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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Friday, May 6, 2011

How do quilters keep from quitting?

This morning I would like to pay a tribute to quilters. 

You ladies are stronger women then I am. I am not really quilting. I decided to sew together some pre-cut strips from a couple of on sale jelly rolls, sew some long white strips to them (some of my white shirt fabric arrived and it was really ivory, which I never wear), and channel quilt them.

This is where I am so far:

I forced myself to sew all those strips together and then cut them up with a rotary cutter and the mat on the coffee table here and then sewed those strips together again. Now I have to sew about 475 miles of strips together and then get my husband to drive me over to the local quilt store on the motorcycle for backing and batting.

I am just so not that into this.

Now don't get me wrong. 

I love the look of quilts, when they are finished. One of my sisters is an ace quilter and one of my best friends is even a quilt teacher/expert. I truly appreciate the fine, careful work they do. But I can't face it.

The existential questions for me are:

  • why cut something up just to sew it back together (OK we garment sewers do this in a way) and then cut it up again to sew it together again? I feel like I am setting in a sleeve and then cutting it off to sew back on the other side ( Hold on I think I have actually done this).
  • why do so much sewing that is exactly the same? It's like having 500 buttonholes on a blouse to me.
  • how, and this is the Big Question for me, do women cope with such big pieces of fabric? My intention was to make a queen sized quilt because I have beds that size (although the spouse and I had to get ourselves a king sized because Rascal won't move over). I can't sew something I can't see the edges of. I feel like I have a parachute dropped on my head.
I need to sew clothes, and fast. I have checked my Fed Ex tracking number and my order from FabricMart is due for delivery today. Including a Mystery Box which I have decided will contain silks in my colours.

I think I am going to take my coffee outside and sit on the front steps and wait.


Karin said...

I think quilting is about playing with a colour and shape. Getting the pallet right and seeing it all come together is very satisfying.

shams said...

lol. I quilted for a number of years, so I obviously liked it, but I can definitely see your point of view! I hope you like your fabrics from FM. ;)

Anonymous said...

Sew baby quilts. They fit under the arm of a standard machine better. What you are doing is called strip quilting. When I am stressed I find strip quilting therapeutic. But I can see where someone else might find it mindbendingly irritating. If your sister quilts maybe she will take this project off of your hands!

badmomgoodmom said...

I agree with you. That's why I alternate quilts and clothing. Otherwise, it would feel like I accomplished so little.

There's a bit of magic that I never tire of in quilting. I use cotton batting, which shrinks. I prewash my fabric, so it shrinks less than the batting. After I machine piece and quilt the sucker, I throw it all in the wash at the hottest temperature it can stand (depends on the fabric). Then I run it through the dryer.

It is hard to predict what will happen in this alchemy. But it is magical when you take it out and see the play of light and shadow on the sculpted surface.

I will never tire of it.

But I do get tired of the quilting process, which takes soooo long compared to a quickie knit top or skirt.

Bunny said...

I so see your point of view. In my 20's when my kids were babes, I did a lot of quilting. Then I got so frustrated. That was born from the knowledge that I would't even get a chance to try all I wanted to try with quilting as it just to so dang long. A few days on a garment, or even a few weeks, and I have gratification. I totally gave it up and haven't quilted in 30 something years. I do admire those who do. But just give me my garment sewing, no matter what kind.

a little sewing said...

Barbara, you are so funny. I am also not a quilter. The idea of buying "quilting fabric" to cut and sew back together is difficult for me to accept.
The first time I saw a quilt, it was sewn from fabric that had been re-purposed from retired clothing. I thought that was pretty cool until I realized modern day fabrics were poorly suited for quilting (polyester had just been invented when I was that age - it was not going to make a cosy quilt).
The other thing quilters do, that I cannot, is hang bits up on a wall to come up with a design. Personally, I'd rather use Photoshop or e-Quilt to design my quilt. That seems a little far-fetched, too.

I'll just enjoy sewing clothes.

Barbara said...

Loved the comments, thanks so much. Baby quilts? Brilliant. Babies seem to be popping out again and this is about the size of quilt I can handle.

SEWN said...

I am so with you on this quilting question. Can't see myself getting on that wagon.

Carole said...

My trouble with quilting is WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THEM ALL? My sister is a quilter and now does long-arm quilting and has a large following. My mother and grandmother were both huge quilters. Most of those quilts were stored away and hardly used. So much effort, time and money -- there are just not that many beds in most people's homes.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Doesn't anybody quilt with SCRAPS anymore? That's all I do, and it's a way of continuing to play with the great fabrics of Garments Past. In fact, I have my mom's lifetime scrap collection and some from my grandma too. (Also, velvet scraps--Grandma was a milner.)

Right now, money is tight, but I can sew and sew and sew because I have all these small bits of delicious fabric! (Of course, it wouldn't work to take all these bins of scraps on vacation....)

Barbara said...

Rebecca you are exactly right, Working with scraps is where it all started and makes sense to me. Thanks for your comment.