous two pictures.  Does the wow factor make up for that?
Does it matter?

More recently, some began declaring who deserved to call themselves quilters.  Apparently, if you are buying and using kits, jelly rolls, layer cakes, etc., you are unimaginative and pathetic.  Dare to combine too many of those things I just mentioned and you’re out of the club.  One compassionate comment stated that you only "know how to use your checkbook or credit card and how to turn on an iron."  Ouch!

I applaud the 19th century maker of this block.
It is my pictorial comment to the "quilt police."

I took a class with Kim Diehl a few years ago and her bindings were different than what you generally see on quilts.  She told us she entered a quilt show once and her binding method was severely criticized.  Quilt police in action.  Have you seen her quilts?  They are fantastic.  The binding looks fine.  But, on the back of her quilts it is bigger than you typically see.  Horrors!  That’s the way she taught herself and that’s the way she does it.  Works for her and for her quilts.

This picture is here because I am into all things birds these days.

I understand that quilt show judges (and my old Home Ec teacher) have those little score boxes they need to check off because they use “Standards.”  Are quilts and cookies better because of those standards?  Sometimes.  But, they can also be better because some sought to please only themselves and, in doing so, came up with something wonderful.  Worse, still, rigid critiques and comments can be downright soul crushing.  Hopefully, you will all remember that the only one you need to please is You and just tune out the negativity.

...and stars...I'm always into stars.

64 comments:

Quilt Hollow said...

A HUGE THANK YOU! I tell fellow quilters all the time that I do what makes ME happy. I'm not into ribbons nor do I care to have quilt police criticize my work. Heck, half the time the quilt judges in shows haven't much more skill wise than the quilt maker! Do what makes us happy and savor the art in "your style" right?

Maxine said...

Amen!!!!!!

JoAnne said...

Very excellent points here! I get so tired of people who think there is only one way to do something--usually their's. (By the way, I'm into birds these days, too, and am always into stars. Always.)

Martha said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you, Taryn! I have no experience dealing with the quilt police mentioned in your post, since I have never visited their social networking sites or entered a quilt contest. I have, however, experienced lots of negative comments from the employees at my local quilt shop, who do not understand or appreciate my desire to use actual vintage and antique fabrics in my quilts. I still go there when I need backs and binding for my quilts, but I don't enjoy it.

I want to inspire and encourage all quilters -- even the ones who use reproduction fabrics :)

edie said...

THREE CHEERS FOR YOU!!!!!!! AND THANK YOU A BAZILLION TIMES OVER!!!! Quilting is suppose to be fun, and I don't give a boom boom what those who prefer to judge and criticize others think, so there! I do enjoy your blog, and look forward to your posts. Thank you very much.

taylorsoutback said...

Applause, applause!!! A terrific post Taryn and I felt similar reactions when reading the post and comments you refer to. The quilt police were definitely on patrol weren't they!
We all must embrace this beautiful passion in whatever pleases and works for us....whether it be from our own stash selection, a kit or layer cake...hand or machine work.
I love your post and thinking and plan to post a link to it with your permission.

Robin said...

Who ever heard of using two threads to quilt with? I'm puzzled by that one. I wish we could sit down and discuss this face to face. I'm so glad there are people out there like you who unapologetically love your craft and inspire the rest of us.

Kyle said...

If it's not fun, way do it. There's too many wonderful things to experience and enjoy to be bothered by others negativity. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Sewing Junkie said...

Bravo you said it all girl! I just left a group that was so negative. Sewing is such good therapy for me and many others. Hope we all can do our favorite methods and enjoy it. Chris

Leeanne said...

You go girl! I totally agree. When I teach machine quilting I show what I do & what works for me, but say that there are other ways that might work better or please you more. Isn't that what it's about?
Helping & sharing, but we have different ways to do things, is my way less than yours? NO!......just different!

Mary said...

Love this post! So true and the older I get the more I am on your team! it is my happiness and I enjoy it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

mary

Heartsdesire said...

Thanks for this post, Taryn, it really hit home. I joined a quilt swap recently and now have my quilt finished. However, I'd been beating myself up because I though my hand quilting was not good enough, and the way I put my binding on is not quite the same as some others. After reading your post, I looked at the little quilt and said to myself, I like the way my quilting looks, I like the binding, I like the piecing, and I enjoyed the process. Hopefully, the recipient of the quilt will not be a member of the Quilt Police and will like it's naiveté.

Donna in SW PA said...

Bravo!!!!!

Sharon said...

FANTASTIC POST. Well said and thanks for getting on your soap box about this. The star quilt is amazing, it's on my wish list. I'm using up fabrics I don't want anymore, having fun with them and giving away all the left overs. My heart is in reproductions, appliques and hand quilting, but it's still fun to play outside that box once in a while. Enjoy your week!

Sandy said...

I never heard of quilting with a double thread. Maybe I should try it some time. For a bolder look, maybe?

Personally, I'm not intimidated by the Quilt Police. I do sometimes get into discussions with those who might be "fabric" snobs, or "thread" snobs. I just shrug and let it go.

I use a lot old/used fabric, and have been known to let a little polyester slip into my quilts from time to time. None of them have fallen apart yet.

I guess I fall into your camp, I like what I do and make no apologies. Thanks for the great post.

Janet said...

Well said! A good post. That handquilting is fantastic. I'm thinking - both :0)

Cathi said...

The pictures are beautiful, and I'm grateful you shared them, but your words really, really resonated!

Kimme said...

BRAVO Taryn! Brilliant post. I make quilts primarily for me. It's my passion and i need to remember only that, and not feel any guilt when I want to spend time working on what makes me happy.
And what exactly is this 1 or 2 strands of cotton for quilting? Never heard of this before.

Tina said...

Excellent Post and I'm with you 100%!!! Thanks so much for posting this.

regan said...

Wow! Did I ever need to hear these words right now! Thank you so much! And I'm loving all those pics.....especially the stars! Yummy! And I think that gal was totally in love with the quilting process....I'll bet she was giddy while quilting that piece! Yay!

Janet O. said...

Bravo--well said!!
Quilting is my therapy. I quilt to have a "happy place" and I don't need people imposing "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" there.
I helped the quilt judges at the county fair for a few years (I wasn't judging--just recording their decisions), and I realized so much of it was arbitrary. I watched them knock down a gorgeously hand quilted piece because the maker didn't use continuous bias binding. This was made by an elderly woman who had begun quilting before they were born. She may not have been using the most modern methods, but her quilts were meticulously made. Because she had never taken a class or attended guilds, she was still quilting the way she learned from the books she had read decades ago--but that didn't make her methods wrong. I happened to know she'd had one of her quilts displayed once at the Houston Quilt Festival! I could hardly keep my mouth shut, but I wasn't supposed to say anything to the judges about their decisions. I knew right then that I would never enter a quilt to be judged. If I was happy with my work, that was all I needed!
I am glad I am not on social media to see the sight where the quilt police gather to chew apart their victims.

libbyquilter said...

like regan i too needed to read this post . . . i've been doing a lot of mental wrestling with myself in regards to how slow i am in my creative process. it just so happens that some of the other quilters in my life are really fast and accomplish so much more than i do. and are very proud of themselves. i've begun to use this to beat myself up and it must come to a stop.
the reality is that i am slow. and what's more i actually like being slow. sort of like savoring a sumptuous dessert . . . my creativity isn't about contests or numbering my quilts or the amount of stitches that fit onto my needle. those things suck the happiness right out of it for me. i must remember to remain happily in the moment when creating/quilting and all will be well.

THANK YOU so much for this important reminder~!!

loved seeing the beautiful photos too and i think that anyone who puts that many stitches into a quilt must love every single one of them.

:-)
libbyQ

Blue Moth said...

Yep. Though the quilting blogosphere is a much more positive place than most ... Agree totally. We are doing it for ourselves, in our own way, at our own speed. But I love looking at and being inspired by the work of others, so I am glad you are all out there

Janet said...

I'm with you Taryn. I've just had a big purge of fabrics, patterns and old projects I'll not get back to. It felt good but I still have more to go. I strive to do the best I can and I'm always learning but just about every quilt I make is made to be used and loved and I'm not too precious about them since it's the doing and the creative outlet that I love the most. I've been on the other side too where the quilt police have gone over one quilt with a fine tooth comb and it's just been sent off to be in competition again. It doesn't worry me to get feedback, negative or positive as it's been a favourite in the making.
Thanks bunches for all the beautiful photos with this post.

karen said...

Yahoo! Well said taryn!

Carole~Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus said...

Yay! What a great post in both words and pictures.

Synthia said...

I'm with you 100% on this subject. You really "laid it out there" and I thank you!!!

Synthia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debra said...

Great post! Thanks for putting in writing what many of us have experienced from the Quilt Police and other "I know better" quilters. I personally have been accused of not be a 'real' quilter because of some of my art quilts. My girl friend and I have stopped entering shows because it is like dealing with the Quilt Police and fulfilling a randsom note! I understand that constructive criticism is good, but nastiness out of jealously or narrowmindedness is not healthy for anyone! Thanks again!

Jan said...

Wonderful post, Taryn! It's good to hear a voice of sanity among all of the "should" folks.
And you've included some fabulous photos ~ that blooming cactus block is a winner, despite the comparative lack of quilting. I'm a sucker for dots...

Lori said...

Love it! Humble Quilts doesn't attract too many quilt police. My philosophy is said in my title.

I do find myself judging a little, mostly designers, that seem to be into selling jelly rolls and precuts and making super boring and uninspiring quilts from all of one line of their fabric. Yes, I am guilty of judging them but instead of words I don't support them by purchasing what they peddle.

YankeeQuilter said...

beware of trolls...they lurk everywhere in the internet seeking attention and sucking the joy out of everything! In defense of quilt show judges...not all are the same. We had a great one the two shows ago...she was awarding a ribbon when one of the other scribes (self appointed quilt police) asked her if she had looked at the non-mitered binding? The judge cocked her head and asked, "does the binding add or detract from the quit design? would it come off in the wash?"

Rita said...

Amen!! What a wonderful post. I quilt because it's relaxing and I enjoy it. What defines that is different for each of us. Life is too short not to what we love. Thanks!

Barbara Sindlinger said...

Well said!

Carla A Few Of My Favorite Things said...

I agree! I have always quilted for me. I love color and love the process. Each quilt is interesting as I learn so much!

audrey said...

What a great post. Love what you said about prioritizing especially. It really should be about what makes us happy or why even bother? I don't like the negativity either but I usually just try to ignore it and not take it personally--they aren't the boss of me.:) lol

Barb said...

great post with a lot of insightful observations. I feel that quilting is becoming soooo competitive. Yesterday I saw Ami Sims do a lecture on how NOT to make an award winning quilt. We all laughed about her early days and foibles and it reminded me that quilting is an individual sport and should be fun for the quilter.
It was also nice to hear a lecture that didn't include won, won, won every other sentence.

Vivian said...

Bravo! Bravo! Well said!
Enjoyed this entire post. (Love the interspersed photos, especially the bird with the huge plume--which I've interpreted a couple ways)
The negativity I personally see or hear is minor, but your comments will stay with me and boost me for the next time I encounter them. Again -- Bravo!

Sheila said...

Hi Taryn,
Woo-hoo - love your soapbox edition! That's one thing I always loved about quilting - there is room for everyone and everything. At least there should be. I had no idea there was so much negativity out there. Guess I only read happy blogs. Especially loved your pictorial reply to the Quilt Police.

Wendy Caton Reed said...

Oh Kudos to you! I have been quilting for me (and a few select family and friends) for over 40 years and there is no greater satisfaction than pleasing yourself. HAPPY quilting.

The Civil War Quilter said...

You said it , sister! No quilt police needed or wanted here either! Unless they are paying you to quilt for them, they have no reason to critcize. Quilting is, and always has been my joy and THAT is why I quilt!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I thumb my nose at the quilt police. They try to take all the fun and adventure out of quilting. People have been making quilts for century's, and, please don't tell me that they did it 'wrong'. I'm a self taught hand quilter. I'd never heard of using double strands of thread in my hand quilting. Each to their own. As long as the quilter enjoys what they are doing, and the quilt holds up thru some washings and loving, who cares how they made the quilt, even if they used double knit (yes, I've inherited a few of those, too). I'll NEVER enter a quilt of mine in a juried show. Why would I invite biased insults to my quilting? I also quilt for me.

Margaret said...

I, too, quilt for me. I couldn't care less what others think of my work (other than the recipients, of course). I quilt for the joy of it. I have very high standards and am always trying to improve. For ME.
Thanks for your great blog entry and the beautiful eye candy.

Raewyn said...

Thank you for this post :-) I quilt because I love the process, and if I want to try a new process (ie a new project or tweak something) that's ok. I experiment and I play and I have fun. End of.

Miss Linny said...

I apply an Oscar Wilde quote to my quilting ethos - "Be yourself as everyone else is taken."

Karen said...

Such an interesting read including the comments. I applaud your attitude towards your quilt making. I have never heard of double thread for quilting. Interesting concept. I have no idea what social media you refer to but does not sound like a happy place to visit.

Miriam said...

Great post....and I love that bird quilt photo!
I quilt for me and for the love of creating. I love trying new-to-me techniques and finding new ideas. Some I try, some I don't. Some take a loooong time to finish. If a quilter gets joy from whatever they are making then go for it!!

paterd said...

Great comments on the quilt police. I have never heard of double thread for hand quilting, where in the world did that come from I wonder?

debbie Lemr said...

I agree with you to do what makes you happy. I have never taken a quilting class and have taught myself everything I know. I use double thread when quilting a quilt I know will get used and washed a lot. Just always thought it was stronger. I use a single thread when quilting something more for show.

I have been asked to make a couple of quilts for people for money. It would be a job then and not a passion. I want it to stay a passion.

Sherrill said...

WOW!! Glad I haven't stumbled on that site and hope I never do!! Great post!

Northern Deb said...

Oh, you really hit the nail on the head with this post...enjoyed reading it.
Got to say, I just about flunked home ec even though I'd been sewing/cooking and baking since about the 2nd grade...BUT, I didn't do any of it the teachers way! Finally had to give in and follower instruction so that I wouldn't get in trouble with my parents but it taught me a lesson.
We can teach our way but should be open to other ideas...there's more than one CORRECT method. Thank you for this wonderful post.

Karen said...

Thank you.
I happily belong to the local quilt guild (PVQA) and a small quilt group. I have only entered my quilts two times in our yearly show, our SQG had a challenge and I entered a guild challenge. I don't care to have my quilts judged or viewed. I don't need anyone's approval. The pleasure in making and giving the quilts is good enough for me. A couple of my quilting friends keep pushing me to enter my quilts. I tried to explain that its not a pleasure for me and to let me do my thing. That's what makes me smile.

Smiles = making quilts = smiles

quilterchick said...

Amen sister! Great post and pictures. Thank you for sharing your opinion and your photos!

Byrd said...

I am new to your blog and I need to tell you that I absolutely l-o-v-e it when I hear fellow quilters express the joy and satisfaction of quilting for themselves as opposed to listening to the often disheartening criticism of the quilt police. This is truly liberated quilt making! Your banner of red and white quilts blew me away because I've had them on the brain for the past three months. I love quilt history too. I look forward to reading more! Take care, Pam

BJ DeVore said...

Great post. I tell my quilting ladies that there is always more than one way to do anthing and that if they are not enjoying the process why do it. I entered the same quilt in 3 different shows. In one show it won best of show, in one second place and in the third, it did not place at all. I found out that I do no need validation from anyone else to enjoy the art of quilting. And yes we are all artists.

Jo Timko said...

I agree so much with your comments. I too quilt for me, my colors, my patterns, my way. I enjoy the process from start to finish. I love repro quilts. The creators were all amazing making beautiful things from whatever was available and without all the gizmos and gadgets were have available. Love your work! Keep on keeping on.

Little Penpen said...

I stumbled upon your blog through another this morning and love this post. I shared this on a social network site...LOL... I hope you don't mind. ;) "Celebrate Hand Quilting" facebook page

Barbara on the Eastern Shore said...

Love your post - well said

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

well said!! I no longer enter any quilt shows because of how critical the judges can be - talk about quilt police! I quilt for me just like you! I like to relax and enjoy

Unknown said...

The first show I ever entered anything in was in 1988, I had made a challenge piece with a specific person in mind. When it was judged, I was told that it was too childish and shouldnt have been entered. I lost all interest in entering any guild challenges after that. The judge had been invited to a wedding shower for the lady that I made it for. I bowed out of going as I had to work that day, but did ask the bride to keep her eye on that judge when she opened the gift from me. The so called judged was visibly shaken upon seeing it apparently, and all I can say is I hope she learned a lesson on how hurtful comments can be, and also how soon they may bite her butt. Everyone else loved it.

I hope a lot of people read your blog and take heart by it. They need to quilt for their satisfaction first, and not worry about anyone else.

Quilting Babcia said...

You've said so beautifully what many of us already feel, our quilting is our therapy, our relaxation, our creative outlet, and what keeps us sane in this increasingly chaotic world. We quilt for ourselves, and our families. If my grandchildren love their quilts and my kids still sleep under the quilts I made them over 20 years ago, that's better than any judge's 'standards' and no blue ribbon can make my life better than a hug from my grandbabies!

Donna said...

I had just joined a quilt group, was still work full time in a stressful job that had long 12 hour days. Quilting was my stress relief. I was told by a little lady, since I had not hand quilted my quilts I was "just a sewer" . Note my quilt in the photo, not bad for just a "sewer"!

Do what makes you happy, and support the efforts of others!

Missie of Traditional Primitives (formerly Hallbrook Designs) said...

Well stated! I've had those same criticisms about my quilting. I say do what works for each quilter and makes them happy! I hope you are doing well these days!

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